Archive | August 2012

Outside, get in there!

And here it is, the outside is clean and sorted… still some tweaking as to furniture arrangement, but I will be better equipped to make this kind of decision when I see how the children move and use the space. At least, the backbone is ready for the experiment.

I decided to place what I did to have the water tray near the drain, and not needed to be sheltered under the roof.

The sand pit rules are displayed on the back of the shed, so I let the sand pit there, though I will  need to get a cover for it, no way will I let the sand get as mucky as I found it two weeks ago! Yuk!!!

The table is sheltered all day long from rain and sunshine where is it, and it also mean that if the adult supervising sits with their backs to the wall, they can look over the whole outside classroom.

The boxes unit might have to move, and I would prefer to have the plastic easel outside from under the shelter, but I will need to drill holes in the trays to let the rain water out (big fault in the design if you ask me!

to the left...To the right

And here is the shed, I won’t make you guess the state it was in when I got in, but then, I can’t show you either, I was too keen to tackle it to pause to take a photo ūüėČ

shake it up shake it it's alright!!!

Soooo glad this is done!

Still on the list:

finish daily and maths displays, clean and organise kitchen, finish cleaning art supplies (currently left to soak over the weekend)… I am sure there was something else, but my mind just went blank!


slow, but getting there

And it is nice that the other teachers are now around too!

Today has been my first day in without my children in tow, and my is it easier to get things done.

Achieved today: lots of laminating of display resources, all boards backed and ready to go, some even have their resources! more cleaning of walls and surfaces, and more to come! finally cleared the tables (par one) and the classroom finally looks a little bit more like a classroom.

Still to do? finish the pending displays, sort the outdoors and the shed, move around furniture to free a space for the filling cabinet our wonderful caretaker has earmarked for me!!! Have I mentioned how wonderful our caretaker is yet? Yes I have, and I am sure I shall again! What a gem!

Anyhow, here are the updated photos of the classroom as currently is!

This might change due to homing my filing cabinet…

DT table: oh I like this area! I just might add a backing behind the table to freshen up, but now that the wall is clean, it is not too bad… shall see what time allows!

Writing table: work in progress: backing to be realigned, more postcards to add, and labels on table ready to put up when postcards are there too. More desk tidy to be added too.They first have to be re-decorated… more jobs!!!

Construction corner

Maths corner: number line still to display as well as interactive one on window, therefore, window to clean too! Still, it is looking much better since I brought in these small drawers to the side. I just need to buy one more, then 3 more to replace the ones I took from home!

Progress… is slow!

After what feels like countless days in school sorting and preparing, I still have sooooo much to do. At least, most of my display boards are now lined, my resources to put on them until the children’s work gets up are printed, and tomorrow, I am going in child free!

I think this is going to make the biggest difference! They are really cute, and generally quite good, but N wants to join in everything I do , or goes around copying me when I am done (re-sorting, hmm, hmm, well, re-muddling, the maths resources, applying masking tape where I have stuck my labels with clear-sticky-back film… you get my drift. And that is without counting the many visits to the toilet, the snack, lunch, snack, drink… breaks, nor generally tidying after them after they have explored all the new toys that they hadn’t got their hands unto yet, or clearing the fun and creative masking tape spider web across my art area! All very good fun, but added work for an over-worked teacher who hasn’t even properly started yet.

At least, my Head came today and commented on the information disclosed by the wonderful caretaker that I have been in most days for the last two weeks, shame the room looked like a bomb site!

So schedule for tomorrow:¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† finish the displays¬†¬†¬†¬† finish tidying outside¬†¬†¬†¬† finish labeling the drawers and boxes (and put the pressure on the local shop to restock on the drawers I need!)¬†¬†¬† general tidy up, cleaning… and final sorting of¬† teacher’s cupboard ! Fun fun fun! (actually, I think it will be)

Then, dentist, hairdresser and chosing a new pair of glasses… Full day? Oh yeah!


I LOVE assessment (Excel resources to download if desired)

It seems that in the UK, when there is a change of government, there is a change of policies. Sometimes, change is good, sometimes it feels like something that could have been simply tweaked and improve has been scrapped altogether and replaced by something weaker instead… but hey oh, here we go!

There used to be 9 Early Learning goals in six learning areas: Physical Development, Personal, social, Emotional development, Mathematics, Literacy, Creative Development and Understanding of the world.  These were numbered by expectations of chronological attainment order. Each ELG was worth a point. The first three had to be completed to be able to count the further 5 points, and the last point could only be given if all the others had be attained. Complicated? Not really? Common sense? In lots of way, yes. Did it need tweaking? Yes. Some of the statements where rather wishy-washy and needed to be more specific, and covering more sensible criteria. At least, it meant that levelling the children and comparing attainment was very simple and easy.

So, what did they change?

In the name of simplicity, the six areas have been replaced by 7, to split literacy and listening and speaking. The 60+ Early Learning Goals, numbered equally through the areas for easy comparison, have been replaced by random number of ELG for each area. Does that sound good? Well, here are my reservations:

– How they will make tracking and comparing stats within the class, within the LEA and nationally, I do not know…

– why is the number knowledge ELG straight away 0-20? It looks like teacher will have to devise another tracking/ assessment device to pin-point more accurately the learning needs within maths… defeating the ‘simplifying’ argument…

– we have been told of these imminent changes, but have been given nothing more, no assessment pro-forma, no leveling guidance, nothing!

This is a big bugbear of mine: lots of changes going on, but next to nothing is published yet as to assessment tools!

But then, it seems that it is this government’s way, to give next to no support in this sector… the previous power-that-be had created lots of sites to support planning and assessment. It was potentially restrictive, but great when direction was needed. All this has been scrapped…. Some of the tag lines that have been published regarding the changes has been ‘don’t throw the baby with the bath water’, well I beg to differ, I am very afraid that a big chunk of the baby has gone, and there is plenty dirty bath waters left!

Anyhow, moan moan moan over, it is not going to make things better.

So, it might be upstaged by something much better and nationally instigated come September, but as discussed above, I am not too hopeful, so here is what I have come up with to satisfy my planning and assessing needs:

This is a simple spreadsheet system in which the new levels descriptor: emerging, expected, exceeding (yes, all with the same initial, probably in the name of ‘simplicity’, well not when wanting to abbreviate!) so I selected e, p, and c as my markers, the third letter… not great, but the best I could think of!

Each child has their own form, in which the teacher inputs the attainment level (e, p or c), in the column for each term.


Child individual sheet

This is then fed to the whole class sheet.


Whole class sheet in which all the information is fed

I wanted to create this to glance quickly at which children need more opportunities to work on each specific ELG, to help my planning. It also will show progression, or lack thereof.


Do download this if you think it will be helpful. If I fail to put a proper link, try the TES website, it is in my resources (lise8)!

2012 individual and whole class assessment grid Master

Class plan

Here is the update class plan/ map as I progress. The idea is to create specific areas for learning, with everything labelled so that the children can be independent learners.

There is obviously a reading corner and a home/roleplay corner, construction corner, Maths and Literacy resources hubs, but I also wanted a distinctive science area, D&T/ junk modelling table, writing table, an ICT table, preferably within the library, but I am still to solve that as I am still to see if moving the cupboards/ resource boxes all in a row by the entrance is feasible (it is bank holiday Monday today). Other suggestions warmly welcomed!

This is the class plan as it is, and I still need to find a good home for my ICT table…

This is what I will try out on Tuesday!

I cannot wait to get back in there and start up on the final touches!!!

Any suggestions and comments very welcomed!

Science table, storage and resources: the build up

1. take an empty table, as found (every time I have been in, it was like that, bare…

empty science table, as found

2. locate jumbled up box of plastic animals: sort.

3. find the one magnet you seem to find.

4. group and box the plenty mirrors found.

5. find boxes that will fit in the grooves and start dreaming about things you can fill them up with…

a non exhaustive list?

water toys: float sink


light/ torches/ filters/ prisms



sea creatures – but could do with real

dinosaurs – but could do with more

materials/ textures

recycling game


self moving toys


feely bags

life cycle

take photos for labels…

6. Hope to find more resources without having to spend too much of my own money!

And now, I feel like finding a great blog/ site about science ideas for the Early Years… hmmmm…


Finally sorting outside

I finally found myself able to get out and wash some of the outside equipment! How exiting! What a lot of work! My fingers are terribly dry and sore! Still a fair bit to go, but such a good progress today, I cannot but feel positive, and exhausted!

Here are a few pictures of it when only the easel had been washed! Can you spot my child labour, oops, sorry, I mean my helper, doing the washing up?

Also sorted today: library, tidying the new stationary and books, emptying the cupboard that I do not believe I will need, finish (or just nearly finished) cleaning the Art table, and  organised the Junk modelling D&T table! How very exciting! (post on that one coming soon!)

Hoping to be back in tomorrow, though that will depend on my guests plans… Can I really justify asking them to come in and help???

Displays and frustration…

This is a frustrated entry, as I have organised to take my kids to a craft activity this morning when all I want to do is go into school!

I am an obsessive deranged woman at the moment: two nights ago, I only slept for an hour because I was thinking up resources I won’t have time to make, storage solutions that, well, as previous, thinking plans that hopefully will work out… in brief , I am raving on lunacy!

So it is probably a good thing that I am off doing something else today. That could be why I had a good night sleep, that and the fact that I have rescued about 5 boxes and 12 little trays from my stash… Never underestimate the power of a box, nor that of a hoarder!

So what is on my mind as I am waiting for my children to finish their breakfast? DISPLAYS!

I have a love hate relationship with displays… they can really brighten a room, they show what we do in class, they can be a great teaching tool but….

– they take so much time to put up together (and take down)

– I lack the artistic flare and talent that others seem to have who make absolutely amazing looking ones.

– They are just another item on a very long to-do / keep on top of list!

I have 7 to prepare, and a whole lot of visuals for my teaching area! Fun fun fun! Wish me luck!

Two of seven, all to go!

And off I go to make crafty stuff with my children instead!

Is there an end to this sorting?

And here I thought that today, all would be clean and sorted! But oh no! Instead I sorted and found more mess, found more muddled up maths resources…

at least:

– the art area is starting to look more organised

– all maths resources are sorted, though I am in dire need of more storage, and what I do have offers so little flexibility (see previous rant… sorry, post)

– I have singled handedly moved the library

– my classroom is starting to look like my vision… shame that I haven’t solved the ‘Junk modelling’ table dilemna ( as in where can I fit it in)

– my kiddies are coping really well with just hanging out whilst I face my herculean task!

on the flip side, I still have to:

– sort all the resources from the outdoor classroom (which is such a great space!)

– finish tidying and cleaning the art resources

– still need to label everything as I like it! Photos and handwritten!

– and biggest dilemna of all:¬† decide whether I buy tonnes of boxes myself now or patiently wait for the school to do so…. I know which is wisest, but patience is not my best quality when I want to get things done!!!!

More photos tomorrow hopefully, I seem to have once again misplaced my camera… maybe smaller is better is not the way for me!

Sorting through resources!

I have been in today to sort a bit, and my goodness did it need to: I have never seen such muddled up maths resources! Call me picky, but I like for everything to have a home, and for each box to only have one type of thing in it!

So here we are, I have sorted through the maths resources, and found some good stuff, but also feel like a lot is missing… Maybe I will find more resources as I go along (no clocks???)

There also seem to be next to no science resources, but 12 boxes of dressing up clothes… hmmm

I am so not won over by the furniture in the class: very little flexibility as to depth of trays, they are too high… oh well, here, moan done!

wishing it to be more flexible, but hey!

I am going back tomorrow to sort more out.

Here is the classroom plan as of today:

Let’s see how it works out in real life!