Okay, I admit it...I'm a Christmas-oholic! I LOVE it and celebrations start on the 1st of December in our class! Below is our Advent calendar. Each day, there is a song to sing and dance to, a challenge or good deed for the day and a little treat or activity (sometimes a lesson we'd have been doing anyway, but a Christmassy one!). On the back are 2 names - children who get to wear a Christmas hat all day.
However, there is not a film day or Christmas Busy Book in sight. I try not to be critical on here, but the idea of a workbook full of Christmas wordsearches and mazes makes me grumpy! They are great...for indoor play! I completely get the time thing - there are times when some children are out rehearsing for plays or when you were supposed to watch the Reception Nativity but Borris was sick on the stage so it's been postponed, but surely we can do better than this!
My Tips For KS2 at Christmas
1) Have a few simple crafts with instructions ready to go. My children have table boxes with a zip-wallet in and they can have the equipment in there without it looking a mess. Here are a couple of mine:
Made just like the lotus flowers, but pull out the 'petals' from the top and the bottom to give a fuller look. Pretty hung up in the classroom or on the windowsills.
So simple to make! Instructions attached, thanks to Arian Armstrong for the instructions. I've made a printable version here:
2) Have a project on the go, something they can pick up ad get on with. This is best if it's something open-ended. This year, my class are making a website using Weebly. This has been a bit tricky because of the security settings on the children's laptops, but now I've got it susses, we're cooking with gas! I intended this as a bit of a consolidation task for our weather topic, but the learning is never-ending! Working in teams of 4, they choose a weather topic and planned out what they'd like to include and discussed whose skills suited which task(s). They then drafted and worked on the laptops. They have needed mixed amounts of support but have managed to get on well independently when necessary. There has also been a LOT of peer support and even some Googling to find out how to do what they want. They have worked on Microsoft Office and some websites, then have come to my desktop and imported their work, copied and pasted it into the appropriate places and figured out how to attach files etc.
I am overwhelmed by the success of this project! They have all done different things and used different skills, but didn't seem to feel at all restricted by what they already knew; they instead decided what they wanted to do and found a way to do it. Some examples include:
It's been a fab project that they can pick up and continue with in their own way. I haven't had anyone sat doing nothing or asking me what to do because they've finished; when they've finished, they chat to their team-mates about what would be good to add or what help they need. They are all active and all learning. I love it!
UPDATE: IT'S FINISHED!!! Click here to see Year 5's website!!
3) Involve them more in the Christmas production. I'm not going to lie, this one takes a bit of work and a lot of Pinterest trawling, but I think it's worth it. Let's be honest, the beauty of a project like the one above is that my planning reads "Website Work"... and that's pretty much all I can say! I have been involving them in the design and making of some of the costumes. There are some great ideas for easy no-sew costumes - check these out on my 'Sewing' Pinterest board (yes, I realise that I said no-sew, but I do sew so they're all mixed in, I'm afraid), especially tutus or tunics. I will DEFINITELY post some pictures of ours soon.
I also allow them to run lines in the little foyer to our classroom (we are in temporary port-a-cabin-style rooms so mine has its own little entrance, which is very handy!). The ones without a main part can help them, give them tips, direct and read the lines of those in other classes to prompt them.
The children without main parts who are quite interested in technology have been helping me to organise and trim the songs. We have bought-in a play that comes with all of the songs and sound effects, but some of the sound effects are repeated, so we have created a numbered playlist with them repeated as necessary to make it easy just to run though (you can do this easily by renaming them with a track number in front). Some of the sound effects were also way too long for us, so they have used Audacity to trim them and make them fade out.
Tip 2 helps with this kind of thing - some children are making costumes while others continue with their website.
Christmas in a primary school is exhausting, but still one of the best times of the year...if you make it be! Enjoy!
Step 1: Type-up work
I prefer to get the to work straight onto the computers, but you could have them hand-write it first if that suits you/them better. It's a step I don't find particularly useful. At this stage, you can show them where to find their word count if that's relevant. It was in this case.
Step 2: Track Changes
From the tabs at the top, select 'Review', then click 'Track Changes'.
Step 3: Show Balloons
You can either view changes in balloons (bubbles at the side of the document) or in-line (crossings out and changes within the text). I prefer balloons, as it makes it easier to read the text. To do this, click 'Show Markup', then 'Balloons', then 'Show Revisions in Balloons'.
Step 4: Make the Changes
As you do, you'll see the changes you make appear in balloons down the right-hand side. I recommend enlarging the text size to spread out the balloons and give you a better view of what's been done.
Tip: If there are any changes you don't want to see, right click and press 'accept changes' and the bubble will vanish.
You can click on the drop-down menu to switch between viewing the changes, the original and the final one without the bubbles:
This way, you can print with or without the editing on show.
So, there you have it. I use this feature of Word for all sorts, including editing. There are other uses, however. Check out this way of magpie-ing sentence structures using the review tool.
I know that my class are a creative bunch but this week they have once again amazed me! I have always been a little dubious about the quality of 'shape poems', but decided to give them another go. I am so glad I did!
We began by developing a bank of powerful vocabulary. I am a bit tired of vocab. banks so we used Tagxedo. For those of you who haven't used this yet, it's a fantastic free online resource! It's a little like Wordle, but you can choose the shape. We imported images. Simple ones work best usually although some shadowy pics can be effective. Here are some of our weather ones (as you can see, spelling slips when typing! Something to work on there, I think)
sTagxedo is also a great resource for children new to speaking English.
After that, the children worked with their writing buddies to put this vocabulary into fantastic sentences, using personification and other imagery. For the writing buddies, I have paired children with a 'complimentary' partner; one may be very creative, the other very accurate. It's working a treat! The children wrote their sentences on different lengths of paper to help them to create a tornado shape. You can see for yourself how beautiful the results were!
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!