Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Team Hope: Bunny's Shoebox Journey 2020

Team Hope have been fundraising and supporting disadvantaged children overseas since 2010. Each year, thousands of gift-filled shoeboxes, created by the people of Ireland are delivered to children across Africa and Eastern Europe especially for Christmas.

This year, as part of their fundraising efforts, they have published Bunny's Shoebox Journey, a children's book detailing the experience of creating a Christmas shoebox, sending it to Malawi and sharing kindness with others.  

The book itself was written by Rachel Brown and illustrated by Louise Dukes and has been published for preschool and infant classes and includes some useful conversation prompts and visuals to support further learning about the Christmas shoebox process. Bunny's Shoebox Journey also includes an insightful foreword from renowned Lecturer in Psychology and Education and Parenting Expert, Dr. Mary O'Kane.

The book itself costs €7 and all proceeds will go towards the wonderful work of Team Hope. Click here to purchase Bunny's Shoebox Journey.

Due to Covid19, Team Hope's Christmas Shoebox Appeal has moved online this year. For more details on how to donate and design your online gift box, click here.


Tuesday, 13 October 2020

12 Important Words

High frequency words - they take up a lot of our thinking time in early primary literacy instruction. Be it Dolch, Fry's, Tricky - there are many lists teachers choose to teach and this often brings a lot of discussion about where to start, which list to use and which words should take priority?

High frequency words make up about half of the total words we encounter in reading. There are many reasons why we need to help children recognise common words, but the main one being, to help them experience success in early reading experiences! (Not in fact to just jump from list to list of 'Tricky Words' as many still believe.)

So what might help?

Finding a starting point is important. Deciding what will support your students the most as they begin blending and decoding. I introduced Junior Infants to just twelve words first. One by one,  after Halloween usually, over a number of weeks, even months. These twelve were plenty to begin tackling their first exposures to reading books and conveniently we met them on a daily basis in our Big Book read alouds.

Why 12?

There is endless research on High Frequency Words and best approaches. In particular, the work of McNally and Murray* from the 1960s who studied common key words in written English. According to their studies,  there are 12 important, little words that account for around 25% of the total words in adult literature, children's books and reading schemes.

And here they are:

When the children are beginning to recognise and remember the first few letter names and sounds, they are giving you the signals that they are ready to begin reading conventionally. Then it's a good time to begin tackling the high-frequency words .... simultaneously with your phonics. The children need to see the connection between the letters and print, and it is crucially important that the high freq. words are included in this process. 

Download the 12 Important Words list in PDF poster format here.

Happy reading!


Clark, M. (2016). Learning to be literate: Insights from research for policy and practice. Improving Schools 2017, Vol. 19(2) 129-140. DOI: 10.1177/136580216651518


Apple Phoneme Activities

It's always nice to bring the seasonal themes into your literacy activities. It continues that contextualisation of the learning for children. I love when a resource can be used in multiple ways to reinforce a concept, especially when it comes to letter sounds. 

My Apple Phoneme Pack can be used in several ways to practice letter names, letter sounds, blending and emergent spelling. It also acts as useful display on your Autumn literacy wall or even embedded in your socio-dramatic play - Autumn Farm anyone?


Display, chop, cut, play - download for free and use the pack your way!


Monday, 5 October 2020

REPEAT: The Literacy Channel: Phonological Awareness Webinar


The Literacy Channel is going LIVE.... again! (Well, live on Zoom!)

Due to high demand we have decided to offer one last chance to attend our webinar on PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS!

What is it about?

What exactly is phonological awareness? Why do we need it? What can we do as teachers to develop phonological awareness? We've got you covered!

60 minutes, packed to the brim with advice, support, resources and strategies to best develop phonological awareness in the infant classroom. All participants will receive a copy of the content covered including a guide of practical strategies and resources to tackle Phonological Awareness in the primary classroom.

Registration costs €10Places are strictly limited to 100 places so book now to avoid disappointment!

Click here to REGISTER now! 

**Registration is now closed!**

See you on the 15th!

Please note: On registration, a zoom link will be sent to each participant. These links are unique to each attendee and must not be shared or circulated to others. Circulating unique links may render your link obsolete and you will be unable to join the webinar on the night.

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