Books and my classroom…

Why do you love books so much?

Well that’s a loaded question and a half. It’s a question my children (despite the fact I’ve taught them for 2 years now) have asked me. It’s a question my colleagues have asked me. I don’t have ONE answer for them. I don’t have one blanket answer. I probably give a different answer every single time I answer that question and that’s OK. The reason I love reading and books is deeper than just one reason.

Reading and in particular encouraging children to read for pleasure is a BIG part of my motivation and identity as a teacher. I know a lot of teachers in my twitter bubble would also say this, but I also know there are teachers who wouldn’t say this. I definitely identify as a reading teacher. A teacher who reads. My Year 5 classroom had a dedicated reading area because I think it’s important that children see that I am a reader just as much as they are. However, when I moved into my Year 6 classroom, there wasn’t a reading area as such (because for all it’s a wonderfully big classroom and I’m VERY blessed to have it there isn’t really space for book shelves), so I made one. And I very much loved it.

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Every week, there’s a new ‘Miss Elliott’s Recommended Read’ and one of my boys in particular is always the first one to take this book then return it! Yes, there are a multitude of different coloured stars to match whatever colour the covers of the books are… don’t judge me! I like things to look aesthetically pleasing haha. So far, my recommended reads have been:

  • Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick
  • Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray
  • There May Be A Castle by Piers Torday
  • The Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll 
  • Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

I love leaving a book out on the recommended read spot because it gives children a starting point if they’re a bit intimidated by the selection!

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Also in my reading corner are these two books. The brown one says ‘Miss Elliott’s Recommended Reads’ on the outside and the ‘Reading Journal’ is for them. Inside my recommended reading book is just that: my reviews of some of the books I’ve read lately. It was something I saw on twitter and then I decided to magpie. It’s great for the kids who are undecided, but trust my reading tastes! The ‘Reading Journal’ is their chance to shine and do just that: recommend books to their friends. The Reading Journal has just recently taken off as it took one or two children writing in it before they weren’t afraid to! I think it’s so important to get children talking about the books they recommend. (Letters from the Lighthouse was our whole class read last half term and I was super lucky to have 15 copies! The kids ADORED it!)

I also have these baskets which are jam packed FULL of high quality and wonderful stories. Any of the books I get sent normally end up in my classroom first and then they go into the school library for the rest of school to enjoy them – that’s adults and children alike! There’s a lot of books in these baskets that will stay in Year 6 because I either bought them or I know my kids will love them! A lot of these books have been read by multiple children and some of them are falling apart already! But that’s the sign of a well-loved book in my classroom! Some of the firm faves from these baskets include:

  • Wildspark by Vashti Hardy
  • Patina/Sunny/Ghost (not pictured because someone’s reading it) by Jason Reynolds
  • Pages and Co by Anna James
  • The Storm Keeper’s Island/The Lost Tide WQarriors by Catherine Doyle
  • High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson
  • Who Let The Gods Out series by Maz Evans

I decided to subscribe to First News this year just to give a bit of variety in my reading area and I have to say, my Year 6s are very taken by the newspaper! My Year 5s also loved them, but my Y6s are very partial to a bit of newspaper reading in our reading time! There’s never many left on the table when we are reading. There’s also this little box of postcards/bookmarks for my kids – if publishers ever send me postcards or bookmarks, they go in here for my kids to have a look at/use! We’re keen users of bookmarks and postcards as bookmarks!

And that’s it! A whistlestop tour of my reading area as it is at the minute. I’m a massive lover of books (if you hadn’t guessed) and getting my children access to new, high-quality books is so important to me. I love that being a blogger helps me to do this, but I’d do it even if I weren’t a blogger… I daren’t tell you all how much money I spend monthly on books!

Have you got a reading area in your classroom?
Is there anything else you’d like to see from my classroom?

Speak to you all soon!

S x

Half term is…

Half term is…

A time for me to switch off for a minute.
For me to see friends that I’ve not seen for a while.
A time for me to breathe.

Time to get creative.
An opportunity for me to read all of the books.
The time I spend with my family.
A time to reflect. 
Breakfasts and lie ins.
Laughter and relaxation.
Time off from being Miss Elliott, and being Steph again.
Doing what I want to do, when I want to.
Late nights (mainly because books).
Starbucks and cake.
Time for my brain to rearrange itself and process what’s just been happening.
A time I miss my kids.
Getting through that TBR pile.
Posting pictures from whatever I’m up to.
Seeing my goddaughters. 
Sitting in Waterstones doing a bit of planning.
Sundays where I only blog. 
Getting round to doing things I’ve been putting off.
Seaside walks and cups of tea.
Time for me to be by myself.
Realising there’s more to me than my job.
Knowing that my job is an important part of my identity, but not the only part.

What half term looks like is different for everyone, but I love a half term holiday. I love my job with all that I am, but I can enjoy being off too. 

What does half term mean to you?
What does half term look like in your life?

Happy half term everyone! 

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: Respect

Respect: an informative and approachable way to teach children all about the importance of consent.

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“Your body belongs to you and you get to set your own rules, so that you may have boundaries for different people and sometimes they might change. Like when you hi-five your friends and kiss your kitten, but not the other way round! But consent doesn’t need to be confusing. From setting boundaries, to reflecting on your own behaviour and learning how to be an awesome bystander, this book will have you feeling confident, respected, and 100% in charge of yourself and your body.”

Due to changes in the curriculum and the importance of conversations around consent, it has been added to the PSHE curriculum which all schools must teach. Respect is a wonderful little book which ties in so beautifully with that: it’s child friendly, doesn’t shy away from some tough topics and deals with them with great respect (lol) and isn’t patronising at all. 

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One of the things that I loved most about this book was how it managed to bring to life some of the toughest conversations we might need to have with children around these themes. Using the incredible illustrations, children learn quickly all about these things. It’s fun, it’s playful and most importantly it’s smart: it teaches kids at their level. It’s certainly been a big hit in my Year 6 classroom with quite a few of my children picking it up and then having some tricky conversations and asking some big questions. 

For parents and teachers alike, themes like consent can be really bloody daunting, so teaching them, when appropriate, about these things is an absolute necessity. When you’re able to do it through the medium of a book which children find engaging, that’s when you’ve hit a winner. 

I really do think this book is brilliant and I think it’s an important one for parents and teachers alike to think about. Our kids are a lot more savvy and clued up than I certainly was when I was younger, so we need to equip them with the tools for the world they live in now and this book, while it couldn’t have all of the solutions, is a brilliant tool for kids to have at their disposal. 

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A massive thank you to the publishers for inviting me to be on this blog tour! This book is already a hit at school and I’d love to see more books like this available to children, parents and teachers alike. 

Can you recommend any books around these themes?

Speak to you all soon!

S x 

A-Z of Back to School (part 2)

Hello everyone!

Last week, I posted the first half of my A-Z of Back to School post and this week it’s time for the end of that post! I had such a lovely reception to last week’s post, so I hope you all enjoy this one just as much. (I’m well aware we are WELL into the swing of things, but I really wanted to share these!)

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Here we go…

N – Noticing change

Now, this could be anything from how much taller your class from last year seem to be, to changes around school. There’s always a lot of things that change over the SUmmer (it’s 6 weeks – you’d expect some things to change!)

O – Overpreparing and not needing it

I don’t know if this is just me, or if it’s everyone. I always overprepare for that first week. I have so many activities ready to go, but then I end up not needing them. I think it’s hard to pitch things at first, so there’s always too much to do and that’s OK. I have an activity that I’m still waiting to do 3 weeks on (it’s not an essential activity, just something a little fun).

P – Picture books aren’t just for EYFS

One of the things I love doing the most is using picture books to inspire writing. As a Year 5 teacher, this may be looked upon with scorn, but there’s a fair few of my writing units based on picture books. I use them not just for writing, but for inspiration for everything. I think people can forget that within picture books there are some amazing stories. I think picture books should have a place in every classroom up and down the land, no matter how old the class are!

Q – Quick toilet breaks

Man… going to the toilet whenever you please is such a luxury that Summer Holiday Me doesn’t realise. Those first few weeks back are all about retraining your bladder to only go to the toilet at break time/lunch time and after school. It’s a real thing.

R – Reading a whole new bunch of books

Another lovely thing about getting into a new year and a new class is that their tastes might be entirely different to the class you just had. My new class love a scary story, whereas my class last year weren’t that keen on them (or at least never expressed that they were). I’m loving finding new books and new authors that I’ve never really delved into before.

S – Stationery

WELL YES. Do I need to explain this one? I love a bit of stationery and a new year is the PERFECT excuse to have to get some new stationery. I think teachers fall into 2 categories with stationery: obsessed or non-plussed. I am definitely the former. Even as a child, there was nothing more exciting than going to Stationery Box and Woolworths (man, I miss those places) and getting my pens, pencils, rubbers and stuff for the year ahead. Stationery, like books, is just one of my loves!

T – Turning the alarm back on

BOOOOO. This is always the worst. You’ve had 6 weeks of not having to get up via an alarm (or however long you’ve had without an alarm) and now here we are, alarm time again. It’s not fun at first getting up to the sound of your alarm… *weep*

U – Using my favourite stories again

I can’t wait to get to use my favourite stories again. I’ve just done a unit of writing with The Day the Crayons Quit; we’re moving on to doing Journey by Aaron Becker next. I bloody love being a teacher and using books. It’s something I could rabbit on about for words and words.

V – Venturing into the unknown

This year I have more responsibility than I have done in previous years and that’s a new thing for me. I don’t really know what to expect. It’s my first year as a qualified teacher when we are expecting Ofsted, which is again something I’ve never experienced before. These things are all TERRIFYING and thrilling… most of the time.

W – Working differently

I think as every year passes there’s things that I’ll start doing differently. For all I’ve worked in school for 10 years now, I’ve only been a qualified teacher for 1. I passed my NQT year this Summer and I’m an RQT this year. I think with a new bunch of kids, a new bunch of responsibilities and a new outlook on teaching (and its politics), I’ve got a few things I’m changing.

X – EXtra responsibility

Lol, I’ve mentioned this 3 times in succession now! So, I’m PE lead, MFL lead, Library lead and one of school’s Maths Mastery lead teachers. That’s a lot to have on my plate, but you know what? I’m someone who loves a bit of responsibility. I love a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, there’s days I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed and worried that I’m not going to do a good enough job, but I know that I’ll put my heart and soul into these roles. If I’m not the right person for the job, then I’m sure I’ll find that out too!

Y – Yes, Miss!

It’s those lightbulb moments that make this all a bit more bearable on the days when it’s just a challenge. I love watching a child who DOESN’T understand something just click and when they do get it, there’s the inevitable “YESSS” moment. That’s always a lush lush touch.

Z – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Getting back into work is EXHAUSTING. I love my job; I work with an incredible bunch of people; my kids are wonderful, but my lord is it exhausting. Going from living life at your own pace to having to be FULL ON is a lot. So yes, I’m tired. I’m always tired ha! (I imagine you’re either exhausted or have had enough of hearing about being back to school now, so congrats for getting through this post ha!)

And there we go! My whole A-Z of being back at school. I really enjoyed doing this! I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know the A-Z of… I might make this into a series!

See you tomorrow!

S x

A-Z of Back to School (Part 1)

Hello there! Friends, teachers, non-teachers, educators, non-educators, readers and everyone!

Today, I’m coming to you with something a bit different. Something a bit serious, a bit fun and a dive into the world of teaching. As you may know (if you’re new around here, hello, come say hello to me!), I’m a teacher and as it’s September, it’s back to school season. Yes, we’re 2 weeks into the term now, but hey ho, this post is better late than never, right?

I stole this idea from someone on twitter (I don’t remember who it was! If it was you, let me know) and it was great fun trying to fill in the A-Z of back to school while I was flapping on a train a few weeks back. So here goes…

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A – Anxiety

Being off for 6 weeks and then going back to work is a scary thought. I can’t lie and tell you that I wasn’t anxious about going back to work because I was. I’ve had a few ridiculously anxious days since being back too.

B – Bye Bye NQT Year!

When you qualify as a teacher, you have to get through your NQT year (Newly Qualified Teacher). It’s a good year where you get loads of extra support and more time than “regular teachers” out of class to use to help you keep progressing as a teacher. It’s a scary year being an NQT, but it’s a great learning curve! I passed my NQT year which was a PROPER lush feeling!

C – Chatting about Summer

YEP. That first week that’s all you talk about: what you got up to, what you didn’t get up to, how your Summer went. To be honest, after the first 3 conversations, I’m over it hah!

D – Deleting emails

This might sound like a funny one, but deleting the emails you’re sent over the Summer from companies is a proper delight. I love a good clear out!

E – Excitement

Along with the anxiety, there’s a whole load of excitement. A new bunch of kids, a whole new bunch of responsibilities and a new outlook on things. Sometimes you need to step back to see the wonderful things and then dive back in. We also got a library over the holidays which is WONDERFUL.

F – Friendships

Working in a school is like working in a microcosm of the real world – there’s people you’re really close to, there’s people you only speak to at certain times, there’s people you don’t really speak to. One of the things that keeps me going is the friends I have at school. I’m really bloody lucky to have the colleagues I have. Some of my best friends in the world are the people I work with. Friendships make my job so much easier!

G – Getting to know a whole new crew

Having a whole new 30 children to get to know is a daunting prospect. If I think of how well I knew my class from last year, I think to myself “there is no way I’ll know a class that well” but I will. I know I will. I can’t wait to get to know this new class – they’re very different from my class last year!

H – Having routine back in my life

You all know that I love a bit of routine in my life. I talked about it in a blog post during the Summer. Having the holidays and there being no routine messes with my head, so having routine back in my life is SO SO lush. As much as getting up when it’s dark is SHITTY, it’s nice to be back into a routine.

I – Imposter syndrome

I could go on about this for words and words. I think imposter syndrome is something most people feel at some time in their lives. I have days where I think I feel like I’m just “playing” teachers and someone is going to come along and take this all away from me. Or when someone emails me and I’m the one who is in charge of that thing… like… CLEARLY A FAKER HERE. Ha.

J – Juggling 72934745639 things at once

Teachers have many hats that they wear during the week and it’s sometimes hard to keep all of those things afloat at once! There’s SO MANY THINGS that need to be done and prioritising is SO BLOODY important! I’ve learned that and I’m learning that some things don’t NEED to be done.

K – Knowing I’m chasing my dream

Many many moons ago, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I think I was about 8 when I knew I wanted to be a teacher. It took me an awfully long time to get there, but it was something I never gave up on, even when I went off path slightly. I think if you’ve got a dream you want to follow bad enough, you’ll get there. Never give up on that. Knowing that I’m living out the one thing that I’ve wanted for all of these years is still quite surreal.

L – Lost PE kits/jumpers

THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE LBR. Please label everything ever. This makes it so much easier to give it back to the rightful owner. “Miss, I’ve lost my jumper/PE kit/pencil” is one of my least favourite things to hear ha!

M – Mourning the departure of Summer

I can love my job but also be SAD that the Summer holidays is over. Getting up when my body is ready, making plans with my friends to see them DURING THE DAY and just reading all of the books is SUCH a lovely way to spend my time that not being able to do that anymore is SAD TIMES. But also, I love my job.

OK. Well we’ve made it to the middle of the alphabet! Come back next week for the rest of the alphabet!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of “A-Z of Back to School.” It was certainly a lot of fun to write! Share your thoughts in the comments: I’d love to know what you thought!

See you tomorrow!

S x

What we’re reading!

Hello!

How are you all?

Today, I thought I would share some pictures of the books my class are reading… cause they’re all reading some absolute corkers.

Starting this academic year, I really wanted to get my kids excited about books and about reading. I’m such an advocate for reading for pleasure that I want my kids to know that they can enjoy reading and that it doesn’t always have to be something they’re tested on… they just get to enjoy what they’re reading.

We did a whole hour about our reading habits and our reading identities where they got to tell me about their own reading preferences, which I found really interesting. Learning so much about these new little people of mine really gave me the chance to recommend books that I knew would be right for them!

I was DELIGHTED with the range of books that they chose from my shelves. There’s some of my absolute favourite books of recent years in these piles. There’s all sorts of representation in these books. There’s stories these children might never have come across. A lot of these books are my own copies (as in they don’t belong in the school library) and it gives me such joy to know that I’ve read these books and that I can talk to the kids about these books if they want to.

I love that there’s such a mix of books in these piles. There’s well known authors and there’s indie authors. There’s an anthology of stories among some incredible stand alones. There’s 2 children starting off the Perfect series (which is a series that I adore) and there’s some books I’ve wanted to give to children in so so long. There’s a non-fiction book in among fiction books (which fills me with delight!)

My classroom is definitely the “reading classroom”. It’s where you’ll find all of the books (except the library). That’s something I’m really proud of. I’m a reader through and through and if I can help just one child find their love of reading then I’ve done my job!

Our class reader, which was voted for by the children on transition day is The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone. As I have an audible account, we’re actually listening to it on audiobook and I’m really enjoying that! It’s read so brilliantly by the narrator and it’s giving me an extra bit of time to enjoy reading and listening alongside them.

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As well as general reading, I always try and theme my Writing lessons around a book (I just think it gives everything a lot more purpose). We started the year with a letter to ourselves, so I thought we would continue with letter writing in a fun way. We’re going for letters to complain and using the amazing The Day The Crayons Quit as our model text/inspiration. A lot of people will frown at me using this text in Year 5, but I think it is PERFECT.

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I could ramble on for hours about the love I have for reading and the importance of reading for pleasure, but I won’t ramble on (if you’d like me to, then by all means let me know in the comments because that’s something I can talk about for words and words… it’s what I did my dissertation on!)

Let me know if you’d like any more tales from the classroom and I could probably make it into a series! Leave me some questions if you have any!

Speak soon,

S x

BLOG TOUR: A Planet Full of Plastics

Today, I come to you sharing ‘A Planet Full of Plastics’ by Neal Layton. I was invited to be on the blog tour and I was thrilled as this is something we have been thinking about this year in school and my class and I did a whole unit of work around plastic pollution in the seas.

A Planet Full of Plastic is a wonderful picture book and is perfect for
readers who love nature and want to help the environment.

Everything is made of stuff. Some things are made of paper, like this book. And some things are made of PLASTIC. If you look around you, plastic is everywhere. Even in places where it’s not meant to be. If it drops to the ground, it doesn’t rot away – it sticks around for ever.

Our world is drowning in plastic, and it’s a big problem. Award-winning author-illustrator Neal Layton is here to explain where plastic comes from, why it doesn’t biodegrade, and why that’s dangerous for animals and humans alike. But he’s also FULL of ideas for how you can help! From giving up straws in juice cartons to recycling all we can and taking part in a beach clean, A Planet Full of Plastic will get young readers excited about how they can make a difference to keep Planet Earth happy.

I know a lot of schools who are taking plastic and recycling very seriously, and with a very quick browse of the internet, there are some wonderful and inventive ways to reuse plastic in an art lesson. Some schools take an even wider scape and use plastic as an art tool to create a whole school display.

None of the following images are my own: I am in awe of these creations and credit goes to the original creators (I wish I had the origin of all of these pictures, but I just have them saved in my ‘inspiration bank’ for lessons)

There are some amazing displays from teachers on Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram and some of them are pure envy. There are so many ways we can recycle and reuse plastic/other materials in the classroom. We all love a bit of junk modelling and it’s important to talk to children about the importance of recycling and reusing materials so they don’t end up polluting our lands and seas.

I can’t wait to use this book and some of these amazing ideas with my class next year to create some recycled art ourselves!

Massive thank you to Hachette Kids for inviting me to be in this blog tour!

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!

Plastics Blog Tour (3)

S x

Final half term contemplations…

Ello, ello, ello

So for those of you who are new around here, hi, I’m Steph, an NQT in a gorgeous little primary school in Newcastle. I love my job, I love where I work, I have the best colleagues in the world. My road to teaching hasn’t been conventional, but I got there in the end. I was a TA for 4 years, then I became a HLTA, then I realised that yes in fact teaching was the thing that I wanted to do for the rest of time, so I got my degree (as well as working full time) and then, last year, I finally qualified. So this year has been my NQT year. I work with a brilliant bunch of kids who make me laugh EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Now that we’re at my final half term, I’m just gonna share some musings, some thoughts, some questions, some wonderings about my final half term and maybe, just maybe, what I would like the future to hold.

  • Teaching is completely and utterly for me.
    It’s hard, it’s really exhausting at times and there’s more things to think about than brain space sometimes, but it’s the only thing I want to be doing for the rest of time (cause let’s be real, I’m going to be working until I’m 100). I invite anyone who thinks my job is “easy” to come and join me for a day or two… then you’ll see.
  • The politics of teaching is just ridiculous at times.
    I try not to get involved in the politics of teaching, but there is more of it than I realiased and that’s not fun. I get it, I get it, but man, I came into teaching to be a teacher, not a politician.
  • I do this job because I love it, but yes the holidays are great.
    People are ALWAYS commenting on this… and yes I can’t get away from the fact that the amount of holidays I get is wonderful (I would never deny this) but equally half terms are NEEDED.
  • I want to enjoy teaching for a while.
    People ask me (quite regularly) about going into management and senior leadership and while that’s not something I don’t want, I didn’t qualify just so I could be on someone’s SLT. It would be great to find myself with the responsibility of being a leader one day, but not just yet. I wanna actually master this craft before I try my hand at something else. One day I would like to see myself as a leader, but at the minute I don’t see headship in my future.
  • The subjects I thought would be the scariest haven’t been.
    I was DREADING teaching PE, absolutely dreading it, but actually, it’s become one of my favourite things to teach. Is it the thing I’m best at teaching? Gosh no, but it’s just so FUN. I’ve HAD to open my eyes and upskill myself and that’s been great.
  • Twitter is a wonderful platform for teachers.
    Do I feel like an imposter at times? Yes.
    Do I think why do these people care about what I think at times? Yes.
    Do I sometimes worry that my voice isn’t needed? Yes.
    But let me tell you, twitter teachers are the best, most caring and giving people you can come across. Find yourself a bunch of teachers who make you laugh, challenge you professionally and who support you and you’re laughing. I’m so very lucky that I found my tweacher friends quite quickly and they’re the best bunch ever.
  • Don’t be scared to get involved in conversations and attend events.
    There are so many conversations happening all the time and if you’re passionate about something then join in. People will challenge what you think and people will support what you think – if you’ve got the gusto to go out there and talk about something you’re passionate about do it. Yes there’ll be people who say things to antagonise you, but you choose the conversations you join in and the people you surround yourself with. There are SO SO many teaching events to get along to so get yourself out there and do it (it’s terrifying, but it’s worth it). Look up #BrewEd – there’s bound to be one near you happening.
  • Some lessons won’t go to plan and that’s life.
    I beat myself up SO SO MUCH about this and slowly, I’m realising that I’m human and bad lessons happen. It doesn’t make me a bad teacher, it just means I need to take a step back and think about why it didn’t go as well as I thought. I never did quite understand the whole “doing reflections” thing from my SCITT, but now it’s something I do without even realising (rarely are they written down, but it’s all in my head and it’s all useful)
  • It’s not a bad thing to ask for help.
    Asking for help is such an important tool. I encourage my kids to do it ALL THE BLOODY TIME but I’m so bad at it because I see it as a weakness (isn’t that mad?!) but I’ve got better. I’m still not great at it, but I’m getting there.
  • Ask all of the questions, even if you think they’re stupid questions
    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. Say it again. Ask it again because you might not get the chance to ask it again.
  • Stick to your guns about something
    If you believe in something, or you think something isn’t right, then stick with your gut. I’ve had to do this a few times this year and I’ve been right every time. If there’s one thing I believe in in this job it’s that teachers know their kids. If something’s not right with your job, your workload, you, one of your kids, talk to someone about it. People are generally ridiculously supportive.

I have a load more to say but I’ve already rattled on for 1000 words (sorry guys).

I’ve loved my NQT year with all of my heart. It’s been exhausting, incredible, moving, frustrating, emotional and so many other words. I know this is just the first step up a VERY BLOODY LONG staircase, but it’s the only staircase I wanna climb

Thanks for sticking with me. If you’ve got any questions or anything you wanna say, please just let me know. I’m a bit inconsistent with my teacher posts, but I think it’s something I’d like to do more of.

You’re all amazing. Let’s have a brilliant final summer half term! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: Sarah Roberts

Somebody Swallowed Stanley: a beautiful story to teach children about the importance of looking after our oceans!

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“Say hello to Stanley! He’s swimming around in the sea, but he’s no ordinary jellyfish. Most jellyfish have dangly-gangly tentacles, but Stanley has two handles. Other jellyfish have a magical pearly glow, but Stanley has colourful stripes. Lots of hungry fish in the sea are looking for lunch, and all of them have a taste for Stanley. But plastic bags don’t belong in the sea – or in other creatures’ tummies…”

I’m gutted that I’ve only just found this book now because I’ve done my plastic pollution topic in my class this year! But next year… next year! 

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Somebody Swallowed Stanley is a brilliant picture book telling about the tale of Stanley – a jellyfish unlike other jellyfish, because he is a plastic bag – and what happens to him when creatures of the sea try to eat him. Some manage to spit him back out, but one of the creatures isn’t so lucky, until a brilliant young man comes along and saves the day. 

There’s some incredible messages in this book about the importance of being kind to the environment and recycling. Stanley is recycled at the end of the book to be a kite and this would be a great thing to get children thinking about what we can do with our plastics once we’re finished with them, so that they don’t end up in the sea!

One of the lovely things about this book is the riddle type verses that describe the animals which eat Stanley. This would be a great thing to use with children to get them to come up with their own riddles about animals under the sea! This could be an activity you do with children from as young as KS1 all the way to Upper KS2. 

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I love this book and it will be a firm fave that I bring out every year when we talk about plastic pollution. I don’t think picture books should be reserved for only EYFS and KS1 – my Year 5s this year have LOVED being read picture books! 

What are your favourite picture books to use around this issue?
What activities do you do to raise awareness of plastic pollution?
Are you any good at writing riddles?

Talk to me. I wanna know what activities and stories you use to teach kids about the importance of lookinga fter our world!

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Anna Williamson

How Not To Lose It: a brilliant book to use when talking MH with kids

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“The go-to mental health guide for kids!
Exam stress? Friendship issues? Panic attacks?
How Not to Lose It will help you be the boss of all of this, and more.

It’s not just your body that should be fit and healthy – your mind needs to be, too! How Not to Lose It is the go-to guide for achieving a balanced mind and strong emotional well-being. With immediate, heart of the matter advice and a chatty yet honest tone, Anna Williamson addresses all of the key issues affecting children today.”

As a teacher, it’s so important that I have resources available to me for talking to kids about their mental health. We are seeing more and more that MH is something that is talked about in schools – and rightly so. There are more and more books becoming available to help kids learn about and talk about their MH and How Not To Lose It is a brilliant example of a book that’s going to do that! Aimed at 9-14 year olds, this book covers a wide variety of topics and is filled with empowering advice, delivered in a honest and chatty tone. 

How Not To Lose It covers such a wide variety of topics that you can find advice based on almost anything. The contents page kicks off in the way the book continues – friendly, colourful and it doesn’t feel like your typical “self help” book. There’s a handy index in the back too – always useful when you just want ONE specific thing. The topics covered in the book are:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • stress
  • friendship
  • bullying
  • relationships and sex
  • family life and bereavement
  • phobias
  • peer pressure
  • self-harm
  • self-esteem and confidence.

I love that this book is approachable. If a kid (this book is aimed at 9-14 year olds) picked it up, it’s appealing to them and it’s not just pages and pages of words. There’s agony aunt letters aplenty and there’s these brilliant “myth busting” boxes throughout. The illustrations are perfect for the age range that it’s aimed at and I read through as an adult and I learned things! The language used is chatty and honest, which makes it brilliantly readable for kids without sounding patronising.

This book is BRILLIANT. Properly brilliant. I love the variety of topics that it covers. These ‘To sum it all up…’ pages are my favourite pages throughout – there’s some proper sound advice on them. (This one about friendship is one of my favourites!) 

Anything that empowers our kids and helps them deal with anything they’re going through is a proper winner in my books and this one is brilliant! 

What are your favourite resources to use in the classroom about mental health?
Would you find this resource useful in the classroom?

A massive thank you to the publishers, Scholastic, for sending me a copy. I am going to have this at hand in my classroom. This book is out now and I would recommend UKS2/KS3 teachers to check it out!

S x