Little Miss Teacher

By Clara Fiorentini

Summer Term Subbing

So with the end of the school year coming, it can be a busy time in school and a very popular time for getting some subbing experience!

It's something I've been asked about a lot recently so I thought I'd just do a quick little post on it!

Subbing suggestions:

  1. Leave a note for the class teacher.
Sounds obvious, but coming back after being out, especially if it was an unexpected absence, it's nice to know what exactly your class got up to. Let the teacher know what you covered, who was absent, who was helpful and any other messages you have. I have a 'While You Were Out' note template freebie for download on for anyone who might find it useful!

2. Leave the classroom tidy!

This sounds sooo obvious, but you'd be surprised!!!! Make an effort to leave the classroom  tidy. Don't leave work on the children's desks - leave it in a neat pile. Get the children to help you tidy up before hometime. Clean the boards etc. Think of how you'd like to find the room yourself. I once came back to a room resembling a bombsite - toys, paper, twistables everywhere and the added horror of a sink full of unwashed paint palettes!? Not helpful!  

3. Correct the work you do

If you're doing work with the class, it's only sense that you would correct it too. It will be appreciated!

4.  Motivate the pupils

It's not easy going in to a class that isn't your own. The class teacher will have their own routines, rewards and learning incentives etc. However, there's lots of handy ideas for monitoring good behaviour and keeping the pupils motivated to do their best for you. A little incentive like golden time, DEAR time, Arts & Crafts or some PE always work a treat. I love these two ideas from Pinterest. Both would be easily adapted to suit your subbing:

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5.  Come prepared!

My advice is always to try to come with some kind of work prepared - especially if you know what class you're going to be having. Sometimes, teachers prefer if you avoid their workbooks, especially if you're only in for a short spell. Having a little pre-prepared pack of work is always an idea, with some nice lively and interesting activities to keep the pupils engaged. Maybe activities that they just mightn't get to do everyday? Funny poems, creative writing, drawing activities and fun Maths challenges are always a good go-to! Especially if it's a once off. Don't be afraid to ask to do some photocopying etc! A school will love someone who comes prepared!

Just a few ideas - if you're doing those you'll be doing well! Best of luck!

If you're looking for ready made subbing activities, I have a few packs prepared and available to download for the following classes on Mash:

Junior Infant Subbing Supply Pack
Third Class Subbing Supply Pack
Fourth Class Subbing Supply Pack
Fifth Class Subbing Supply Pack
Sixth Class Subbing Supply Pack

Getting to grips with Sight Words

Since  I spoke about my Tricky Word work on my Instagram last week, I've had so many messages and queries so I thought I'd be best putting all the info together into a blog post!

Sight words, they're one of those things we just need to learn, but in saying that it doesn't have to be boring!

Make them visible:

  • Dedicating a little section of your board / wall space for 'Word of the Day' is always a nice reference point for a new word. It will mean it's clearly visible for pupils and will also act as a reminder for yourself to refer to it throughout the day!
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  • Use your word as a password to get in & out of the classroom. Displaying it on a little card outside your classroom door will work has a handy way of testing your pupils' recognition of the word as they come and go. Each pupil must read it on their way past coming to & from yard etc.
  • It's nothing new, but a Word Wall will never go to loss in your classroom. ('Go to loss' - I think that's a very Donegal phrase but you know what I mean!) We refer to our Tricky Word wall a lot but also my little dotes love to get their work finished quickly as one of the early finisher routines we have is to get to go  up to the Tricky Word wall in pairs & with some fly swats to practice their words!


I know I'm always harping on about it but there is literally no point in teaching letters, sounds or words in isolation! You need to put things into context for your little learners. It's no different for any other type of learning, things need to be contextualised.

  • When teaching my Junior's a new Sight Word. I use a 'Sight Word Story'. It's literally a few short sentences (with that particular sight word hidden throughout) that the pupils should be able relate to and try to read or decode. And of course, our trusty fly swats are used to swat any sight words they see while reading.
  • Hunting for our target sight word in a story or picture book is something we do a lot. It's something I tell them to look / listen out for during story time and we keep our Tricky Word wall nearby for reminders! 


Make acquisition of sight words fun by having a good supply of sight word related games on hand. Some of my go-to's include:

  • Jenga - if you can get your hands on an old game of Jenga, you can easily adapt it to suit your  CVC Words, Sight Words or Tricky Word work with a few sticky labels!
  • Lollipop Dolch Lists - This is a handy, easily made activity for pair work! Set the timer, turn them all upside down, take turns turning one over, read it & keep. Then see how many you have at the end. 

  • Laminated games are so handy for word reinforcement but also for your early finishers. I have lots of games like Sight Word Snakes & Ladders, matching games and little dice games, laminated and ready to go.

  • Sight Word Hop-scotch - take things outdoors and try some hop-scotch with a side of sight words! 
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  • Sight Word Twister - Get your hands on an old game of Twister and give it a sight word make over. Take it to the hall or an open space in the classroom - your pupils will love it!

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Bringing tactile learning into literacy is so important and beneficial for young learners. There are so many ways to easily incorporate tactile learning into your word work:
  • Writing in playdough / building words with playdough
  • Building words with lego
  • Writing words in sand, rice, salt
  • Build words with pipe-cleaners
  • Take the chalk outdoors and write words on the tarmac
  • Sandpaper letters & words - if it was good enough of Maria Montessori, it's good enough for me!
  • Get the magnetic letters out!

I shared a little breakdown of how I go about teaching sight words and writing sight words on my Instagram last week. Remember, in terms of writing, I've planned these activities for my own particular class, everyone's will be be different! 

If you think you might find such activities useful, you can find my Tricky Word Word Pack for Dolch List 1 on Mash!

I could keep going about sight word work but then I'd be in the running for the longest blog post known to mankind! Once you're keeping it fresh and lively and the children are excited about learning them, then you're on the right track.

If you've any activities or ideas you find useful, be sure to share and I'll post them up for you!

Have a good week everyone!

Garden Centre - Summer Term Socio Dramatic Play

Well hello everyone! Posts have been few and far between recently, but life, as those who follow my social media well know, has been hectic!

Here's a little insight into our current socio-dramatic area:

The Garden Centre

The children have been very involved this year in choosing their socio dramatic areas, and this topic was no exception. I'm blessed with a very creative little bunch this year, who are nature mad - bugs, flowers, creatures great and small - they're obsessed! So a theme like the Garden Centre is just perfect for them. It's quite open ended, it leaves lots of scope for Oral Language, Writing, Reading and Mathematical skills - great for this late stage of the year when they can put all their learning from the months past to use. I'm also finding it very helpful for our current topics in Maths - Addition & Money!

Flashcards, signs, language, banners and labels - Twinkl have it all in their Aistear Garden Centre Resource Pack. 
You'll see some homemade flower decor beneath our language posters - the children make these at our creative station or when they have time to spare throughout the day.

The check out desk, more language and a butterfly number-line for any help needed with number formation.

As I haven't actually done the Garden Centre before as a role play area, I had to start from scratch with resources, which sometimes is a breath of fresh air. I sourced lots of bits, such as this trellis and lots of the artificial flowers seen below, in Dealz for next to nothing. I spent the grand total of €20 and got more than enough and when we're finished I'll be boxing it all away for the next time! 

Purposeful over pretty - one of my favourite play statements! Obviously we needed a display area for our flowers and plants, so taken from the mountain of cardboard boxes we've been hoarding, a few upturned with holes punched through are perfect for supporting our fauna! Easy peasy.

Flower pots & gloves - essentials! On day one, the children chose the prices for each item of stock; hence the handwritten signs - again, purposeful over pretty!

Always have materials and a little space for emergent writing & mark making. 

Find of the month! One of my lovely friends was in recently picking up some supplies and she spotted these great squares of artificial grass. We've got great use out of them already for Small World Play and now they're ideal for setting the scene in our Garden Centre.

The canopy has gone through another transformation - this time with the help of a few plastic aprons, all to create the illusion of a greenhouse!

Currently, I've set up an empty sandpit to display some more of the fiddly bits that we have for sale in the our Garden Centre. These little plastic seed labels are from Dealz and are handy for a little bit of subtle counting and calculation work.
They're loving handling the plant bulbs and counting them out for the customers. 

What else is going on?

Well apart from socio-dramatic play, we have:

  • Junk Art / Creative Play: Here the children are working on crafting their own mini-beasts, plants and flowers. They're free to add to the decor in the Garden Centre too.

  • Playdough: As well as free flower \ plant \ mini-beast themed playdough work, the children also have a series of playdough challenges to work on. I just find these useful for integrating some of our SESE, Literacy and Numeracy work.
These are my own playdough mats, purposeful activities which my pupils really enjoy- nothing fancy! You can find them in my Summer Term Playdough Pack on

  • Small World: We're using our picture books as the basis for a lot of our Small World Play at the moment. We've used The Bad Tempered Ladybird and The Very Hungry Caterpillar so far and next up is The Very Quiet Cricket. We've gone Eric Carle mad! If you're following me on Instagram, I cover a lot about our Small world set ups on Instastories most weeks! 

Stick puppets and wordmats from Twinkl.

I love finger puppets, I use them a lot in my teaching. These little ones are reduced to €1 in Penny's at the moment.

  •  Construction: The children are making the most of what they've learned about various mini-beasts and garden creatures and have been crafting them from lego. They're free to go to and from our reading area for inspiration from books related to our theme too.

  • Messy Play: Later this week I'll be adding in our sandpit, but instead of sand it will be full of compost. Here our little gardeners will be digging for bulbs, bugs, letters, words and numbers! 

It's a busy theme, but a fun one. I find it hard to believe that this is our second last socio-dramatic area of the current school year. I say it every year but this HAS to have been the fastest school year ever.

Hope you all had a lovely bank holiday weekend.

For more detail on how to set up a theme of play based around The Garden Centre, you'll find my Garden Centre Play Based Learning Plan on!

The Language Experience Approach in the Infant classroom

Do you use the Language Experience Approach?

I find it a real 'go-to' methodology when working with the younger children. Obviously, it's a fantastic methodology for use with any primary school age group but it is something which can be used again and again with the younger kids across the curriculum.

It's not something that takes a lot of planning. It's not something that needs to be particularly pretty. It's all about the purpose! It's also amazing how much learning can be drawn and extended from a short little piece of writing.

With the infant classes, what I enjoy is that the language comes strictly from the pupils. Teacher is there to act as scribe, offer support and assist in structuring their little sentences etc. The beauty of it is the shared experience, integrating speaking, listening, reading and writing through the development of a written text.

Here's a very simple LEA example of mine.
So our topic this week obviously is Easter. We spend some time discussing what we know etc. Then the children decide what we should record.

  • The children get the opportunity to share a piece of information and I act as scribe.
  • We always number our points.
  • On completing the writing of the text, we revisit and read it together.
  • Then we will hunt for the keyword. In this case the keyword is 'Easter'. Considering it is infants, and many are still only at the emergent reading stage, I highlight the keyword with an underline or pattern. The children will assist in locating the keyword with a special pointer...a fly swat in our case, haha!

Language Experience Approach - Little Miss Teacher Blog 

  • Another activity is hunting for our 'Tricky Words'. I usually ask the Juniors to hide their eyes and I circle a selection of Tricky Words / Sight Words from the text. Then we revisit and see if we can read them. It doesn't have to take long but it's great practice. Also, I tend to leave an obvious one or two out so as the children have a chance to spot a few themselves.
  • We'll revisit the text several times throughout the week. If the children learn more about the topic or think of additional information, then we will add to it!

Language Experience Approach Ideas:

As I've mentioned, you can use the Language Experience approach for lots of different learning instances, such as:

  • Procedural Writing
  • Recording Previous Related Knowledge
  • Recounts
  • News
  • Recipes
  • Fact files
  • Stories
  • Rhymes
  • Sequencing
  • Story mapping
  • Poetry

.... to name but a few!!

Then use texts like these to:

  • Hunt for letters / sounds / blends / digraphs
  • Recognise tricky words 
  • Focus on capital letters / punctuation
  • Oral language development
  • Develop comprehension skills

Also! The LEA benefits all kinds of learners but particularly beneficial pupils learning English as an Additional Language!

“When we focus on rich, engaging, meaningful content and experiences, then language seems to take care of itself.”
  Catherine Snow, Learning to Talk by Talking

Directed Drawing Activities: Leprechauns

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I love a bit of directed drawing. I say directed quite loosely as, with most teachers. I always state "Now you know, I'm not an artist" before I draw ANYTHING.

Regardless of the instructions and it being supposedly 'directed', the children always amaze me with their versions of the task.

A nice one for the St. Patrick's season is Leprechauns. A bit of of cartoon style work is always fun, whichever class you have!

I just use the regular whiteboard and we draw each part together, piece by piece. With the Leprechauns, we start from the hat and work our way down! It's great for shape work, listening and concentration too. Now bear in mind these are by Junior Infants; but even still I think they've done a great job! The next task tomorrow will be to spend some time adding the colour, and as I'm a glutton for punishment, a bit of glitter too!


I can't believe St. Patrick's Day has crept up on us so quickly, maybe it's maternity leave looming but I just feel like time is absolutely flying!

But sure isn't being busy good?!

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Rhyme credit: Pinterest

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Environmental Print

Do you make use of Environmental print in your classroom?

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Environmental Print is the print we encounter in everyday life - wrappers, logos, signs, labels, packaging; things we notice and read unknowingly that can be really important in terms of building confidence in young and emergent readers. The print, the colours, the layout of signs, logos and labels permit young learners to interact with written word in their own environment. Wrappers and packaging that we usually cast aside and throw away can actually be truly valuable learning materials in the Primary classroom!

How can I incorporate Environmental Print into teaching and learning opportunities?
  • Purposeful Working Wall displays
Dedicating a little wall space in your classroom solely to environmental print allows for lovely instances of letter & word recognition and subtle learning opportunities. Giving pupils the opportunity to add to this space can prove even more fruitful. The back of a door, the side of a cupboard, any little space where you can dedicate to environmental print, particularly in the Junior end of the school, has huge learning benefits for emergent and progressing readers. A few moments at the beginning of letter knowledge work or even in small groups could be spent at such an area investigating many of the components of literacy and letter knowledge. 

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Credit to for this lovely display!

**You'll notice in the subheading I've mentioned 'purposeful' and 'working' - unless you add and change to the display then it will soon render itself tired and essentially becomes pointless. Moving beyond the idea of the Pinterest perfect classroom is important - chose purposeful over pretty for the benefit of your pupils.**

  • Catalogues / Magazine clippings
Collecting catalogues, newspapers, flyers and magazines is always a good idea so as to have a supply of them in your classroom. Think of all that Junk Mail we get through the letterbox every week! Letter match challenges, cutting and sticking, spelling names or sight words - there are so many ways to use these materials. One in particular which I like to use with the infants is creating collages of 'Letters we Know', using the Argos catalogues. It's a nice station to have set up in a small corner of the classroom and it's tackling letter recognition and fine motor skills all at once. It can be easily done in small group settings either.
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Images: C.Fiorentini - Little Miss Teacher Blog ©
  • Scavenger Hunts
I love getting out of the classroom with the pupils; especially to get out and do some learning around the local area. If your school is in a town then endless examples of Environmental Print will be right on your school doorstep. Why not go on a hunt for particular letters, names, words, signs? You can adapt such a challenge to suit any age group! Bring mapwork activities to life by incorporating some environmental print.

  • I Spy Letters
How old is 'I spy?' I don't think we'll ever know but what we do know is that it is an oldie and it's a goodie. Change up the usual pictorial I spy and mix it up with some environmental print. Create a simple collage of logos, signs and names for lovely pair work, group work , whole class or even homework activities - for any age group. Here's a free download of Restaurant I Spy from - it's mainly American venues one but still plenty or reading and learning opportunities!

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  • Logo Challenges
I don't know if you ever had the 'Logo Game' app on your phone - but I definitely had it at some point in recent years and *unashamedly* LOVED it. A logo challenge is always a great quiz challenge, early finisher station or team work challenge. Easily made and easily done - why not even let the pupils create their own for swapping to challenge their peers?  A nice activity for ICT time!

  • Environmental Print Bingo
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Doesn't leave much explaining. We use Bingo for so many areas of the curriculum, there's nothing stopping us from using it for Environmental Print either! Vanessa Levin from Pre-KPages has a lovely free download for Environmental Print Bingo on her page.

  • Incorporating signs and logos into play areas
I'm a huge fan of this. Especially for Small World Play, Role Play and Construction Play. There is no excuse not to get your hands on environmental print for these areas with Google on your desktop. Print, laminate and off your go! Inexpensive resources are just as effective for play.

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More ideas:
  • Sight word books
  • Alphabet books
  • DIY Environmental Print Puzzle - chop up a package or logo!
  • Environmental Print Loop Games
  • Letter match activities
  • Homework challenges

  • Home-School Links
Don't forget the importance of promoting use of Environmental Print outside of school. Foster your home-school links by involving the parents too. Encourage children to bring in Environmental Print from home to enhance your teaching and learning opportunities at school.

Sample Parents Letter - C.Fiorentini - Little Miss Teacher Blog ©

If you would like a copy of my Parent's Letter to help you get started drop me a PM on Facebook or email to Happy to share!

Can you tell I love Environmental Print? Haha!

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to go back and give it a little like on FB - the algorithms are a holy torture these days! Thanks a mill!

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