Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

There's no place like home!

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all settling nicely back into work. Dare I say it, but it's like we were never away!

Image result for home sweet home clipart

With September, it's nice to start off easy in the role play area....and what better than a home corner! It's familiar and welcoming and ties in nicely with your themes for September.

I have a ridiculous amount of wall space in my's brilliant, I love noticeboards but for the first few days, filling noticeboards is the least of my worries! You might have seen the Edutopia article I posted on Facebook about involving your class in setting up your room.... it really made me re-think my classroom set up this year.

I always like to incorporate a noticeboard into all my role play areas....and let the children add to it as the theme goes on. 

For my 'Home Corner' I've simply added some (makeshift) windows and curtains. They're a nice feature but also inspire some really nice imaginative conversations. Oral language galore!
(Now, my curtain hanging skills leave a lot to be desired but you get the idea!!)

Role Play - Home Corner - DIY windows - Little Miss Teacher

Windows, curtains & vases of flower - Role Play - Little Miss Teacher

-What can you see out the window?
-Who is that coming up the garden path?
-What's the weather like out there today?
-Is that a car I see, I wonder who is in it?
-There's an animal in the garden, what is it?

A nice little feature and there's another noticeboard off the to-do list!

My vases are literally just card pinned around some plastic flowers. Easy peasy!

Have you any fun features for a home corner? Be sure to share!


Friday, 26 August 2016


I'm a big fan of fidget resources. I like to keep a big tub of squeezy toys, glitter balls, stress balls and bands in the classroom for anyone who fidgets or needs a little sensory break.  

Bouncy bands are another great invention. Fidgeting doesn't necessarily have to be about the hands, many children fidget with their feet...tap the floor, kick the chair leg, or find sitting with their legs still a real challenge. Or, maybe their little legs don't even reach the floor yet...sometimes an oversized chair can be a distraction too.

Enter bouncy bands. These attach to the chair legs and the child can rest their feet on the band and either rest their fidgety feet or bounce away.
You can buy Bouncy Bands in Ireland here

Now, I'm a fan of improvisation. You don't always have to invest in the expensive versions for something to be effective. Last year to create a quick and easy bouncy band type fixture, one of my SNA's used duct tape. Fast, cheap but 100% successful.

Here are two alternative DIY versions:
Pool noodles over those stretchy roof-rack cables or bungee cords as they're also known. You can often find them in Dealz!   


Or,  Thera Band, a.k.a medical know the type you get from the physio? Figety goodness!

And lastly, as I mentioned, when a child's feet are dangling, it can be very distracting for them and hard for them to balance, especially during written work! Putting a box under their feet can help with balance and concentration. If you're afraid the box will move, why not try one of those lids you've been hoarding:


Easy peasy!


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

I'm loving it!

One thing that most of us will find ourselves doing, is constantly striving to improve the range of vocabulary that our students use. One way of doing this, is getting back to that print rich environment. Have something the children can access with ease is always helpful.

I loved this "Improving it" display I had with my last sixth class. It was far from glamorous but it was so well used by the children!

Being a (frequent) visitor to Mc Donalds (don't judge!!) it wasn't too difficult to get my hands on some free chip boxes (clean of course) to hold all our synonyms. This was on a low noticeboard that the children could easily access and search for inspiration for vocabulary to improve their sentences, stories and report writing.

"Improving it" - Synonym Display - 5th / 6th Class - Little Miss Teacher
Once again I wish I'd been more pro-active back then and taken more photos! Hindsight is a great thing! That would be another thing I'd tell my younger teacher self, TAKE MORE PHOTOS!

This was a picture I took obviously before the display was complete. I labeled each box with the 'boring' or overused words and the children were free to come and go to it as needed.

It was one of those displays that lasted months, I couldn't possibly have taken it down when the children were getting so much use out of it!

Here are some other versions I spotted online:

Image source:

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Have you any fun ways of teaching synonyms? Be sure to share!


Monday, 22 August 2016

Meet Division Man!

Division can be a yuck enough topic for many students, especially Long Division. I have flashbacks of my own primary school division experiences.... just when you've got the hang of multiplication your teacher now decides to throw another, (what I initially considered) bamboozling concept at you! Shudder!

So when I came to teaching long division, I wanted to try and make it a little bit more enjoyable than the chore I remembered it as.

Enter, Division Man. 

While he does resemble a wonky Frankenstein, despite literally throwing this display together one morning, it was something I got so much mileage out of! Easy made too!
Division Man - 5th / 6th Class Maths Ideas - Little Miss Teacher
Do you have any fun hacks for senior Maths? Be sure to share!


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Aistear - 'Where am I playing' signs

A lot of you have been asking about the signs I have for my Aistear stations. They're from Sparklebox! They are nearly impossible to find though on the site so here's the link:

For those asking, my heading is just Comic Sans (Bubble Writing) printed large on coloured card and backed on card too! I use this for a lot of my display headings.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Back To School Giveaway!

Hello everyone!

I'm giving away some nice back to school goodies for one lucky follower! You can enter here on on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or all four if you like!

As well as all these lovely goodies, you will get two choose ** two free downloads**  from any of my resources on my Mash store!

Goodies include:

  • 2 packets of shiny reward stickers
  • 'Dream Big' 16/17 year planner
  • 30 cardboard people templates
  • 400 sticky notes
  • Tub of mini bull dog clips
  • Cute dotty notebook
  • Blue Tack
  • 4 Papermate pens
  • Sharing bar of Galaxy (Top drawer essential)
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Fab Penny's Lunch Bag (Make the thought of school lunches a little more bearable!!)
  • 2 pairs of craft scissors

Best of luck!

Winner will be announced on Monday!


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Twitter in the Classroom!

I'm currently half-way through a CPD course with Fluirse on Social Media for Education. It's very informative and I'm picking up lots of lovely ideas.

An article of interest which I came across when researching for a module reflection was one from the PDST on using Twitter for Literacy and Numeracy!

Some really good ideas on it. Well worth a read!

Also, here are some links I came across which have some great inspiration for using Twitter as a teaching resource!

Do you use Twitter in the classroom? How do you feel about Social Media in the classroom?

And for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, I posted this link on my Facebook page earlier - some fantastic ideas for teaching sight words and phonemic awareness!


A few of my favourites!

I'm very aware that a lot of my recent posts have been more suited to infant teachers however I did my fair share of teaching up the other end of the school too! I know I harp on about how fab it is teaching the infants, but I LOVED teaching 6th class. It's hard work but so rewarding too. Looking back over my photos reminds me of how great it is working with the older children, the scope is immense!! 
Here's a little look at some of my favourite art pieces that I did with my last 6th class:

1. Tonal Monsters
Tone is one of the aspects of painting that I always enjoy working on. I so was pleased with how these tonal monsters turned out! They took plenty of time and planning by each child. They then did some nice character profile written work about their monsters on completion!

Tonal Monsters - Painting Lesson - 6th Class - Little Miss Teacher 

2. Manga Masks
Three years ago we went on a trip to the IFI to see a fabulous Animé movie called 'From Up On Poppy Hill'. In preparation for this we researched Animé and the children created their very own Manga Masks. They were so proud of their creations, as was I! They got the opportunity to bring them to the IFI and present them to the audience (mainly other primary school children), a great public speaking opportunity for them! We laminated them too so they would last.

Manga Masks - 6th class Art - Little Miss Teacher

3. Drawing from Observation

So now lets see if you are a little like you have tonnes of half empty bottles of water rolling around the back of your car?? Fear not, they will have a use! Take the labels off and stack them up on a nice flat surface and you've got a fabulous drawing and painting opportunity. Again, another nice project for tone. Quite effective! Can you tell what brand of bottles each of these are? Haha!
Drawing from observation - 6th Class Art - Little Miss Teacher

4. March of the Penguins

I LOVE penguins!! So teaching about them is just a perk of the job!! Each of the children drew and painted a lovely e
Emperor penguin. I love how they were all unique. It was a display we added to, they printed speech bubbles with facts and then wrote poetry on penguin templates. Endless possibilities!

March of the Penguins - 6th Class Art - Little Miss Teacher

5. Hands down. My most favourite. Ever!

This was a project that sprung from a 6th class study of the Renaissance. We were examining a variety of famous art work and one which the class were very interested in was 'The Creation of Adam' by Michelangelo . So we tried doing our own version of the hands. It was a project that they worked on for a while, perfecting and shading etc! I was blown away. Looking back, I still am! The were so into it. Hard to believe these were drawn by 11 & 12 year olds. Never underestimate your students! 
My only regret is not having saved more of these pictures!! (Framed in black is a copy of the original FYI!)
The Creation of Adam - 6th Class Art Project - Little Miss Teacher

I forgot how much I love art! Will you be trying any of these? Let me know!


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Rules, what do you do?

So as we're getting closer to, dare I say it, 'going back', a lot of your messages and queries are about setting up the classroom. A popular query this week is about 'rules', establishing routine and display ideas for this. 

I'm as bad as a child sometimes, I bore easily and hate looking at the same things on the wall for longer than a few weeks. However, it's nice to have some permanent displays but only if you're making use of them on a regular basis, otherwise they're pointless. One of these type of displays can be your rules. In my infant classroom, obviously the rules are something we refer to on a daily's a nice feature of our morning routine.

Now I've posted this one before but these are mine:

We also have a display which we refer to when we are working for most subjects. It's all about the visual aids with the little ones! (Excuse my dodgy photography btw!)

Rules don't have to be just about behaviour. This was one of my displays when I last had 5th & 6th class and presentation of work was driving me bats!!

I've used this with every class I've taught:

'Give me five' is a favourite of mine for when we are sitting on the mats:

I like signals for instant attention. If you're like me and are longgg past caring what people outside your door might think when they hear your, 'SALAMI' is always a fun one!

I saw these online recently and thought they were cute too! Links to each are in the captions!

I'm a sucker for handprint cute are these rule flowers?

A nice one for the older classes -

You can find a similar download to this 'THINK' poster on Twinkl and Tpet!

I really like this display! 

Do you have any nice ideas for rules? Feel free to share!


Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016

I'm over the moon to have been shortlisted for the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016! If you enjoy the blog and would like to vote here's the link!

Vote for Little Miss Teacher here!

Thanks so much!


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Add to your Art ideas...

If you're like me, you'll never be done hunting for ideas for Art lessons. I was flicking back through my photos of the past year and came across some of my favourite little Art pieces and thought I'd share. I'm looking forward to doing some of these again next year!

My overall favourite was our Pop Art.....we were learning about squares but we spiced it up with a bit of pop art!
Kadinsky's 'Concentric Circles' were something I did several times with the senior classes but it worked nicely as an art lesson when Junior Infants were learning about the circle! Effective!

Who doesn't love Elmer the Elephant? You might have seen this on my facebook earlier in the year! We used up lots of our scrap paper to create these colourful patchwork elephants.

Printing with balloons! This is an alternative way to do some 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' art. Blow up some balloons, dip them in the paint and off you go!
Add caption

Feel free to share any fun art ideas you have!


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Aistear: How to!

Hello everyone!
So, one of the most frequent things I get messages about is Aistear. How do I manage it? How do it plan it? What is it?

So here's a little run down & answers to some of your questions!

What is Aistear?

Aistear is a framework for learning.  It's a framework for early childhood education but something which can enhance your practice with teaching all age groups. It is not "just" playing. I resent that statement SO much! It is something that takes planningpreparation and a lot of love, but the results are incredible.
For more on the Aistear framework check out the NCCA.

Is it extra work?

Yes and no. You should be incorporating Aistear into your planning and you should find that you can incorporate the majority of your Drama, Visual Arts, SESE and SPHE teaching into Aistear. Also, you can get so much out of your Maths, Oral Language, Phonics and Writing instruction through Aistear too. Even Gaeilge can find a place in Aistear. Look at it simply as another teaching methodology!

Do I need a lot of resources?

Yes, but what classroom doesn't need resources? Once you have them and look after them, you'll have them for years. I collect the boxes that A4 paper reams come in and have one for each role play pack! They stack and are easily stored. 
Your school should be implementing Aistear so therefore should be investing in it also.
For example, last year, my school invested in Jaggo blocks. These are the dream for a construction station. Maybe though you might know a carpenter? Or a parent with an interest in this area? I've heard of several schools getting these made for much cheaper!
Construction Station - Jaggo Blocks - wooden blocks for independent play.

A storage box is always a handy investment too...especially one on wheels!!

Bring small world play to life with the addition of wooden building blocks.

How do you plan for it?

Like anything else! Find themes, integrate your learning, differentiate, find your key language...what do you want the children to do and learn at each station?? Plan for your class. Their abilities. Their needs. But remember, you can have the most wonderful plans in the world but they're a total waste of time unless you model the play. One mistake that can be made with Aistear is assuming that the children will automatically know what to do. We live in a world now where many children don't actually know how to play. Many don't know how to use their imaginations. More and more children are coming to school used to being entertained with ipads, games consoles etc..... not familiar with getting down on the floor and actually physically playing. Explain your stations, let the children experiment and don't dictate too much...sometimes they'll bring even better ideas to a station than you could have even imagined!!

My tips for Aistear success:

  • Prepare.  I do an hour of playful learning first thing in the morning. The stations are set up and ready to go. Less stress more success. I operate a station system. Depending on the class you can rotate every 15mins or every day. Here's mine:
  • Document. Record the children playing! Take pictures, little videos. Put them up on the screen at the end of play. The children LOVE seeing themselves on the screen and it leads to great discussions and pride. I's a great prompt for self assessment.
  • Collect. I collect everything. Lids, tubs, egg cartons, tubes, boxes, bubble wrap, paper, coffee cups....anything which I think can be used at the junk art, small world or role play stations. You'll find a use for them. Put labelled boxes outside your classroom, let the rest of the school / parents help. You'll use it all. Our school joined Recreate in Ballymount this year. Their resources are incredible. They have every recycled material that you could possible need and more!! 
A rocket for the Space station made out of recycled Junk Art Materials!

Junk Art Jellyfish!

  • Vary. Change your materials. Incorporate a variety of materials into different stations. Coloured pasta, rainbow rice, sand, clay, leaves, twigs, pebbles, shells...anything really!
Small World Play - Hens & chicks in the rainbow rice - Little Miss Teacher.
Farm Animals in the coloured pasta.

Shells in the water tank - Little Miss Teacher.


  • Subscribe. Personally, I think Twinkl is a life saver for Aistear. They literally have everything you can possibly imagine for role play, as well as everything else! They always have brilliant free downloads but a  membership won't go to waste!!
Here are our hairstyles from this year's hairdressers which can be found here:

Equipment labels from Twinkl -

Our sink station (our home corner kitchen was transformed for the Hairdressers!!)

  • Label. Aistear needs to be print rich. Label your boxes, have words everywhere for subtle learning opportunities. Even tidy up time can be a change for discrete reading opportunities. Prompts to boost each station area are always a help. 


  • Trust. Trust the children! Let them use scissors, let them use glues, let them use glitter....let them make a mess!! Let them scribble, let them write. Provide lots of scrap paper and writing materials at each station. It is the best feeling in the world to watch little words and sentences take shape throughout the year!



Teach them to be responsible through experience and trust them to tidy up! Play a song like the Tidy Up Rhumba during tidy up time and see if they can have the room back in order by the end of the song. It's fun and a challenge.

    •   Collaborate. Work with other staff. Where possible, I have my EAL / Resource teachers timetabled to join my class for Aistear time. I'm not a great believer of children being extracted from the classroom for support. Yes, in some cases it's needed but for the many, it's not beneficial. Aistear allows for such wonderful learning opportunities, having the support of another teacher in the room is invaluable, be it for numeracy, oral language or simply management! Maybe you have an SNA shadowing a child in your room? Their support during Aistear will be immense!

    • Enjoy. One of the most important things to do is to promote a love of learning and a love of playing. Aistear is brilliant. It provides you with so many special teaching and learning moments and can bring confidence to the shyest of pupils.
    • Keep your receipts!
    • Laminate your labels / posters ....make them last!
    • If something's going well....don't cut it short...let that little learning moment flow!
    • Why not make your own playdough? It will save you a fortune, it's non toxic (someone is guaranteed to try to eat it at some point) and you can make so many different varieties so easily!
    • Inform the parents. Invite them in. Involve them.Send pictures home. Foster that link and promote Aistear in the home.
    • Break beyond the "hour" of Aistear. Just because the hour is over doesn't mean Aistear has to end and the text books have to come out! Try to use the framework across your day.
    • Don't let anyone tell you that you are "just playing"!!!!

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