On Monday a little girl in my class arrived with a pocket full of conkers and browned leaves which she wanted to share with the class. This was a big learning moment for many of the children, they listened fascinated as I explained that conkers were in fact the seeds of horse chestnut trees and could grow into trees. We then talked about other kinds of seeds and what they might grow into. I have never seen the children in my class so quiet or awe-struck, it was truly a teachers dream, as 30 five year olds hung off my ever word, and they did this while I was talking about science!
It’s lovely to be able to engage children with a topic that they have discovered themselves but I had not actually prepared any teaching on the Autumn or plants for this term! However, I felt a great sense of responsibility to bring this topic to life for them. So I set out to create a series of play based activities based around Autumn. Unfortunately, it being a Monday night, and having about a hundred other things to do, I found in hard to summon the creativity to make my own resources for a week of play based learning. Instead I followed the advice of an older and wiser Teach Firster: don’t reinvent the wheel use existing resources and make them your own. I made use of my Twinkl Platinum membership and found some fantastic Autumn resources. Including:
Autumn animal role play masks
Small world backdrops
(Because we didn’t have appropriate small world animals I got the children to make their own finger puppets for this using bits of felt and feathers)
This saved me a lot of time and actually helped me to generate far more ideas that I already had.I supplemented these activities by creating a nature table, and I encouraged the children to put objects on this table that they had found on their walk to school. The children loved exploring the different seeds and leaves, although a word of warning, check for bugs!
I also borrowed an idea from the twinkle forum sending some of the class on a playground mini-beast hunt with my T.A. and they managed to find a surprising amount of creepy-crawlies, including spiders, worms and woodlice.
It’s been a fantastic week of work and the children have produced some lovely art for display such as leaf rubbings, drawings of mini-beasts and finger puppets.
It was surprising how little work it actually took to bring a topic that excited them to life. It has taken me a few week’s to realise that it is not possible to do everything yourself as a teacher. While I often feel tempted to make my own resources, it is just not sustainable if I am going to plan quality activities for my class each week. Instead I am learning to strike a healthy balance. Twinkl provided me with some really high quality resources which I was able to use as stimuli for my own ideas and activities. It’s definitely a great resource if like me you struggle to draw squirrels! If you are on a school-based route of training you also get 15% student discount on premium membership or better still, check if your school subscribes or is willing to do a free trial. I’ve also discovered the power of child-led activities, giving the children ownership over a topic has meant they have thrown themselves into their learning this week and our classroom is really beginning to belong to them.