Category Archives: Teacher Articles

Washing Hands Resource to help Individuals with their Hand Hygiene during the Covid-19 Pandemic

We are all aware of the importance of hand hygiene in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This can be a hard concept for younger children and individuals with special educational needs and disabilities. 

Rhyming Multisensory Stories have a free resource to help! 

This resource includes a hand washing multisensory poem, visual support, strategies and sensory themed hand washing activities including Treasure Soap and Soapy Doh.


For your free copy head over to my store

Tips & Strategies

  • Model washing your hands. 
  • Offer lots of praise and encouragement to the individual as they copy your actions. 
  • Use a digital or sand timer as a visual clue.  
  • Sing or play a favourite song.  
  • Add a little glitter onto the individual’s hands to wash off or give them a small plastic toy to wash in the sink. 
  • Experiment with different textures of soaps (bars, gels, liquid, foaming). 
  • Using novelty shaped and scented soaps can be motivating. 
  • Experiment with fruity and oral scents, soaps that smell like lemonade or retro sweets, cartoon character soaps, shaped soaps and ‘Treasure Soap’ (see ‘Extension Activities) 
  • Individuals sensitive to smell may prefer an unscented soap.  
  • Offer individuals with sensitive skin a hypoallergenic soap.  
  • Offer a reward each time the individual washes their hands, this could be a sticker, blowing bubbles or adding a tick to a wall chart so they can track their accomplishments. 
  • Washing the hands frequently can make them dry and sore to those with sensitive skin. Offer moisturising cream with an optional hand massage afterwards. 

Your thoughts, feedback, comments, queries and questions are always welcome! If I can help in anyway, please do not hesitate to get in touch! 

For more stories and poems visit the website: 



Being a Mé Féiner!

At the beginning of the school year, one of the most popular themes in Gaeilge classes is the theme of Mé Féin. Luckily our wonderful sellers have created a number of products to help you out with lessons. Have a search for Mé Féin on our search bar (you can even leave out the fadas and Mash’s super search will get over that), or have a look at some of our favourite ones here.

Guidance on Reopening Primary Schools:  What Primary Teachers Need to Know

A back to school campaign for the reopening of schools was launched by the Department of Education and Skills on 27/7/2020. A huge amount of information has been provided and while the detailed guidance is welcome, it will be a challenge to get to grips with the sheer volume of information before the schools reopen at the end of next month.

There is a huge amount of work that will need to be undertaken at school management level, but I will not focus on this in this article. My aim is to present in a simple and clear way, some of the main things that primary teachers will need to be aware of and the on the ground changes that they will see in classrooms.

What has been made available?

First of all, there is a new webpage where all of the information can be found. There is an enormous amount of information on this webpage including the following:

  1. An extremely detailed 53 page roadmap for all schools for the full return to school. This roadmap sets out what the operation on schools will look like and the range of supports that will be available. It gives guidance on things such as:
  • Public health advice
  • COVID-19 response plans for schools
  • Hand hygiene, cleaning regimes, physical distancing
  • Provisions for getting children to school safely (school transport)
  • Supports available to schools (inc. funding)
  • Supporting wellbeing
  • Guidance on learning for the school year 2020/2021
  • Provision for very high-risk staff and students
  •  Communication arrangements
  1. There are further guidelines specific to either primary and special schools, or post primary schools which aim to provide guidance for the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in schools. The 49-page primary and special school guidelines contain guidance and templates for: 
  • COVID-19 response plan and policy
  • Staff training
  • Changes to school layout
  • Pre-return to work questionnaire
  • Control measures to prevent COVID-19 in schools
  • Risk assessment
  • Contact tracing
  • Checklists for things such as managing a suspected case of COVID-19 and cleaning

  1. Guidelines for supporting the wellbeing of school communities as schools reopen.
  2. Guidelines on curriculum which outline key areas that should be focused on upon the return to school.
  3. Illustrative classroom layouts showing how pods can be created in primary school and special class settings.

What are some of the main things that teachers need to know?


  • A full return to school for all will take place (apart from very high-risk pupils and staff).
  • Children under 13 are not required to wear face masks. Adults are not recommended to wear PPE unless they are working in a setting where physical distancing is not possible or with a suspected COVID-19 case.
  • Physical distancing is not required from JI – 2nd
  • It is up to individual schools to decide on the exact configurations for how physical distancing will work from 3rd– 6th.
  • Each class group will be a “bubble” and will have very limited interaction with other class bubbles. This will mean things like staggered yard times, no whole school assemblies, and activities with other classes such as reading buddies will not be allowed.
  • Within each class there will be small “pods” of students, who will need to be physically distanced from other pods in the class. The advice is to have 1m between each pod and between the individual children in the pods where possible.
  • All non-essential furniture in a classroom should be removed to create extra space for distancing between pods.
  • The teacher’s desk should be 1m, or ideally 2m away from student desks.
  • In terms of SET and SNA allocation to different classes, as much as possible the same staff should work with the same class bubbles and should avoid moving between class bubbles.
  • Avoid sharing class resources/ materials between children in different class pods.
  • Hand sanitisers will be provided for each classroom and entry/ exit point of the school.

Prior to returning to school you will need to:

  • Complete COVID-19 induction training to be provided by the DoES.
  • Complete a Return to Work form which will be provided by the principal.
  • Change your classroom layout to maximise physical distancing.


  • Certain aspects of the curriculum are to be prioritised initially i.e. SPHE, PE, Language and mathematics.
  • A big emphasis will be placed on well-being. The key message is “slow down to catch up”. Take time to settle back into school rather than ploughing ahead with curriculum work.
  • The month of September will be focused on settling in, establishing routines and catching up on missed learning from the previous year.
  • SPHE should focus on the promotion of personal hygiene including proper hand washing. Ensure that Stay Safe and RSE are taught early in the year.
  • PE should from a significant component of timetable as it contributes to well-being. Children should work individually or in their pods, use minimal equipment and use out door spaces if possible.
  • A big emphasis should be placed on language and talk and discussion.
  • Arts education and SESE can take place through integrated learning experiences.
  • Use the outdoor environment more often when planning for curriculum work e.g. nature trails.
  • Use play as a methodology is important for developing resilience and wellbeing. Toys should be cleaned regularly e.g. weekly. Children should not share toys such as PlayDoh.
  • I have very detailed plans for Junior Infants as well as Senior Infants and multi-class infants for September based on these reopening guidelines in my Mash Store.

Other points

  • Curriculum reforms and related CPD have been paused.
  • The inspectorate will focus on advisory work in schools during term 1.
  • Schools are to be prepared for further school closures if there is an outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Standardised tests will not take place until May 2021.

To conclude

Before the publication of these guidelines, I know many teachers, parents and students feared that there may not be a full return to school and that social distancing requirements would mean that children could only attend on alternate days or for a limited number of hours each day. There was also a fear that blended learning, where some content would be provided in school and some through online teaching, would be a major feature. So many will be relieved that these guidelines provide for a full return to school. However, it needs to be acknowledged that there will be significant challenges for schools in implementing these guidelines and while staff will do their utmost to follow the procedures as outlined, some of the recommendations may not be feasible in practice and a great deal of flexibility and ingenuity will be required.

The Product you’re most Proud of!

i am most proud of my Aistear and Play Guidebook. It has been a very interesting write as I am very interested in this area. It cane about as I didn’t have a great understanding of Aistear and Play when I started in Seniors. It was hard to find some good information about set up and planning of it. So the idea sprung from there. I really hope others find it useful and it helps them as they take on Infants too!

7 tips for newbie Mash Sellers

You have created an account with Mash as a Mash Seller, what now? Here are our top tips for what to do when you are starting out as a newbie Mash Seller.

  1. The first thing you need to do is make sure you have the best quality products! This sounds pretty obvious but it is something that inexperienced Mash sellers might not focus on. It can be really exciting to upload everything you own from your hard drive to but let’s slow down and get things right! 🐌  You need to check for spelling/grammar/typos and do not look right when the seller downloads it, buyers will not return to your store..This will make you sad, for sure. 
  2. Use your resources: Any resource you make and upload should have been used by you in the classroom and as part of your planning. This way you can write up a genuine account of it in the product description space. It also means you have printed it out and that it looks well on paper. Mostly, it means that the children in your class have used it and learned from it. 
  3. Make your product sing! It is not enough to throw a product up in a word doc or pdf with text only. Resources need to look colourful, attractive
    and fun! Otherwise why would a child want to learn from them and why would a teacher pay for them? Looks do matter when it comes to resources. Free Clipart may not give you the look you want. There are lots of professional and super cute illustrators selling fonts and clip art for you purchase and use. This will really give your product that look you are after. Go one step further and make a colourful title page with contents, add the details of your store and any social media you are on to the last page. Make the whole thing sing! 👩🏼‍🎤
  4. Look at pricing. Check out what all the other sellers are charging for their products. If a popular Mash Seller is selling a similar product to you, think about your strategy. Will you go higher or lower? Think about creating units of work that can be added into a bundle. For example one resource on tricky words could be 2 euro but a pack of ten resources on the full Junior Infants Tricky Words could be 5 euro? It gives teacher the choice and they might sample the 2 euro one so make it good!
  5. If you are a newbie Mash seller, you may have to accept that the Mash buyer community do not know who you are unless you are a super cool 😎  instagram influencer teacher! If you are not known, then you really need to let the potential buyers see a preview of your product and write up an unbelievably detailed product description. You might also think about making a short video and upload to YouTube and provide the link on your product? You could give a real good run through of your resource. Many of our Mash Sellers do this on their own social media channel but the problem is those videos are not there when a potential seller is preparing to buy the product on
  6. Following on from the last point, given that some teacher buyers may not know who you are, it may not be enough to simply upload your product on as we have over an average of 70 or more products being added to the site every week. Use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and promote your products. Give away freebies, do a Q & A and make sure you tag us in every story and post with #mashTeachersRock #WeGetTeachers #MashGetsTeachers @mashdotie and our hashtags We won’t delve much into the whole social media side of being a Mash seller but is massive!
  7. Join our private and very cool and super special Mash Sellers group on Facebook. We put up plenty content here to help you sell and share ideas with other Mash Sellers. Join us!

If you can apply all of these 7 tips, you should start to see your resources becoming noticed and selling! We give 70% commission directly back to teachers. We believe the best learning resources are made by teachers and that it is only fair and right that teachers get paid for any extra work they do outside of their teaching day. We are here to help you in any way do drop us a message at or on our Instagram channel @mashdotie and Facebook. We will always message/mail you back, we love to hear from you and your ideas so try us out!

Squeezing P(upil)s into Pods

The Irish Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) finally produced interim guidelines for the reopening of schools this week. One of the things that jumped out at us was the idea of pods and bubbles. While social distancing isn’t required up to 2nd class, after that, they recommend that classes are divided into “pods” where an unspecified number of pupils sit and there is 1m between each pod. There also needs to be 2m between the teacher’s desk and any of the pods. I popped into my school to configure some potential classroom set ups. I decided that given Irish class sizes I would work off a 32 pupil classroom. Here are some of the plans I tried out. Please remember that this classroom is in a modern school building, built in 2013. Most RGD buildings are around this size. However, most schools do not enjoy this size of a classroom so you will have to adjust these plans to your own classroom’s dimensions. In fact, you may not be able to fit all your pupils into the room.

Pods of 4

This is a set up that many classrooms today will be familiar with pre lockdown. Tables are laid out in groups of 4. This model has the advantage of being familiar but it is a bit of a squeeze, especially those at the window. Within the pods, it is impossible to have much distancing. However, as I went through all the configurations, no pod could do 1m distancing. I thought of 3 possible layouts of seating for this configuration.

1 and 3 ensure that everyone can see the front of the room. Number 2 allows for the most distancing to occur within the group.

Let’s look at some other configurations.

Groups of 6 and 8

These are bigger pods and give the advantage of more space within the room to walk around. Pods are quite crowded if everyone needs to be looking to the front of the classroom.

Combination of groups and 2 to a table

There was no way to fit one child on a single table with 32 children in the room so this was the best I could do. If you have less than 32, there’s a way of pacing some children on individual tables, where this is needed, for example children that find it very difficult working in groups. This configuration gives some flexibility but it very squeezed in terms of the single desks.

The Standardised Test Layout!

This layout reminds me of when you’re doing standardised tests with classes. All we need our school bags in the middle of the tables so there’s no peeking! This layout is just about possible for 32 children but it leaves very little room for moving around. Of all the configurations, it leaves the least amount of space.

Old School Rows

This was how my classroom was laid out when I was in primary school except the teacher’s desk was in the middle rather than the side. This configuration helps with space except if you happen to be sitting by the window. It’s like going to the cinema and trying to get past all the people to get to your seat!

2 Pods – lots of space

This configuration means 2 pods within the classroom. I’m not sure if this is too many pupils in pods but it looks like a nice clean model. The only disadvantage is if there are pupils that find it hard to work in groups.

Obviously these configurations only work in classrooms that are big enough to be able to fit 32 pupils. Ideally there shouldn’t be anywhere near that in any classroom but this is Ireland. While the above images may not resemble your classroom at all, they may provide some inspiration when you are designing your own classroom layout for these COVID-19 times.

From the couch to longest serving seller on…..

Rewind to six years ago. I had just graduated, moved home to the West of Ireland and was completely…. lost. For the first time in my life I felt I had little or no control over what happened next. There had always been a clear plan. School, Leaving Cert, Points, College, Job. End of. Right? WRONG!

It’s Summer 2014 and there isn’t exactly an abundance of jobs advertised anywhere, least of all in my local area. I apply, nothing. I apply further away, nothing. Considering I’m an NQT at this point with a DIP to do and NIPT meetings to attend – this is less than ideal and definitely NOT what I had pictured as September looms and word has got out that the local girl is back from Limerick looking for a job… cue the start of a long lists of questions to be answered weekly when ambushed in Penneys or Dunnes. ‘What are you doing now?’ ‘Isn’t it awful there’s no jobs?’ ‘What about the subbing?’ ‘Have you contacted the schools to let them know you’re around’ ‘I heard there’s a job coming up in that school you’d better put in your CV’ ‘Your mother must be delighted to have you home’ ‘Have you a boyfriend?’ ‘No? ‘Ah sure there’s no rush, I suppose’ …. Cheers Bridie, it’s good to be home…  

September finally comes and I decide to set myself up and embrace the ‘subbing scene’ since I have little or no choice. I get my first call on the 4th of September. DELIGHTED! ‘That’s it now’ I said to myself, ‘I’ll be getting calls every week from now on’. Actually, the opposite happened. I ended up getting one call a month until Christmas. 4 days. 4 DAYS!!!!

Most of my friends were in the same position but perhaps not as dire as my own. They apparently would get up, get dressed with a full face of makeup intact and a lunch ready to go all to sit waiting on a call…….. I on the other hand took a more relaxed approach where I’d answer the call with a raspy voice and scramble around the house until I eventually got out the door.

I spent most days trying to create a routine around exercise, online courses and sending out CVs. Other days my Dad would find me in my dressing gown at two in the day watching Friends. I look back now and I laugh but at the time I guess I didn’t find it so funny. I had worked so hard the previous three years and it felt, at the time, that it could have been all for nothing. ‘If it’s this hard to get a subbing day how will I ever get the DIP done?’ was a constant mantra in my head. 

After Christmas, ‘a new near, new me’ type approach was taken. Fresh CVs were sent out with a brand new business card type thing paper clipped to the top (hopefully it made it to one or two notice boards (or laptop screens at least). I still have about 150 left over, some investment!!  

And so, with the snazzy new CVs and business cards came lots more work than before Christmas and way less pyjama days, much to my family’s relief as I’d say they were definitely not far off carrying out an intervention of some sort.

Although I was working more, I still had quite a bit of time on my hands and it was during this time, in Spring 2015, that the mindless scrolling paid off and I discovered

It was a no brainer for me right from the beginning, not only was I sharing products with other like-minded teachers – most of whom, like me, had spent hours creating these quality plans, lessons and resources but I was then able to buy resources from these other teacher’s stores and save hours on resourcing and planning my own lessons.

At the time, Mash, for me, meant that my hard work creating lessons and resources had not gone to waste (even if  I wasn’t the one lucky enough to be in a class using them at that time, at least someone was) and it also gave me the opportunity to earn a little at the same time in those difficult few months.

I never imagined the day I signed up and began uploading my ‘treasures’ that I would be typing this, years on, as Mash’s longest serving seller (or at least close to the longest serving seller, we’re not 100% but, I’m going to say I am from now on) has only ever been a positive experience for me, from the collaboration between teachers to the supportive community that both Simon and Rozz have created. It’s brought nothing only extra support and joy to me as a teacher. I’ve also had many NQTs reach out to me and ask questions and I’ve been only delighted to help them in any way I could.

So, fast forward to this Summer. Is Bridie still interrogating me at the meat counter? Yes. Some of the questions have changed but to be fair so too have a majority of the answers. That being said, there’s a new one added to her list in recent times and that’s to enquire if I have a permanent job or not yet……. We’ll say no more.

Although I’m back applying for jobs again in my hometown to which I’ve been coming and going to and from for a while now. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve since taught in so many lovely schools in the West and East of Ireland, took some time to travel and even made it as far as an International School in China.

To all who feel lost, unsure or even downhearted, particularly at this time of the year applying for jobs, preparing interview questions and getting caught up in the worry of it all. I HEAR YA! But, it does work out in the end. After that first year subbing, I was literally in the right place at the right time and began the DIP weeks later that September. 

So….. If you’ve made it this far, well done and thank you!

Also, a huge thank you to Rozz and Simon for making this journey possible in the first place. They are such a support and I hope to meet them in real person someday, soon!

Anyway, as of now a contract for September would be nice and I may even take a look at doing a Masters next. Hopefully, by 2030, I’ll have all the correct answers to Bridie’s pop quiz in the butchers. Ok bye! xoxo  

Well-Being in the Primary Classroom

Well-Being in the Primary Classroom.

Hi everyone, I hope you are all keeping well and I’m sure most of us are now on our summer holidays. As teachers, we have definitely earned our holidays this after a very strange and challenging end to the school year.

This year, was my first year teaching in Ireland after teaching in London for over nine years. I trained and graduated over there and although I only planned to stay a few years I was actually living in London for almost twelve years. I was exceptionally lucky in the schools that I worked in and gained a vast amount of experience that I will always have.

I was made art and design and technology coordinator in my second year of teaching and then was made literacy coordinator in my fourth year and this was a role that I had for over 5 years in the end. Literacy teaching and promoting a love of reading is a passion of mine and something that I work exceptional hard on. I have redesign a library, carried out reading pupil voice, created a book store in school where children earned ‘airmiles’ that they could use to ‘buy’ books and most of all, I have given numerous children the reading bug! It gives me great happiness to see children fall in love with reading.

In my fifth year of teaching, I was asked to teach in Year 6. Those of you that are familiar with the Education System in the UK will know that this is the last year in Primary School in the UK and where 11 year olds sit state examinations called SATS. They are taken by the children at the end of Key Stage 2 (Year 6) in May every year. They assess the children against the age-related expectations as set out by the National Curriculum. The majority of children (In four years of working in year six, I had one child exempt due to severe learning difficulties) sit the exams, there is no differentiation or support given from teachers during the actual tests, we are in the room while they sit the exam but that is all we can do. I can only compare them to sitting your Leaving Certificate Exam. Each child at the own desk, nothing on the desk, no talking, papers brought in by the head teacher and opened in front of children, handed out and completed in complete silence. The papers are collected and sent off for marking. The results are then sent to the school in early July and teachers are then expected to tell the children if they have passed or failed. It was a difficult time for children and teachers. Especially as schools were judge on these results.

It was during my teaching of SATS that I became aware of children’s mental health and their well- being.  I have seen many children crumble during these tests, even my most capable children. I quickly realised that I needed to act to help these children. A lot of children were becoming caught up in the end result of passing or failing. “I have failed primary school,’” was a common statement that I heard from my class. I watched these children work so hard during the year, make significant progress from their starting point and then I had to say that they hadn’t passed and for some children, they would never have passed due to EAL (English as an additional language), SEN or other issues.

I introduced a Well-Being Slot into every day, it could just be 5 minutes some days and other days it would be longer, especially as May got nearer. Well-Being was starting to become a bigger focus in many primary schools across the UK.

As a school we introduced Action for Happiness, with a particular focus on the 10 Keys to Happiness.

Everyone’s path to happiness is different. Based on the latest research, they identified 10 Keys to Happier Living that consistently tend to make life happier and more fulfilling. Together they spell “GREAT DREAM”.

This was a really lovely way to talk about our Well-Being and its importance and we linked these to talking to the children about how they could help and support our own Well-Being. We also used the Monthly Action Calendars, these are packed with actions you can take to help create a happier and kinder world. We felt as a school starting out on the Well–Being Path this was ideal. It worked really well in the school and it had an impact on the children’s wellbeing.

Now back in Ireland, I am keen to continue to promote the well-being of the children that I teach as I feel that by establishing good well-being habits now, children will be better able to cope with life’s stresses as they get older. 

In my class this year, we discuss well-being every day. The week was broken down into the following and this gave us a starting point each day for our Well-Being time. I have continued to promote these during the Covid-19 pandemic and I would upload the activities to SeeSaw for the children to work on.

  • Mindful Monday
  • Thoughtful Tuesday
  • Well – Being Wednesday
  • Thankful Thursday
  • Feel Good Friday

On the different days we might have an activity, some discussion time or something else. As the year progress, the children have more ownership over it.

Here are some of the things that I would do:

  • Yoga
  • Breathing Techniques
  • Meditation
  • Discussions of Feelings, what feelings we feel and how they make us feel and act. How can we deal with these? Children need support understanding theirs feelings, how they make them feel and they react to them.
  • Doodle Meditation. (A class favourite!)

  • Do something kind for someone else, without being asked
  • Make/bake something for someone. (We have often done baking in school that they can take home)
  • Reading with younger classes and sharing our books. (My class weren’t keen on this at the beginning but after a couple of weeks, they wanted to go everyday as they seen how happy it made the younger children)
  • The School Community, asking the principal about things they could do around the school to improve it. We do litter picking, planting up pots and flower beds. Sweeping the school paths.
  • Visits to Nursing Homes.
  • Charity Events in School.

  • Making Calm Jars.
  • Mindful Colouring.
  • Well Being Journals.
  • Making a Positivity Jar. (Pinterest has lots of lovely ideas.)

  • Gratitude Chains (Pinterest – Kindness Chains)
  • Writing Thank You Notes and Letters
  • Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
  • Gratitude Collage, this can be done individually, in pairs, groups or class. They can also add to it or complete a one of piece.
  • Thank You Window or display in class. This is lovely as a talking point when visitors or parents are visiting the school.

Friday I leave as very child lead, what do they want to do. At the beginning of the year we have discussions around what makes us feel good and these are the things that we use here. It is important the children do something that they want to do, it has to make them feel good. Some of things that we do are: reading, colouring, outside time. It really does depend on your own class.

I also created these quick Mindfulness Activities that can be printed out:

A set of 24 Mindful Activities that can be used in class. These are doubled sided circles that can be used in class to promote mindfulness.

On one side of the card is the activity name and on the other an explanation of how to do it.

How I have used these:

  • We had a Mindfulness Week as part of our distance learning and these activities were sent home.
  • I plan on having them on my desk in the new school year so that I can use them regularly with the children at different points during the day.
  • Great when children come in first thing in the morning or after break or lunch.
  • End of day activity
  • Calm Box
  • Brain Breaks.
  • Transition between activities.

Returning to School in September.

Pupils’ experiences of the lockdown period will have been very varied. For some, it will mostly have been a safe and enjoyable time. For others, it will have been challenging or traumatic. Schools and teachers are used to supporting their pupils through challenges that they face in life – the current situation will amplify those situations many times over.  I think lots of us are concerned about the return to school in September and what school will look like. We all have those children in our class who are anxious, and I am concerned about how children will cope when they return. Some children will have been out of school for almost six months. I feel that the top priority for the first term back will need to be the Well-Being of our children.

Things to Remember When Returning to School:

One size will not fit all pupils. Children within our classes will have had very different experiences of the lockdown period, they will also had varying levels of coping strategies and resilience skills in dealing with the experience. Have an open mind when you return, think about all children (families) individually and what they have personally gone through and experienced. It is worth check with the head to see if any families and experienced family bereavement as they children may also need further support.

You are part of a team. I have no doubt that the return to school will be an overwhelming one for many. Remember that other teachers, SNA’s, the school community and the world around you is facing similar challenges. It is important to talk about how you are feeling and how you are coping. Draw on other teachers and professionals for the help, support, and guidance during this time.

Different emotional responses. Given that there are many kinds of loss that pupils may have experienced over their time away from school, you may see different kinds of emotional responses. Children and young people will respond in different ways to challenging experiences. The same child may display different responses from day-to-day. 

I hope you have found this useful, please do give me a follow on Instagram as I will be sharing ideas and resources over there to help with the return to school. Look after yourself during this challenging time too, it is easy as teachers to focus on our classes but we must remember our own well-being as well. We cannot pour from an empty glass.

At the (pretend) seaside

For many of us, the seaside is off the agenda this year, and for children that means missing out on a potentially huge embellishment to their education. But there’s no problem with a pretend seaside, in your classroom or school grounds, or if you’re a parent, in your living room, kitchen or garden – suitably social distanced as relevant, of course.

Here’s a seaside I made on my table, with the help of a blue cloth, a yellow rug, some shells and toy sea creatures, and a poem of mine (available here): – best for very young children.

Perhaps it might serve as a warm-up for some of my seaside resources here – or give ideas for other seaside-ish activities.




How to help kids get rhyming

First, why do rhymes with kids anyway?

True, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, and rhymes can sound very trite in a thoughtful, atmospheric verse. But I’m looking at rhyme for rhyme’s sake, and all that rhymes offer in themselves. Children love rhymes, especially funny ones, so I’ve put a stack of my own in my shop here for any teachers looking to get their kids laughing and engaging.

The satisfaction and comfort of a rhyme

The tidiness of a rhyme offers a kind of comforting reassurance, as does the regular, punchy rhythm that tends to go with it, and many children welcome that reassurance. The world is a baffling, challenging place, and the simple, solid logic of a rhyming couplet provides an anchor or stepping stone.

The bonuses of humour

As for humour, that generates laughter, and laughter relaxes both mind and body, sweeping worries away and promoting mental well-being. Everyone needs a giggle a day – and preferably more! – including children. Laughter is a great leveller, too – children of all academic abilities can share a laugh about a funny joke or rhyme.

The magic of rhyme and humour together

So the two jewels together – rhyme and humour – make a winning combination for young readers, especially hesitant or struggling ones. With just a few lines to read at a time (4 per rhyme in my Funny Rhymes collection), humorous verse offers a great way into reading for pleasure.

What’s more, the pleasure of reading rhymes can inspire children to write them too, and composing rhymes is another excellent way to boost literacy skills. It’s fun and mind-stretching, sending thoughts and language in all sorts of directions, with humour-tickling results.

Tricky, sticky, and sometimes icky

But rhyming is tricky, and can cause frustration and disappointment without a simple method in place, so I’ve established a little warm-up system for getting my classes started. I’ve set out a summary below in case handy.

Yes, if you’ve not done rhymes with a class before, you may be surprised how even your ablest writers can forget to put the rhyme at the END of the line, or think they have to get it in the middle as well, twisting the structure out of shape. Meanwhile, others may go off on a tangent with some totally different rhyme, or stick so rigidly to a particular rhyme idea that they abandon the verse’s subject and end up with a rag-bag of unconnected phrases.

Teaching the tricks of forming a rhyming couplet

Set a starter rhyme-word

Start by nominating a simple, one-syllable word, such as sea. (Some colours work well, too, such as red, green, blue, black, brown and white, but we’ll have sea here, in keeping with summer, and the lovely seaside holidays we’re all probably dreaming of in our coronavirus lockdowns!)

Write your word, big and bold, at the top right side of the board, an say it out loud.

Demonstrate a rhyming word and invite more

Immediately, point out a word that rhymes with sea, ideally with infectious excitement, as if you’ve just discovered it (at least, that’s what I do, and it seems to work!): 

Sea – hey, that rhymes with bee! Sea, bee! What else rhymes with Sea, I wonder?” Lead a thrilling, fascinating search for treasure (or rhymes) and dash down the findings as if catching flying gems.

Write the volunteered words (correct ones only) directly beneath your top one, in a column. Prompt for a few to get everyone on board and ideas flowing. For sea rhymes, your class list might include: me, tea, tree, free, three, knee, she, he, glee, flea, flee, TV and key. Ask children to count them up, and write the figure up to show what a wealth of words they have to play with. Some congratulations may be in order too, setting their sense of word-power building from the start.

Fill in the two lines

Now present a starter line with your starter word, e.g. “As I was swimming in the sea”.
Point to one of the volunteered rhyming words and fill in the line leading up to it with a linking phrase. For example, rhyming word – me:  “I saw a monster looking at me.” Recite the two lines together, clapping and stamping the rhythm. Point out that the rhyming sea and me come at the ENDS of the lines, one above the other. 

Couplet 2

Now for a new verse, or couplet, with the children choosing everything this time. Repeat your two lines – “As I was swimming in the sea,/I saw a monster looking at me”, and let them pick a word from the list for a third line. Remind them again that it has to come right at the end of it. Chant and clap the rhythm – dum-dum-dum-di,-dum-dum tea (or whatever the rhyme), to highlight the rhythm and timing required. Let them physically feel that rhythm – get them tapping and swinging it, with their chosen rhyme word at the end.

Fill up line 3

Okay, now to fill up that line, while they’re all focused. They’ll probably need a mix of spurs and reins from you to produce a workable line. Suppose their chosen rhyme word is tea, you might guide them towards some possibilities like – “He was drinking seaweed tea”, “She was bubbling like hot tea” or “He gave me a cup of tea”.

Now you have three lines – hmm, very untidy! Chant and clap them through and you’ll all sense the need of a fourth line to even it up.

Round off with a 4th line

Go through the same process again to find a satisfying last line, perhaps with a joke or twist in it. Here are some examples: 

“But she spilt it on my knee”, “He was swaying like a tree,” “He said, ‘Buy one, get one free’,” “With a scream, I turned to flee,” “He was watching Sea TV”. (Let them decide the monster’s gender.)

Writing time

Repeat your four-line rhyme, perhaps with a tambourine or improvised drum to add to the fun. But stress that this outcome was just one of countless possibilities and let them try writing out their own, individual versions. Set double lines for them to fill, with the last bit of each line underscored to remind them that’s where the rhyming words go.

Allow time for everyone to read out, and celebrate all efforts.

Have fun!