Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Global School Play Day 2019 #GSPD2019 in Room 7!

Global School Play Day 2019, aka #GSPD2019, was scheduled for Wednesday February the 6th... Waitangi Day in New Zealand, a public holiday.... so many classes participating from NZ did the Play Day on Thursday the 7th of February.  And so did Room 7.

I talked with my students several times about this leading up to the day.  We discussed the sorts of things they could bring and I emailed and sent a Seesaw message to the parents about the day too.  During the day I took photos to tweet to the #GSPD2019 hashtag and to Seesaw home to parents.

On the day we had four key words for the day: kindness, sharing, creativity and fun.  The children were also asked to respect the toys, especially the toys they were using that did not belong to them personally.

The only expectation in regards to the toys was not to bring any devices or electronic games.  Students could bring a game that had batteries if it was integral to the game, such as Operation for example.

Thankfully, no one brought any devices.  But one child brought a karaoke microphone.  And I can confirm that it projects sound quite impressively.

Other cool things the students brought with them included:

  • blankets/sheets to make forts
  • stuffed toys and dolls
  • bubbles
  • cars
  • slime
I also had my classroom toys available, such as the Lego, blocks, garage and cars, trains, wooden magnetic games, water play, maths equipment like dominoes, kitchen play, shop play.... so much for the students to do.


Above and to the right you can see the students getting creative with Lego.  The Lego is very popular in Room 7, especially during wet playtimes.

Last year I was experimenting with Lego challenges for Literacy and Creativity.  I intend to use Lego this year for students to demonstrate their thinking in mathematics as well.

Some of my Lego is actual Lego, but I am eternally grateful to have supplemented some of it with the 'Play' brand from the Warehouse.  It just makes it that much more plentiful for the children to play with.  I was also able to source a Lego table via Facebook Marketplace last year which the children really like to use.

I always put the Lego books in with the Lego to give them ideas, but they are getting a bit munted.  So I may need to start putting them into a clearfile so they have more longevity.

Below the children are playing with their stuffed toys and my shop and kitchen toys.

One of the girls brought bubbles with her.  She and two other girls had a lot of fun playing outside our class in the area our caretaker fenced off with rope and fencing standards for our outdoor play area.

These children below were having a lot of fun with their stuffed toys and the shop and kitchen toys.

 It was very interesting for me to watch the children.  Things I took note of were:

  • who different people played with
  • what toys they gravitated to
  • where in the class they played
  • their co-operation skills
  • their creativity
  • their ability to problem solve.
One example of problem solving was building a blanket fort.  They worked together to make a big fort and figured out how to use the furniture to secure their blankets to make it stay in place.


And as you can see above, there was some major engineering and building works happening within the blanket fort too.

But not everyone used their blankets to make a covered fort.  Others used their blankets to mark their play territory within the classroom.

Some of the children enjoyed using the construction set with the screws and nuts to get creative....

I guess it doesn't take a genius to figure out slime would make an appearance at the Play Day...

It was nice to see our outside play area used for some good old fashioned handstands.

And a bit of Nerf gun warfare too.

The maths equipment was also popular.  The students in my class like to make domino trails to set off.

The cars and the garage were also a popular item and it's great to see the girls playing cars too.  Although at one stage they had the garage lined with stuffed toys and I was too slow to get a photo!

My magnetic toys got a good work out on the day too.  And the children creatively used their own toys in with the Lego to create what they wanted.


Over all I found the Global School Play Day to be a success.  We played from 9:30 through until 12:30 and the children worked well together.  Disagreements were few and I only had to remind people three times to share.  No one was bored and they were creative in their play.  I personally found the day quite relaxing, and I put it down to the fact that Room 7 is now a Year 3/4 class.

Most children brought toys with them from home, but some forgot.  But that was ok because sharing was one of our key words for the day and there was also plenty of classroom toys to play with.

Because it was in Week 2 of our school year, it was a great way for the students to build relationships, as I kept some children from last year, but the balance came from two other classrooms, one was completely new to the school and one was returning to the school after a year away.

Before the end of the day, I asked the students to give me some feedback about the day.  The overwhelming feed back was it was fun, that they got to play with other people and toys, making things was fun, being creative was fun and they made new friends.

I am now looking forward to #GSPD2020!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Art Works for our Celebrations Unit

In Term 3 our schoolwide focus was World Celebrations.  Our classes all approached this in different ways and one highlight was the World Restaurant one class ran with a sample of foods from different cultures.  I really enjoyed this.  Another colleague focused on a different celebration each fortnight and they made wonderful art to go with this and food on each of those Fridays.

We also had an Arts & Crafts week for Week 7, so I took the opportunity to really bring this unit into that has well.  

I choose five celebrations to focus on:  
  • White Sunday from Samoa; 
  • Diwali from India; 
  • Childrens' Day in Japan; 
  • Chinese New Year; and 
  • Eid Mubarak from the Islamic religion.  
These all offered up opportunities for artwork creation.

White Sunday from Samoa.

I kept our first craft activity fairly simple.  In the Ready-to-Read book, White Sunday in Samoa, the little boy and his friends are wearing a pale, a crown of leaves.  So the children each got some photocopied leaves and coloured them in.  Then they cut them out.  I sized a circle of green card around their heads and stapled it to fit each child, and they glued their leaves on.

On our day of sampling celebration food, I made a raw fish salad in front of the children.  I got the recipe from here.

It was a pretty yummy salad (I made sure there was a healthy helping for my lunch) and I will definitely be making it again... for me!!

Diwali from India.

I had never heard of Diwali until I did my OE in London in 2001.  Guy Fawkes had just happened but the fireworks kept going off and off and off and that was my introduction to Diwali.  Then in 2010, I had a student bring some treats from Diwali to school to share with the class.  I may have eaten more that some of the children... but having Punjabi relatives for the last fourteen years has meant I have gotten a taste for the food.

As a class we read the Ready-to-Read book Diwali.  This book covers many aspects of Diwali, including mendhi, barfi and diva.

Researching about Diwali I found that mendhi was a popular way to decorate the body for the festivities.  It also turns out mendhi is pretty popular for Eid Mubarak in the Islamic culture too.  I have had mendhi for when my brother got married but thought it would be fun for the children to do.  

First I showed them photos on Google images.

We started off by tracing around our hands and drawing designs.  The first lot of mendhi we did with pastels.

The second lot of mendhi we did was initially pencil as above, and then we went over the design with black vivid before using yellow, blue, red and green dye to colour it.

Then we got to use the henna to make the designs on each other's hands.  Before I did this, I got permission for each child to participate (some parents did decline or did not respond) and we did a spot test for reactions (there were not any).  Each child who had permission, buddied up with another child and drew the design they had created on their buddy's hand.

I cut out all the hands and glued them onto black paper (with help from some Year 7 and 8s).  The children who could not do mendhi on their hands were given the opportunity to do another mendhi with water colour paint and to use felts to zush them up.

This was our mendhi triptych display at our Arts and Crafts Week Art Museum.

We also made salt dough to make diva, the little bowls which candles are lit in during Diwali.  We moulded the shape and decorated with the little plastic jewels from the $2 Shop.

This was our diya display at our Arts and Crafts Week Art Museum.

We also choose rangoli patterns to colour in with colouring pencils.

On our Celebration Food day, I got the children barfi from a local Indian shop (my sister-in-law said that making it was a bit fiddly from watching her dad make it).  Barfi is a sweet made with milk powder and it is the kind of thing that when you eat the first piece, it is yummy; the second piece is good; the third piece is just too much!

Childrens' Day in Japan.

On the day we ate the food, I got the children mochi.  Unfortunately I couldn't get the traditional variety with the red bean paste inside (which from my previous experience is not that yummy), so I got this very non-traditional variety with durian in it.  Apparently, durian is a very pungant fruit.

Kimono can be worn on Childrens' Day.  I found this funky little paper doll on the net and the children and I looked at kimonos on Google Images and then I sent them off to be kimono fashion designers.

Fish kites/flags are used to decorate the streets and festivities for Chilrens' Day.  I was inspired by this website for the fish kites.  So I photocopied these fish onto cartridge paper and the children dyed them.  

Then they glued the scales on.  The scales were cut out of wrapping paper to give a soft shiny texture.

After the fish were dry, the children cut the fish out.  This was pretty big for me because I usually do a lot of the cutting out, but they all have drastically improved their cutting out since the beginning of the year.  But I did do a wee tutorial before they began cutting out.  I gave them some tips like cutting the paper in half and only cutting out one half at a time; holding the big part with the spare hand while the scissors chopped off the small bit of paper; cutting off the straight lines first and cutting against the black lines.

I knew I drank all that coffee and saved the boxes for a reason!  I cut the boxes up to make the rings to join the fish together.

We used the stapler to put our fish together.

The next step is to thread string through and hang them up.

I think they look gorgeous!!

Chinese New Year.

We read this new Ready-to-Read in 2018 book, Chinese New Year.  It sparked many of the ideas I did below.

I kind of got this idea off Pinterest... but tweaked it to make it my own.

I had a pile of egg cartons, so this is a good way to use them all up.  I cut them up so each child got one side of the egg carton.  Their first job was to paint their bits of egg carton red.  When they were dry, I supplied the children with yellow, green and light blue paint so they could put designs on their dragons.  After that was dry, it was glitter time!  They did patterns with PVA and added glitter to their dragons.

For the backgrounds, the children did a glitter design.  First they laid out their PVA glue pattern and then they sprinkled their glitter on.  I had also demonstrated glitter conservation - how to reclaim the glitter that did not stick.

I hot glued the dragon/egg carton bits to where the children directed.  I burnt myself enough times that the children do not ask to use the glue gun themselves.  I also hot glued on googly eyes and pipe cleaner feelers to their specifications.  I then supplied them with red, yellow and orange paper and told them to make legs and fire.  On another day I gave them red and yellow cellophane to add to the fire.  Each dragon is more original as a result of how each child interpreted these instructions.

Putting them on the wall was a challenge.  I needed to put them where little fingers will not fiddle.

Each child had also made a red envelope for Chinese New Year.  In the Chinese tradition the red envelopes are decorated in gold with messages for the new year and luck and money is put in the envelopes.

I'm generous to my students, but that generosity does not extend to cash.  So I found some Chinese lollies, with the durian flavour, at my local Asian supermarket and I stuffed those envelopes with durian flavoured lollies.  I may have suggested that if they didn't like the flavour of the lollies to give them to a sibling, with devious kindness.  Not confirming that though.

Eid Mubarak.

The children were interested to find mendhi was part of this celebration too.  They were also intrigued with the shapes of the mosque rooflines.

But our art goal was to make a mobile with a crescent moon and different sized stars as seen below.  I was inspired by this website.

The painting of the paper was a two step adventure.  I globbed on white, dark blue and gold paint.  Each child had a piece of card (cut from the boxes of all those Mother Earth Oaty Bars I eat for morning tea that I have saved) which they used to spread the paint to cover all their A3 cartridge.

This step was then repeated on the other side of the paper a few days later.

Using the coffee boxes, Oaty Bar boxes and the yoghurt cardboard wraparound, I made a crescent moon shape and stars of different sizes.  I demonstrated to the children how to place all of them on the paper and then trace around them before cutting.  I did have one child who did not listen who will have less stars and bit chopped out of different shapes because he traced around each one as he went and ran out of room to get all the shapes.

I then showed the children how to cut out each shape into a section so they could then easily cut the shape out of a small piece of paper rather than trying to cut the shape out of the whole A3 paper at once.

The next step was stapling the wool to the shapes and securing them with a knot and linking the shapes together.

And here are our mobiles hanging up... please excuse the poor lighting, but you get the idea.

One of the things we did for Eid, was acts of kindness.  This fitted in well with our class ethos on Acts of Kindness.  Here is a link to a good website to inspire you with this idea.  I typed out the ones I liked, printed, cut them out and put them in a container.  We drew out one each day and I put it up on Seesaw for the parents to also see so it became a home/school activity.  I think this is an idea I will carry into 2019 to teach my students about what an Act of Kindness is.

We were going to make Eid biscuits, which I found a recipe for on Twinkl, but we ran out of time.


My biggest helps with doing this unit were undoubtedly:

  • Twinkl
  • Pinterest
  • Google and YouTube
  • Read-to-Read readers
Just searching around in these forums brought me up a heap of new knowledge, activities and inspiration.  You do not have to slavishly follow the examples on Pinterest, particularly if your materials you are working with are not quite the same.  But you take the gist of the example and then you make it your own.

I'm so proud of my students for the really cool artwork they have created and I hope they all have fond memories of this unit and gained some awesome learning.