Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

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


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

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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Sunday, 4 March 2018

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!


Saturday, 3 March 2018

Preparing for Mother's Day

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Mother's Day will take place on Sunday 11th March this year. I had planned to get my Mother's day work started last week, but sure the Beast from the East got in the way so I'll be depending on getting stuck into it for the duration of the next week - providing we get back!

Be it for mothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, stepmothers or carers, there are so many lovely activities to do for any class. I do always like to dedicate some specific time for the children to make some lovely keepsake crafts to take home as gifts.

Suggestions for Keepsake Arts & Crafts for Mother's Day:

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  • You are my sunshine - Why not paint a lovely picture of a colourful sunshine & sky and complete with the message 'You are my sunshine'. Also, 'You are my Sunshine' is always a lovely song to learn too!
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  • 'You make everyday bloom with happiness' - Why not paint a lovely floral portrait. A nice opportunity to examine some famous floral paintings like Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers', Monet's 'Waterlillies' or Warhol's 'Flowers'.
  • Best Mum Award / Rosette - easy peasy but always cute!
  • Pasta & Clay Mosaics - With the many shapes and sizes of pasta, macaroni & spaghetti we can avail of these days, using pasta to make pretty mosaics are lovely keepsakes which are easily decorated when dry and long lasting! In fact, my mum still has one which I made in Junior Infants, and that's wasn't today or yesterday!
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Image source

  • Regular Mother's Day Cards can be just as thoughtful as any DIY gift. Why not get the pupils to compose their own 'Roses are red' message to go with it?

"Roses are red, violets are blue, 

My heart is bursting with love for you."

  • Printing with fruit & veg is always a go-to for me throughout the year for various crafts. Did you know that a bunch of celery can make a lovely rose print? Just cut off the main stalks, leaving about 2/3 inches at the for your ready-made stamp!

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Image source: Pinterest

Another few nice ideas I spied on Pinterest:
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I put a free download up on this morning with four templates for Mother's Day Activities for anyone who's looking for something handy - they're probably best suited to 2nd - 6th class.
Download Mother's Day Freebies.

Useful Twinkl Resources for senior classes


Friday, 2 March 2018

Useful Twinkl Resources for senior classes

Hi all!

You might have seen last month that I did a post on some of my favourite Twinkl resources for the Infant classes. So I thought I'd follow that up with one for the Senior end too. Before I ever taught infants, I actually spent five years at the senior end of the school - 4th for two years and 6th for three. I adored the senior end....I think even just as much as I love the infants and I always find my eye drawn to interesting and useful ideas I spy online that would be nice for that end...and sure who knows what sort of resources I'll need and what end of the school I could end up again when I get back from maternity leave next year! Eeeeek!

I find Ikea Tolsby Frames are so handy in the classroom - and at 1 affordable too. I'm currently using mine for Tricky Word work with the infants but these Fractions, Decimals and Percentages Tolsby cards are great and would be very handy for table top reminders and revision!
Fractions Decimals and Equivalents IKEA Tolsby Frame - Fractions Decimals and Equivalents IKEA Tolsby Frame - displays, frctions, frations, factions, fract

When it comes to Gaeilge with the senior classes, I always find the more visuals the better - especially when it comes to verbs and their many complexities! There are a multitude of Verb & Grammar resources like these lovely A4 posters available on Twinkl too:
The Past Tense - An Dara Réimniú - Basic Rules Display Posters - An, aimsir, chaite, two, syllable, words, the past, tense

The Seanfhocail work is always going to be a part of your Gaeilge instruction and these lovely display posters add a bit of meaning to the phrases. Come to think of it, when casting my mind back to secondary school Irish lessons, visuals like these wouldn't have gone amiss! 
ROI Illustrated Seanfhocail Display Posters-Irish - ROI - Irish Language Week Gaeilge Resources - 1st-17th March, seanfhocail, gaeilge,Irish

I love writing prompts and always liked having lists like these for each of my pupils to keep in their folders, which they can easily refer to when drafting written pieces.
Persuasive Writing Word Mat - Formal Writing Guide

Jumping back to Gaeilge again but this stood out to me as not only being a useful resource for pupils but for teachers too. 

Creative Writing may possibly be one of my most loved areas to work on with the senior classes. The opportunities are endless. Having a bank of visuals for inspiration is always helpful - be it for early finishers, creative writing challenges or even brain breaks. I still have a big folder of random pictures and newspaper clippings which I used for writing stimuli with the senior classes; which I occasionally dip into for Oral Language work with the infants. These Creative Writing images from Twinkl are a handy addition: 
Creative Writing From Images Display Posters - Creative Writing From Images Challenge Powerpoint - writing, challange, writing prompts, story writi

I love the SALT Narrative writing technique. These lovely flashcards are handy little reminders for pupils of what to add to their narrative compositions!

Narrative Writing Add SALT Display Posters - narrative, writing, SALT

Images from Twinkl

 'Twinkl have given me a free subscription in return for my review - but all thoughts and opinion are my own.' 

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