Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Play Based Learning: The Farm

Hi everyone,

This month's play theme is 'The Farm'. I think it fits right in with Autumn and also Halloween which is fast  approaching. However, as we all know, the Farm is a busy place and can be a soico-dramatic area suited to any time of the year - obviously your little farmers will just have different tasks and roles to fulfill depending on the time of the year!
We literally have constructed a farm in one corner of our classroom. I allow myself a guilt-free changeover week when it comes to changing my socio-dramatic area. I don't believe in rushing it and I like to give the children the opportunity to add to the construction and collection of resources too. They've been bringing in vegetables, farm teddies, costumes and various other bits and pieces.
This is my first time doing the Farm as a full theme so I was starting from scratch in terms of resources. Twinkl have so many great farm resources available, many of which feature in our play this month; all of which are listed in today's blog post.

What are we doing?

Need a large visual for an area but you're not an artist?
Use your projector screen & clipart - trace, paint, cut & there you go!
Getting into role:

I raided all the checked shirts out of my wardrobe - great excuse for a clear-out!

Vocabulary & Language:  

Cassie the Cow:

Our Tractor:

Our Field for the lambs:

The Pig Sty, Polly the Pig & her piglets:

The Vegetable Plot:

I'm just adding a different type of vegetable each day.

The Hen House:

Shredded paper is our replacement for straw!

The Orchard:

One of the tasks on our farm is picking the apples. 

Small World Play:

The children are loving our tough tray at the small world station. Weetabix is a handy addition to replace our blocks for hay bales and fencing. Although the children love crushing it up for food and floor for the animals too. I added the small world background from Twinkl to help set the scene.


I downloaded this lovely animal matching game from Twinkl. You add the pictures to your large Lego or Duplo bricks and the children have to match the young to their parents. A really nice activity which my pupils have been loving.

Download Twinkl's Farm Animal Brick Matching Activity

Oral Language:

Twinkl have some really great Oral Language activities for the Farm theme. I printed out a selection and laminated them at the start of the month. I have them in a folder which I keep for doing a little bit of one-to-one work with pupils during the day.


One of our activities at the Playdough this week was rolling eggs. Who knew it would get so competitive?!

We are working through the first phase of our letters & phonics scheme so these playdough mats are ideal. 


I really like this Farm designing activity, it was a great little, creative task for assessing their knowledge of the various animals and features of the farm.


Plenty more Farm related activities to come over the next few weeks but this gives you an overview of what's been going on so far.

 'In October 2017 at the time of writing this post, Twinkl had gifted me a free yearly subscription to their resources.


Thursday, 28 September 2017

Approaching Letter Knowledge in the Infant classroom

Image result for abc gifs
Hi everyone,

One of the topics I get asked about most frequently is how to tackle literacy and letter knowledge with the Infants.

Here's a brief overview of a typical approach for me:

This week we have begun work on letter 'S'.

1. Letter Sounds

Before ever beginning the letter, I always play "Sally Sound Snatcher" with our puppet Sally. Sally steals initial sounds of words. Obviously if I'm beginning a block of work on letter 'S', Sally will conveniently steal the sounds of lots of objects from around the room that begin with letter 'S'.
Sally Sound Snatcher: " I see the _tars on the door!"
Teacher: "What is Sally saying? I wonder what Sally can see?"
Children: "Stars"
Teacher: So what sound did she snatch from us?
Children: "Ssssss"

2. Introduce the letter sound. 

Jolly Phonics is the scheme I *loosely* base my planning on. The Jingles are handy but be careful - some of their sounds are a bit off - especially for letter 's' - make sure you are teaching the children to say 'ssss' rather than 'suh'.

3. Words that begin with the letter.

The images are from Twinkl - I've downloaded the full pack, one for every letter and blend! Very handy. We play a few memory games with them each day for the week we are studying that letter.

4. Set up a letter & sound table.
The children are free to add to this as the week progresses.

5. Sensory Experiences:
I set aside a table where the children can trace on a variety of surfaces using their finger - paper, sand, gel baggies and pipe cleaner letters!  Sandpaper letters, rice and playdough feature too. I try to alternate with different varieties of surfaces each week.

6. Letter Hunts
I chose a story for the week that contains lots of words beginning with the letter we are learning about. For example, this week we are reading the story, 'The Smartest Giant in Town' and hunting for words that begin with  'S' throughout. At the end, we recap and record all the 'S' letters we remember hearing. The children provide the words and I record them on a whiteboard. We count them up and see if we can find even more the next day.

Another way we hunt for letters is after we have shared and recorded 'Our News'. We review it on the board and take turns circling letters we recognise. This develops in to words etc. over time.

7. Writing
For writing we have a writing song for each letter - for example for letter 's' we sing: (To the tune of the Wheels on the Bus)
"Start at the top and swirl around,
Start at the top and swirl around,
Start at the top and swirl around,
To write the letter S."

There's just so much scope with letter knowledge work without ever letting it become dull, repetitive or mind-numbing to teach!


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

October: Picturebooks & Stories

Image result for leaf gif

Picturebooks & Stories  for the month of October:

1. Farmer Duck 
From the end pages to the illustrations, this text is one that keeps giving and never gets old. So many incredible Literacy, Visual Arts, SPHE and SESE learning opportunities.
Image result for farmer duck
Here's a lovely video of Michael Rosen reading Farmer Duck.

2. Oliver's Wood 
A lovely little story for the Junior classes. Nice for dealing with the concept of Day & Night too!

3. Owl Babies 
An oldie but a goodie. Owl Babies is always going to be beautiful and will forever give me the warm fuzzies!

This is a lovely video version of the story too.

4. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?
I love this story for early in the year - it's great for memory work, recounts and Oral Language development.
Image result for brown bear brown bear what do you see
Have you heard the singing version of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see?" It's a lovely performance song!

5. Two Hungry Bears
This is a funny, little story which deals nicely with the concepts of sharing and hibernation.

Related image

6. Hansel & Gretel
I always recommend incorporating at least one fairy tale into your monthly instruction with the infant classese. Hansel & Gretel is a lovely one for the month of October! There is an excellent printable PDF version of the story on Scholastic.

7. There was an Old Lady who swallowed some Leaves -
Well, because it's always nice to have a story to make us laugh.

Image result for there was an old woman who swallowed some leaves
It is also on Youtube.

Speaking of Youtube, two of my go-to Autumn stories for a morning break on a wet October day were:
1. Leafy the Leaf who wouldn't leave
2. The Very Helpful Hedgehog  

More books & stories for October:

Image result for red leaf yellow leaf book   Image result for johnny appleseed picture books

Image result for leaf man picture books 

If you're looking for more, Good Reads has a great list ---> Books for October.


Thursday, 21 September 2017

V by Very Bloggies 17 - Finalist

Well this has made my evening! Just checked my emails to discover that this little blog has been listed as a FINALIST in the V by Very Blog Awards 2017. I am only delighted! I started Little Miss Teacher as a hobby over two years ago and it has grown into such a busy little spot for sharing and discussing all things school & education. To think that it is getting such recognition and to be listed alongside so many other amazing blogs and websites is just wonderful!

Thank you for all your continued support & sharing.


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Teaching Senior Classes

Hi everyone,

A lot of the messages I have received recently have been from teachers looking for tips & ideas for teaching in the senior classes. To be fair, I'm delighted to get messages like that because it's about time I balanced out the content a bit, it has been infant-teaching-over-load on site recently! Rather than writing an essay length mammoth post, I'm going to write a senior class post a week for the next month and get as many of your queries covered as I can.

I love teaching the senior classes. I taught fourth for two years and sixth for three years in a row before I ever moved down to Juniors, and loved them. The content of work you can do with the senior classes is so diverse, the projects, the creative writing, the art - just wonderful scope!

Teaching Responsibility:

As the pupils get older, it's good to get them into good routines from the offset. Be consistent with your rules & classroom procedures. September may seem tedious with this but it will mean for a smoother year. Making them a little bit more responsible for their work and learning is important. It's also important in terms of preparing them for the transition to secondary school. Being responsible for their belongings, taking pride in their work, considering  the presentation of their work etc. Before beginning any work with my senior classes, we followed the RTD code. Rule, title, date - it's just a nice habit to get into and helps with encouraging the pupils to take pride in the presentation of their written work,
Presentation poster for encouraging and reminding about neat written work!! :-)

Useful, long-term displays are more beneficial than constantly hanging up different displays that are of no use to your pupils' learning. This (excuse the woeful photography) was a display I used three years in a row in 6th, simply because the pupils got so much use out of it. They were able to come and go to it as they pleased to find replacement verbs and adjectives for their sentences.

Adjectives / improving our use of descriptive language :-)

Establish routines for when pupils are finished their work - have a specific place where they leave their work and routines for them to follow if you are busy or working with another pupil or group.

Image result for early finishers ideas
Picture credit - Pinterest

Image result for classroom organisation older classes
Picture credit - Pinterest


Give every pupil a number. Display this list somewhere in the room. Number all text books & novels - each pupil uses the book with their specific number. This saves books going missing and it makes it easier to track them when they do. If you have enough to go around, this works well with glue sticks too, as we all know, they just vanish!


No matter what age group, everyone loves an incentive. I'm not one for spending a fortune on prizes or goodies, I don't see the need. I'm more into more process based rewards -  like a chance to work at a different table, use some nice gel pens or markers, a chance to take some quiet time to go and read a book or magazine of their choice.

Image result for learning incentives for older pupils
Picture credit - Pinterest

Creative Copies

I like to encourage pupils to put value on their ideas, drafts & plans. Be it for Creative Writing, Art or a Science experiment, creative copies are a handy space for making plans, recording them and best of all returning to them at a later date if they need to.

Missed Work

It's always handy to keep a hold of work that pupils miss. I literally have a basket, write the pupil's name on the activity or sheet and pop it in. With the older pupils it's easier to get them into the habit of collecting their work on their return to class or school. 

Image result for missed work basket
Picture credit - Pinterest

Hope you've all had a lovely weekend, if you're a Dublin fan congrats! And commiserations to all the Mayo supporters out there, heartbreak again, maybe next year will be your year!


V by Very Blog Awards Ireland 2017

Little Miss Teacher has made the Shortlist on the Education & Science section of the V by Very Blog Awards Ireland this year. I'm thrilled. It's lovely to be listed alongside so many other great blogs and websites too.

I absolutely love blogging and it has provided me with the most amazing experiences and so many great opportunities of meeting, working and connecting with so many wonderful people and educators near & far.

Thanks for all your support over the past two years, it has been a great little while in the blogsphere. Here's to the next chapters!


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

First Day Memories

Image result for first day of school

The first day of school is such a special day for all involved, don't forget to make sure you get a picture of everyone at some point in the day. It's a lovely little keepsake for the parents but it's also so nice to look back on them throughout the year and see how much the children have grown and changed. Here's a handy little way of recording the moment:

First Day Memories - Little Miss Teacher.

"I came to learn, I came to play,
I had really, great first day!"

First Day Memories - Little Miss Teacher.

"This is a picture of my first day,
I've started school, hip, hip hooray!"

First Day Memories - Little Miss Teacher.

"My first day at school, was really so much fun,
This picture is for my memories, for all the years to come!"

First Day Memories - Little Miss Teacher.

"This is my picture from school, to remind you of my first day,
There were friends to meet and books to read,
And lots and lots to play!"

Time goes so fast, it's all about capturing the memories and moments!


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Home Corner

Hi everyone!

Lots of questions coming in about setting up a socio dramatic area for the first time. Here's an updated version of my post on the Home Corner.

Image result for home sweet home clipart

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 last year.
Designing a deskless classroom- Edutopia

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. Hanging blank sheets of paper on an accessible noticeboard is a great way of encouraging writing, drawing and doodling - and writing vertically is really beneficial for posture, gross & fine motor strength. Check out this article for more on Verticle Writing.

Image result for vertical writing kids
Image from Preschool Inspirations

The Home Corner is ideal for September as the resources you need will generally be in the classroom already and if not, they're easily found.

How can you enhance and extend the learning opportunities at you home corner?

  • Telephones - have a landline and a supply of old mobile phones. Great for conversation, imagination and developing oral language.
  • Writing Materials - Lots of pens and paper for making shopping lists, taking messages etc.
  • Reading Materials - Have a supply of picture books and non-fiction books related to the theme in the area.
  • Dress up clothes -  Scarves, blankets, bags and purses...sometimes it;s better to let the children be imaginative with their costumes rather than have ready made costumes provided. Anna & Elsa will still make an appearance when there's just a box of scarves to work with!
  • Dolls & Puppets - both are always valuable resources in the role play area.

Last year in our 'Home Corner' I 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 an easy way of getting another noticeboard off the to-do list!

How can I link the other stations to the theme of Home?

Here's some very brief ideas of how you can easily incorporate the theme of home into your other stations:

Playdough - making houses, making people, making meals, initial letter formation, forming CVC words with playdough (bag, mat, hat, cat, bed etc.)
It's really easy to make theme related playdough mats - just laminate!

Construction - building homes & houses

Small World - Home play, using dolls house, people, vehicles, animals etc.

Junk Art -  making food, meals, houses...literally endless options as always with the creative play!

Water - washing the clothes, washing dolls etc.

Learning galore!

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