Tag Archives: Schooling

Teaching Rainbows

It was Takeover Day on Friday, a day when children are encouraged to join in decision making and responsibilities. MG’s school offered the opportunity for every child in years 1 to 6 to ‘apply’ for a school job. These included headteacher, secretary, class teacher, kitchen assistant, pre-school supervisor and maintenance. MG loves playing school with her little sister so her first choice was teacher, she chose to teach her own class (year 1 and 2 mixed).

After chatting together, taking MG’s ideas and interests and trying to simplify them to fit in a 25 minute teaching slot, she chose teaching about rainbows as it was a mix of art and also a bit sciencey which are her favourite things. I suggested showing how to make a rainbow out of three colours because it really needed to be simple – we left out lots of things like using prisms to split white light and talking about primary colours of paint and light! I wrote something for MG to read and made the templates for making the rainbow. Paint wasn’t an option giving the time constraints but cutting and sticking coloured cellophane was probably a lot more fun anyhow!

As MG was at school and is tired after, I did the preparation but it was all based on her ideas. Okay, I maybe took over a little… But she felt that it was hers, she gave the lesson and she input into everything so she was happy. Phew! I made up 30 packs which had a cutting template, sticking template, coloured cellophane (approx 16x24cm pieces) and a paper plate.

The paper plate was for making freestyle rainbows or patterns with the left over cellophane after making the rainbow from the template. I’m not a school teacher so I overestimated the time. For one or two children, this could be done in 25 minutes but in a big class with people not listening etc, even with doing it in pairs they didn’t all finish. I also underestimated the cellophane. It looked like plenty but 5-7 year olds make more mistakes and want more cellophane (so working in pairs was good for that too!)

I didn’t have time to shop online for cellophane, and traipsed round Oxford before eventually managing to get some in the art shop I should have gone to in the first place! But I could only get one roll of each colour, each of which was approx 500mm x 2.5m so 24x16cm (approx) was the only way I could get 30 pieces from the roll. It really did look as if it should be plenty big enough! I would therefore suggest, if doing this for a class of 30, to get two rolls of at least the red cellophane (assuming rolls the same size) and cut bigger pieces. For smaller groups, perhaps individual A4 sheets of coloured cellophane or acetate. I did look at tissue paper, but it wasn’t transparent enough. Also, the red we got was too deep so the orange and purple didn’t look as nice as they might have!

In case MG got too shy when she was faced with her entire class, I wrote teaching notes of the order she was to go through her sheets. I wrote a bit of blurb for her to read as background to the activity, and I created the cutting and sticking templates. As we’re using three colours, you need to cut each one to cover three lines of the rainbow so the cutting template isn’t as simple as six arches. And because it worked so well, you can download these three files for your own use 🙂

Rainbow Lesson – Teacher Notes

Rainbow Lesson – Templates

Rainbow Lesson – About Rainbows

The picture above shows MG’s teaching pack! I laminated everything mainly because I could, but also to separate it as being MG’s. I laminated the cellophane template pieces into three sheets so that MG could easily hold and show the three colours and put them together to show the rainbow. We had colour paddles so I put them in too in case she wanted to show the colour mixes with them.

At the end of the day, when I picked her up from school, MG was buzzing with excitement from the whole day. She’d given her lesson (a little shy at first but her teacher stood with her to start with) and the children really enjoyed it, as did she! I am utterly proud of her achievement. Okay, and a teeny bit proud of me for creating the templates and managing to get the blurb pitched at the right reading level for MG!

I’m linking this up with Montessori Monday because I think it would work well as a hands-on unit lesson. It can be simplified for very young children, there’s opportunities for hands on experimentation with colour mixing, and it can be a springboard to further study. Enjoy, and please visit Living Montessori Now for tons of brilliant Montessori inspired ideas.

Montessori Monday from Living Montessori Now

Learn With Hello Kitty: Alphabet Letters & Starting to Write

Learn With Hello Kitty

The lovely people at Harper Collins have sent us two Hello Kitty workbooks. I have mixed feelings on workbooks but MG and DG like to play school and they like to have workbooks to use.

DG is at a stage where she’s only just starting to control her pencil strokes and producing circles and lines on purpose rather than just squiggles (I try not to compare her to MG who could write her name at the same age!) MG loves to write but some practice with forming letters on top of her story writing and schooling would be useful to her.

I also have mixed opinions about these two workbooks. Both books are luscious, with lots of colour throughout so they stand out from many other workbooks. Hello Kitty is a familiar character and instantly recognisable so these books are attractive to young children. There is also a Numbers book which we haven’t seen plus three dictionaries in the series. Matching stationery can be easily found for those who want to co-ordinate!

Starting to Write is aimed at 3-5 year olds and is pitched perfectly at the age range, starting with tracing straight lines, moving through curves and shapes before showing the correct formation of the lower case alphabet. The pages are colourful and inviting, there are lots of stickers (including several oversize characters) and the letter size is big enough to be clear on how to form them and uses a primary font that differentiates between b/d/p/q easily.

Alphabet Letters is also aimed at 3-5 year olds, but I think it’s more useful as an activity book than an alphabet learning tool. There is a page for each letter of the alphabet but no consistency between the activities, for example only a handful of pages offer the opportunity to write the letter. Each page is cluttered and it’s not clear from the picture what letter is being highlighted. The font used does not clearly differentiate between b/d etc and uses a straight line for l without a tail. The ‘l’ page also uses a very curvy font for handwriting that, to me, completely defeats the object of the entire book. Using the same font as the letters to trace in Starting to Write would have been preferable.

There are no guidance notes for parents on using the phonic sounds for the letters, which is the best starting point for children to understand the correspondence between the marks on paper and the words we speak. Some of the examples are not simple phonetic words (e.g. ice cream starts with the letter name sound rather than the letter sound; xylophone doesn’t have the /ks/ sound, although words starting with x are awkward…)

I really don’t think Alphabet Letters succeeds as a book to “learn your letters” but is an enjoyable activity book with lots to talk about in the pictures and plenty of stickers to use too.

I used both books with DG because MG is on the outer end of the age range for the books and would get less out of them whereas DG is very much at the start of the alphabet & writing experience. MG would still get something out of the writing book as some of her letter formations are out (e.g. backwards) but I’d prefer to use the whole book with one child!

DG really enjoyed the pictures and talking about everything in them. She proved to me my thoughts about Alphabet Letters. It was enjoyable for her as an activity book with lots to talk about and stickers to stick but trying to concentrate on one letter was impossible given the cluttered pages, she also found it hard to find the illustration of the example word for some letters because they weren’t obvious. As an activity book to colour, stick, draw and talk about the pictures this book is lovely, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an alphabet teaching book.

Conversely Starting to Write does the job perfectly. DG and I have gone through the whole book talking through the pictures with her pointing things out, and she’s traced some of the lines with her fingers. At the stage she’s at, she needs more fine motor practise to control her pen strokes, although she can do circles and lines but I stuck to following lines with fingers to start. This book will last us for a very long time going through all the different activities, and the colourful pictures are very appealing to DG.

These are visually appealing, fun books that don’t feel like workbooks and have lovely stickers too. I would recommend looking for them in a real bookshop rather than online to see whether they suit what you’re looking for but DG and I have had fun using them together.

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of  Learn with Hello Kitty: Alphabet Letters and Learn with Hello Kitty: Starting to Write by Harper Collins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.