Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas wishes and a plea

This is my blog's first Christmas... it has had almost 23k views since the middle of January. My intentions at the start were giving and sharing, and this Christmas time I would like to ask you to do the same...if you like my blog and have used any of the ideas, please consider donating £3 (or more) to UNICEF  on this link. This will buy a hat and gloves for a child in Syria this winter.
I have young kids and celebrate Christmas with all the magic, but I am also heartbroken for the millions of children who are victims of wars and who starve every day.
Please make a small difference.
Thank you for reading this.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Red herring

One of our favourite games in the classroom is red herring - a very engaging and competitive reading activity! We play it in groups, girls against boys most of the time. It works on a word level (list of numbers, etc) sentence level (list of 6 weather sentences, etc.) and text level (a postcard, role plays....).

  • The girls close their eyes and put their heads down on the tables (to resist the temptation to cheat...).
  • I pick a volunteer boy who comes to the board, and points to a word or sentence. That will be the red herring
  • The girls wake up and put their hands up to say the words or sentences. Every time they say one that is not the red herring, they get a point. 
  • But as soon as they find the red herring, the game is over, I count the points and the boys go to sleep.

An advice: write the answers down ( at least the initials), because they might try to say the same word/sentence twice by mistake or to gain more points.

It is a very useful reading activity, the pupils are really engaged and they all look at the board, you can easily praise the pupil for not saying the "h" in the word , for remembering what sound "j" makes or just to remind them of the upside down exclamation/question marks. 
Because of the mystery and excitement, they are all motivated to speak and don't get shy because I make them read in front of their classmates.
This game was also shared in my hub meeting in October, Janet my colleague likes playing it with her pupils and calls the game pommes empoisonées.

Which is your "red herring"?:-)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

West Lancs ALL Primary Languages Hub - 3rd meeting

The next West Lancashire ALL Primary Hub meeting will be on 14/01/2015. We will focus on the grammar part of the new PoS and discuss our favourite grammar activities.

Pupils should be taught to...
...understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where
relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency
verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to
build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English.
Languages programmes of study: key stage 2
National curriculum in England

Our hub offers peer to peer support to staff involved in primary languages, please come and share your ideas and thoughts with us! 
This will be our 3rd meeting, everybody is welcome, find out about what we have done before here.

For more information about the Association for Language Learning, go on the ALL website.

Friday, 12 December 2014

eTwinning - tools for collaboration ( #eTconf14, Rome)

At the end of November I was invited to participate in the eTwinning annual conference in Rome (#eTconf14). It was an amazing experience, I learnt a lot, met wonderful people, came home really inspired and decided to share my experiences on my blog.This post is about a workshop called Collaborative Activities: the key to successful eTwinning projects.

The whole point of the workshop was that instead of just presenting ideas, slides and presentations, the teams should collaborate in the projects and produce something together using different tools.We all had iPads/laptops and had fun testing these websites.

You can introduce yourself using Padlet. We all said a few words about ourselves, and my UK partner Vivienne and I even linked a photo of  some conference dessert with our introduction. (Right at the beginning of the workshop, the presenters said that you had to be careful with projects including UK teachers, because they are always on holiday...:-) We clarified this little misunderstanding by pointing out that we only had 6 weeks in the summer, and longer breaks during the school year.)

You can find a name for your group in Easypollsthe participants can vote for the best one.

You can design a logo together using Draw It Live.

You can write a poem together using TitanPad, it was good fun to read it together.

  AnswerGarden  is a good tool for evaluating the project, not just at the end, but during the project, as well.

 "Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress but working together is success."  (quote from the workshop description)
Thank you Paraskevi Belogia and Irene Pateraki!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas ideas (2)

Secret signal with the Advent calendar:
This is one of our favourite games we play in Spanish. It works really well with lists (days, months) and numbers. In this Advent version, two Santa detectives leave the room, the class agrees on who gives the signal (pulling an ear, winking, scratching the head etc.), and when the detectives are back, they have to guess who gives the secret signal: they have 2 chances each. The class can only say the next word if they see the secret signal.
I bought a big Advent calendar from Imaginarium at the airport duty free shop in Rome for under £5 (link here), but it is easy to make your own or use a chocolate Advent calendar instead. We practised saying the dates by playing this game but you can just say the numbers 1-24 to start with.
I also hid stickers in some of the pockets, the pupils had to say the date and they could check whether it was a lucky pocket! They love competitions!

Merry Christmas bunting:

I printed and laminated a multilingual Christmas bunting designed by Lively Languages who make the most amazing resources, check out their website on the link above. I challenged the pupils to learn to say "Merry Christmas" in different languages for some stickers, I am hoping to hear a lot of languages next Wednesday!

Roscón de Reyes:
I found a simple Roscón recipe and baked 8 mini cakes. It is not as hard as it sounds and I only made it for one class. It took about an hour to make them and we spent 10 minutes decorating them and 10 minutes writing about them. In Year 4 we are learning to describe people this half term, this cake project was good to revisit adjectives and plurals. For decorations we used smarties and haribos, they are easy to buy and handle. The class teacher decided which was the best one....number 5:-) (He is a minimalist!)

A song in assembly:

Y3 are planning to sing a Christmas song in Spanish, this is the one we chose:

We invented actions to go with the words: waving, drawing a Christmas tree in the air, putting our thumbs up, and shaking our bells. 

Here are Santa's helpers doing all the bunting laminating:-) 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Christmas ideas (1)

This week I am sharing my Christmas ideas, hope you will enjoy them!
My Christmas activities start with the Spanish Lottery. The draw is on the 22nd of December, and it is a really interesting "show" on the television, because children SING the numbers! We play lottery or bingo, and the pupils can sing the numbers, they love it!
We learn to say "Feliz Navidad" by playing the hot/cold hiding game. A pupil hides a gift in the classroom while a volunteer detective is out, and when this comes back, everybody has to say "Feliz Navidad" whispering when the detective is far and they get louder and louder as he/she is getting closer.
I really surprise the children with the next "celebration", they never guess that the Spanish celebrate something similar to our "April Fool's Day" on the 28th of December. It is actually the Día de los Santos Inocentes, but people play tricks on each other like we do in April. We play "Trick the teacher" or "Trick your classmate". I point to colours, numbers, flashcards, etc. and say their names. If I am right, they have to repeat it, if I am wrong, they have to stay in SILENCE. The two teams (teacher against class or pupil against class) get points and the winners get stickers. Say the words quickly for extra challenge!
On the 31st of December, the Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight. Every time the clock strikes, they have to eat a grape, for 12 seconds. I take in grapes to school  and we play the secret signal (rules are here). When we see the pupil making a secret signal, we move on to the next number, or grape. You can get somebody to actually eat the grapes in front of the class!If you live near an Instituto Cervantes, you could borrow the Manolito Gafotas movie and watch the family celebrating New Year's Eve. We also thought about what we wanted to have in the new year and made these grapes with our wishes on. I got this idea from the Janet Lloyd Network Facebook page, follow it for great tips, songs, games, etc.
On the 5th of January, there is a street parade with the Three Kings (los Reyes Magos). They throw sweets for the children to catch, and this year we will have a sweets fight! This is an idea I have stolen from Twitter, Eleanor Abrahams (@elvisrunner) has a great blog, and she shared her snowball fight idea earlier this year here. I will use coloured paper for this activity and write a different question on each one. We have played snowball, Tomatina and pumpkin fights in the past and it is such a good game/writing activity, do read Eleanor's blog for the rules. 
On the 6th of January, the Three Kings bring gifts to the children, who put milk, biscuits and water out to feed the kings and the camels. We made these boots last year, the idea is from the Fun for Elementary Spanish Teachers Facebook page, join the group for good discussions and great ideas!

We always sing "Feliz Navidad".....

But this year we are facing a real challenge.... Carmen, a Spanish teacher (and blogger:-)  from Sunderland sent us songs we will sing together with her pupils in December using Skype. This is part of a sharing project we are doing together on the eTwinning website. Every class is learning a different song now, and so far we are doing really well! See her fantastic blog for more details!

If you want to find penpals and send Christmas cards or exchange videos, join the eTwinning website, go to the "Find eTwinners" menu, and browse the topics or open one! We will send our cards soon, this year I will give my pupils Christmas cards I bought at the January sales, because we won't have much lesson time to decorate them, they will just write messages inside.

If you want to take turrón in to show your pupils (or eat some:-), you can buy them in TK Max. They are not cheap though, usually around £3.50 for a small box. I got some on my Spanish trip 2 weeks ago... wonder if they will last till Christmas:-)

Or you could bake a Roscón de Reyes, just find a simple recipe on the internet, make the roscón and let the pupils decorate it with icing or Christmas decorations (good practice of colours/shapes/following instructions/expressing opinions). Baking is not as hard as it sounds, my oven is more reliable than my printer and the cake will make a great display if you are not allowed to eat food in the classroom.

Bookmark/ puppet with lolly sticks: I made this one the other day, I used milk carton to cut out the head of the snowman.

I will look for more crafty ideas on, I saw a Nativity Scene there I would like to print out and make with my pupils. Just go on the Christmas menu and you will see loads of links!

Well, that is all for today... and a picture of Saint Nicholas for my French teacher friends-) He comes to Hungary, too!

Monday, 3 November 2014

My eTwinning visit to Valladolid


During the half term break a dream came true for me... I visited my eTwinning partner, Natalia! We met on the eTwinning website about 18 months ago, and we have become very friendly. When we won the Quality label for our projects in June, we decided that we should get together, so I persuaded my husband to get me an early Christmas gift and bought my plane ticket to Spain. A lot has happened in the past 5 days while I was in Valladolid, I spent a day in Natalia's school, we did lots of sightseeing, I was even very poorly for a day lying on the sofa watching Canal+ movies... I have taken lots of pictures, I will use many in school to present vocabulary,to show the pupils some places of interest or typical Spanish food. Here we go:

The house of Cervantes

In my suitcase I have:
 Second hand Spanish books from our penpals

 School books, children's magazines and teaching ones
 Autumn letters for the penpals in Burscough
School diaries
Turrón, Colacao, Huesos de Santos
Gifts from Natalia
Lunch with teachers from school

School photos:


 While we were having lunch in a restaurant we got an email saying that we were awarded the European Quality Label for our projects. What a surprise!

See you soon sunny Valladolid!