Friday, 29 July 2016

A Peek Inside Two Puzzling Packs! CVC Word Puzzles

Hi everyone! Today I'm quickly stopping by to give you a peek at my two newest products! :) These CVC word puzzles are the perfect way for little learners to work on their phonics and reading skills.

Find-A-Word puzzles are always a hit with my kidlets! These worksheets are organised by vowel sound.  There are two puzzles for each vowel, with an additional two featuring a mixture.  That's 12 unique puzzles altogether! Kidlets read each word after looking at the picture clue and then find them in the puzzle.  I've also provided colour copies of each puzzle in case you'd like laminate them and use them with dry erase markers.

As kidlets solve each puzzle they are faced with multiple opportunities to apply their knowledge of letters and sounds - as they decode each word, and again as they search for the words in the grid. Because the words are organised by vowel sound they will fit easily into your phonics teaching sequence, or can be used for targeted intervention.  (Aren't medial vowels a huge hurdle for some of our little learners?) 

Spell & Find is a little trickier! Kidlets need to complete each word by correctly writing the beginning sound on the line before finding the words in the puzzle.  As our 6 year old was 'testing' some of these out for me I loved to see her thinking as she searched for words.  Initially she wrote the letter j for the word gem, and then when she couldn't find the word in the grid she went back and thought about another letter choice. :)

These resources are perfect to use during Literacy small groups! They're also great as a quiet 'Fast Finisher' task - kidlets can tuck one away in their desk or a folder and move onto a puzzle without leaving their chair. :)

Click on any of the photos above to see these resources in my TpT store - make sure you view the preview file there for a closer look inside each pack.  Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Playdough! Creating Sensory Experiences in the Classroom

I love using playdough in the classroom - it's perhaps the most versatile of all the hands-on resources you can have in your bag of teacher tricks! As well as being a familiar and fun element of learning activities it's also a must-have for fine motor development - and with a few tweaks you can create some amazing sensory experiences for your kidlets to further engage and motivate them. Today I've stopped in to share a few of my favourite ideas with you.

Making your own playdough is easy and much, much cheaper than store bought. My go-to recipe has never failed me and best of all - you don't have to cook it!  Here's how it's done:

1. Mix 2 cups plain flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tablespoons cream of tartar and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large bowl.
2. Add food colouring of your choice to 1.5 cups of boiling water. Add this to the flour mixture and stir well.
3. When the mixture forms a dough, turn it out onto a floured board and knead until smooth.  (Be careful - it might still be hot!) 
4. Store in cling wrap in the fridge when not in use.

Now that you've whipped up a batch of basic dough it's time to get creative with scents and textures!  This list of ideas is by no means complete - as you experiment you'll find that the options for sensory dough are endless.  Try these to start:

*Lavender Dough - add a few drops of essential oil to some purple dough.  Perfect to place as an option in your 'Calm Down Corner' for kidlets who may need time to settle themselves, or to play with first up in the morning during the beginning of the year when children may find it stressful to separate from their parents.  You can also add lavender flowers for some texture if you have some in your garden. (If you don't like lavender just use any essential oil!)

*Sand Dough - sprinkle some clean sand into your dough as you're stirring the ingredients together.  You may find you need a little extra oil with this recipe.  Don't add food colouring to this batch to make it look more like sand.  Lots of fun to use along with a beach theme - provide shells and coral for kidlets to press into the dough.  Use some coconut essence or oil for a real tropical island experience!

*Mud Dough - I use coffee in this recipe!  Stir some into the boiling water for a rich brown colour.  Coffee grounds kneaded through the mixture add a dirt-like texture.  Provide plastic bugs, sticks/leaves or pebbles for children to explore with.  Make a few batches and add them to a tray outside - kidlets will love digging around in it with construction toys!

*Spring Dough - add rosewater (or another floral essential oil) to some pastel coloured dough.  Have kidlets collect leaves and flowers from the garden (or bring them from home) to use when playing with this dough.

*Chocolate Dough - replace about half a cup of the flour with cocoa powder.  You can use more if you like but I find the chocolate smell becomes too strong.  Perfect to use during an Easter or Valentine's Day theme, or with cupcake liners.  Kidlets will love to decorate their creations with cake sprinkles! Be warned - no matter how many times you explain that it's not food, someone will always eat the chocolate dough.  :)

*Candy Cane Dough - this one is my absolute favourite! Make 2 batches of dough and dye them Christmas colours.  Add peppermint essence.  Whenever we use these Christmas themed playdough mats I always bust out the candy cane dough!

*Fairy Dough/Magic Dough - add fine glitter to dough of any colour.  Girls particularly love pink dough! They will spend hours with the fairy dough, especially if they have a selection of beads, crystals and sparkly things to add to their creations.

*Fruit Dough - steep some herbal tea bags in the boiling water before adding it to the mixture.  Dye the dough the best colour to match your scent - yellow for lemon etc.

*Jelly Dough - dissolve a packet of jelly crystals in the boiling water before adding it to the mixture.  This is your scent and colour all in one!  Make multiple batches to use in a pretend play ice-cream store.  (See below!)

A word of warning: If you have any children who find strong scents overwhelming you will need to use scented dough carefully - I find that the essential oils can be particularly strong if you're too heavy handed.

Obviously you could just provide the dough as an option for kidlets to use during free play time, however we all know that there's less and less time for that in our little learners' school days. :(  Luckily it's easy to use play dough into a meaningful learning activity.

Playdough mats are a staple in my maths and literacy small groups, particularly at the beginning of the year.  Perfect to work on letter and number recognition and counting skills.  Click on the images below to see the ones in my store if you don't already have some of your own!

Alphabet Mats
Numbers 1-10 Mats
Grab some alphabet cutters to use playdough in a sight word or phonics task.  

The options for using playdough in a pretend play setting are pretty much endless!  Create a cafe, restaurant, bakery or ice-cream store with a few bits and pieces from the kitchen and a few batches of dough!

I hope I've sparked your imagination and inspired you to use scented or textured playdough in your own classroom!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Holiday Photo Catch-Up!

Hello friends! It's been far too long since I stopped by to share a post with you all  - but I have a good excuse, I promise! We've been enjoying a lovely family holiday in Tasmania for the past two weeks.  Today I'm sharing a very quick photo round-up of our adventure so far. :)

We started our trip near Hobart - after a 6am flight we spent the afternoon in Geeveston at the Tahune Airwalk.  The air was so clean and the views were gorgeous! Our 3 year old slept very well that night after no nap and a 2.5km walk!

We took a steam train ride on the Wilderness Railway, which runs from Queenstown to Strahan.  It's quite a long trip so we had booked the carriage that supplies food and drinks - the girls were entertained with morning tea, lunch and dessert while we travelled!

The scenery was just beautiful.  

One of the days we were in Hobart was rainy, cold weather so the activities we had planned had to be changed.  We stumbled (through Google) upon a small zoo just outside of the city.  Zoodoo was amazing! The girls loved the bunnies (they are a pest in Queensland so you never see them - only very rarely at a baby animal farm).

We took a safari bus and got to feed some animals.  The emus, camels and zebras came right up to the open sides of the bus!!

We also got to feed a lion which I thought was very cool! No safety worries - just a pair of tongs and some steak through the fence! :) I'd never even seen a lion before so to feed one was lots of fun.

One of my 'Bucket List' items has always been to see Wineglass Bay which is in the Freycinet National Park.  I was lucky enough to be surprised with a scenic flight right over it!

We had absolutely glorious weather and the views were just spectacular.

The plane was tiny but we managed to squeeze in...


We spent a day at Tasmazia - just outside of Launceston.  I'd been looking forward to this ever since I'd seen the photos online.

It was just the cutest place ever! we walked straight into a giant hedge maze, and once through that we found ourselves in Lower Crackpot.  A tiny village with more mazes and miniature townships.

Reese has taken to wearing one of my scarves - it's almost as big as her!

We had a (very cold) but fun time here. :)

The girls have seen more than their fair share of wildlife this holiday! As well as animals we saw at Zoodoo they also saw Fairy Penguins in the wild at Bicheno - no photos from that as we saw them at night and a camera flash would scare the penguins. We wen to Seahorse World and Platypus House while we were in Launceston.  The end of the tour at Platypus House was lots of fun as the girls got to feed some gorgeous echidnas.  Reese was very excited when two almost crawled into her lap!

For a few of the days we were in Tassie we toured around the wine regions.  The scenery is just beautiful.

Riley is particularly fond of Riesling.  Just joking - of course! This winery (Puddleduck) served verjuice and cheese so children were included.  

We're ending our holiday in Melbourne to visit some friends.  They've taken the Riley & Reese to the aquarium so we're doing the obvious tourist things....

...sitting at a riverside bar blogging...

...and researching shares! :)

If you've read this far I think it's only fair for me to share with you that I've got some of my favourite product discounted while I'm away - follow this link to grab some discounted math games!