Using One Copybook

I, RightCreative Commons License neovain via Compfight

Some of you may know that students are using just one copy at the moment.

This is very practical in terms of seeing student progress since September.


One copy ‘tells the story’ for student, teacher and parent of our time in school.

I find it is encouraging for student and teacher as a substantial’body of work’ builds up

and it is there to be seen all in one place.


You can see progress in terms of presentation and content.


Teachers and students can make connections between different subject areas

as links between topics and possibilities for integration are so apparent on the page.


It is good value. Instead of eight copies where some like English fill up quickly and need to be replaced

and others may only be half full at the end of the year, less copies will be used.

We are a Green School, so this is important to us.

We can concentrate on content and presentation instead of’Which copy do I use?’

There is much less of ‘I can’t find my copy’too. This means I have a happier class.

Earlier this term, I was reassured to read this blog post from an inspiring and encouraging blog

by the Imperfectly Honest Teacher  to find I wasn’t the only one taking this approach.

Click HERE to read his post


Every Day Counts – The Importance of Good Attendance

Good attendance is very important.

It is important for learning.


Good attendance is also a factor in a child’s social development in class.

A child who is in school regularly will find it easier

to make friends and sustain friendships.


They will also know the teacher and settle in better.


The National Educational Welfare Bureau

asks schools to submit the names of any child

who misses 20 days or more.


However the other nineteen days shouldn’t be seen as leeway.

We understand that sometimes children are unwell

and have to stay home to recover.


However if a child was to miss 20 days in a year,

they miss 80 in their primary school career.


On average children attend school five days a week and twenty days a month.

So missing 80 days of school is the equivalent of missing four months of school.


Even missing 10 days a year would be the same as missing eight weeks of school:

the same length of time as the summer holidays here in Ireland.


Taking even a week off school in June each year to go on holidays

takes one month off the number of days a child comes to school in their school career.


We can learn a great deal in a month 🙂


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Quick Links; How To Help Your Child’s Learning Over The Summer.

Free Daddy and His Little Shadow Girls at The Skate Park Creative Commons
Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt via Compfight


Dear Parent,


I hope you find these links useful.

This post is intended to make finding

these three posts as easy as possible;


1. Helping your child with Reading

2. Helping your child with Maths

and ‘the honours course’;

3. How you can help your child’s ‘higher order learning’ using Bloom’s Taxonomy

My Heart is a Flower
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight

PS. 1. Greystones Library is running

a ‘Reading Passport’ promotion

to encourage reading over the summer.

Why not call in and sign your child up! 


2. Finally ‘Smart Futures’ are running

a technology project competition

which may appeal to your child’s interests;

Smart – Competition

‘Smart Futures’  is an enterprise

which aims to introduce students

to the potential of a future

working in the areas of

science, technology,

engineering or maths.


This project involves choosing an area to study.

It could be about a career in this area or about

someone, past or present who work in this area.


To present this project

you could design a website or webpage,

‘an animation or a PowerPoint presentation, a music video or a game.’


This project is aimed at students at primary or second level.

It may appeal in particular to any student involved in working with Coder Dojo.


3. How You Can Help Your Child’s ‘Higher Level Learning’ using Bloom’s Taxonomy


New Blooms Pyramid
Photo Credit: Andrea Hernandez via Compfight

This is the final part of three posts

on how you can help your child’s learning over the summer.

The first post was about 1. How to help your child with Reading

the second was about 2. How to help your child with Maths

This last one is ‘the honours course’

and is about how you can help

your child’s ‘higher level learning’ using Bloom’s Taxonomy.


Bloom’s Taxonomy is

a hierarchy of levels at which we learn.

There are a list questions 

you can make use of

to develop your child’s thinking.


You can ask your child these questions,

about their reading or just when talking to them.


This list of questions begin with ones

you have already been asking your child

when working on their reading comprehension;

who? when? what? and where? 


However you will see from these links

that the list goes on, the questions get more complex

so for example;

you are asking your child ‘to compare’ or ‘evaluate’.


You might like to download this chart

(from Enokson on Flickr)

and stick it up on the fridge as a reminder

of these questions.


To be asking questions like this

may seem artificial at first

but as time goes on asking

the ‘higher order questions’

will come as second nature to you

and will benefit your child’s

‘higher order thinking’.


After extensive practice at this level,

the next step in using Bloom’s Taxonomy

would be to encourage your child to ask the questions

and to encourage them to

move from the ‘lower order’ questions;

who? where? how? and when?

to the higher order ones.


I am hoping to do a short course about this

this later in the summer,

and will post again then.


In the meantime, these links are informative.

How Blooms Taxonomy Can Encourage Children’s Critical Thinking Skills from Exquisite

How Parents Can Use Bloom’s Taxonomy To Encourage Higher Level Learning In Their Children


Critical Thinking Skills
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2. Helping your Child’s Learning; Mostly Maths (for 2nd Class going into 3rd)

Tirando Los Dados. / Rolling The Dice.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Gonzalo Barrientos via Compfight

Dear Parent,


A number of parents have asked for more details

than was contained in the end of year report

about how parents can help their child’s learning over the Summer.


I have already posted some suggestions about reading

Suggestions for Children’s Reading Over The Summer


This post relates to Maths.

There will be a third post about using higher order questions

to develop your child’s learning.

 illustrated math problem
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jimmie via Compfight


The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

have several short videos for parents

about working on maths with your child.

Short Videos from National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)


They appear to be still compiling resources for 3rd/4th class

For Parents of 3rd/4th Classes – National Council for Curriculum and Assessment


This post relates specifically to

students in 2nd Class going into 3rd.

It is a long post and you will find

the contents will help you

over the next school year.


In many reports I wrote that;

‘3rd+4th Class is the window of opportunity

for learning multiplication+division tables.

They are easier to learn than

the addition/subtraction tables from this year

because of the number patterns apparent in them.

Prioritizing these tables next year will

give your child a very useful life skill.

Tables are gymnastics for the brain.

Knowing them well is confidence building

and allows your child to concentrate on methodology’.


Multiplication is introduced as repeated addition.

Towards the end of 2nd class, we did this in class.


You may find the following websites helpful.

The two introductory videos here are useful;

Teach the Times Tables on


This is a useful follow up game;

Carl’s Cookie Capers from


The Balloon Popping Game from the School Hub

with which your child is very familiar will also be helpful.


Other online games that practice multiplication can be found here;

Multiplication Games from ICT


It may be that your child finds it hard to learn by rote.

So you may find this site useful;

Strategies for Learning Multiplication Facts from


This  game also provides some gymnastics for the brain;


Problem Solving is a skill that all students would benefit from practising.

I suggest an inexpensive purchase  Mad 4 Maths – 3rd Class

To start with your child could do a few of these with you

perhaps using the 3-step strategy highlighted below.

Once they master these steps they can continue on, independently.


How can you help your child with problem solving in Maths?

Problem Solving:

The following strategies are useful in relation to problem solving
• Discussing the problem
• Rephrasing to make the meaning clearer
• Using concrete materials where possible
• Using smaller numbers
• Setting out problem on paper using diagrams, drawings etc.
• Estimating


Some teachers use the mnemonic  RUDE 

to remind the children of problem solving strategies.

So the children are encouraged to 


Underline key words, 


Estimate (Answer).

This is the simplest approach.

‘Drawing’ the problem can be very effective.

It gives the child time to think and process the information.


Another approach is

We LUV 2 C word stories!


Underline (the key word), 


Calculate and 



In tandem with these approaches you could ask your child:


1. What do I have? (what info is given?)


2. What do I want to have at the end? (What am I being asked to do?)


3. How do I get there? (add/subtract/multiply/divide or a combination)


The additional website may be useful for some.


It teaches a visual strategy for problem solving:


Problem Solving with Thinking Blocks


Penrose Triangle
Photo Credit: gfpeck via Compfight

 I have checked out all these websites,

but please supervise your child online.

Information for Parents about Sports Day

1. Sports Day takes place in Eire Og.

If it is raining a text will be sent out advising parents that Sports Day has been cancelled and school will be as normal.

2. Please drop your child to Rugby Club by 8.45 at the latest. Roll call at Eire Og will be at 9.00 sharp and within minutes the children will be assembled in their teams and will have dispersed to try the various activities around the grounds.

Primary school children, sports day by Anthea Sieveking , Wellcome Images
Photo Credit: Duncan Hull via Compfight

Late arrivals would find it difficult to find their team with so many children in the field and this can cause upset.

3. Eire Og could not accommodate all your cars so please drop your child, or park at the Rugby Club.

Some teachers will need to park in Eire Og as they have heavy sports equipment.

There will be supervision crossing road to Eire Og.

4. No valuables please.

5. Sun screen,

perhaps a sun hat,

and a light rain jacket is advisable.

Children to wear their school tracksuit,

perhaps their shorts.

Two water bottles recommended.

Lunch in secure lunch box or bag.

Seagulls have raided plastic bags for lunches in the past.

>ºl ºlº
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini via Compfight

6. Children’s medicine (inhalers etc.) from the office will be brought to the field by staff.

If your child suffers from hay fever, you might like to take precautions before they set out.

7. Please collect your child between 1 and 1.15.

Please check your child out with teacher before leaving the field.

Once again no parking at Eire Og.

Plenty of parking at Rugby Grounds.

We are looking forward to a great day.

Planned activities include;

soccer, dodge ball, hurling,

baseball, tag rugby, ultimate frisby,

target games and the obstacle course.

Thanking you for your co-operation.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: jon_mc75 via Compfight

School Tour to The Chocolate Factory tomorrow!

Tomorrow, we are going on our school tour

to the Chocolate Warehouse.

Please come to school as usual

for nine o’clock.

If you would be more comfortable

wear the school tracksuit.

We will board the bus 9.10 approx

and plan to leave 9.20.

We are booked into the Chocolate Factory

from 10.30-12.30.

On the way home we will stop into

the park for a picnic

(weather permitting).

A sunny afternoon in the zoo park
Photo Credit: Torsten Reuschling via Compfight

We are planning to return to school

for 2.40 at the latest.


This is an account of what happened

when we went there last year,

which I thought you might find informative.

We had a very enjoyable tour

to the Chocolate Warehouse today.


We just missed the Oompa Lumpas

who had just gone on their tea break 🙂


We would like to thank the staff at Caffrey’s

for all their help and kindness.


We learnt a lot about chocolate

and enjoyed the video,

the tour of the factory,

the demonstrations,

making the chocolate treats

and the table quiz.

We hope that the chocolate treats

that we made were enjoyed at home.

Chocolate Warehouse School Tours

If you would like to supplement your child’s homework, try ‘Help My Kid’

Help My Kid was designed as a ‘key resource’ for parents.

It has many ideas for activities parents can do with their children

in order to improve their skills in




and maths.

Click here to go to

Children at school
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Highlights of School Year

We were asked for the Highlights of our Learning Year

Sparkler heart
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Alison Jackson-Bass via Compfight

for the school newsletter.

We were asked for five or so bullet points.


It was hard to choose from all the Highlights of our Learning Year,

so we will put up a longer list on this post.


Highlights of our Learning Year – 2nd Class Room 6

–         We were Junior Spider Awards national winners for our class blog

You can see the presentation here: Junior Spider Awards


–         We participated in the international Student Blogging Challenge 2013

Student Blogging Challenge 2013


– We learned about our digital footprint and digital citizenship.

We made friends all over the world through our blog.


– On 22nd January 2013 we the featured site

on the Comments4kids blogspot:

Comments4Kids Blogspot – Spotlight Blog


– We followed Chris Hadfield of the International Space Station on Twitter.


– We read these books: Our Shelfari Bookshelf


–         We learned how to make podcasts

Podcast: Julia reads from ‘The Snow Spider’


–         We participated in Digital Art Week 2013

Seasaws: Art Activity for Digital Art Week 2013


– We took part in the Twitter Autumn and Spring Challenge

Signs of Spring Twitter Project


– We entered Write A Book

Senan had his ‘moment in the sun’ and received the class merit award.


–         We prepared for our 1st Holy Communion. This was chronicled on the parish website:

Our Communion Preparations on the Parish Website


And the happy news is that

our school tour (5th June),

sports day (7th June, weather permitting)

and the annual seaside scavenger hunt (TBA) are still to come!





That Time of Year Again! Information for Parents on Standardized Tests.

As it is that time of year again,

I thought it would be helpful to

repost this item on Standardized Tests.

Identity Theft
Some information about standardized test results.

‘A test only measures what the test asks’

A parent generally shouldn’t be overly concerned about test results

unless the teacher is.

The teacher looks at the result in conjunction

with how the child has succeeded at their schoolwork

over a full year

and decide if it reflects reality or not.

Parents can do this too.


Looking back over completed workbooks and copybooks

may show that your child can be inconsistent.

Some days they may do excellent work and present their work beautifully

and on another they may not.


This is not unusual.

Children after all are children!

We wouldn’t have them any other way.


Some background information on standardized tests.


How do teachers prepare children for the test?

It is accepted as more that ‘good practice’

not to ‘teach to the test’.


In fact it is vital not to ‘teach to the test’

as doing so invalidates the test.


We teach the Maths and English curriculum

as laid down in the Irish curriculum.


We do not prepare the children

for the specific questions in the standardized tests.


If we did that would negate the ‘standardized’ aspect of them

and the results wouldn’t be authentic.


These results just show how a child performed

in one test with a set of questions

that they are not prepared for in any way,


The format may be unfamiliar.


Other aspects to consider

The test may be given in 2nd class

or in the Autumn Term of 3rd.


For that reason, some of the sums included

by the designers of this test

are from the 3rd class curriculum.


So this content,

included towards the end of the test

will be unfamiliar to students in 2nd class.


Some children will approach these more difficult questions

as problems to be solved and

with a ‘can do’ attitude may get some right.


Others can be somewhat perturbed by their unfamiliarity

and say ‘Teacher you never taught us how to do this!’


The timing of the tests

The English or Maths tests are completed in a day.

We are advised not to ‘test’ on a Monday or a Friday

or on a day after an event like ‘Sports Day’

or the day of the School Tour.


Children find the standardized tests challenging.

At 2nd class, one section of the English test is 40 minutes long

and the Maths test can take over an hour.


That’s a long time for a 7 or 8 year old to sit quietly,

– work independently,

– concentrate

– and to remain motivated.


While the teacher is there to supervise and ‘support’ the children,

the examinees do not get help or advice from the teacher.


Exams by their very nature are all too often an endurance test

as much as a test of knowledge and abilities.


Exam Skills

Then there are ‘exam skills’.

These are still very much developing in Second Class.


Time management is one of these skills.


It is considered ‘good practice’

the teacher moves around the classroom during the test.

So, for example, if a child gets ‘stuck’

on one question they can be advised to

‘leave it until later and move on’.


On the other hand some children can be

inclined to rush and not understand the

importance of checking back over their work.


The standardized test results are a ‘snapshot’ on the day.


Perhaps a child is tired or distracted.


Maybe he or she does’t realise

the significance of the test

and doesn’t do their best.


Teachers walk a tightrope between

reminding the children to do their best yet

not cause children unnecessary worry.


An analysis of errors made

I was pleased with how the class did

in their tests.


I had an interesting time analysing errors,

particularly in the Sigma T Maths Test.


The children do the first two pages with direction from the teacher.

They are then given up to an hour to complete over forty questions.


Some children were up to me very quickly to say they had ‘finished’ the paper.

Still in 2nd class some children equate doing best with finishing first.


Coming up after even twenty minutes means that a child has given less than 30 seconds to

– reading a question,

– deciding what needs to be done,

– arriving at an answer

– and checking it is correct.

I can see from the exam papers

that some very simple mistakes were made by those in a hurry.


For example;

at one point the students are asked to count money.

Instead they counted the number of coins on the page.


Many of the sums had graphics to help the children.

I see from my analysis that some children

who were in a hurry simply miscounted.


Rushing also resulted in some questions not being answered.


I also noted children adding where they were asked to take away and visa versa.


STen Scores

In the end of the year reports,

results will be given in the form of STen scores.

(A system of scoring from 1-10)


Just a few simple mistakes like those described

and a child can drop a STen


Sometimes it can be a case of two or three more correct answers

and a Sten would go up.


If the child got a STen of 5 (average) last year

and a STen of 4 (below average) this year,

it can seem like the child is beginning to have difficulties

whereas the reality is,

if they hadn’t made two or three avoidable errors as I have described,

they would still be at a 5.



In accordance with a recent directive

from the Department of Education,

school reports will be going out before the school holidays.


The standardized test results will accompany the school reports.

I hope you have found this information useful.

There is nothing in a caterpillar

that tells you it is going to be a butterfly’ 🙂

Explaining subtraction with ‘renaming’ for the parents of 2nd class Room 6

At the moment the children are learning subtraction with ‘renaming’.

This methodology is required for example when you are doing a sum like:


 4 3

-3 5


The student starts ‘taking away’ the units and realises that they can’t take 5 from 3.

We are doing subtraction with ‘renaming’ in school.

We have done a lot of practical work using Dienes Blocks.

We are at the early stages of learning how to do these kind of sums.

At the moment, for homework, the majority of the class are getting

a worksheet of subtraction without renaming.


This has caused some confusion as the children attempted to ‘rename’

when it wasn’t necessary.

Identifying when a sum will need ‘renaming’ is a skill in itself

and one which we are working on!


More confusion can arise because some parents may have learned

how to do this kind of subtraction using the

‘borrow and pay back’  method.


Another factor that may confuse you is that ‘renaming’ is also referred to as ‘regrouping’!


You might find this Tips Sheet from the NCCA helpful:

NCCA’s Tipsheet for Parents: Helping your child with subtraction


or on the Maths is Fun website below where the methodology is clearly demonstrated:


A demonstration of ‘renaming’ on the Maths is Fun website


Strategies we use – Bridging the Ten

I have found that the children who know their tables are completing these sums sooner than the children who don’t.

I am encouraging the children who find tables hard to use strategies to help them.

You might hear them talk, for example about ‘bridging the ten’.


Ask a child to take 7 from 10 and they will say 3 with confidence.

This is because they are very sure of ‘what makes 10’.

However when one asks a child a sum like 17 take away 9, they are less sure of the answer.


One of the solutions is for the child to learn the ‘make up’ of 20

and be as sure of it as they are of ‘what makes’ 10.

Again, we are working on this!


The other solution is that the child learns to ‘bridge the 10’.

Take that sum 17-9 again:

The children are fairly secure in the knowledge that 7 steps will bring them back to 10

‘Nine is one less than ten. So you add 7 and 1 and the answer is eight’.


Just in case you missed it…

I am reposting the link the the post on this blog on the importance of learning tables.

Click here for that link!

Thank you for your continuing interest and support.

Look what you can do with K’nex. Nice work Senan!


Encouraging Boys To Read

The difference between what boys like to read and girls was also discussed at many Parent Teacher meetings.

Research shows whereas girls prefer fiction that many boys have a preference for non fiction.

Though girls might like these too, boys like graphic novels, information books, adventure, humour/joke books.

The Guinness Book Of Records and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not are popular.

Roddy Doyle ‘The Giggler Treatment’ and ‘Captain Underpants’ though not ‘politically correct’ do encourage some boys to read.

The ‘Beast Quest’ series by Adam Blade is popular with independent readers.

Then there is Irish author Kieran Fanning’s Code Crackers series.

These books are not read from beginning to end.

Children reading these books have to solve clues, codes, problems and other puzzles to continue with the story.


The staff in bookshops and your local librarian can also be very helpful

if you ask them about books that are popular with boys or girls of this age.

A lively horse, by Jake

Have you got the X Factor?

Further information about the Kilcoole Feis arrived today:
The cost is five euro per competition.
Teacher is now collecting names of children who are interested.

Each child would need to be committed to learning
and practicing their poem or song at home with their parents.

Ms Ahern will do some coaching with the children
and Teacher will go over the poems and songs with the children competing,
in front of the class to get the children used to performing with an audience.

Putting performances on a podcast may also be useful,
so that your child can listen back to themselves
and see how they might improve.

However most of the work will need to be done at home.

What is Class Dojo?

Some parents have heard about Class Dojo from their children and were wondering what it was about.

Class Dojo is an online behavioural chart.  We used it last year in Room Six and found it helpful.

Where behaviour is concerned I would like to focus on the positive and ‘catch the children being good’.

We would all like a Happy Class.

A Happy Class does need rules and boundaries.

There is a review of this website here:

This Year’s Reading Journey (2012) for 2nd Class, Room 6

Quote 1

I think it would be useful if I gave you, the parent an overview of our plans for reading during this school year.

What we do in class might seem arbitrary and piecemeal to start with, but there is a plan for reading in place for the class.

At the beginning of 2nd class…

Many children are independent readers.

By the end of 2nd, I would like that all children would be reading independently and that they would develop a stamina for reading.

I hope that they get exposure to

a range of reading materials;

fact, fiction, stories, novels and poetry

know what they like to read

and love reading.

As J.K Rowling wrote:

“It is our choices, Harry,

that show what we truly are,

far more than our abilities.”


This plan stretches from September through to the end of June next year.

To maximize its success it is important that your child comes to school each day.

It is also important that you, the parent read with your child each night.

I know you all lead very busy lives and sometimes this may seem like a chore,

but it can be the most relaxing and pleasant time of the day for you and your child.

Memories are made of times when parent and child read together.

This plan is not written in stone.

Of necessity the plan for reading is flexible.

Every class is different and it may be that some classes are quicker to get to a certain point and others are slower.

But it isn’t a race. We are going to enjoy the journey.

Though it is a class plan, the focus is on your child as an individual.

This is like learning to walk.

This year I would like them to be ‘steadier’ readers  i.e. more fluent

and to know what direction they would like to go

i.e. to know what are their preferences; know what they like to read.

Reading comprehension is also an important aspect of the work we will do this year.

The First Term

We will be ‘finding our feet’ at the beginning of the year.

During the first week the children will be bringing home books from the class library.

For the rest of the month they will be reading comprehension pieces from ‘A Way with Words’.

This reading will be in preparation for ‘follow up’ work in school.

I would suggest that you take a mental photograph of what this time is like;

the library books your child chooses to bring home

and your child’s level of fluency in reading these and the comprehension pieces.

Because later in the year your child will again be bringing ‘A Way with Words’ to read at home

and in the very last weeks of June,

your child will be bringing home class library books to read

and it will be heartening for you to see how they will have progressed.

Paired Reading

Then at the end of September, we will be doing six weeks of ‘paired reading’.

This will be for homework and I know most of you are familiar with ‘paired reading’ as the children have done this in previous years.

In school we will be working hard on the mechanics of reading e.g. the Dolch List,  Jolly Grammar and Tricky Words.

Class Novels

I will also begin reading class novels to the children.

I have chosen these novels carefully and I have found that my past pupils have enjoyed these books.

This year I am adding a further Jenny Nimmo book  ‘Tom and the Pterosaur’, which I am confident the children will like.

I also see great potential for developing comprehension skills using this and other novels.

From time to time during the year we will write Book Reviews.

We will also make comparisons between the books we have read: their similarities and differences

We will vote for our favourite book and our favourite author.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written.

And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups,

then you write it for children.”

– Madeleine L’Engle

The Formal Reading Scheme

After ‘paired reading’ we will be starting the formal reading scheme.

This phase doesn’t go on indefinitely as has been necessary in Senior Infants and First.

It is a ‘Reading Blitz’. I estimate that it should take us another six weeks or more of intense work.

Term Two

This will bring us into the 2nd term and to the end of January approximately.

I am looking forward to this phase as it is where great strides forward can be made.

It is at this stage that we do some reading with ‘Reading Buddies’ (other children from the class).

The children really enjoy this. They find it companionable and sociable to read with a classmate.

The ‘Real Books’ Box

Children will progress at different rates.  When the children have finished the formal reading scheme for 2nd class,

they will be reading from a box of books that I call ‘The ‘Real Books’ Box’.

These books and the notion of  reading ‘real books’ acts like a ‘carrot on a stick’ I find and is very motivating.

Class Novels

After working hard on the reading scheme we can capitalize on all our hard work and start reading the class novels that are available to us

e.g. Jill Tomlinson’s ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark’

and ‘The Owl Tree’ by Jenny Nimmo.

The Third Term

Class novels will occupy us for the rest of the year.

We are very fortunate. Because of the generosity of parents and the hard work of fund raisers we have a great variety of books to read.

You may be surprised that the class novels available to us as ‘multiple copies’ only contain two Roald Dahl books ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ and ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’.

There is a reason behind this. We are only ‘dipping our toes in the water’ as far as the books of Roald Dahl is concerned.

If your child is taken with one or two of Dahl’s books in school, he or she will be very motivated to read some more independently from the school or local library or from their own bookshelf at home.

The School Library

Work on reading class novels will be supplemented by the children’s own choice of reading from the school library.

I will be helping the children to choose ‘readable’ and appropriate books.

Once again the children have an extensive choice of books to read from the school library thanks to the generosity of parents and the ‘Library Ladies’ who give so generously of their time.

In Summary:
So in a nutshell, reading for homework will be as follows:
*Children’s own choice of reading from class library.
*Paired Reading
*Formal Reading Scheme to include ‘Reading Buddies’
*Class Novels
*Children’s own choice of reading from class library.
*Children will also be bringing home reading from the school library.

Teacher Reading
from the ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ Series by Dorothy Edwards
‘Care of Henry’ and ‘Stranger Danger’ by Anne Fine
‘The Aardvark Who Wasn’t Sure’ by Jill Tomlinson
‘The Dog Star’ and ‘Tom and the Pterosaur’ by Jenny Nimmo
‘Please Mrs. Butler’ a compilation of school poems by Allan Alhberg
‘One Dark and Stormy Night’ Allan Alhberg
A selection of books from the school library to introduce the children to various authors and series.

Class Novels
A selection from the following:
‘Dog on a Broomstick’ by Jan Page
‘The Hodgeheg’ by Dick King Smith
‘The Owl Who Was Afraid of The Dark’ and ‘The Cat Who Wanted to Go Home’ by Jill Tomlinson
‘The Owl Tree,”The Stone Mouse’ and ‘The Snow Spider’ by Jenny Nimmo
‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ and ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ by Roald Dahl

You can see more information about this selection of books on Our Bookshelf  to the right 🙂

“You may have tangible wealth untold.

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be –

I had a parent who read to me.”

— adapted from Strickland Gillilan

My child is not getting enough homework. What should I do?

Those of you with older children know

how the amount of homework

will build up over their years at school,

but if you feel your child

needs more of a challenge, 

here are some suggestions:

1. If you haven’t already, join the local library

and visit it weekly.

2. On this blog click on the link for ‘Educational Websites’

at the top of the page.

3. Try games such as scrabble, draughts, chess,

Monopoly and card games

4. Perhaps start an ‘extra work’ copybook.

I would be very interested any extra work done

and if your child brings these in will correct them.  

In this copy you could try some of the following:

5. Write a book review or a film review.

What was it? What happened in it?

Was it enjoyable?

What mark would you give it out of 10? Why?

6. Make a bookmark for your favourite book

or the most recent book that you have read.

7. Make a card or write a letter

to a family member or friend.

8. Beginning with the letter ‘A”

list in alphabetical order

as many names you can think of.

(Other lists can include: places, animals, foods, sports,

past times, jobs people have, things you would find in school,

in the kitchen etc.)

9. Write a story or poem.

10. Compose tune. Write the words to this song.

11. Write down all the things you are good at.

12. Describe how to play your favourite sport.

13. Write down 5 facts about something that interests you.

14. Listen to some music and draw what you see.

15. List as many adjectives or describing words that

you can think of to describe yourself

16. Describe yourself for an alien.

17. Who is the person you would most like to meet?

What would you like to ask this person?

18. Design a useful invention.

19. Draw yourself as a cartoon character.

20. Make up to quiz questions you know the answer to

and write them down.

Bring them into school and we will have a quiz.

21. List all the verbs (doing/action activities) you will do today.

22. Paint how you are feeling using colours.

23. What would you do with 3 wishes?

24. Invent your own super hero. Describe and illustrate.

If none of these appeal to you,

read or

read or ….

then again

…. read  🙂


Future bookworm
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: talkingplant via Compfight

Finally; some food for thought:

The following link tells the story of a school

that abolished homework and had the children read instead!

The School That Abolished Homework … and asked children TO READ instead.

It would seem to have had a positive effect.

Why has Teacher not corrected this week’s creative writing? :)

I have just spent some very enjoyable time correcting the children’s ‘free writing’ copies. The children’s writing has been imaginative and entertaining.

Having an audience is an important part of the writing process. I have commented on their work. I also hope to give their work a wider audience by recording regular podcasts on

To start the week their classmates and I will give the children feedback. Parents are the most important people in a child’s life, so they would really appreciate your feedback too.

‘Free writing’ is very valuable as it allows the teacher to assess and monitor where the young writer is at and gives children confidence to write. It is considered ‘good practice’ that the ‘free writing’ copy should not be corrected. You may well remember the sinking feeling of being handed back a piece of writing criss crossed with red ‘x’s.

“My story on Monday began;
Mountainous seas crashed on the cliffs,
And the desolate land grew wetter …
The teacher wrote a little note;
Remember the capital letter! “

Short excerpt from a great poem with an important message ‘Creative Writing’ by Gervase Phinn

I have been teaching a hundred years, so I find it very hard not to correct work. Even when the bank manager writes to me I want to correct his punctuation! But it is important that the children enjoy their ‘free writing’ and are proud of their work. Instead I will make a positive comment. Old habits die hard and I may take a recurring error and explain it to the child. Later I may do a mini lesson on this with the whole class.

– Sentence begin with a capital letter and end in a full stop.
– Writing ‘walkt’ or ‘walkd’ for ‘walked.’
– The Magic ‘E’

This post I hope explains then, why the free writing copies are not corrected 🙂

‘Children learn to walk by walking;
children learn to talk by talking;
and children learn to write by writing’.
A wise but anonymous person 

A colourful portrait by Jake

For those who have children making their 1st Holy Communion


As parents we want the best for our children. We try our very best to help the whole child to grow. Spiritual growth is part of this.

Relationships are important in all our lives. A relationship with our friend and brother Jesus, God Our Father, Mary Our Mother will stand to our children in their future, perhaps in stressful times, that may be ahead of them, (worries, disappointments, difficult decisions they may have to make) when we might not be around.

A one-to-one trust in the Lord and the support of our friends in the parish does help in difficult times.

Our Church
The church can be a very quiet and peaceful space where we can go to have time to get away from it all, – to think and to talk to God. In our busy lives, a quiet place to go to think is important.

Jesus is our friend! I say to the children supposing you had a friend you never saw or never talked to or never went to visit. What would happen to that friendship?

At other times, say on a Sunday the church is a busy place – where we gather together with our friends and family and neighbours to honour God. Going to church can be there for us all our lives – when we need a quiet place or we need our friends around us.

Religion observances in school and at home can provide your child with something similar – quiet times – and celebrations and a feeling of togetherness.

Some suggestions as to how you might prepare your child for their Communion

Ideally this is something that has already been happening in your house with perhaps

– an evening prayer as part of the ‘wind down’ at bedtime,

– visits to the church, and lighting a candle.

And if it hasn’t – not to worry – now is as good a time as any to start!

If your child has a particular interest – say in a football team, books, magazines, maybe the strip is bought. Children become absolute experts on the team members, who the manager is, what their home ground is, place in league table etc. etc.

So perhaps you could encourage your child in their faith in a similar way. Talk to them about it. Why not read your child some bible stories at bedtime!

I find in class that the children love the Old Testament Stories and the Miracles of Jesus. Often you will find simple inexpensive books for children for sale at the back of our church. For example Veritas on Lower Abbey Street, Dublin and Scripture Union Bookshop on George’s Street in Dun Laoghaire have a great supply of books and cds.

It’s not just a matter of stocking up but taking the time to sit with your child to read with them or to talk God.

Preparing a ‘sacred’ or ‘prayer’ space could be part of this too.

A Word about First Confession

Your children model their behaviour on yours, so talk to them about forgiveness. This prepares them for their own First Confession.

It is often suggested that First Confession be followed with some small celebration to mark the day – a meal perhaps.

First Holy Communion
First Holy Communion is presented as a special meal in God’s house to which your children are invited. Your child’s spiritual growth, their relationship with the Father and with Jesus doesn’t stop once the Communion is over.

It’s a milestone in their journey, begun when you presented them at Baptism and Confirmation is the next stop!

Calling into the Church
A Man United Supporter in the house and parents bend over backwards to bring them to Old Trafford! Preparing for Communion then – Bring them to the hallowed ground. Our church is just next door! You could visit on the way into school or on the way home.

Show your child how to bless themselves, – and bless themselves with holy water, – Can they genuflect? In this way they are not unfamiliar with this when we go there as a class.

Being Actively Involved
Children like to be active and be involved, going to Church on a Sunday they appreciate a mass that involves them. The Family Mass, the Folk Group and Gospel Choir all give opportunities for the children to sing and to be involved.

So I would say keep looking until you find the one that your family is most happy with. Or join a Family Mass group. You will be given the opportunity for you and your child to be involved in the parish ‘Do it in memory of me’ programme. I have seen the benefits of children being involved in this.

In Conclusion
I hope you can see that helping your child’s spiritual growth gives them a gift for life that will provide them with
a friend in Jesus,
a heavenly Father,
a star to be guided by
and a port in a storm.
I’m sure you will agree this is important.

A Reminder: 1st Holy Communion Meetings for parents:
Wednesday, September 19th or Wednesday September 26th at 8.15pm in the Kilian House Family Centre.

Enrolments for parish programme of preparation for Communion at the following masses:
Saturday, 29th September at 6pm in Holy Rosary Church
Sunday, 30th September at 10am in St. Kilian’s Church, Blacklion
Sunday 30th 12.15pm in Holy Rosary

Maths – Simple Computation: Addition & Subtraction in Second Class.

Maths – simple computation: addition/subtraction in Second Class

If you feel the need to supplement homework, these are some suggestions.

Learning simple computation (addition/subtraction tables to 10+10) really benefits the student in second class. Because when they go on to learn how to add tens and units with renaming they can concentrate on this new methodology because the addition and subtraction come easy to them.

We will be doing this in class. These websites may help you help your child.

The first  is an addition speed test.

In preparation for adding tens and units with renaming, this game might be useful.

This is a good site for practicing number facts and computation:


Finally this site has games that practice addition and take aways at speed.


Finally following a recent recommendation I will be using the following site in class.

Problem Solving with Thinking Blocks

The Thinking Blocks website teaches a visual strategy for problem solving.

Hope you find these helpful.


Reading in Infants – The Introduction of Formal Reading in Senior Infants :)

Eye See You
Photo Credit: peasap via Compfight

The ‘New’ Curriculum advocates the introduction

of formal reading in Senior Infants

I think this is a good thing because…

When I started teaching in 1982,

we introduced the formal schemes after Halloween

whether the children were ready or not.


I love the change the New Curriculum brought.

One of my own children learnt under the old system

and the other learnt under the new.


I loved the way my younger child leared to read.

It was the ‘scenic route’;

a lot of parent or teacher reading to child in

Junior Infants and ‘shared’ and ‘paired’ reading.


It was a much more pleasant process

and less stressful for me as a parent

or teacher, and for the children.


I love how in Junior Infants,

without the pressure of formal reading,

one can concentrate on language development

and early reading skills.


In class I love the big books

and the wide range of library books.

The language the children acquire

from these ‘real’ books is so much richer

than that which is in a ‘reader’.


I realise there can be pressure to start the readers

but when the library books make their way home regularly,

parents should be reassured.


I used find, ‘back in the day’

when we introduced reading after Halloween,

I could have a child reading passably,

but they didn’t know their alphabet or phonics thoroughly.


The language development I had time for was very limited;

the child who thought a young cow was a puppy comes to mind.

(Obviously I don’t teach in a rural area :))


It came to a point where sometimes

I saw children trying to decode words

that weren’t in their vocabulary anyway.


How would that boy decode ‘calf’ for example

if he didn’t know that word.


I found introducing reading too early

gave children their first experience of failure 🙁

when they saw someone in the class

rattle up the reading ladder

and they were stuck on Book One.


With the ‘extra’ time on hand

we used be able to have a veritable ‘Book Club’

in class where the children really enjoyed talking

about how the ‘Gingerbread Man’ and ‘The Enormous Turnip’

were the same and how they were different.


‘Education is not a race. Enjoy the journey.’ 🙂