The summer holidays

We have had a busy school year and the children have learnt lots of things, filled in workbooks and essentially learnt to write.  Now here comes summer – a time to rest and relax in order to refresh ourselves for next year.  During parents’ day, a number of parents asked me to suggest activities to be done with their children during the summer months.     So, how can you ensure that your children start off the next scholastic year ready to tackle their new challenges?

You can do this by keeping alive all the things that we have learnt this year. I am not a great believer in giving the children lots of workbook tasks over the summer because I believe that the children need time and experimentation to help them absorb all we did during the school year. You can help them by showing them how to use the knowledge they gained in fun activities in their everyday life.  Here are some ideas how you can do this:


Playing board games such as snakes and ladders

– using one dice  – helps count up to six and co-ordinate pointing to object and counting

– using two dies – helps with all the above up to 12 and to practice addition

Hop scotch – helps in number recognition

Any games where you have to add the total gathered at the end – such as pairs, snap, marbles, skittles/bowling  – can help counting up to even larger number (obviously you have to allow you child to count his/her total with your support)

Dominos can help in counting and matching

You can also encourage your child to count whenever the opportunity arises – counting out sweets, fruit, stairs, slices of bread or anything else you are using as you go about your daily life.  A trip to the supermarket or greengrocer will present you with multiple opportunities to count.


Letter bingo – helps refresh letter recognition and/or identification of the initial sounds in a word.  You can find some of these on

I spy (my favourite!! especially on long car trips)

You can encourage to the children to look at labels and signs e.g. “that is apple flavoured juice– look the word starts with a”,  using signs at supermarkets showing where items are – let’s find the biscuit aisle. What sound does biscuit start with? Then we need to find a sign with a word starting with b.

Image result for emergent writingAsk them to write their names and whatever else they want to write on their drawings, birthday cards, in the sand or anything else. They can also add a caption to their drawings.  This will not look perfect but is a space for the children to experiment.  It helps the children understand that writing is a method of communcation, start using is as such and in the process start to build their confidence as a reader and writer.  It is important that you praise all efforts.

Lastly, read , read, read and then read some more.  Enrol in a library and take your child to choose some books (their choice is important).  If your child is a memeber of the Malta Libraries, you can also borrow books to read online –  Read fun books to your children, encourage your child to read  books with simple words and read books, newspapers or magazines yourselves since your children will aspire to do what you yourselves do.  Whether you read to your child or your child reads to you or you go half and half, where you read and allow your child to pitch in when he/she knows a word, it is important that reading is fun and enjoyable.  If reading time becomes a struggle, you will need to take a step back and find a different way of going about it.

What books are suitable for your child to read to you?  At school we chose books that mostly consisted of words that could be blended.  Most phonics series will be good but they all contain “tricky words” (words the children cannot spell out using sound) to a greater or lesser extent.  It is a question of trying books out and seeing what words for your child and yourself. My personal favourites still remain the songbirds which we used at school and the Oxford reading tree series pictured below.

Image result for songbirds purple books Image result for oxford reading tree book set funny races

Image result for usborne phonics readersYou can also find suitable e books on the Oxford Owl web site

A good series of books to use to share the reading with your child are the books pictured to the left.  The parents read through the text and the child decodes the rhyming words.

Don’t forget the numerous web sites with educational games.  You will find games tailored to what your child has been learning on the school e learning sites –,,  Other sites with good games can be found on the starfall web site and cbeebies

Episodes of Numberjacks, Umizoomi and Alphablocks can all be found on you tube and are both educational and fun.

Please feel free to suggest any other ideas you have and any educational games you enjoy playing with your children.

Most of all, have a great time this summer and enjoy yourselves in the company of your fantastic children!

I am still contactable over the summer on this blog or my usual e mail


People who help us – final post

Last Friday saw the end of our journey through topic work, letters and numbers.  All we have left to do now is complete some workbook pages that were missed due to absence from school, to have some year end closure activities … and to have fun!

Over the past two weeks we continued to work our way through the topic of people who help us and we spoke about doctors and nurses and pilots and other airline crew and, as you know, we visited the dentist ourselves.

The children learn about what a visit to the doctor entails and what the doctor will be doing when they listen with the stethoscopes.  They also saw what happens when someone needs an x ray after an injury.  Once again they could use their stethoscopes and an x ray machine made out of a box to play doctors and nurses.

When talking about pilots, we had a look at supersonic planes which, when they reach a certain speed (faster than the speed of sound), emit a loud bang and then a zzzzzoooom.

To conclude the topic, we had a session in which we tried to remember all the people who help that we spoke about during the last weeks – the children managed to remember them all!! We then practised asking questions that we would need to ask them should we be in need of help e.g. Reporting a lost mobile to the police – Could you please help me find my mobile?  More importantly we thought about what people could ask them in an emergency so that they could see whether they knew the answers.  These are the main examples:

  1. What is your name?
  2. Where do your live?
  3. What is your mum/dad’s phone number? (Safety tip: If your child finds it difficult to remember the number, you can write the number on the inside of their shoes.  Should they get lost, they will be able to ask for help and indicate where the phone number could be found.)
  4. What is your mum/dad’s name? (Safety tip: Should the children get separated from their parents in a crowded place, or e.g. in a supermarket, the best thing would be for them to shout out their parent’s name rather than just mum or dad.  It is easier for an adult to tune out the sound of mum/dad and not respond immediately but he/she will immediately respond if he/she hear his/her own name).

Our literacy links to these topics were x for x ray, z for zzzoom and q for question and with q were completed our letter writing journey for Pre-Junior. We also linked the number 19 to the topic of doctors and stuck 19 windows on a hospital building and the number 20 to a plane and stuck 20 windows on it too.

Stories and clips relating to these topics can be found here: Topic work e learning site



Last Friday was the last day that I sent out the library books except for one group of 5 children.  All the children in the class except of these 5 have had 4 reading books sent home for the children to read.  The other 5 have read only 3 and I will be sending out one other book for them this Friday to be returned by the following Tuesday.  No other books will be sent out.

Workbooks and crafts sent home

I am in the process of sending back all workbooks and crafts completed during term 2 and 3.  Before sending them home, I am trying to ensure that most of the pages missed our on due to sickness or other absence from school are completed.  In the case of letter and number writing pages, I am not asking the children to complete all pages but only to practise until I think that they have grasped the formation to the best of their abilities.  So, if a child would have missed out on all three letter writing pages for a particular letter, if the child completes the first page and writes the letter well using the correct letter formation, then I am not asking him/her to complete the other 2 pages.

You will also note certain terminology written or stamped on the pages.  Starting off in the writing books I sent home and then more consistently in later booklets, the second and third letter/number writing  pages were marked as either “learning objective achieved”; “working towards your learning objective” and 2 stars and a wish.

You've Achieved Your Learning Objective Pre-inked StamperYou're Working Towards Learning Objective Pre-inked StamperMy Wish is' Pre-inked Stamper

If the work was stamped as “learning objective achieved” it meant that the letter/number was written neatly using the correct formation.  I used the  “working towards your learning objective”, stamp for those children who used the correct formation when writing letters/numbers but whose fine motor skills need to develop a bit more in order to enable their writing to be smooth. The last stamp is the two stars and a wish stamp that I used when there was something specific to improved eg. remember to start from the dot or not to write outside the box.  This last stamp proved to be very effective and I would read the wish to the child at the beginning of the next writing session to remind them what was expected of them and most times, they rose to the occasion and adjusted their writing accordingly.

Please remember that your children are in Pre-Junior and do not expect all your child’s work to be marked as “objective achieved”.  What is most important at the moment is that they learn and remember the correct formation.  Also, please remember where your children started off from.  I have been looking through all the workbooks one more time before sending them home and I am very happy with the progress of each and every child.

People who help us – wardens

Image result for wardens malta

Last week, we talked about wardens and their roles in the community. We saw how wardens enforce laws by ensuring that  everyone is driving safely, parking properly and seeing that towns and cities are kept clean.  They manage traffic when the roads are busy, or when there is something blocking the road e.g. a big cranes. They are called out when two cars bump into each other.

We listened to a story about Officer Buckle which can be found on the e learning site (  For the purpose of our lesson, we called we changed the officer’s name to Warden Buckle.  The story was good to illustrate that the rules enforced by wardens are there for our own safety and therefore we must obey them at all times, not only not to get a fine but in order to keep ourselves safe.  We concentrated mainly on the rules that affect the children’s lives at the moment – using appropriate car seats and seat belts in cars and the fact that children should never sit in the front passenger seat in a car.  I hope that this topic may help you ensure your children’s compliance in obeying these safety rules.

The last session of this topic, I asked the children to imagine that they were wardens and to suggest a few rules that we should observe for our own safety.  This is what they came up with:

  • Do not hit, punch, pinch or fight with others
  • Obey your mummy
  • Always wear a seat belt
  • Be careful when walking near a road
  • Don’t stand on a swivel chair (this came out of the story); don’t jump on sofas or beds
  • Play gently
  • Look left and before crossing a road and cross at traffic lights if possible
  • Don’t drive fast

The literacy link for this topic was letter w for warden. We also counted up to 18 – we added 18 musical notes to a picture of a warden who had to whistle 18 times because he had seen 18 situations where safety rules were not observed.

People who help us (and their vehicles)

Image result for people who help us in our community

These past two weeks we have been working on the topic of People who Help in the community.  So far, we have spoken about policemen, train drivers, lifeguards and vets.  We have red a variety of books about these topics which served both to increase the children’s knowledge of the subjects as well as to enhance their vocabulary.  These books are displayed below:

Image result for policeman smallImage result for i love trains philemon sturgesImage result for terrific trainsImage result for paula the vet

The children are finding this topic very interesting and their imagination is working hard as they start to imagine themselves as adults in the various jobs.  I am trying, as much as possible, to insert information that is relevant to their lives as we discuss each community worker.  So far, they have learnt that a policeman is a trusted adult who they can trust to ask for help (as opposed to someone they should be afraid of) and how to dial 112 in case of an emergency.  They also learnt how to keep safe at the beach and how to know whether a beach is safe to swim in by looking at the colour of the flags put up by the lifeguards.  It would be great if you could help them look out for these flags in summer when going to a beach that is supervised by lifeguards.Image result for lifeguard flags

We linked a letter to each community worker  or the vehicle they use- we had j for jeeps that can be driven by policemen; y for yachts used by lifeguards; u for underground trains drivers and v for vets and their vans.

We also worked our way through the numbers 15 to 17.  Each time I emphasise that the number is made up of a ten and another number eg. 15 is 10 and 5.  When the children count up to the number, they then check themselves by dividing the objects counted into 10 and the other number.  As soon as we reached the number 16, counting objects became more difficult because it takes a lot of concentration for the children to accurately count up to such a high number.  Also, quite a few children miss out either the number 15 and 16.  These counting skills will be further refined in Junior 1 but in the meantime, I encourage you to count up to 20 with your children whenever the opportunity presents itself to you in your every day life – e.g. when going up stairs.

Resources used in class relating to the topic may be found here –

Songs about numbers in their teens, not all of which were used in class but many of which are fun to watch, may be found here

Canals in Holland – Locks and Boathouses

Image result for Boat houses amsterdam bedroom

The last bit of our journey through the topic of Holland had us discussing canals.  We first used google maps to take a walk through a street of Amsterdam besides a canal, crossing a bridge and seeing a boat house parked by the side of the canal.  You can access the place we walked in by following this link.  You can click the arrows that appear to walk around.,4.8989752,3a,75y,0.29h,69.99t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s4bsjllrfBNw-eztRL9Zgmw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

We then explored the topic of locks and how they are used.  I explained how sometimes when canals meet each other, they can be on different levels and, if this is the case, locks are needed to allow the boat to go from one level to another (since boats it can neither jump nor fly!).  I used the clip below to show the children how locks work.

Tomorrow (weather permitting) we should have the opportunity for a hands on session about how canal locks work as I happen to have a toy canal with a functioning lock which I have taken in to school for the children to play with.

We then moved on to the concept of boat houses using the story, Cosmo the Boat Cat written by Sherry Sweet Tewell which can be seen below:

We saw how in reality boat houses can be very glamorous and had a sneak peak inside some of them.

Image result for Boat houses amsterdamImage result for Boat houses amsterdam bedroomImage

We linked the number we were learning about, number 14, to the topic by putting 14 flowers on a boathouse to make it look pretty.  As the numbers we are counting up to are getting bigger, I am asking the children to first count the number of objects – 14 flowers in this case.  I then ask them to check their counting by dividing the 14 flowers they have counted out into two groups – one of 10 and one of 4.  If they have counted incorrectly, they are able to identify and correct their mistake.  I will continue doing this as we work our way through the teens.

The literacy links to this topic were l for locks and b for boathouses.

Dutch Landrace goats

Image result for Landrace goats

As part of our topic work about Holland, we looked at a particular type of farm goat found in Holland.  The key story for this sub topic was the story of the Billy Goats Gruff.

The literacy link for this topic was letter g for goat and in our numeracy work, we built a gate around the field that the Billy Goats Gruff lived in to keep them safe from the troll.  To do this we used 13 bits of “wood”.  The children learnt some fun facts about goats.  They were really amused by the fact that goats are good climbers and that some goats actually climb trees!

Image result for goats climbing mountainsImage result for goats climbing trees

Library day

A gentle reminder that tomorrow is library day.  It is more important now that books are all sent in on Friday as otherwise the book rotation will not work.  If you do not send back a reader on time, it means that I cannot pass the book on to another child.

Tomorrow, the children who took home a reading book last week will take home their second book.  Another group of 5 children will bring home a reader.  The remaining 10 children will bring reading books home next week. This week, since there are more groups taking reading books home, I only managed to read the book once with the children.

I am getting good vibes from the children in the reading groups.  They seem to be enjoying the fact that they can read a book.  However, if they are finding it difficult at home, I would appreciate it if you let me know and I would be able to slow down.  It is better that they read fewer books and feel more confident.  If we want our children to become lifelong book lovers,  reading book should never become a chore or something they dread, but rather a shared moment of enjoyment.