Keeping learning fresh – 5 in 5.

Keeping learning fresh – 5 in 5.

This is a new thing I want to try for my blog. A 5 in 5. 5 things on a particular topic that should only take about 5 minutes to read (Ok, I went a bit overboard this time but I got carried away!)

When I write posts on this blog (and let’s be honest, it’s not OVERLY frequent) I find it’s pretty much purely my advice or my thoughts. I find that odd because, in real life, I spend much time asking advice from other people and taking on board their ideas. That’s why, for this blog post I thought I’d share practice I’ve seen in other schools (whilst on placement), heard other teachers doing in my own school or just through Twitter or blogs. I can’t remember specifically where every idea came from so I just want to make it clear I did not come up with these. They are “magpied” 😉

  1. Make songs from EVERYTHING.

 music star wars rock guitar r2d2 GIF

This is quite a general one but I find it so effective, especially if your class respond well to music. As I can pick out chords on a guitar I generally write my own but even if you can’t play an instrument, you can still re-work existing songs. For example, we have our own class song, with remixed lyrics to Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran. I’m currently writing a song to go with our topic on teeth (in the theme of the 12-bar blues, get me). I know another teacher in my school uses song a lot and re-worked Adele’s Hello to teach them about perimeter and area (it was a treat). There are so many karaoke videos on YouTube with backing tracks if you can’t play an instrument and it’s just a really fun way of getting what would otherwise be quite dull facts or rules into the children’s heads.

2. Have a break, have a brain break.

 dance dancing friends matthew perry chandler GIF

Brain breaks are LIFE when you have a fussy class. We usually have one in between maths and English, but if we’re doing a particularly long piece of writing in English, we might stop halfway through to refocus the children. I struggled to think of some initially, but after Googling it, found loads! I wrote down the name of each one on a lollipop stick and get a child to pick one out. They’re quick, easy to explain and just give the children the chance to shake it off and refocus.

3. Ello’, ello’, ello’.

 dance running gifs flamingo mating GIF

This is my version of “punctuation police” often seen in classrooms. Normally, children who are proficient in punctuation move around the room, checking for their peers’ capital letters, full stops etc. I want to build up to this but as we are only a week into term, I don’t know yet who would be suitable for this. So instead, I get my puppet flamingo to do the job for me. Yes, you heard correctly. Gloria is my fluffy flamingo puppet who sits on my arm and sometimes comes out of the reading corner for a wander. If she sees work without a piece of important punctuation…well. I’ll let you finish that sentence. Basically, her presence just reminds the children that they need to be putting in their punctuation, whilst bringing a bit of amusement to the classroom. I am sparing with when I use her and something like this may not work with upper KS2 – but my lot love it!

4. Using song lyrics for comprehension practice.

 lyrics elvis presley elvis wait a minute i forgot GIF

Comprehension, particularly PEE (point, evidence, explanation) questions, are so important now, especially moving into upper KS2 in prep for the SATs. However, it can be a bit dull. Spice it up by using song lyrics! I saw this on Twitter last year and thought it was amazing. Find some song lyrics (for example, the first verse and bridge to Castle on the Hill). The children, on the whole, will instantly become engaged as it is something they are interested in and know about. The question I asked with this one was “how do you think Ed Sheeran feels about his childhood?” They had to answer using the PEE structure. Obviously, you can’t spend the whole year just looking at song lyrics, but for initially teaching how to pull evidence from the text and cover the three stages, it’s great!

5. Musical Chairs.

 fail musical chairs GIF

My work BFF introduced me to this one for an observation and I’ve never looked back! I don’t know if he thought of it himself or if he saw it elsewhere but either way it’s great. The basic ideas is that of peer assessment. Halfway through the lesson as a mini-plenary, get the children to stand up and tuck in their chairs. Put on some music (I quite like this one here: and get them to move around the room. When the music stops, they stop on the chair they are on, sit down and peer assess the work. If you have the time, leave a post-it note on each book and get them to write down two stars and a wish, or however your school mark. Great bit of AfL, generates good discussion, plus it doubles up as a brain break as they are physically moving. Everyone’s a winner!

I hope you enjoyed these ideas for lessons. I’ve loved using them and will continue to do so. Have you seen any little activities or ideas? Please share them in the comments!

Kate xx


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