Video Teaching Inspiration #4 ~ The Wish-maker

Thinking Questions

  1. Why do the characters throw a golden coin into the well?
  2. What do you think the first man wished for? Why?
  3. Why did the man and the woman throw a golden coin into the well?
  4. What prevented their wish from coming true?
  5. How did the ‘wish-maker’ solve the problem?
  6. Which methods did the ‘wish-maker’ use to try to make their wish come true?
  7. Close your eyes. Consider what you might wish for. What would your wish be and why?
  8. If your wish didn’t come true, what actions could you take to make your wish a reality?

Writing Ideas

Imagine a character makes a wish every week. Each of his/her wishes come true, but they are not what they expected. Write about what could go wrong with his/her wishes.

Write about your own wish coming true. How would you feel if your wish came true? What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you meet?

The wishing well has become too popular. Everybody’s wishes are coming true. Can you write a letter to the ‘wish-maker’ explaining how this is creating problems for the town?

Schooling with a difference: Alternative schools around the world

Working in mainstream schools can provide a huge insight into the standards and expectations of teaching in the 21st century. However, with growing class sizes, emphasis on grammar and testing, I’ve often wondered how alternative schools approach education differently. It is true that many mainstream schools are increasingly considering the impact of their teaching on learners and how much of their lesson material will have an effect on their pupils’ future. With vast technological growth and changing priorities within the workforce, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine which industries children will be working towards. Some schools around the world are facing these changes head on. Whilst other schools, fed up with exam preparation, are taking a softer approach towards learning. Below are some schools that live on the periphery of the mainstream and have chosen to do things differently:

Egalia Pre-School, Stockholm, Sweden

Egalia has thrown out dated concepts of gender norms. Gender pronouns are a thing of the past in this pre-school, with boys and girls being referred to as ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ and ‘she’ with the hope that these children will go on to view each other as equals, unburdened by strict gender expectations. Many consider Egalia’s approach to be highly controversial, foreseeing an uncomfortable future of gender neutral beings rather than defined male and female genders. The basic premise for this type of schooling is the eradicate gender stereotypes and allow children to choose their likes and dislikes based on their personal preferences rather than be governed by subtle or sometimes, overt pressure to subscribe to a more gender favourable interest.

Some have expressed that this will somehow prevent boys from pursuing more aggressive activities, like sword fighting amongst other ‘typically’ boyish games. Instead, perhaps it’ll just give both genders the opportunity to borrow interests from each other without feeling squashed into a male or female sized mold.

AltSchool in San Francisco, California

With a greater emphasis on technology, schools have sought to become more knowledgeable with regards to coding, building computers and developing a greater understanding of how a computer works. Within mainstream schools, coding and developing a broader awareness about computers has been included within the curriculum. For many teachers, these are new concepts to begin imparting on their students also. However, in Altschool, children are encouraged to learn these key skills regularly and will become more comfortable with a range of computing skills, such as building circuit boards. By instilling these skills early on, the hope is that these children will be well-equipped to enter a competitive future workforce.

Blue School, New York

The first time that I had heard of Blue School was after watching a youtube clip of the Dalai Lama in conversation with Matt Goldman, a founding member of the Blue Man Group. Blue School initially began as a playgroup in 2006 and prioritised creativity above more monotonous approaches. Children who participate in classes at the Blue School will be encouraged to think more broadly and consider their environment. The Blue School have adopted a creative approach toward learning and aim to help their learners to become more inquisitive and reflective as individuals.

Steve Jobs School in Amsterdam, Netherlands

This school takes a unique approach towards learning and an absolute dream approach for children that are consistently falling behind. When children begin their learning process, they are given an individualised learning plan. This is carried out through a 6 week course and then reviewed and adapted according to the learner’s needs. One particular frustration with teaching large class sizes within a fairly prescriptive curriculum is how quickly children are expected to move from one topic to the next, often without feeling fully secure in that subject. By introducing an individualised plan, these children are encouraged to work at their own pace and only move onto subjects as and when they are ready.

Summerhill School, UK.

Summerhill School places and emphasis on democratic learning. Children can determine their own timetables and decide how to use their time effectively. They may choose to spend some time learning, creating art, playing, socialising etc. Although there are some rules in place preventing children from playing games or watching TV during learning time, schooling is a much freer and flexible process.

How we learn best often depends on our individual personality traits e.g. whether we enjoy structure or flexibility, group work or individual learning. Working in a mainstream school can sometimes incur questions such as, ‘how can the learning be measured?’ or ‘what about those children who need structure? How would they cope in a more flexible environment?’ It’s clear that there is no one school that fits all solution for every child. Even though the majority of schools may adhere to a particular structure and way of teaching, these alternative schools can definitely offer an insight into how education could be different.

Video Teaching Inspiration #3

Thinking Questions

What did you enjoy about the clip?

What made the magician’s hat magical?

How did the rabbit feel?

Why was the rabbit frustrated?

How did the rabbit behave when he/she didn’t get the carrot?

What could the magician have done differently?

What could the rabbit have done differently?

What tricks did the rabbit play on the magician?

Why was the performance still a success?

Did the story end well? Why?

Writing Ideas

Write a play script based on a magic show. You can invent your own characters and an animal that is included in the performance. The magician and his companion have a disagreement. Write about the disagreement and the consequences on the show.

What happens next? Write the event that comes after the magic show is finished. Does the magician keep working with the rabbit and put on another performance? What happens this time?

The magician is fed up with his mischievous rabbit. He wants to put the rabbit up for sale. Create a poster about the magician’s rabbit and use powerful adjectives to describe the rabbit’s qualities.

How to use different learning styles to your advantage

Whether teaching takes place in the classroom or at home, delivering lessons and introducing new concepts to children can be an incredibly rewarding experience. By helping children along on their pathway to success, you can be that positive role model in their lives cheering them on. However, teaching also has its many challenges as you are all most probably aware. From behavioral challenges, insecurity about ability, lack of confidence and gaps in knowledge, there’s sometimes a lot of catching up to do in order to build children’s’ confidence and address educational needs. What is clear, however, is the breadth of different learning styles within the classroom. So what can be done keep students interested in learning and create life-long learners?

The 1970s gave birth to individualised learning styles, which helped to re-shape the way in which education was viewed and delivered. Although certain theories preceded Neil Fleming’s work on different learning styles, he suggested that there were four main learning groups that teachers and students alike lean towards when understanding a new subject. These four sensory learning styles are: visual, auditory, written/reading and kinaesthetic learning. It is true that we all can learn from each style individually, but tend to choose one style over the other as a preference, especially when trying to memorise new information. Below are some examples that highlight activities you can try to cater for different learning styles:

Kinaesthetic Learning

Group Of Children Enjoying Drama Class Together

Kinaesthetic learning is an excellent approach for those children who just can’t sit still. The children that need to constantly fidget and spend their break times running around until they are completely puffed out. Sitting on the carpet for longer than 10 or 15 minutes may prove challenging for these students who would rather be showing off their sporty skills in P.E. lessons. For these energetic children, using actions and movements could prove highly effective to keep them engaged. When counting or practising times tables, jumping, star jumps, jogging on the spot whilst saying their number facts can keep their mind and bodies active. As for lessons when they will need to sit down and write for longer than 15 minutes, having a quick break half way through the writing process could help to release some energy so that they can continue to work at a good pace. Brain breaks and quick 5 minute exercises could help to re-focus their attention after sitting for longer periods.

Auditory Learning

little girl with headphones at home

Sometimes, when working with the younger year groups, it’s more difficult to determine which children have a talent for music. Also, music lessons are most often taken by an additional teacher so it can be challenging to spot those children that are musically gifted. Auditory learners are excellent listeners. These children sit well during the explanation and can regurgitate what you’ve said without much difficulty. When having to memorise facts, creating songs, rhymes or poetry to remember information such as grammatical terms can really help these children to memorise key facts. Also, introducing music into lessons and discussing the impact different music has on mood can encourage these children to use their auditory skills.

Writing & Reading

Young Child Drawing on Paper with Pencil

Having a mini whiteboard on the carpet during the input is particularly useful for these children. When watching a short clip or learning new information, children who learn best through jotting down their ideas can record what they have learnt. Useful tools for these learners include having a doodle book where they can jot down information, creative writing activities, opportunities to read during the school day. Children who love learning through writing and reading are often most suited to the style in which most lessons are delivered. They are able to shine using these talents within literacy lessons.

Visual Learners

Little girl painting on paper

Visual learners learn best from an array of bright images, illustrations and visual stimulus. Having lots of pictures on explanation powerpoints can help to bring further meaning to the topic and help them to relate the learning objective with visual imagery. These learners tend to be highly observant, enjoy artistic activities. Allowing some drawing activities and painting lessons to represent the learning objective can help visual learners to consolidate what they have learnt.

Here’s a learning questionnaire to determine what your child’s learning style might be:



Video Teaching Inspiration #2

Thinking Questions

Where do you think the pigeons are sitting? (place, city etc.)

What did the pigeons spend their day doing?

What did one of the pigeons notice?

How did the pigeons try to get the cupcake?

Can you think of a different way for the pigeons to reach the cupcake?

How did the pigeons feel when a bigger bird dropped a worm into the basket?

Writing Ideas

  1. Invent a way for the birds to reach the cupcake. Describe how the birds can reach the sweet treat.
  2. Write instructions for how to reach the cupcake.
  3. What could happen next? Write the next part of the story.
  4. Describe how the birds felt at different stages of the clip.

6 ways to get maths lessons off to a great start

Coming up with new and engaging maths starters can sometimes become a struggle, especially with the additional resources that need to be created, printed and organised for each lesson. Maths starters can be a great way to get your children ready to engage with the main learning activity. However, for those days when you would rather complete the maths starter without heaps of preparation, cutting and sticking, there are some fantastic ways to get children motivated with their number skills. Below are some ideas for getting maths off to a great start!

  1. Create maths movements

Getting moving is a great way for you students to stay active and learn at the same time. By encouraging children to create their own actions in relation to different calculations, they develop greater ownership over their learning and the experience becomes more memorable. Creating actions as a class is also a fantastic way to get everybody involved, preventing those passive learners from sinking into the background. One interesting actions maths starter that I observed during my teacher training involved the whole class. They were all encouraged to pretend that they were on a bike ride and as they climbed different hills, they counted up in numbers and when they descended the hill, they counted down. Making up rhymes and creating an accompanying actions is also a way to make number facts memorable e.g. 6 + 4 knock on the door.

  1. Online Games

Why not explore some online interactive games? Your students will love the opportunity to play online maths games and participate in interactive problem solving. Although most interactive boards only allow for one child to answer a question at a time, the rest of the class can jot down their answers on mini whiteboards. Some engaging online maths websites include:, and

  1. Splat! Maths starter

For this maths starter, all you’ll need is a couple of fly swatters, a board pen and your classroom whiteboard. This game can be played with varied maths questions and different levels of difficult. Playing this game is great fun and gets all children involved in the competitive spirit. How do you play?

Draw six/eight squares on the board. You’ll need to draw two grids in the style of noughts and crosses.

Write your numbers inside the grid.

Your numbers can depend on the type of maths learning you would like to cover. For example, you could play this game with the 7 x tables. Inside the grid, you could write some of the answers. Then, split your class into two teams and for each question, choose a child from each time. Next, you’ll need to call out the question e.g. 5 x 7, and the child to swat the answer first wins the point. The team with the most points wins.

  1. Pass the maths ball

Another active maths starter game could include passing an object, such as a maths ball or dice with calculations. This is also a brilliant way for all children to feel engaged with an activity and an alternative way to keep your students on their toes. Passing a maths ball or dice around the class during the maths starter can help to kick off the maths lesson in a fun and enjoyable way.

  1. Maths Quizzes

There are plenty of amazing maths quizzes online that can help to engage children with their learning objectives. Putting children into teams or carrying out the quiz ad a whole class activity encourages children to help their team members to succeed in the game and with their maths skills.

  1. Maths Puzzles

Maths puzzles can be an engaging and hands-on starter for your students to get to grips with their maths topic. This is another great way to encourage children to work in pairs or as a team to solve the answers. Maths puzzles can serve as part of a great starter activity for any maths topic and can be differentiated to suit varying abilities. I’ve included some addition maths puzzles below. These puzzles are differentiated and colour coded, ranging from number bonds to 10 to challenging addition calculations, involving 3 digit numbers.

Addition tarsia front

Video Teaching Inspiration #1: Soar

Thinking Questions

How does the girl feel when her plane crashes? Make a note of some words to describe how she might be feeling.

0.56 Who do you think the purse belongs to? What do you think might be inside the purse?

Why does the little boy grab the pencil? How do you think he is feeling?

Pause video at 1.54: What could happen next? What would you do in a similar situation?

How did the girl help the boy?

What was the moral of the story?

Writing Ideas

Imagine you are the girl in the story. When you get home that evening, write a diary entry about what has happened in the day. Describe how you felt when the small aircraft crashed and how you helped the boy to fly again. Include as many feelings words and adjectives as you can.

Write a list of instructions on how to create the best flying aircraft. Remember to use excellent adverbs and include lots of detail!

Create a short play script to show what the characters might be saying to each other. Include stage directions, scene descriptions and lots of dialogue.

7 Ways to teach phonics: Making early reading fun!

For early years’ teachers, nothing is more rewarding than coaching children through their first steps towards reading fluency. Parents can equally experience the excitement and joy that comes from observing their children as they make greater progress with their reading abilities. For children aged between 4 – 5 years, it is also an important time to allow their curiosity to flourish and encourage them to explore their environment. By combining a mixture of fun, curiosity and reading strategies, children can develop an essential love for reading that will hopefully continue throughout the course of their lives. Below are some ideas for teaching phonics to early learners, combined with resources that you can download from my TPT store:

  1. Sensory activities

Sensory activities don’t always require a great deal of preparation. They can be put together readily and quickly, guaranteeing loads of fun and amusement for children during their independent activity time. Some ideas for sensory activities include: putting letters in water. Children can either fish the letters out with a net or their hands, say the sound and look for more! A great idea for a phonics activity with sand could be burying treasure coins in a sandpit. Children can dig to find the buried treasure and say the sound they have found. By introducing an element of play, children can explore, have fun and associate and an enormous amount of joy with early reading.

This is our time for playing

  1. Colouring the sound

Colouring is a great activity for children to engage with pencil control activities. There are loads of fun and creative colouring sheets to choose from. Children can choose their favourite characters or scenes and colour in the picture one section at a time. Each section can include a sound from the alphabet. The children can match the sounds with the colours and become more accustomed to their early sounds. This is also great for more advanced readers, as they can begin saying and colouring words. Below is an example of a sweet jar I’ve created. Each lolly pop has a sound. The children have to say the sound and colour the lolly pop the correct colour.

colour the sound

  1. Playing games

Playing board games is a fantastic way to encourage children to develop those early social skills as well as introducing sound activities. Playing games introduces a fun, competitive element. Teachers can play in a team with children in their class and encourage them to follow the rules of the game. There are loads of games to choose from, including matching card games and fun board games. I’ve included some of the games that my students have enjoyed playing, including a pirate phonics game, honeycomb game and traffic lights board game. Each game has varying levels of difficulty, giving very early readers a chance to shine and more fluent readers a bit of a challenge.

phonics pirate game front cover

  1. Online Phonics Learning

Children are increasingly technology savvy. They have access to all manner of technology, including apps, iPad, computers etc. Children respond incredibly well to interactive resources and enjoy fast paced learning styles that maintain their interest. By allowing 15 minutes to engage with an interactive game, children can continue to develop their reading fluency and enjoy much valued computer time. Some fantastic phonics sites that I’ve come across include: Phonics Play (, Top Marks ( and (

  1. Cut and Paste Activities

One early skill that tends to get left behind is the simple action of cutting and pasting materials for school projects. Another great way to enjoy early reading is through activities that involve finding the correct sounds and putting them in the right order. Encouraging children to begin sounding out letters and spelling CVC words can give them a huge amount of confidence in their own reading ability. Sounding out letters and spelling words is great practice and an engaging activity for early learners.

phonics front page

  1. Explore your environment

Finding and sounding out letters doesn’t just have to happen on paper. Children have their classrooms, outdoor environments and beyond that with their parents to explore the outside world. Why not play ‘find the letter’ game? You could encourage your class or children to look for letters in everyday objects. Which letters can they spot? Could they make a list of their letters? This is a great way for children to begin exploring their environment further, using their phonics knowledge and practicing their writing skills.

  1. Find the object. Sort the object.

As well as looking for letters, children could also benefit from finding objects that start with a particular sound. If everybody is learning about the sound ‘s’, children could be detectives and walk around the classroom, looking for objects that start with the letter ‘s’. This could even be a great phonics independent activity for children. By leaving bowls out with different objects in each bowl, children can decide which sound each bowl represents or they could organise objects into the correct sounding letter.

These are just some of the ways that children can begin exploring their environment and develop a love for reading. Hopefully these tips and ideas can serve as some inspiration for teaching early reading strategies. If you are interested in any of the above resources, just click to visit my TPT and download your favourite product.