Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Approaching Letter Knowledge in the Infant classroom

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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

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Picture credit - Pinterest

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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