September 28, 2017

Home Reading Record with Reading Strategies FREEBIE

If you're a K-2 teacher, chances are you use some form of a 'home reading record' to help students record and track their reading at home. I've used quite a few different templates throughout my career I've but never really loved any of them. 

With a little extra time up my sleeve during the holidays I decided to finally make my own!

What I like about my version is the space for students to record their personal reading goal. This allows for both transparency and consistency between school and home. 

Also, this product goes perfectly with my K-2 *Bump it Up Wall* Reading AND Comprehension Pack as both products allow for meaningful goal setting and foster self-reflection and independence in reading.

Ready to download your FREE copy? Grab it in store:

May 13, 2017

Fossil Fun FREEBIE

What kid wouldn't LOVE creating their own fossil! In my newest pack, students can do just that and more! 

Students will start by piecing together their fractured fossil recipe. This is a great higher-order thinking activity where students will need to make sense of the steps and carefully consider its order.


With their recipes complete, students will be ready to make their (faux) fossils! With younger classes a teacher-lead demonstration is recommended. Once the teacher has made the dough, students can create/customise their fossil as desired. Note: the recipe produces enough dough for up to 30 medium-sized fossils.

As a follow up, students can write a creative writing piece with the provided story starter. 


Want to grab yourself a copy of the pack? Get it FREE in my TPT store

Happy teaching and fossil making,

April 18, 2017

Anzac Day Lessons

Although ANZAC Day often falls during the school holidays, as it does this year, I believe it's important to integrate meaningful discussions and lessons about Anzac day into the first week back at school. 

One of the easiest, and often most meaningful, ways to do this is through picture books. 

Here are my top 3 picture books for primary-aged children:

1. Anzac Ted - Belinda Landsberry

Anzac Ted is the powerful, poignant story of a little boy's teddy bear that was passed down to him from his grandfather. Battered, torn, missing an eye and an ear, he might look scary but he’s got an important story to tell.  Anzac Ted went to war, keeping soldiers company and giving them comfort. While he never won a medal, and now doesn’t even attract a single vote at the classroom 'Toy Show', if only everyone looked a little deeper:

‘They’d see a hero, plain as day
Who sits upon my bed.
A hero, who saved me and you.
His name … is Anzac Ted.’ 

2. Lest We Forget - Kerry Brown
'My granddad says there are two types of days: those you want to remember and those you want to forget ...'

Lest We Forget shows a parallel story of a young boy and his grandfather. When visiting his grandfather the boy thinks about the important days in his life: his first day of school, playing soccer with his team, the day his baby sister was born. Yet through the illustrations the reader sees a parallel story of the grandfather's experiences at war: wearing his brand-new soldier's uniform, with his fellow diggers in the field, looking at a photo of the baby he's never met. 

3. Anzac Biscuits - Phil Cummings

Rachel is in the kitchen, warm and safe. Her father is in the trenches, cold and afraid. When Rachel makes biscuits for her father, she adds the love, warmth and hope that he needs. 

This is a touching story of a family torn apart by war but brought together through the powerful simplicity of Anzac biscuits. Anzac Biscuits delicately entwines the desolation of life on the front line with the tenderness of life on the home front.

Another beautiful way to commemorate Anzac Day is through Art. While there are numerous artworks you can do, this is by far my favourite - due to its simplicity and symbolism. 

Using their thumbprints, students create the centre and petals of their poppies.  

Students then create the stems of their poppies by dipping cardboard pieces into green paint. 


This works beautifully as an individual artwork or as a whole class piece, where every student completes one poppy. 


Depending on your ability to access cooking equipment another lovely way to commemorate Anzac Day is to bake Anzac biscuits. Especially after reading the picture book 'Anzac Biscuits' students love being able to recreate the iconic treats. 

This can also be a great way to incorporate writing, as the students could make the biscuits (from verbal instructions), then write a recipe to take home to their families. 

Here is a quick and easy recipe by Monique Bowley:

I hope these ideas help you teach your students about Anzac Day 

April 02, 2017

What is a "Bump It Up" wall and why should you use it?

If you follow my Facebook page or Instagram, you will have no doubt seen my "Bump It Up" Walls. After a number of queries about these products, I really wanted to share how I, and other teachers around Australia, incorporate Bump It Up Walls into our daily teaching practices. 

A Bump It Up Wall is a visual display which provides explicit and levelled benchmarks for students and teachers to refer to and track learning. The Bump It Up displays I have created are based on the Literacy Continuum and each level corresponds to continuum clusters. 

(Miss_f44 has both my Reading and Writing posters Displayed)

My initial reason for creating a Bump It Up Wall was to foster student self-assessment and allow students to track and move learning forward. As a NSW teacher, I was also required to track students on PLAN, the DET's online literacy continuum program. With the need to track students across the continuum and desire to make learning accessible and visible to students, the Bump It Up wall was born!

After many hours of professional readings and trial and error across a number of school settings, I've developed a product that has dramatically transformed my teaching practices. Through this process, I've also discovered 3 fantastic reasons for all teachers to use the Bump It Up system!

According to leading educational researcher, Dylan Wiliam, there are five key strategies for the effective implementation of formative assessment, or assessment for learning, and the Bump It Up Wall addresses these perfectly!


As an assessment tool, the Bump It Up wall is perfect for sharing explicit learning expectationsEach level details the success criteria for the accompanying literacy cluster and while all students begin and progress through the levels at a different rate, the use of clearly defined benchmarks provides each student with a personal learning goal that is both explicit and challenging. Additionally, teachers are already assessing students against these very descriptors, so it seems only fair that teachers share these expectations with their students. 

With the use of clear learning intentions and success criteria teachers are able to effectively question students about their learning. With this, develops a shared language about learning where teachers can provide explicit and meaningful feedbackProviding feedback is made especially easy as I have included feedback slips in both my reading and writing packs.

The remaining two strategies self assessment and peer assessment are also fostered through the use of the Bump it Up system. With a clear understanding of learning intentions and success criteria and the immediate feedback students receive from using this resource, students quickly develop the higher order thinking strategies required to self and peer assess, and what's more - they love it!

As you may have already noticed, this resource similarly aligns with the Quality Teaching Framework and AITSL Professional Standards for Teachers.

Of course being based off the Literacy Continuum, the Bump It Up Wall is curriculum aligned. 


Therefore utilising the Bump It Up wall and its accompanying resources will allow you to effectively teach and track students across the curriculum and continuum. Not only will this data influence how you teach and plan your lessons, it will provide the perfect snapshot of student progress when it comes to report time!

Within both the reading and writing packs there is absolutely everything you will need to carry out high-impact teaching and learning. 

Let's take a closer look inside!




Wishing you all the best on your Bump It Up journey,

February 25, 2017

3 Picture Books I Could Not Live Without!

No matter what class I'm on or which school I visit, I always come with a range picture books. Not only do I love reading them, I also love using them to spark creativity and inspire learning. Today I'd like to share my top three picture books, and accompanying art and literacy lessons, that I just could not live without! 

I hope these books inspire you as much as they have me!

This is a beautiful book about being confident and embracing your uniqueness. In the story, Gerald the Giraffe loves to dance, but thinks his legs are too skinny and his neck too long to join in at the Jungle Dance. With some advice from a wise cricket, Gerald starts dancing to his own unique tune. 

After reading this book, the students feel so uplifted and I always enjoy having a discussion about the ways in which the students are unique and how they can be confident and love all of their special qualities. 

As a follow up activity, I also love doing this artwork:


For this art lesson, I use the FREE Giraffe Scaffold from Teaching Ideas UK. Then students simply colour, cut and arrange the giraffe doing their chosen dance move, and paste on top of a water colour background. 

The artworks look AMAZING once put up! I love how unique all the giraffes and paintings are!

Want a copy of my 'Giraffes CAN Dance Poster'? 
Here you go!

Haven't got the book? No problem, click on the picture to watch it FREE on Scholastic Interactive!

This is a hilarious book, and one that many students will be familiar with. In the book, poor Duncan just wants to colour in. But when he opens his box of crayons, he only finds letters, all saying the same thing: We quit! 

Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown, Blue needs a break from colouring in all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other. The battle lines have been drawn.

After reading the book a great follow up lesson is to get the students to write their own letter, addressed to themselves! Ask the students if they think their crayons are happy with their treatment, or if they're disgruntled from misuse or mistreatment. The kids just love writing from this perspective  and some of the most creative pieces I've ever read have come from this task. 

To help scaffold their ideas and for some gorgeous writing paper, I use Boy Mama Teacher Mama's FREE resource. You can grab it HERE!

Check out this super cute, if somewhat demanding, letter written by a Year 2 student. The red underlines identify where the student believes they have used persuasive language.

Haven't got the book? Here is a lovely version with origami animations. Note, it's a shortened (abridged version).

If... is a stunning book which offers a surrealistic view of the natural world. The two-page spreads present artful watercolours paired with strange possibilities, such as:

This book is truly magical for all age groups. After reading, students come up with the most amazing and creative and surreal ideas and this allows for a range of possible art lessons. 

This is one such artwork completed by a Year 4 student. I think the artworks look best when, like the picture book, the background is one solid colour which juxtaposes the main picture. 

This is definitely a book I would recommend purchasing, as I think it's more impactful when you read it aloud at your own pace and stop to discuss all of the wondrous images along the  way. However, if you're short on time or don't have the book, here is an electronic version!

So there you have it, my top 3 picture books I could not live without. I hope I have helped inspire some new and creative ways to incorporate beautiful literature into your classrooms!

Happy teaching and happy reading!