Noisy Literacy – Providing an environment that encourages talk

As teachers we have a responsibility to provide children with rich opportunities to talk.

Tizard and Hughes (1984) state that by the age of 3 or 4 dialogue is as important as physical exploration.

So how do we cultivate the best classroom conditions for talk in the early years?

Make the classroom environment relaxed and home like.

Have small enclosed areas sectioned off in the classroom for different types of playful engagement.

Drapes and soft furnishings to absorb background sounds.

Remove background sounds during play e.g cd players and bells

Have long periods for play

Give opportunities for collaborative learning in small groups.

Value pupils sharing of stories or news

Make use of real experiences like trips and outings

Twinkl Twinkl little teacher

How many times have I thought it would be great if there were 25 hours in a day or 8 days in a week? Millions of times, I can tell you.

Most teachers spend hours making and producing resources for their classroom. For those savvy teachers who are like me and don’t have time to start from scratch there is Twinkl.

Twinkl Premium is £29.95 per year. Equate that to the time you would spend (unpaid I should add!) you have a very good deal.

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Resources

The premium resources are of a high quality and they have over 12,000 premium resources in addition to their 78,000 free resources so it more than likely you will find what your looking for. If something isn’t available the lovely team at Twinkl will consider creating it for you!

Until recently, I thought Twinkl was very focused on early years teachers however I have recently noticed the growing resources aimed at Key Stage Two. My favourites being the World War Two Resources and the wonderful grammar pack.

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From quality classroom management resources to imaginative topic packs this site can save you hours!

Parents

Twinkl’s best kept secret is that they also create resources for parents.

They have super resources for supporting parents and guardians. I was especially delighted to see a school preparation section as many parents are anxious before they start school and want to prepare them as best they can.

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I’ve downloaded a few of their reward charts for my own children. My daughter who at five still wanted me to dress her is now on a getting dressed yourself smiley chart (I’ve had not sad faces to report since using it!)

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The Twinkl Community

They have a growing Facebook and twitter community who they regularly assist with teaching resources dilemmas. They also have forums where you can ask the Twinkl team or other members for advice. They also encourage teachers to gain Twinkl rewards for sharing good practice.

One of the things I am most impressed with is their newsletter. This is sent out monthly and is full of ideas for the classroom. I would recommend all primary school teachers and assistants sign up. You will be truly inspired by their creativity!!

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Noisy Literacy – Learning to read

“Babies are born with the instinct to speak, the way spiders are born with the instinct to spin webs. You don’t need to train babies to speak; they just do. But reading is different.”

— Steven Pinker

As a mummy who teaches here are some of my tips to assist you when your child is learning to read. I am not an expert but here are a few things that have worked for me.

Top Tips

1. Read to your toddlers early and often. Songs and nursery rhymes are a great way to attract children’s interest. Make it fun and get children involved in the plot and characters. Role play can be a great way to get them involved. Twinkl have some brilliant resources to support this type of activity.

2. Introduce children to a range of books e.g. cloth books, colourful books, pop-up books, picture books and other kinds where they can explore the story through a variety of media (audiobooks or iBooks or apps)

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

3. Model reading for your children. Let them see you read on a regular basis. Discuss the books you read. If you read newspapers or magazines share suitable content with them.

4. Build reading into the bedtime routine. This habit will last for a lifetime if you invest in it during the early years.

5. Make reading part of play time e.g. build a reading den, use torches to read in the dark or write signs for the pretend shop/ restaurant/vets etc.

6. Go to the library, make getting a book a family trip out. It’s free and often libraries have excellent free activities on. My local library has a rhyme time and a bedtime reading session once a month.

7. Create a reading book. Make them a book about themselves. Use pictures of your child accompanied with simple sentences describing what they are doing e.g Robert is playing with his teddy. The book creator app makes this easy to do and children adore reading about themselves or people they know. My older children still enjoy looking at these special books.

8. Use their drawings as a stimulus. Get the child to tell you what they have drawn, write it down and attach the words to the drawing. Then read it together.

9. Draw their attention to print in the environment e.g. Put an alphabet in their bedroom and make an effort to sound out the letter sounds as well as teaching them the letter names. Teach them to recognise the letters in their name. Point out shop names and other signs.

10. As children move into primary school, encourage them write their own short stories, mark making is all art of the learning process.

My biggest and most important tip make it pressure-free and fun!! If you immerse children in the world of print early, they will enjoy the power and pleasure of the written word for a long time to come.

See my other posts in the Noisy Literacy section in my archive.

Bored? Not on my watch… Ideas to develop creativity

We’ve all said it as children

I’m bored

My children say it too despite the house being filled with toys and technology.

As I read the BBC website the findings of Dr Belton, I was delighted to see that being bored develops and nurtures creativity.

The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.
…..children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.

I love my gadgets and devices, as do my children but we all know sometimes the best fun can be derived from boring situations. We should actively pursue time out to observe the world around us and playfully engage with it.

For the sake of creativity perhaps we need to slow down and stay offline from time to time

Good old fashioned play!

Cardboard boxes, blankets and a few chairs can produce hours of fun with a bit of creative thought. Climbing trees, beach walks and digging up worms all have a place.

As a parent, this may fill you with dread. If you need a bit of help of get your creative juices going the websites below should give you a few ideas.

Imagination Tree

The imagination tree will transport you into a creative world full of ideas.

This website is run by a teacher who shares her love for play on a daily basis.
It is fabulous example of how simple household items can be used to spark creative play.

Her play dough recipes are easy to follow and there are plenty of craft ideas that would keep any child happy for an hour or two. This site is easy to navigate and ideal for those seeking inspiration.

Dinkytot

An excellent new website by a Northern Ireland mummy whose teaching past should inspire all. She has plenty of tried and tested ideas that should keep little minds busy. Although the website is in its infancy, I think it will be one to watch. Her Facebook page is updated regularly and is worth a like. http://m.facebook.com/dinkytotpage?id=408517129203707&_rdr

There are hundreds of ideas on pin interest. This is my favourite http://m.pinterest.com/raspberrypop/craft-ideas-for-preschool-children/

If you can think of further examples of good sites free to leave a comment.

Early Years Ideas – Spring

Over the past number of years I have been amazed at the creative thinking of my colleagues in the Early Years Sector.

As we move into Spring, I would like to direct you to two good blogs to inspire you to be active with your pre-schooler or nursery class.

CiarnaC writes about her own experiences as a nursery teacher. She encourages us to get outdoors and enjoy it no matter what the weather. No such thing as bad weather

As a working parent it can be very easy to set them in front of the TV or hand them a mobile device. This blog shares practical ideas and has really challenged me to spend more time outdoors with my family.

My recent discovery has given me a number of craft ideas to do with my own children at home. This blog is written by Cathy James @nuturestore. In the run up to Easter you can’t fail to be inspired by some of her practical ideas.