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A new school year signifies taking things back to basics for our beginning learners. Children are eager to learn and want to show you how far they can count. But then we take things back a few steps. Most children come to school being about to count, for many only by rote. I know I have a little leaner at home who can tell you 1,2,4 and 8,9,10 but doesn't really understand what that means. That's where One to One Correspondence comes into play.

What is One to One Correspondence?
I was first exposed to the concept of One to One Correspondence as a teacher - of course I knew what it was, I had been doing it since I started school, I just never thought of it as a concept. Put simply, a child has 6 cups and are instructed to put one straw in each cup from a collection of straws. If they can follow this instruction, they have one-to-one correspondence. If the child put all straws in one cup or shared all straws out between the cups or was confused, they don't understand one to one correspondence. It is connecting one object to one object.

One to One Correspondence is also called Cardinality.

My little learner can count and can identify 2 objects, however, doesn't understand "this is a collection of 4 objects" even though he can count to 4. Therefore he doesn't understand one to one correspondence but that's ok - he is only a beginning counter.

Why teach it?
One to One Correspondence can't be something that we expect the students to just figure out as we go and hope they get it. It needs to be specifically taught. I, personally, have never had a problem with children using their fingers to count, or any other manipulative for that matter. Counting with manipulatives is One to One Correspondence. Children need to grasp the concept early to help them with their maths throughout the first year of schooling. The more they can exposed to One to One Correspondence at the beginning of the year, the better they will understand the next step.

When teach it?
As a Foundation (Kindergarten/Prep) Teachers, One to One Correspondence, Shape and Patterns are the first concepts I teach. One to One Correspondence is revisited as regularly as required during the first term. Many children will practice One to One Correspondence at Pre-School

How to teach it?
The best way to teach One to One Correspondence is to expose your students to it regularly, repeated practise and a variety of activities, all concentrating on the same still. Quick warm ups are easy, center activities are fabulous and worksheet activities have a place, with learning being hands on. Here are some ideas that I use in my classroom.

Warm Ups
Have the up and moving around. Children find somewhere in the room to stand. Roll a large dice. Children walk the number of steps shown on the dice.

Sit the children in a circle and give children a piece of paper or tens frame. Roll a dice, children collect that number of counters. Clear the board with each roll as you are not working on addition quite yet.

Put blue tack or magnetic strips on the back of the domino cards. Spread around the whiteboard. Ask students to come up to the board and find different numbers of dots. 

Use partner or small group games that children have played before as a warm up. This Spin and race to 10 is perfect. Alternatively, children could use a tens frame and a dice. 

Whole Class Activities

Simple trace sheets. Children trace over dotted lines. Each number to 10 included. Once finished, children could count out 3 of different objects and place them around the worksheet. 

Number flaps. Children flip the paper up and draw the correct number of dots or pictures underneath the flap.  

Simple worksheets. Counting, identifying and matching numbers. 

Centre Activities
Centre activities are perfect for exposing children to One to One Correspondence in a variety of forms. It's much easier for you too, you only need to make up one or two copies of each activity. Your laminator will absolutely be your best friend. Students only need 5-8 minutes per activity. Have a quick walk around to see how children are grasping the concept.

Any of these activities can also be sent home with students for extra practice. 

Simple match up activities like this one - matching numbers to fingers shown and matching numbers to pictures. 

Simple games like rolling a dice and adding that many scoops to the ice-cream cone. 

Use number posters or cards to draw the number of dots shown on the card.  

This is a simple activity that you could use any number cards you have in the classroom. Children simply look at the number and place that number of counters out. 

Teddy Counters are a staple in my classroom and there is something about standing them up in rows that children love. In this activity there is a dot underneath each teddy to help children match the correct number. Perfect for little learners and those still developing their number concepts. 

Simple games like roll and cover. Roll a dice, find the number and cover it with a counter. 

Students LOVE this activity. All you need is some paper with numbers and some punches. Children punch the correct number of shapes out. 

Simple clip cards. Easy for children to count and identify the number. Sneaky working on fine motor skills too....

I worked through this activity with my little learner. He loved making playdoh balls. Teach the children to show numbers using a variety of manipulatives. 

Much excitement when I pull my magnetic letters out from the storeroom. Children love finding the correct number and placing it next to the pictures. 

Label pegs to match the dots. 

Like the look of these activities and want to see more? Save yourself time and download my pack now, containing a total of 28 activities for teaching One to One Correspondence. Simply print, laminate and cut between resources. Click here to download it now. 

Looking for another whole class activity you could do? I investigate a number per week with this Number Detectives pack.

And good old Bingo is another favourite at the beginning of the school year.

Have fun!
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Australia Day is nearly upon us for another year. Australia Day sits at a funny spot in the school year doesn't it. Some states are back at school for the new school year, others are still on holidays. Back to school in Victoria always falls around the time of Australia Day, but I still always take the opportunity to celebrate it with the kids, even after the time.

With the back to school craziness I have you covered for great resources, easy preparation and purposeful learning about Australia Day.

Use the template for students to make their own Australian Flag.

2. Symbols of Australia Day Book Grades F-1
Use the 4 template pages included in my Australia Day pack to make an Australia Day book. Symbols of Australian Flag, Australian Map, Aboriginal, Ship (First Fleet) and Captain Phillips are included. Perfect for early learners.

3. A to Z of Australian Words Grades 3-6
Students think of an Australian word to begin with each letter of the alphabet. Ideas are included for teachers!

4. Koala Biscuits Grades F-3
Aren't these Koala Biscuits the cutest? I found them on pinterest and just had to include them in my list. All instructions are included on My Little Love Nest.

5. Design your own Australian Flag Grades 3-6
Students use the template provided to reflect on their culture and design their own Australian Flag. Writing prompts are also included.

6. Cut and Paste Australia Grades 3-6
Australian states are jumbled up on a worksheet ready for students to cut out and stick back together. Easy activity to prep, purposeful create a great display in your classroom. Other map resources also included.

7. Writing Prompts Grades 3-6
Including; The best thing about Australia Day is..., What does it mean to be Australian?, Why, who and how do we celebrate Australia Day?

8. National Anthem Cloze Grades 3-4
Fill in the missing words on this National Anthem Cloze.

9. Australia Comprehension Activity Grades 3-5
Students read through the information and then answer the questions, learning more about Australia as they go.

10. Design your own BBQ Menu Grades 3-6
Australia Day is in summer and is celebrated in many family and friendship groups with a big BBQ. Students design their own BBQ Menu that is quintessentially Australian.

11. Symbols of Australia Flipbook Grades F-2
This is a simple activity where students colour in Australian symbols and paste them in a book. Free, quick and easy!.

12. Australian State and Country Flipbooks Grades 3-6
Learn more about each Australian State with these flipbooks. Easy to prepare (copy of one page per student), simple research for the students and easy to put together.

13. Wattle Painting Grades F-3
Another great pinterest find. This one is thanks to Danya Banya. Check out all the instructions here. 

14. Australian Colouring Pages Grades K-1
10 different colouring pages included. Plenty of variety for students to choose. 

15. Australia Day Word Search Grade 2-3
Using theme words.

16. Roll and Cover Maths Activities Grades F-1
Maths activities focusing on counting, numbers, colours and shapes using dice. Plenty of variety and both color/colour worksheets included.

17. Australian Scrambled Words Grades 2-3
Students unjumble these Australian words.

18. Symmetry Activities Grades 3-6
Students complete these Symmetry activities with an Australian theme. 5 pictures included, with and without grid.

19. Australian Map Activity Grades 2-4
Students cut and paste the names of Australian states and territory into the correct position.

20. Koala in a Creek All!
What kid wouldn't love a Koala in a Creek? Another fabulous pinterest find thanks to Laughing Kids Learn.

21. Australian Trivia Questions Grades 4-6 
Game included in this Australia Day pack.

22. Australian Patterns Grades 3-6
Students complete these patterns using pictures unique to the Australian culture. Following the patterns is easy, drawing the pictures is tricky!

23. Aboriginal Dot Painting Grades F-6
There are many outlines online for doing some Aboriginal dot painting with your class. The kids love it, it takes little prep and they make a great display. I like these templates on Brisbane Kids. Otherwise, search on pinterest, there are some great ideas - these from Be A Fun Mum are simple to do for older children.

24. Making Damper At home activity
Another great idea from Laughing Kids Learn. Definitely easier to make with your own children at home unless you have cooking facilities (or a teacher's aide) at school.

25. Australian Fact Files Grades 3-6
State and Country fact files are included.

Enjoy! And Happy Australia Day!
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Another week has flown by, I'm not really sure where that one disappeared to. It's always the way isn't it, weeks you want to go slow go fast and others seem to go on forever! Today I am reviewing the final resource sent to me by Origo Education the Big Cubes and Big Cube Cards. This review is about the Australia resources, for more details on the US resources, please click here.

Above are the new Maths resources recently released by Origo Education for Early Learners. To read my other reviews on these resources, please click on the links below.
Origo Early Learning Big Books
Origo Big Poster Books
Origo Big Cubes and Cards

Review 3 - Origo Early Learning Big Cubes and Big Cube Cards

Big Cubes and Big Cube Cards are the final products Origo Education shared with me. I didn't know what to expect with this resources, but upon opening the box was surprised by the quality of the cubes (pack of 2) and the variety in cards that could be used with this resource. Think a kid at Christmas time opening their favourite present - this was me! There were lots of "Wow", "Oh that's cute", "How handy would these be" - luckily only a little leaner was listening! 

Origo Education advertise this product as "the perfect resource to merge sensory play with basic mathematical concepts". I could straight away imagine the students in a circle, ready to play and eagerly awaiting their turn so they can roll the dice. 

The cubes are soft, dark blue vinyl with clear plastic pockets sown onto each side. They measure 135mm cubed in size and the cards are slightly smaller. There are 39 sets (6 cards per set) of cards that can be placed inside the clear pockets of the cubes. Previously I have made my own cubes or covered up the numbers on a dice with pictures so I already knew the cubes themselves would be very handy. On first go I found the cards a little tricky to slide in (even though plenty of space has been left for the cards)  but once I worked out the knack of getting them in straight it was much quicker. Thankfully, the cards are made of such sturdy card that I didn't bend or damage the cards in any way. 

Set G - Animal cards for big/small/tall/short lesson

The cards are stored in a very study cardboard box with dividers and an index on the lid (very user friendly). Some cards are black and white others are colour, it is really dependent on the topic. Each card has a set number on the back so they can easily find their way back to the correct location. The cards are great for using in the cubes, but they are also perfect on their own as teacher prompts. In some of the lesson plans children are just given the cards for small group discussion and activities.

The reverse of each card, the set shown up the top in the centre. 

All important concepts for little learners are included on the Cube Cards: 
  • Number
  • Colours
  • One to one correspondence
  • 2D & 3D shape
  • Day/night
  • Weather
  • Duration of time
  • Sequencing
  • Ordinal number
  • Positional language
A sample of some of the cards. Each set contains 6 cards, only two are shown from the sets chosen. I love the variety between clipart, words and real photographs. Using visuals to infer is a developing skill still for our little learners.

As with the other Origo Education products, you get access to the Slate Online Platform that can be access through Origo Education when you purchase the products. It looks a little different this time with all the different sets of cards listed down the left hand side of the screen. You select the card (with topic) and then the teacher resource downloads ready for you to read on screen or print.

Activities to do with each set are comprehensive. As with the Big Books, any additional resources required like worksheets, numbers, cut and paste activities are included with the teacher resources making this the perfect print and go resource. The number of activities provided for each set of cards varies depending on the visuals/words on the cards. Each activity is comprehensive with full teacher instructions.

Set JJ with activity and resource for teachers.

Some activities require additional materials but nothing that you wouldn't already have in your classroom. 

If you would like to see some lesson plans in detail, you can download a sample for the Big Cube Cards here.

Do I like this resource? Absolutely. Would I use it in my Foundation classroom as well? Absolutely, at the start of the year or in intervention groups. Do I hope they bring out a slightly trickier version for Foundation classrooms? ABSOLUTELY!

If you are interested in finding out more information about the Big Cubes and Big Cube Cards you can click here. You can purchase the whole resource as a pack (2x Big Cubes plus Big Cube Cards) or the Cards and Cubes individually.

All Three Resources
I have no doubt that all three new Early Learning resources from Origo Education are engaging, well designed, extremely valuable and would assist in developing children's understanding of maths terminology at an early age. One of my favourite things about all three resources is the bright, colourful, well thought out images. Children at this early stage are such visual learners that it is important that visuals aren't overstimulating or confusing - all are absolutely perfect in my eyes.

Origo Education Big Books

Origo Education Poster Books

Origo Education Big Cubes and Big Cubes Cards

Knowing that all children develop at different speeds, some pre-school centres may find these resources beneficial while also some primary schools. With my primary school teacher hat on, I love the flexibility in designing your own lesson plans around these resources or following the comprehensive ones online. Perfect for teachers at any stage in their career.

When you purchase all three Early Learning Resources (as shown in 2nd photo), Origo Education email out a document outlining which Poster Books, Big Books and Big Cube activities align with each other. As previously discussed, all resources can be used in isolation or in conjunction with each other, depending on how much time and other resources you have to teach the maths topic. If you choose to go down this route, Origo Education will help you with the applicable resources.

If I only had a little bit of money left in the budget for the year and needed to choose one of these resources to buy, it would definitely be the Big Books. Definitely a favourite in my mind, and best of all they are available up to Year 2 so perfect for many different year levels.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the Origo Education Early Learning products and have felt privileged to have had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at these new products. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Happy Teaching!
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Spring has now sprung in Victoria, the days are getting warmer and longer and my little learner and I are spending more time outside exploring. We did have some time to look at the second lot of resources that I received from Origo Education though and today I am reviewing the Poster Book set. This review is about the Australia resources, for more details on the US resources, please click here.

Above are the new Maths resources recently released by Origo Education for Early Learners. To read my other reviews on these resources, please click on the links below.
Origo Early Learning Big Books
Origo Big Poster Books
Origo Big Cubes and Cards

Review 2 - Origo Early Learning Poster Books

I was intrigued by the Poster Books from the moment I opened the box. The 12 Poster Books arrived in a study, practical box, perfect for long term storage. The Poster Books had a black and white cover, I really had no idea what to expect so started to pull the cover out of the box. What unfolded was a 4 frame, bright and colourful Poster Book about colour!

The books still remaining a mystery...
Poster Book 1 about colours. Bright, colourful, purposeful and perfect for Early Learners. 
Poster Book 1 is a total of 4 A3 frames. Children would love getting involved and being able to hold pages as you read. 

The Poster Books are made from sturdy card making them perfect for whole class reading. With the right care, these resources could stay looking new for years to come. 11 of the Poster Books are A3 size and Poster Book 11 is A4. To quote Origo Education "The unique design allows educators to share each story as a book, then expand the pages to display it as an eye-catching poster." Hence the name Poster Book.

Each Poster Book is a short story that teaches a maths concept and can act as a stimulus to learning or a whole lesson. Like the Big Books, there are tunes to accompany the Posters Books on the Slate Online Platform. The books are very engaging and children will love the intrigued as it unfolds to tell the story. I can imagine inviting children to come hold a section of the poster book as we read and discuss. Even though there are lesson plans to accompany each book online, as simply a stimulus to promote discussion, these books would be fantastic.
Poster Book 11 - Counting back from 10
This is a 10 frame poster A4 size that would be perfect for display after reading. 

Each Poster Book has bright, colourful and simple pictures that promote discussion about the topic. There is clear text for those little learners who can follow along.
Poster Book 5 - Collecting Data

Like the Big Books, the Poster Books link to the Australian Early Years Framework and have a solid base in developing verbal skills, listening skills, developing maths terminology and working collaboratively. All three resources (the Big Books, Poster Books and Big Cubes) can work independently of each other, or can be used simultaneously to teach a topic. Although they are designed for Early Learners, I can see them being beneficial in Primary Schools for children who come to school require additional consolidation of basic concepts.

Topics covered
Poster Book 1 (4 frames) - Colour
Poster Book 2 (6 frames) - Size
Poster Book 3 (6 frames) - Counting 1 to 5
Poster Book 4 (6 frames) - Movement and Direction
Poster Book 5 (8 frames) - Data
Poster Book 6 (6 frames) - Counting 1 to 10
Poster Book 7 (6 frames) - Capacity
Poster Book 8 (8 frames) - 2D Shape
Poster Book 9 (8 frames) - Ordering numbers 1 to 10
Poster Book 10 (4 frames) - Time
Poster Book 11 (10 frames) - Counting back from 10
Poster Book 12 (8 frames) - Adding to and taking away

On initial glace, it may appear that some of the topics are a little difficult for Early Learners, however, the stories themselves are simple, with no technical words included, and are simply used to introduce children to that topic.

Slate Online Platform & Tunes
Slate, the Origo Education online platform, is free (for 12 months) to organisations who purchase the set of Poster Books and can be accessed through the Origo Education website. All information is sent to the main contact when a purchase is made. Slate is very easy to navigate and use, with everything organised by title and clearly displayed. One little thing that appealed to me was that when I log out, when I log back in again, it automatically loads the last page I was on, perfect for teachers who like to get organised for online activities ahead of time.

When I logged into Slate, I selected "Big Poster Books for Early Learning" and had access to teacher notes, lesson plans and tune to go along with the book I had selected. There are between 1 to 4 activities for each Poster Book. Activities covered in the lesson plans are a little more basic than the Big Books and would be absolutely perfect for Pre-schools.

Simply choose which Poster Book you are reading, then click on the resources to select the teacher notes. 

An example of the activity listed for the Poster Book 5. 

Like the Big Books, I am thankful that I am able to print the lesson plans out for each Poster Book. Simply store both resources together or other teachers to use.

To accompany each Poster Book is a tune, easily located with the lesson plans on Slate. Each tune was fun, upbeat and engaging and the words were the same in the Poster Book to in the song. As a teacher who is always forgetting the words to songs, I love that I can read along as the children sing and dance. I can see children loving these songs and wanting to sing and dance to them daily. They are obviously great at teaching the concept too!

Like the Big Books, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to review these amazing new resources of you. The Poster Books are only available as a set and at $249 they are a big investment for your school, but a purposeful and engaging one.  If you are interested in finding out more information about these Poster Books, please head to the Origo Education website.

Thanks again for reading along. Please ask any questions about these books in the comment section or via Facebook. My final blog post will be about the Origo Education Big Cubes and Cards box.
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I was contacted a few months ago by Origo Education and asked if I would review some of their new early learning products. I had never seen Origo Education resources in the schools I had worked in so was excited to see how their resources compared to other well known companies and what made them that little bit different. I have a real passion for using books to teach maths concepts so was thrilled to find a company that specialise in creating engaging maths resources.
I was sent a set of Big Books, Big Cubes and Cards and a set of Poster Books, the resources shown below, new to their website. This review is about the Australia resources, for more details on the US resources, please click here.

All three sets of resources link to the Australian Early Years Framework and have a solid base in developing verbal skills, listening skills, developing maths terminology and working collaboratively. Resources can work independently of each other, or can be used simultaneously to teach a topic. Origo Education also have an online platform Slate which teachers can sign up for a free trial after purchasing products.

Due to the number of resources Origo Education sent me as well as the online platform, I will be breaking my review into three blogposts;
Origo Early Learning Big Books
Origo Big Poster Books
Origo Big Cubes and Cards

Review 1 - Origo Early Learning Big Books

There are 12 books in the Big Book Set, each book measures 430mm by 330mm, perfect for little eyes to see at a distance and not too big for a teacher to hold or place on a book stand. Each book has a thicker, sturdy front and back cover and each page is high quality paper perfect for little hands to turn. Illustrations are colourful and visually stimulating and text is simple for beginning readers to identify letters. They are simply, a beautiful resource to have in the classroom.

Looking through each book, I was impressed with the simplicity of the storyline and images, allowing children to easily stay focused on the concepts they were learning. Origo Education advertise "Encourage your little learner's love of rhyme, rhythm and engaging stories with Big Books and Tunes for Early Learning" and that is exactly what they do. Concepts being taught are highlighted in bold as you read through the story, allowing the teacher to put easy emphasis on specific words.

Titles and topics covered are:
Buster the Balloon: Comparing Two Objects
Caty the Caterpillar: Time and Sequencing Events
How Many Animals?: Counting to Five
I Think I'll Go Flying: Positional Language
Parker's Patters: Repeating Patterns
Peter Piper: Addition and Subtraction
Polly Loves Puzzles: Counting up to ten objects
Stan the Firefighter: Comparing three objects
The Racing Horses: Ordinal Numbers
The Same Game: Sorting
Which Floor Please?: Number and Relative Position
Look and See: 3D Objects

My favourite books of the series were Look and See and Parker's Patterns. I loved the direct teaching in both of these and the illustrations were outstanding. I could definitely see myself using both these books with a Foundation class.

Each shape is introduced and then children are given the opportunity to find that shape in the pictures. Pictures have wonderful real-life examples of each shape. A great opportunity to discuss shapes with children as well as an excellent introduction to a shape scavenger hunt activity. 

The visuals in Parker's Patterns were detailed, varied from page to page and could provoke great discussion within the class. There were many chances on each page to find patterns and all children could have a chance to share. Some patterns were predicable, others slightly hidden so could challenge those students who identify patterns quickly. 

I tested out Parker's Patterns and How Many Animals? with my little learner at home. He was excited initially to be reading a big book and getting to turn the big pages himself. The visuals engaged him and he loved pointing out the different numbers of animals as we practised our counting. Although the learning aspect of the books are a little above his current age, he happily read along and discussed the text with me and pointed to things he saw in the pictures.

You can download a sample of the Big Books directly from the Origo Education website to see more pages from each text.

So how are these big books different to other big books I have seen? 
Firstly, I haven't had access to such wonderful Math Big Books before. I have been in schools that have had the occasional Math big book, but never as comprehensive as this collection. Even though they are designed for Early Learners, I can see some of these titles being applicable in the Primary School classroom as well. As a Foundation to Grade 2 teacher I would have no hesitation in purchasing Big Books specific to those levels, if the Early Learners pack is anything to go by, the books would be a wonderful addition to any maths program. Click here to find out more information on the Foundation set, Grade 1 set and Grade 2 set.

Secondly, the online resources also sells the books to me. I love the idea of being able to read and discuss a book with the class and then follow up with online, interactive activities or follow through the clearly researched and engaging lesson plans.

Slate Online Platform
Slate, the Origo Education online platform, is free to organisations who purchase the set of Big Books and can be accessed through the Origo Education website. All information is sent to the main contact when a purchase is made. Slate is very easy to navigate and use, with everything organised by title and clearly displayed. One little thing that appealed to me was that when I log out, when I log back in again, it automatically loads the last page I was on, perfect for teachers who like to get organised for online activities ahead of time.

When I logged into Slate, I selected "Big Book Tools for Early Learning" and had access to teacher notes, an interactive activity, lesson plans as well as a tune to go along with the book I had selected. There are between 9 and 12 activities included for each book as well as BLM and task cards for the children. This is excellent from a time management perspective, I don't have to spend extra time coming up with activities to do with each book, everything has been done for me, along with explicit teaching questions and prompts. Activities were sequential but you could easily pick and choose as well. I was impressed with the variety of activities included and thought that had been put into the concepts being taught in each book.

Example of some of the activities included with the book "Parker's Patterns".

Short snippet of an activity with associated resource, simply print and photocopy for each student. 

Under "Big Book Tunes" I found a song that has been written specifically to go with the Big Book you are reading. Listening to the tune is an activity for each book. Engaging and gives you a chance to re-read the story in a different way.

As much as I enjoy having access to all this information online, I do like to have a printed copy, so I would be printing many of the lesson plans from the online tool, luckily they have this as an option! In a school setting, I would store the books with the teacher notes printed and ready for any teacher to use.

I am feeling incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to look at these amazing resources and share them with you. The thought and care that has been put into every aspect from the design of the book to the engaging online activities is very much loved and appreciated by this Early Years teacher!

If you are interested in purchasing these Big Books you can head to the Origo Education website. Although these books could be used in conjunction with the Poster Books and Big Cube and Cards, you do not need either of those resources to use these books effectively in your early learning centre or classroom.

Thanks for reading. Please ask any questions about these books, I will give you my honest opinion, so let me know if I have left out. My next blog post will be about the Origo Education Poster Books.
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Let's be honest, being a Graduate Teacher is hard work. No university course or placement can fully prepare you for what you are about to be responsible for. The teaching, students, grading, reports, parents, school politics, after-school meetings, before-school meetings and lets be honest, running out of photocopier credits is enough to send us over the edge some days. I remember how hard it was to be a graduate teacher and I was so lucky to have some wonderful mentors in my first school, I just had to do a little bit of searching to find them! No question was ever silly, no assistance was ever knocked back and I received the love and support I needed. Not everyone is this lucky, so when I was given the opportunity to mentor a Graduate teacher, I took the role very seriously. We need to support new teachers and keep them in the profession!

Today I am not posting about advice for new teachers because really, they are already overloaded with information and they simply DO NOT have time to read yet another blogpost. Instead, I am sharing some things we, experienced teachers, can do to help new teachers survive the first month of teaching.

1. Put together a new teacher basket of treasures.
Some items you might include are:
- picture story book
- inside ball for games
- stickers
- whistle
- highlighters
- hand sanitiser
- antibacterial wipes
- foam dice
- sharpies
- correction pens
- bulletin board letters and borders
- sturdy box or container (teachers can never have enough storage)

2. Be the coach, not a player
They don't need you to take over and play the game, they need you to be the coach. Show them what to do, practice, provide them with the resources, but let them play the game and in some cases, make the mistakes. Remember we teach children the FAIL means "First Attempt In Learning" and it is absolutely true as a teacher. Don't let them sink, but help them and guide them to find their way.

3. Gradual release of information
In the first few months, graduate teachers will be exhausted, sleep deprived and no doubt suffering from the sniffles as they build their immune system. The last thing the want to know is about something going on in 3 months time. Tell them when they need to know, provide them with the information, but don't expect them to do anything about it until closer to the time. Heck, I remember being a new teacher and planning day to day, because my brain just COULDN'T cope with anything else at that stage!

4. Help them set up routines
We know routines make our life easier. Talk through some of the routines you have in your classroom. It could be as simple as your morning routine or your pack up routine. Showing a new teacher what you do and helping them implement the routine from the start of the year will be one less stress for them. Share your routines and explain why you do it, show them how it will make their day go smoother. Children like routines, they like to know what comes next and they like to know their school day will be predictable. Programs such as The Daily Five are great at teaching teachers how to take a few steps back, create anchor charts and make no assumptions on prior learning.

5. Behaviour Management - the power of rewarding the positive
As an experienced teacher, I walk into a classroom and straight away can praise the behaviour I want to see, I do this because I know by saying "Oo Evie, I love the way you are sitting" will automatically get at least 5 more children sitting like Evie. Say it again to another child and you may be close to having the whole class sitting beautifully. I set high expectations in my classroom and it is enforced not through yelling or telling children off every time they aren't listening, it is simply the power of positive reinforcement. When observing or teaching with new teachers, the lack of positive reinforcement is something I notice straight away. Talk to your new teacher about rewarding positive behaviour and what it can do for your mindset. Discuss having the same expectations on a day to day basis. Concentrate on the positives.... (And by rewarding positive behaviour I don't mean treasure chests full of Dollar Store items, chocolates and pizza parties). Read more in my blogpost here. 

6. Reward the positive
Like your students, teachers respond to positive reinforcement too. As a new teacher you are often feeling overwhelmed, busy and are constantly trying to do everything right. But do you have parents come in and tell you that you are doing a good job? No, you have parents coming in complaining that their child's jacket went home with someone else, or that their child keeps bringing home the same reader. Share the love, if you spot something great, comment on it. It could be a bulletin board, activity, worksheet, dealing with a yard issue, anything, anytime - you will be surprised how much it can make someone's day. It is a great feeling to be told you are doing a great job, even when you feel like the ocean could swallow you up at anytime.

7. Planning
As a graduate teacher I got bogged down in planning. Constantly trying to change things up, spending all my time researching and finding new activities. I remember spending hours making little draw string bags (without a sewing machine) for a simple activity. Yes, new teacher enthusiasm, but really over the top and not required! The same concept could have been taught in a much simpler way! I used to go into school for most of Sunday to organise my week ahead, and then sometimes even found myself planning day to day. What was I doing with ALL that TIME? Planning comes with experience, so show your new teacher your planner, let them use it initially while they find their feet if you want, show them how each day and week can look the same. We don't want to make things harder on ourselves than they already are.

8. Classroom decor
There are teachers out there spending their summer vacation working on things for their classroom, spending up big on the newest chairs, cushions, rugs, tables, bulletin boards and organisational. Sure Pinterest inspired classrooms are beautiful, but they aren't required. New teachers are not going to have the budget to spend thousands of dollars and let's be honest, hundreds of hours, making their classroom look beautiful. And really, that's ok. If they need a classroom library, encourage them to go to second hand bookshops or garage sales. Cover bulletin boards with cheap material and ribbon. Show them teachers can work in classrooms that aren't immaculate and colour coordinated. You might like to refer them to my blogpost here about setting up for the new school year.

9. Let them talk
If a new teacher comes to you for advice, let them talk. Let them share their issue and listen, really listen. As teachers we are very good at wanting to help and telling people what to do, but we know that the learning is richer when we let them figure it out for themselves. It is absolutely the coach role again. Here is a scenario... A new teacher comes to you with a concern that one of their students isn't listening and following instructions. Instead of telling the new teacher what you do in your classroom, ask them what they have tried. What has been successful for others? Why do you think that child isn't listening and following instructions. Prompt the new teacher with questions to get them analysing the situation and them thinking about it. More often than not, simply talking through the problem with someone else leads to a resolution.

10. Coffee
Find out how they have their coffee and surprise them with a tiny gesture, at a time when they need it most. For under $5 you can make someone's day.

Remember, these teachers are new, they want more than anything to prove that they can do it, but they need our help. Teaching is hard, much harder than any of us could have imagined.

Happy teaching (and happy coaching),
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Recently I blogged over at the Australian Teachers Blog about Five Minute Fillers and thought I would share the post here also! Enjoy - I hope you get some new ideas too!

Working as a relief teacher, I need to have a full bag of tricks to keep the children motivated and engaged throughout the day. That's when some handy, no prep, 5 Minute Fillers come in handy! 
Here are a few of my favourites that can be used across a number of year levels.

Children make a circle. Number the children off “one, two, one, two…”. Holding hands, ask the “number ones” to lean in and the “number twos” to lean outwards, can you all stay up standing? Switch around. 

Number Heads
Two children sit on chairs in front of the whiteboard. Write a number behind each child and give them a clue (eg. Your number is between 1 and 100, or your number is a decimal number between 1 and 5). Children take it in turns to ask questions to the audience (only yes/no answers) to try and guess their number. 

Roll and Skip
Children sit with a whiteboard. Roll a dice to nominate the number they are counting by. Give children 1 minute to write down the correct number sequence starting from 0. How far can they go?

Quick Brainstorm
Sit children in two groups. Write a topic on the board (eg. the beach) – groups take it in turns back and forth to volunteer a word to do with the topic. If a group takes too long or says a word not related, they loose that round. Play multiple rounds, changing the topic each time. 

Human Shapes
Children stand in their own space in the classroom. Nominate a number, letter or thing and children make themselves into that shape. Some things may require the children to work together.

Sleeping Lions
Children lay on the floor in a comfortable spot. Children lay absolutely. Anyone who does move, sits up. The winner is the person who has stayed absolutely still for the longest. 

Children stand in a circle. Nominate a fact family to count by and a nominated “buzz number”. A child starts saying the first number in the fact family, then the next child says the next number. Continue until the nominated buzz number has been reached. That child says buzz and sits down. Start from the first number and repeat. Play continues until one player is left. 

Word Up
Write a long word (nonsense or real) on the board. Give the children 3 minutes to find as many small words inside the big word as they can.

Spellcheck Detective
Write 8 words on the whiteboard. Children close/cover their eyes. While they are covered, remove one of the words and write it again with a spelling mistake. Children open their eyes and become Spellcheck Detectives to try and find the word with the spelling mistake.

Classroom Letter Hunt
Send the children around the classroom with a whiteboard or piece of scrap paper to write down 10 things that start with a particular letter. Each child can have their own letter or everyone have the same. Share. 

I hope you have as much fun playing them as I do!

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We all know how important it is to read, interpret and manage a calendar, but my question is who should be the one teaching it? Should it be parents or teachers, or both?

As a relief teacher, I visit different classrooms and year levels on a weekly basis. I was recently in a Prep/One classroom (Kindergarten or Foundation) and was talking about the calendar when a little girl started to get very confused and worried. She stammered "but, but, what happens tomorrow?" She could see that June ended on the 30th and there were not more cards on the class calendar. So what about tomorrow? She had no concept of what exactly a month was and the idea that when July starts, the dates start at 1 again. As cute as her misconception was, it made me wonder how many other children are there in schools who haven't been exposed to calendars at home and haven't been incidentally or explicitly taught about calendars in the classroom.

I did a quick scan of the Australian Curriculum and the US Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
In the US Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten I found no mention of teaching days of the week, months of the year, weather or calendars. I looked at the First Grade and Second Grade outcomes, then decided to do a keyword search. I found nothing! We can be thankful that teachers have common sense and many explicitly teach calendars as part of their morning routine, I just can't find the specific standard that addresses this!
In the Australian Curriculum I found links at Foundation and Year 1 beginning with making connections to events and days of the week, then naming and ordering the days of the week and months of the year. In Year 2, students should be reading and interpreting calendars.

So I thought I would share a few tips with your for teaching calendars in your classroom. Many require very additional work and can be easily implemented into your classroom routine. In the early years, the easiest way to teach calendars is through daily discussions.
  • Have a calendar on display in your classroom with birthdays and special events marked
  • Discuss the date on a daily basis
  • Say "My turn, Today is Monday July 3rd, your turn" and children repeat back "Today is Monday July 3rd"
  • Ask students to identify days 3 days ago, what day will it be in 2 days and how many sleeps until a certain event
  • When switching months and seasons, discuss the change with the students
  • Sing days of the week and months of the year songs (there are some great ones on youtube)
  • Encouraging students to record the date in their reading diary
  • Using a date stamp on work if children are unable to write their date
  • Encouraging families to make a family calendar at home
You could supplement your calendar activities with this easy to use Weather Booklet.

In older year levels, often the assumption is made that children know how to read and manage a calendar and in the increasingly overloaded curriculum, it is often overlooked. But there are some simple things you can do that don't take up much of your day.
  • Have a calendar on display in your classroom with birthdays, special events and reminders (eg. homework due)
  • Always encouraging students to write the date in their workbooks and on worksheets
  • Using a diary to record home reading, homework assignments and special events
  • Date Math - If the date is 09/12/2017 then children make up as many sums as they can using only the numbers in the date. eg. 7+2=9
You could also download my Calendar Worksheets that can be completed on monthly basis. This product is updated on a yearly basis and is also available in calendar year format.

Happy Teaching!
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