DIY Wand Tutorial

Today’s blog post came from a suggestion from a friend after seeing my post on Instagram. I am a self confessed/fully fledged ‘Potter Head’ and I have managed to rub off my love of magic onto the children in my class. With this in mind I was trying to think of what I could get my pupils for an end of year leaving gift. Buying them each a copy of the Philosophers’ Stone was well out of my price range and I was running out of time to make something for them.  I remember the excitement of my kids when I came dressed up as Hermione Granger on World Book Day and how they all wanted to have a go using my ‘real’ wand!

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So I made a quick dash to my local Poundland and Hobby Craft stores and purchased everything I needed to make them each their own wand for about £11! I started to post my progress on Instagram when a friend suggested I make a step by step guide for any other Potter obsessed people! I have never done one of these before so hopefully this is useful and makes sense!!

You will need:

Chopping board
Pencils
Scissors
Hot glue gun and LOTS of glue sticks!
String
Brown acrylic paint
Metallic nail varnish + clear nail varnish
Paint brush + small sponge.
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First you need to cut about 1 metre of string.

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Then put a small amount of hot glue and the end of the pencil on top of the rubber if it has one. Carefully attach the string while glue is still wet.

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When the glue has set carefully wrap around the string for about 10-12cm depending on the length you want the handle. Wrap back and forth until you are happy with the thickness of the handle. Secure the loose end with another blob of hot glue.

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Apply hot glue all over the string. BE CAREFUL! It will drip so rotate the pencil slowly to try and prevent it dripping off the pencil completely. I tried a few methods and they all worked well.

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For a drippy looking handle which reminds me more of Lord Voldemorts’ wand stand pencil in a glass of rice or pasta and apply lots of hot glue at the top of the pencil. I blew carefully to help it set quicker.

For a smoother looking handle I applied glue in strips across the handle and then rolled the pencil on the chopping board. I did this twice per handle and I ended up with a cool wooden like texture.

To create an ‘Elder Wand’ effect I slowly added a ring around the pencil blowing carefully to speed up the glue setting.  I did this 2 or 3 times per pencil. I would recommend doing this when the glue gun hasn’t been on too long. The hotter the glue the faster it comes out and the more like it is to drip off and burn you!!

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I stood all of my wands in a glass of rice or pasta and let them cool fully for about 20 minutes. (Just enough time to make and enjoy a cuppa!)

Then to decorate! I did this in 2 stages as I didn’t have enough space to dry them. I started to apply brown acrylic paint to the handle and half way along the pencil. I used a brush and used stippling motion. I did this for 2 reasons – it added to the texture of the ‘wood’ and meant that it added enough paint not to need a second coat. Again I stood them in a glass of rice or pasta as I had finished with them.

I decided to add some bronze coloured metallic nail varnish and used a sponge to pick out some of the detailing that I had added with the glue.  I didn’t do this on all of the wands but I do think at added a lovely touch.

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They were left to dry completely over night. I then decided to add a tiny amount of clear nail varnish on the handles of the wands to make sure the paint wouldn’t come off too easily.

I found one of my favourite quotes from Harry Potter and stuck it to some card. I then made two 3cm slits in the centre of the card and slotted the pencil in.

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Lumos!

I am really pleased with how they came out and how easy it was to do. I think the children will love them . I would definitely make them again if I turned my next class into a bunch of Potter Heads too! I hope this was useful. Please let me know if you had a go and tag me in your pictures on Instagram.

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My wands!

Bookworm!

Hello, I am so sorry about not writing on here in such a long time but my work/life balance has been anything but balanced and I haven’t found a moment to sit down and write.  So tonight, after a KFC tea (the diet can start on Monday!) and somehow getting all my marking done at school I have found it is 8pm and I am ready for school tomorrow so I can sit and attempt a blog!

I am Literacy lead at my school and one of the highlights since taking on this role is seeing the excitement of our year 5 pupils as they  selected their first of three book through our partnership with the Literacy Trust.  Tomorrow afternoon they will finally get their (hopefully too grubby) hands on their chosen books.  I have been asked daily for the past month when they were getting their book and seeing the excitement for reading has warmed my heart. To make tomorrow a bit more special I will be providing the children with some sweet treats and a milkshake to slurp on while getting stuck into their new book.Blog books.png

For as long as I can remember I have loved books – my childhood was filled with books and I see myself begging my mum for ‘Just 5 more minutes’ to reach the end of my book or chapter before I turned my light off. I was lucky, my mum loved reading and this rubbed off on me. Each night she dedicated time before bed to read, often ending with her nodding off! One of my granddad’s fondest memories of me is when I was about 2, sitting on his lap and reading him a book.  His favourite part of the story is that I had the book upside down but knew the story so well it didn’t stop me.

I sometimes feel in school that the children have lost that excitement for reading. The magic of opening a book and being transported off to anywhere, meeting the most weird and wonderful characters and going on the most amazing adventures without having to leave the house.

Half terms are what I live for, not only because I get to try and get ahead for the new term and catch up on some much needed sleep but because I get to read. I have a pile of ‘to read’ books that are begging to be read but don’t get a look in whilst I am teaching.

On Facebook a couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine put a status asking what everyone’s favourite books were. .. it got me thinking about what are my favourite books – the ones that I really love and have read over and over again. This proved to be difficult as I am so indecisive and felt bad about leaving books out (they have feelings you know!) So I have managed to compiled 2 lists – my favourite books as an adult and my favourite children’s books to share with the children or to teach from.

  1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – JK Rowling
  2. The Handmaid Tale – Margaret Atwood
  3. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  4. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
  5. The Curious Incident of the dog in the nighttime – Mark Haddon
  6. 1984 – George Orwell
  7. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  9. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  10. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

 

  1. The Princess and the White Bear King – Tanya Robyn-Batt
  2. The Pebble in my Pocket – Meredith Hooper
  3. The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt
  4. Five minutes Peace – Jill Murphy
  5. Charlotte’s Web – E.E. White
  6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  7. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgeson Burnett
  8. Aesop’s Fables
  9. My Naughty Little Sister – Shirley Hughes
  10. Giraffes Can’t Dance – Giles Andreae

 

Has anyone read these? What are your favourite books? I am always on the look out for awesome books… might need a trip to Ikea during half term to get another bookshelf!

Thanks for reading…

Mrs W

Not a bad teacher!

Hello…

Today was the first day back at school after half term. I got lots done during my week off and even caught up on some much needed sleep. Zzzzzz
Even though I got lots ticked off my to do list I still managed to get to work this morning and feel like someone had plopped me on a treadmill going too fast!

I made time each day during half term to read some blogs by other teachers and keep to an eye on the articles that had been shared on the TES website. I read an article from an anonymous writer titled ‘We are not just teachers, we are people – and one bad lesson doesn’t make me a bad person.’  This really struck a chord with me. At the end of last term I had by first observation that didn’t go as well as I wanted. I forgot lots of the things that I normally put into my lessons, I over thought things and panicked. I hate being observed and following my observation I felt rubbish.

I am a very self critical person and I am a perfectionist. I hate letting people down and I don’t like it when my hard work, analysis of data and knowledge of my children doesn’t go to plan! I came home that day feeling like a failure and I doubted myself as a teacher. I am very lucky that Mr. W is level headed and calmed me down and reminded me that one bad lesson doesn’t make me a bad person or even a bad teacher.

I think that I am lucky that I have a job that I love (most of the time) but it can become an obsession and I know for the sake of my own wellbeing  (and sanity) that I don’t let it  take over every part of my life. I know from past experiences that it is hard to hear criticism of my teaching without taking it to mean  criticism directly of myself as a person however the blog made a very valid point that I will be putting on a post it note on my desk tomorrow –  ‘Don’t let one mistake in a lesson define you’  I will try my hardest to learn from my mistakes to help me be a better and happier teacher!

I understand the need to monitor teaching and learning and I am grateful (kind of!) that I am being observed on Wednesday which hopefully will show what I am really capable of. Fingers crossed that it all goes it plan!

Wish me luck!

Mrs W

Shoeless Writing

Last week I read an article which spoke about the decade-long study, by researchers at Bournemouth University, that found that allowing pupils to take off  their shoes, as is custom in Scandinavia, helped them to engage better in class. I spoke to my class last week about this idea and they have been asking everyday if it was ‘the day’ that they could take their shoes off to complete a Big Write.

I have never had so many children eager to complete an extended piece of writing (the phrase blood from a stone fits well here.) They really couldn’t wait. So on Wednesday after lunch I got my class registered and then I gave them the option to take off their shoes – I didn’t think they would all want to take off their shoes and reveal stinky tootsies. However, all 30 of them whisked off their shoes in record time and had them lined up neatly against the wall (finally my OCD is rubbing off on them!) We spent a few minutes wriggling our feet and enjoying the feeling of our feet being free- the children were so excited that I too had removed my shoes. (Don’t worry I had sprayed my feet with fabreez during my lunch break didn’t want the children commenting on my smelly feet!)

We quickly moved on to the writing task which was linked to our topic of ‘Chocolate’ where the children had been given the following statement ‘The Cadbury brothers are considered by some to be the most influential chocolate makers in British history. Mrs M has said they are warm-hearted, industrious and ambitious. Do you agree?’ They needed to research, find the meanings of the words and then explain if they agreed or disagreed with the statement. I thought this was going to be tricky but they had found some great information using the iPads (yep I am still using them too!)

They did brilliantly.

I got home with my mountain of books to mark and instead of dread I found I was delighted with the quality and the quantity of work that they had produced. They had written some of the best pieces of ‘long writing’ they have ever completed for me. This was great especially when you consider they had eaten pizza with pasta for lunch and I was worried they would slip into that ‘Carb Coma’ that normally follows meals like that.

In short they ALL loved being shoe free. They were disappointed when they had to put on their shoes and lots of them have requested that every Big Write should be shoeless. I really can’t think of a reason for this not to be a regular thing in my classroom and I look forward to more great pieces of work from them! Maybe you could try it in your classes too.

Barefoot = Brilliant Work

Mrs W

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Barefoot and Fancy Free?

Following on from one of my previous blog posts about the benefits of children spending more time on  digital devices I have allowed my class more access to the iPads in the classroom. I have been specifically allowing them on them during golden time and guiding them toward the APPS they have been learning to use and not taking 12,425 selfies (I swear I didn’t teach them that!). They have not disappointed me… they have been making soundtracks to other children playing board games – creating tension, praise or disappointment depending on how the games turn out. They have also been creating their own mini movies based on the book that we have been reading – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which is making me wonder when the Peterborough Oscars are because I would love to enter some of their work. They have been loving applying the skills they have been taught in computing and in my mind this has allowed for purposeful application of what they have learnt. A win/win situation for me and my class. Something I will definitely continue with.

I love shoes – I am a shoe hoarder and I have shoes that I shouldn’t really have any more – but I can’t bear to part with them. Now for a lady who loves shoes as much as I do – I also love being shoe free. I kick off my shoes as soon as I get home and even though I have many pairs of adorable slippers I still prefer not to have them on. I feel more relaxed and comfortable without shoes of any type on my feet.

With my shoe/less preference in mind I stumbled across this article – Primary school makes pupils take their SHOES off before lessons in an attempt to improve classroom behaviour and cut down on bullying. The article I read spoke of research carried out by boffins at Bournemouth University about the benefits of shoeless classrooms, as seen around the world. Many schools from all over the world such as Scandinavia and New Zealand have already implemented ‘No Shoes in School’ and have seen improvements  in behaviour and academic achievement.  Now I really don’t like the idea of making the children take their shoes off because in the past I have taught some children who hate the feeling of not having shoes on however, it did get me thinking once again of these benefits and if it was something worth trialling with my class.

I decided to ask my children how they would feel about me letting them take their shoes off at certain points during the day for lessons or tasks such as Art or Big Write. I shared with them a video of CBBC Newsround where they saw children of a similar age who were saying that they worked harder and that they thought other children were better behaved when they didn’t have their shoes on. Their response following my proposal and the video was overwhelming- firstly they were shocked that I would ‘allow’ them to take their shoes off and secondly they all agreed that it would make them work harder and seemed excited to release their feet!

So this week I am going to trial this. We are having a Big Write on Wednesday afternoon which is always hard work (they tend to write better in the morning not following their lunch when they are likely to slip into a carb induced coma!) I am hoping that them having the choice to have bare feet will make them feel more grounded and more focused which in turn will hopefully impact positively on their work. I will let you know how they got on and if it is something that I will do more regularly.

Wish me luck!

Mrs W

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January Favourites

Right, it is finally February (how many months were in January?!)and I have decided to put down my planning and marking for tonight and write another blog post. I love Instagram and YouTube and one of my favourite types of posts or videos are the monthly favourites. Firstly because I am nosey and love seeing what people have enjoyed and secondly I am a sucker for a good review and this often helps guide my uncontrollable shopping addiction. Amazon must have seriously been wondering where I have been as my bank balance has prevented my daily online shopping fix.

So I have been compiling a list of products and things that I have been really enjoying during the month of January.

Food:

This month has been hard – we all start the new year with that ridiculous new years resolution to eat healthier, drink more water and do more exercise. Mine lasted approximately 17 days before I fell off the wagon and into a big box of chocolates. This is where is discovered the Fibre One brownies! Now I know they are not quite as satisfying as a bar of dairy milk but for a semi healthy treat I have really been enjoying them and they help me get my fix of chocolate after a 16 hour day working.

The next foody thing that I have been enjoying is the Alpro Soya Vanilla milk. This is YUM! I like it on my cereal and in my coffee but cannot stand it in my tea. I’ve been trying to cut down on dairy as I think I might have an intolerance… can’t cut it out completely but the soya milk is certainly making it easier.

Beauty:

For Christmas my lovely Mummy got me a MAC voucher. Now this was spent very quickly and the three products I chose I adore.

  1. MAC Studio Fix Fluid 
  2. MAC Studio Fix powder 
  3. MAC Studio Fix Plus setting spray

I have combination/oily skin and I nearly always end the school day with a very shiny face! These three products by no mean stop that but they definitely help. I went into the store and was colour matched and I am really pleased with how they are working.

Lorac Pro Eyeshadow Pallet–  These eyeshadows were a bargain on Amazon and they blend really nicely. There are a mixture of matte and shimmer and are really pretty.

Schwarzkopf Color Expert in Dark Blonde – I dyed my hair just after Christmas. This dye has made my hair look much healthier and has restored some of the moisture after I bleached the hell out of it. My hair is a pain and always takes the dye much darker than it shows on the box. This shade has come out a natural brown and I am really happy with it. They also sell a larger bottle of the conditioner which I also love.

Random:

Yankee Candle – Snowflake Cookie ­– This smells delicious! I love candles and we always have several burning around the house. This one makes me feel happy. Simples!

Sharpie Pens – Again I got these for Christmas and  they are useful and look so pretty. I particularly enjoy putting them in colour order.

Music: Ed Sheeran – The Shape of You. I really have missed Ed Sheeran and I am loving his new track. I enjoy belting it out in the car… Mr W less so!

Film/ TV : Hacksaw Ridge – Andrew Garfield was amazing and I was gripped right from the start. Not my normal genre of movie but I would highly recommend.

We have been watching Timeless on E4 – it has rekindled my love of History and have been enjoying reading up about the ‘real’ events that they travel back to. I want a time machine.

That is all of the bits that I have been loving in January. I enjoyed putting them all in one place and now am off to buy some more bits on Amazon for February’s favourites!

Mrs W

Work/Life Balance

As the lovely Rhianna once sang  Work, work, work, work, work, work You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work.” Now she may not have been very eloquent and definitely used the word ‘work’ more than I would allow in a big write however it does sum up my life at the moment.

I used trusty Google to find the definition of work life balance  just to make sure I hadn’t accidently got the wrong meaning. It did confirm that it is the division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities.
I am the first to admit that I do not have a work/life balance. My life revolves around work and has done since I became a teacher. I am normally at work before 7.30am and I am often found tapping away on my laptop till gone 9pm at home. I am a perfectionist and I am a worrier which is a deadly combination when it comes to time management in this profession (or any other I suppose). I love my job but the pressure and the level of work is getting harder and harder to maintain.

Tonight is an example of my evenings and how I have got the balance all wrong. I have just marked 90 books and have another 20 that I will need to mark in the morning because I simply couldn’t carry any more. I have made WALTs including differentiated  and colour coded success criteria. I have created activities for Maths and Guided reading as well as writing a detailed letter to the teacher who will be covering my English release in the morning. We also had staff meeting after school, I am exhausted and it is only Monday!

I have seen in the news more and more about ‘Staff Wellbeing’and how school’s senior management teams need to acknowledge the pressure teaching staff are under and get teachers to keep hold of their joy of teaching. In an article the Guardian  I read “Good teachers are happy,” said McGill. “But if they don’t have a chance to breathe, they can’t be happy.”

So how can we get the balance back and make sure we are feeling happy again?

My school has attempted to do this in the form of a ‘Staff Wellbeing Week’. It had all the right intentions however badly timed for me! On the Monday my year group are going on a school trip (always fun with 90 children and a chocolate factory – this could be a book!), Tuesday is a book scrutiny and Thursday I am being observed. Not sure I will be feeling very ‘well‘ by Friday and doubt I will be out the school gate by 4pm like planned on any of these days.

In an attempt to still make the most of wellbeing week in my PPA this week I will try to plan for lessons that will produce work that will not need an in depth mark and definitely will make sure I don’t have 110 books to mark in one night! I will also try and have one night where my laptop is shut off and put away by 8pm so I can have an earlier night.

I’ll keep you posted on if I have managed this!

Mrs W

Boosting Wellbeing

Phew, finally finished planning, marking and prepping for tomorrow and I think I have just about enough time to try and write a blog post before I fall asleep.

Earlier this week I read an article on the BBC news website (shared by a lovely colleague who is great at keeping up with the news) about how moderate time on digital devices can boost children’s health and happiness. Read it yourself here

The article spoke about a study that has been conducted and had found a ‘Goldilocks effect’ where a few hours on a phone, tablet or computer could increase their mental wellbeing. It got me thinking that I might not be using my tablet devices in my classroom to their full potential.

I am very fortunate to have a full set of tablets in my classroom (sadly not fortunate enough that they all work at the same time!) My class adore time on them and often produce work which is of richer quality and keeps their attention on challenging tasks for longer. However I am always very conscious that if someone is carrying out a ‘learning walk’ that it could be seen as an easy option or that it is a holding task. Therefore I really do limit the time my class spend on them even encouraging not to use them during golden time.

After reading this article I think maybe I have been too tough on my class and that more sessions on the tablets might boost their health and happiness but I want to get the balance right. So tomorrow during golden time I plan to let my class have access to them alongside all of the other lovely games that Santa brought us (while they still have all of their pieces) Fingers crossed that the children and I all end with that ‘Friday Feeling!’

I am very limited in my knowledge of iPad APPs and what children enjoy and I wondered if any of you lovely people had any that you could share with me… please leave me a comment or a link.

On that note I am off to play candy crush… It is for my wellbeing… Honest!

Mrs W x