Tots 100 Learning Through Play

Zu3D – Learning Through Play in the Early Years

For this month’s Tots 100 Blog Hop I am submitting the post above. It tells how animation and Zu3D software in particular can be used throughout the early years curriculum to encourage and enhance learning through play. Animation can be seen as digital role play for children of all ages and is a great way of using technology with small children. It is easy to do at home as well as at school. It fosters sharing, team work, speaking and listening skills.

This month’s Tots 100 Blog Hop is being sponsored by MEGA Bloks. These kits would make great animation models providing children with characters and props for their stories and even plot ideas.

To find more ideas to help children learn through play, hop on over to Tots 100 to read the other entries in this month’s Blog Hop.

And please don’t forget to read the post I have chosen to submit this month:

Zu3D – Learning Through Play in the Early Years

World Book Day – The Silver Sword

The Silver Sword is a book that has stayed with me all of my life, or at least since I first discovered it in primary school when it was read to me by my teacher, Mrs Foster.

The Silver Sword is a story based upon true fact that touches my heart every time I read it.
It is an inspirational story of tremendous courage, hope and determination in a terrible situation. It is the tale of four children’s struggle to stay alive as they journey through war-torn Europe, during the years of Nazi occupation.
This is a book that I will definitely hare with my own children and one that I have used in my teaching with children from Years 5 and 6. As well as being a story to share for its own sake it can also be a powerful text to use as part of a literacy or history lesson.
Personally I would incorporate the novel into a half term topic about war and conflict focusing on children and refugees. I believe that this would enhance the children’s understanding of the setting of the story, time and place, and help them to empathise with the characters and their situation. It would also give opportunity for looking at war poetry and other related texts such as When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and I Am David, two of my other most favourite books!!
I believe that The Silver Sword is a strong story, appealing to both boys and girls. I also feel that it is a novel that children can become really involved with and feel passionate about as the main characters are the same age as them and share similar likes and dislikes. They can really try to put themselves in their shoes.
At different points in the story children can further their understanding of and empathy for the characters by using hot-seating. One person would assume the role of a character from the novel and the other children would ask them questions about how they are feeling at a certain time, what are their fears, their worries, their thoughts about the other children and characters in the book. This would be a good way of considering what happened to Edek before the other s find him and or to Jan before he finds the others, or to the mother. It helps to enhance the understanding and enjoyment of the story by encouraging children to really read between the lines and think what could have happened based on what they already know about the novel and the war situation. It also helps to ask children o try to relate what they are reading to their own lives in some way, perhaps through emotions and feelings. When have you felt sad and lonely? Who is your best friend and why? If you had a treasure box like Jan’s what three objects would you put into it and why?
This book lends itself to being a platform for discussions about refugees and children’s experiences of war. It would be interesting to work with different charities such as The Red Cross to really develop understanding and compassion in this area.
On a creative note it would be good practice to watch the television serialisation of The Silver Sword, with children at home or at school, and notice and discuss any points that are different from the book. This would include evaluating the performances of the actors playing the main characters. Is it well cast? Do the characters loo as you imagined them to? Who would you cast in each role?
With my own children at home and pupils at school I would ask them, at the end of each reading session, to make a prediction of what they think might happen next in the story. Anticipating what might happen next in a text is an important part of reading, it is how we link what we know, what we think and what we have read together. It helps us to make sense of what we are reading and it uses imagination and creative thought.
I believe that as well as being great to read The Silver Sword provides a springboard form which many forms of writing can be launched (or sprung! ) – diaries, letters, stories, poems, reports, recounts, information texts, arguments and many more. The book has strong characters and a good plot with some chapters that could potentially lead to very powerful, creative interpretation, particularly Chapter 27, The Storm.
This book gets me so excited!
English is a subject that I have always been passionate about and I hope that through this passion, my knowledge of children’s literature and my ability to meet educational objectives through that literature, I will be able to inspire my own children and the pupils that I teach in my classroom to love English and books just as I do.
The story of The Silver Sword takes children on the journey of The Balicki Family but it is also a very personal journey where it is possible to discover many new ideas, new words, new thoughts and new inspirations. I truly believe that children take something from every story they read that moves them a little further on in their journey of discovering exactly who they are and what they want to be.
On this World Book Day 2011 I recommend this book as a winner with children aged 9 – 99.
Every journey begins with a single step so perhaps reading The Silver Sword could be yours.

I Was, I Am, I Will Be …

I stumbled across this post today and decided to use it as inspiration for a post of my own.  I love the idea of thinking where I have been, where I am and where I am going to.  I have been many things in my time and so choosing the three most significant is quite difficult to do, particularly where the past is concerned.  I have been many things, not all as good as I would like.  For the purposes of this blog about parenting though I think that I should tell you about how I was a Nan and Granddad’s Girl, how I am a Mummy and I will be a wonderful wife!

Here goes …

As a young girl there was nothing I loved more than being with my Nanny and Granddad Jock, my Dad’s parents.  For my very early childhood they lived just up the road from us at 167 Grange Road, we lived at 205.  I would often spend time with them in their house and garden, and in my Granddad’s shed.  My Granddad was good at making things out of wood.  He made my sister and I a wonderful dolls’ house and he made us hobby horses too.  He also made a money box for all the cousins in which he used to save up money for us to spend on our holidays.  As an extended family we used to go to Haven or Pontins and we all had a wonderful time.  My Nan made wonderful soup and dumplings which I loved.  Every Sunday we used to go to their house for a roast dinner, the whole family and it was just great.  On Saturdays people would come to our house for tea and cards.  I remember that my Granddad used to talk to anyone and everyone whenever we were out and about.  I remember, correctly or incorrectly, that he used to take me to the high street and buy me shoes.  I remember as I got older not saying that I liked things when out with Granddad because often what I said I liked he would buy.  When we moved to Cyprus and left my Grandparents behind I was devastated.  They came to visit us at least twice a year though and they always brought pic n mix sweets that you could not buy outside of the UK.  I loved their cuddles and as I got older I adored their company.  Especially my Nan.  After Cyprus we lived again in England for a short while and I spent so much time at my Nan and Granddad’s house.  I used to play swingball in their garden and dig for treasure that Granddad had buried near the runner beans.  I used to love the smells in the shed and the greenhouse.  I can still smell them now.  After eighteen months we moved away again to Germany and again left Nan and Granddad behind.  Again though they visited us often and I cherished the time that we had.  When I was 13 my Granddad died.  I found him, in the extension, after he collapsed with his heart.  He died after or during an operation I am not sure which.  I remember being so angry with my parents because they had not let me see him in the hospital before he had died.  We stayed in England after he died until the funeral.  In my Nan’s house.  I spent all my time doing school work as I was worried about missing so much school.  I sat on a pouffe that Nan and Granddad had brought home from Cyprus.  I own that pouffe now.  It is split and losing all its stuffing but I will not throw it out.  I love it as it reminds me of them.  I also have the foldaway coffee table from their house that I did my school work on and played scrabble with my Nan on whilst eating maltesers.  Nan loved maltesers.  My Granddad died and I missed him so much.  At that time I wrote a diary and for months afterward I addressed it each day to my Granddad.  Dear Granddad Jock, it would say.  Losing my Granddad made me even closer to my Nan.  Neither of us went to his funeral.  I sat in her lap at Aunty Barbara’s house, I remember to this day.  She had been so good to me when my Mum’s Dad had died and held me while my parents were at his funeral, I wanted to hold her through Granddad’s too.  I used to love coming home from Germany to Nan.  We would watch Countdown and Home and Away together.  We would play scrabble and cards.  We would go up the corner shop to buy scratch cards.  My Nan loved her scratch cards!  I loved my Nan so much.  I remember that I used to devour her Mills and Boons books as a teenager and I remember how over the years the text size got larger and larger as she began to lose her sight.  Nan had a stroke before she died.  I remember her getting older and smaller and funny with her awkward ways.  But she was always wonderful to me and me to her.  I have never had a bad word to say about her and never could have.  I idolised my Nan and was heart broken when she died.  I still think about her all the time and I miss her everyday. I miss them both and wish with all my heart that they could see me now that I am a mother of children of my own.  I know that they would be so proud.  I was and always will be a Grandparents’ Girl.

I am a mother myself now.  I cannot believe it actually but it is true, and true twice over as I am a very lucky mother of twins.  If you know me or read this blog regularly then you will know that I find being Mummy to twins hard sometimes but I would not change it for the world and when I look at my beautiful children my heart fills with love a-new every single time.  One of the things I am most proud of is that I have breastfed Esther and William for almost 7 months now, and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.  It is one of the most precious things that I do as a Mother but it is also the one thing that means I get no time at all to be anything apart from a Mummy.  When I am tired and grumpy David will remind me that I chose to breastfeed and so really chose to be so tied to the twins, which is true but I had hoped by now that I would be able to get out long enough to pop to the gym or the shops or just have some time to get reacquainted with me.  It is a tricky situation; that one of the things that I love the most about being Mum is also the thing that exhausts me the most and can lead to me having difficult times.  I do wonder how other women feel.  I find breastfeeding very easy.  Both babies latch on well and feed efficiently, I have plenty of milk that flows freely.  With all of this going for me I still find it hard and so to have any of these things not working as it should it must make breastfeeding nigh on impossible, especially with two.  I would encourage Mummy’s to try breastfeeding as it is a wonderful experience but I would also say to not be too downhearted if it does not work for you as there are so many other magical mummy moments coming your way.  The smiles, the giggles, the firsts, the farts …  Everything and anything will be noted as a milestone or occasion of some sort as you celebrate this life that you have made and share and celebrate.  I am a Mummy and it is a wonderful thing!

I will be a loyal and loving wife.  In less than 7 months!  I will be a Henley and I just cannot wait.  Over the last four years I have come to know David and love him with all my heart.  I have fallen in love with him over and over again in the time that I have been fortunate enough to know him.  He is amazing and I am so so lucky that he is mine.  He is funny and clever, he is strong and kind, he is ambitious but homely, a loving father and my bestest friend.  I would follow him to the the ends of the earth and I would trust him with each and every one of my dreams.  He is my life and I want to be everything I can for him when I become his wife.  Mrs Jennie Henley I will be, and I cannot wait!!!

And everything I am, was, will be and can be has been leading to this one moment, the most important moment of my life when our family circle is complete.

I was, I am and I will be me, in all my guises, for all my many ways, and I know that it is as it should be and I dream of what we will go on to become x


The Gallery – Self Portrait

Here I am again cherry picking from the old gallery topics provided by Sticky Fingers

This time I have chosen to look at Self Portraits and again I am using my teaching as a vehicle for this exploration. 

When I taught Year 5, as a ‘Getting to Know You’ lesson I asked the children to make a doll of themselves using lollipop sticks, googly eyes and collage materials.  They had to make the doll as a portrait of themselves, as they believe themselves to be.  Once all the dolls were made we displayed them in our classroom as a reminder of us as individuals working together as a team.  This was a great combination of DT and PSHE that was fun for all involved and a great way for me to get to know my new pupils at the start of the year.

One of the children made a doll of me, I wonder if you can spot me??

Year 5 and 6 Literacy – Weather Idioms

In my classroom one of my favourite projects is to combine art and literacy through the exploration of idioms.  Here are some weather idioms produced by an old class of mine.

See if you can spot a storm in a teacup, a fair weather friend and a few people with a face like thunder!

A great lesson which is lots of fun with words and pictures and can be made accessible for all!

The Gallery – Shape Street, Tessellation Town

The challenge set by Sticky Fingers for The Gallery this week is to find shapes all around us and snap them up.  As soon as I read the brief I knew the photos that I wanted to share.  They are from 2005 and my final teaching practice in Cumbria.  I was working with a mixed Reception, Year 1/2 class for 6 weeks.  It was wonderful.  I learned so much and it gave the foundations of my own classroom that I had in the September of the same year.  These picture show the celebration of a 2 week topic on Shape and Space in Numeracy.  We had explored 2D, 3D, tessellation, pattern and symmetry.  We brought all our new knowledge and understanding together to create a whole class display.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you – Shape Street in Tessellation Town, in The Land of Polygon.  (I wish I had taken more photos of it now!)