Friday, 7 July 2017

Zapotec Weaving Mats


It has been far too long since I've updated this which is a shame. Although I've been involved in the Art Club this year, the projects haven't really suited blog posts.

However, all that has changed with our recent Aztec Day at school! I wanted to do a really fun art activity that wasn't already being covered in the boys' art lessons (sun god, masks). I came across this lovely post about art from Mexico on Ms Gram's super blog.

Things you need:
A4 black paper or card
Coloured strips of paper of different widths

1. First of all, the strips of paper were placed on the floor so they could easily be reached. The boys were then given their black paper that already had an even number of hole punches on either side.

2. Using a strip at a time, we showed the boys how to fold the paper twice and then cut patterns and shapes into it, similar to how you fold and cut snowflakes before revealing the result. We talked about layering the strips on top of each other to create different effects and choosing complementing colours.

3. The boys then glued their strips and designs onto the black paper to make it look like a weaved rug.

4. The final step was to tie a very simple double-knot through each hole to give the rug that authentic ruffled look.

Check out a handful of our beautiful results below!

Great job 3B! A wonderful way to close what has been an amazing year.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Super Hero 'About Me' Craftivity

Hooray for nearing the end of the year and having more opportunities to get creative.

I met my brand new group of Year 2s this afternoon who will make up 3B next year. We only had an hour with each other and half of that was going on a tour with their Year 6 buddies. I found this delightful super hero craft to make which I purchased for under £3. I also found a great super hero 'about me' here (although I did have to change 'color' to 'colour')

Some members of the current 3B were very helpful throughout the day and assisted me in chopping up the hair, faces, masks and capes. Of course, they couldn't keep themselves from getting involved and making their own super heroes! The instructions were very easy to follow and it's a lovely craft that I can use for a few years so I didn't mind the small cost. Here are the current 3B helpers with their efforts:

Next, here is a small selection of the efforts from the Year 2 boys. They worked so beautifully and were incredibly enthusiastic. Hopefully this is a positive sign for next year!

They quickly filled in their sheets with some of their favourite things. You'll notice the frame in the middle of the paper. We took a picture of each child in a super hero pose. These will be printed and stuck in ready to make a wonderful display in September.

A lovely end to the year.

Rokeby, it's been a blast! The year has gone so quickly. A huge thanks must go to my 3B gang of hard workers and happy gigglers. Thank you also to the parents who have been so supportive and kind. I've been blown away by the generosity shown and by the commitment to their boys.

I'm off to Cambodia, Vietnam and Australia over most of the holidays. Enjoy the break, I know I will! Maybe I can pick up some good art activities! I will be back in September with the return of the art club. See you there :)


Friday, 1 July 2016

Paper Cubes

We've had quite a few slots of free time this week to allow the boys to recover from a gruelling rehearsal schedule. They've worked SO hard on their play and delivered two wonderful performances on Friday.

I noticed that in some of this 'free time', a lot of the boys enjoyed making paper crafts and shapes. Therefore, I gave the class the choice to take part in a paper cube project that I had come across (of course!) on Pinterest. You can find this post with more detailed instructions here.

Strips of card that are the same length and preferably the same width

I gave each table lots of the strips that I had previously chopped up. With each strip used for the frame, the boy had to fold them in half vertically. They built up the frame one strip at a time as seen here:

After the frame was built, they wanted to go even further with their construction and decided to continue layering the strips all the way around the structure. This would make it stronger and of course, even more importantly, make it look better! There were plenty of frustrated huffs and puffs but eventually I think the majority were happy with their result. A few didn't quite manage to finish but the good thing about this is how easy it is to continue and how few resources are needed.

Great job, everyone!


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Good news! Return of the Art Club

As you know, opportunities to become involved with art have been hard to come by at my new school this year. The possibility of co-teaching art to Year 3 was looked into but it was unfortunately not possible due to timetabling issues. We'll look at it again in the future and hopefully find a solution! 

In the meantime, I've been offered the chance to run the weekly art club at lunchtimes. We start in September and I'm very pleased that I can repeat some of my favourite projects and can also find lots more to do, too! There are limited spaces for the club and they filled up in under two minutes once applications were live! This shows the huge interest which is fantastic and we might have to look into expanding the intake. 

So, stay tuned after the summer holidays for more activities. Despite not posting projects regularly for around a year now, the site is still recording over 100 views a day which I still can't quite get my head around. We've also just passed the 35,000 view mark and had recent visits from Brazil, Israel and Argentina. 


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Masking Tape Silhouettes

It has been FAR too long since my last update. I have been so incredibly busy at my new school and unfortunately I'm really not having too many opportunities to create art with the students. HOWEVER, that all changed this week as it's Rokeby's Arts Week! I was asked to lead a couple of sessions with the year 3 boys and quite quickly I thought of a project that would do the job perfectly: my masking tape silhouettes. I did these a while ago in art club on paper and the results were great. Luckily, I was able to give each boy a canvas this time around so I feel the results were even better and allows them to look after them for a much longer time.

Step 1
First of all, I took side-profile pictures of each of the boys before the sessions.

Step 2
The boys then cut out their side-profile picture and painted it black

Step 3
I gave each boy their canvas whilst the silhouette was drying. I showed them how the masking tape could be used to create patterns in the background. We talked through about using the tape 'randomly' but also to make patterns like grids, flags, trees etc. I stressed the importance of going across the canvas and smoothing it down so that paint couldn't seep in.

Step 4
The boys were then instructed to fill in the sections that they had created. They were advised to use one colour per section. It was up to them how many colours they used but they had to make sure they filled up all of the space and didn't go under the tape.

Step 5
When the paint was dry, the boys peeled off their masking tape carefully to reveal the beautifully clean white lines underneath. If any drops had seeped through we covered them with oil pastels or white paint.

Step 6
They then had to stick the silhouette onto their canvas. They were encouraged to try out different compositions and then glue it down once they were happy. After this, they could use black markers to write words to describe themselves or things that they liked to do.They could also do little illustrations in the sections. After that, they used bright oil pastels for extra patterns and decorations. Some of the boys were very creative with their decorations as you will see below!

Here are just a small handful of our results:

Fantastic work, Year 3. Well done!


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Some late additions to the classroom

We are now incredibly close to beginning the new school year and it's all getting very exciting! I popped back into school for a couple more hours to make some late additions to my increasingly busy classroom.

Here are some organisers that I decorated to fit in with the superhero theme. My dad was throwing out a lot of old comics and (after checking if any were rare and valuable!) I hastily grabbed them and started to tear them up. I used modpodge to glue comic pieces onto the cardboard. I'm very happy with the final products and they will slot into the room seamlessly.

I got some of these small, metal buckets from Amazon for around £5. The children are going to be given a lot of homework each week so I plan to use this as a way of knowing who has and hasn't handed in their work. Each child will be assigned a number on the first day and this will be used in many different areas of the classroom. When they hand in their homework for the day, the child removes their peg from the brim of the bucket and then places it inside. This allows me to quickly ascertain which students have not completed the task.

I've slightly changed around my teacher corner. I've hung a cork-board up to act as a notice board and have finally added my chimes that I love to use as a peaceful way of telling the children to be quiet. You can see a couple of postcards that two of my new children sent me from their summer adventures!

As I referred to earlier, each child will be assigned a number on the first day. This same number will be used for my new behaviour system. I will do a separate behaviour system post another time when I have some more pictures and examples. Behind each number is a small box with lots of tokens. When I award a token for good behaviour, the pupil then gets their numbered token and places it into the token bag which can also be seen below. I bought the bag from Amazon for less than £2. In the picture, you can see that above the bag is a poster with the names and numbers of each child so that they don't forget. Throughout the week, tokens will be drawn from the bag to award prizes/give jobs.

Next up is my improved 'Incredible Work' board. I hot-glued pins to pegs and placed these over some larger pieces of green paper. This will now enable me to display amazing pieces of work without damaging it or tearing up the display itself. Very handy.

The last addition is this lovely framed calendar that I've seen people make on pinterest. I used acrylic paint to show value in 7 different colours, one for each day. This is all then framed behind glass which gives me the ability to use a whiteboard pen to record important dates/things that the children need to remember. At the end of the month, all I need to do is wipe the numbers and notes off and then write the new month in correctly. I'll probably do a separate post about this too to give more details about how you can easily make your own.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 27 July 2015

New Year, New School, New Super Classroom

Although I'm obviously still sad about leaving CCJS, my attention now turns to the next incredibly exciting chapter in my teaching career. I thought I'd share my new classroom space with you all after a similar post, New Year, New Classroom, was so popular and is still attracting views today! With the change of school also comes smaller classes (16 pupils) which in turn means I have slightly less room than previous years. However, I'm fortunate that it was only refurbished recently and is designed very well. The other big change is that I am now teaching in a boys' school. This prompted me to focus on a theme that I was confident the vast majority would appreciate. After much deliberation, the decision was to go with SUPERHEROES.

I saw lots of door designs on Pinterest for superheroes but I particularly liked the phrase "Superheroes in training" so I decided to match this up with some cute cut-outs of superhero silhouettes, each with a name of one of my pupils. The superhero comic font was free from here and the free templates for the hero cut-outs can be downloaded from here.

My relentless searching online for superhero classroom resources quickly brought me to a range of amazing American websites where teachers had created every kind of resource in every kind of theme. One thing I particularly liked was the Superhero Clock Labels by PinkCat Studio. I think they fit into the classroom well and will be a really useful prompt for the class.

Away from superheroes, I came across these birthday balloon free downloadable signs. I picked up some crazy straws and stuck on the signs. They sit in the corner by the window and will be a nice and quick birthday present for them as well as looking good all year round!

These are two signs that I have up on the wall that will probably follow me into every classroom that I will ever teach in. The first is an excellent talking point on the first day about what it actually means. Eventually, the children are able to say that they can choose to do what they want (within limits, obviously!) but they must then face consequences for these choices whether good or bad. The second poster is a wonderful reminder that tests (as important as they are) do not test a huge range of qualities that the children will have in abundance.

Now, over to my bulletin boards! There were some absolutely brilliant boards with a superhero theme online but I took a more simplistic approach whilst hopefully still creating a good effect. First up is my 'Superman' board which will be for writing. I forgot to make the 'Super Writing' lettering which will be the heading in red and yellow. I've kept a space for Word of the Week and I'm sure there will be lots more going on after the first few days of September. I created the Word of the Week pages and I think there are about 36 of them altogether, each with a definition and example of it being used in a sentence. Next to this board is also my 'Criminal Words' which fit very nicely into the theme. I'll be telling the children to defeat these villains by using all sorts of excellent synonyms. The criminal sheets were found on

Next up is going to be my maths board, titled "MARVEL-lous Maths." I'll be putting up all sorts of vocabulary and number grids/facts. The movable superhero cut-outs were downloaded for free from MGulin

You may have also caught a few glimpses of the superhero rules banner that can be found here. Unfortunately, my pictures don't do it justice, but it looks brilliant up in the classroom. Here's a picture from the website to show you how it looks:

The last board is going to be used for our topic work. I went for a Hulk theme and opted for 'Incredible Work' as the title. I'll probably end up hot-gluing pins onto pegs so that work can be easily displayed without ruining the backing paper. 

In the corner of my room there's a different door that opens up to the hangers and the adjoining classroom. I thought this would make a good canvas for a few signs that have followed me from CCJS again. They are all quotes from Dr.Seuss books that the children will hopefully find inspirational/motivational.

Over now to the corner of the room with my desk:

This corner has a range of inspirational superhero quotes and messages (plus pictures of Superhero Minions just because,,,)The bright and colourful quotes can be downloaded for free here. The other messages can be found herehere and here. Next to the Batman cut-out is my 'This Looks Like A Job For...' page which is part of my new behaviour system which I'll discuss in more detail shortly.

On the other side of my table is this excellent Superhero Birthday sheet. On the first day of the year, I'll try to get small pictures of the children wearing a superhero mask and holding the number of the day they were born. These can then be stuck onto the birthday chart. Of course, my two class photos from CCJS will also be by my side!

Now to the front of my classroom with the whiteboards and screen. 

Above the screen are lots of cut-out feet with synonyms for 'went' and some 'Who? What? Where? When? Why?' signs to help with their writing. I plan on keeping the board on the right-hand side free for jotting in lessons. The board on the left will be the organised board with clear sections.

I used painters tape to mark off the clear sections. This won't leave any kind of sticky residue and I think it makes the information easier to digest. I might also tape off an extra section for new vocabulary that will be used that day. The other very cool thing is that the white-boards sections actually SLIDE! There's a huge amount of storage space behind them that I'm sure will fill up quickly through the year. Here's a picture of them both moved into the middle:

Underneath the boards at the front is even more storage with trays that will be used as daily folders and homework collection points etc. I've not labelled them yet but use your imagination! The children have their own personal tray underneath their desks and they also each have their own individual locker at the front.

From the picture above, you can also see that my '"Mr Brickwood" train bought for me as a gift from friends has followed me here. There are also a couple of lovely gifts from children from CCJS. There are still many more bits of art and gifts from children that I intend to take in but the car was full!

Onto my new behaviour system! We will be working with a token system this year and these can be earned for good behaviour and following instructions. Each child will be assigned a number on the first day and this will stay with them throughout the year. The boxes holding the tokens can be seen in the picture below. You can't quite make them out, but each box is numbered so the child will know which box to take their coloured token from:

The tokens go into a bag for the week. Whenever I need a job completed or am choosing someone to lead the class to assembly etc, I will draw a token from the bag. Therefore, the more tokens you earn, the more chances you have of being rewarded. In addition to this, I also have a superhero behaviour chart that can be found here.

As you can see, everybody will start off on "Ready to Fly" and their peg can move up or down throughout the day. The children will receive a designated number of tokens for finishing the day in certain positions (1 token for Ready to Fly, 2 tokens for "Soaring" etc). The children will also be able to win super-hero themed prizes with their tokens!

I think that just about sums up my new classroom. It was fun to go with an actual theme for a change but I am pleased that I didn't go too overboard with it. I've seen some rooms where the theme dominates everything and it's slightly overkill. I think this is a good balance of different concepts and I am very excited about teaching in it from September. I've not decided on a seating layout yet but I'm going to do everything I can to make space for a carpet area.

Up, up and away!