Monday, 27 April 2015

Weather cards in Te Reo Maori + English {FREE PRINTABLES}

My beautiful Mum works at a special needs school, and recently needed a set of weather cards in Te Reo Maori and English to accompany a well known tune!  

All Kiwi kids know the following classic right?!

Ma is white,
Whero is red,
Kakariki green,
Mango is black,
Pango is too,
A E I O U!

Wera is hot,
Maku is wet,
Makariri cold,
Ua is raining,
Mahana is warm,
A E I O U!

Mum was wanting some visuals to accompany the song - cards that she could hold up with words in both Te Reo and English (plus some appropriate pictures) to use as cues for her little learners.  She had used the tune and added several new verses using other weather vocabulary to create a longer weather song!
CLICK HERE to download your FREE set of cards!
In addition to the weather words included in the traditional version above, this free resource also includes the following new vocab:

Hukapapa is frost,
Kanapu is lightning,
Uenuku rainbow,
Patapata is raindrops,
Kupua is cloud,
A E I O U!

Hau pukeri is strong wind,
Paroro is storm,
Ua nganga hail,
Hukarere is snow,
Hukapapa is frost,
A E I O U!

(*Also included are: Whaitiri/thunder; Hauhau/windy; Paki/fine; Maaku/wet; Kaapuapua/cloudy; Puhoro/stormy; Kohukohu/foggy)

**My personal fave is 'patapata is raindrop' - how perfect is that?!  This set of A4 sized weather cards could be adapted for all sorts of uses (general classroom posters, or maybe as part of your morning calendar routine?)  We used the Maori words that were chosen by my Mum's colleagues - but please be aware that other words/translations might be more common depending on what part of the country you live in.  If you'd prefer a different word/translation (or to have a whole new weather word!) please leave me a comment below and I'll endeavor to insert a new page with an alternate option.

May the sun be shining where ever you are,
Grubbily yours

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Shell and twig play with playdough (+ FREE 4 minute microwave playdough recipe + tips for classroom use}

There's nothing like playdough for creative play - especially if you remove the usual plastic cutters!My little man recently had great fun with a basket of shells and some twigs - lots to explore and investigate!  The shells make beautiful patterns when pressed into the play dough, and are great implements for cutting, scooping and filling.  Clip a few small twigs and leaves from your garden and you've got instant forests and trees for making little landscapes (we also used some sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden for an extra sensory experience!)

We use a tried and tested quick microwave recipe - perfect when you're making big batches of different colours for school - only 4 minutes in the microwave (plus a quick stir in the middle!)
[1] Mixing the ingredients.   [2] Scraping down the edges before microwaving for 2 minutes.   [3] Removing the crunchy edge.   [4] Mixing the play dough before it's final 2 minutes in the microwave.
Click here to download your FREE copy of this recipe.
My year 2 classes loved using the playdough as part of our reading rotation - they would choose a language skill card from our alphabet pockets (the alphabet pockets contained list of words with skills/chunks/word families that we'd already discussed.... e.g, 'ick' - stick, pick, kick, chick, flick etc.)
They would then pick a word from the card to model in playdough (e.g. if the word card contained all words ending with 'ick', they might choose to model a little chick!) At the end of our reading session, that group would present their play dough creations to the class, along with the clue that it's a word that rhymes with 'ick'.  The rest of the class then had 3 guesses to work out what their creation was!  The play dough group always modeled their creations on top of an ice cream container lid as this made it easily transportable and provided some boundaries about how much dough the children could actually use!!
Another great option is giving the play dough group the picture book you most recently read to the class to inspire their creations.  They can then share their models with the class and this provided a great opportunity to retell, predict and sequence events.
You're never to old for play dough, so what ever you're doing with it, have fun!
Grubbily yours,

Monday, 20 April 2015

Magnifying Glass Silliness! {+ Free printable activity sheet}

You can’t get a more enthusiastic response to a science lesson than producing some magnifying glasses!  A tub full of magnifying glasses is an essential part of any well stocked nature table, and is a great way to get your students involved in observing, comparing, describing and asking questions.  

A 10 minute magnifying glass lesson can morph into just about any curriculum area..... science (obviously!) language skills, art, research, writing and more.  Even your most reluctant learner should get their interest sparked by viewing something new and unusual.  You could also take a nature walk to collect some special treasures to study before embarking on your magnifying mission.


1) Your hand (finger prints, pores, fingernails)
2) A friends eyes (or your eyes if you also add a mirror)
3) A piece of hair, pet fur or feathers
4) Fabric, Velcro, zippers and stitching
5) Insects (dried shells, spider webs and slow moving creepy crawlies!)
6) Plants, leaves, wood, bark & flowers
7) Rocks, pebbles or crystals (salt and sugar are also interesting)
8) Soil, dirt and seeds
9) Your lunch!  Sandwiches, crackers, fruit, cheese etc.
10) Beach finds - seashells, sand and seaweed

  • Hand-lenses are much more powerful than the ‘lollypop’ shaped magnifying glasses, but are trickier to use (you have to hold the lens quite close to your eye and move very close to the object you’re viewing, which is a little scary if you’re trying to view a big hairy spider!)  I’d suggest collecting a mixture of magnifying glasses if possible.
  • At the first introduction of magnifying glasses to your class, I'd suggest letting the kids be ‘off-task’ and free to explore and have fun (and by that I mean laugh hysterically at each other’s giant eyeballs, check to see who has the most boogers up their nose etc!)
  • Encourage them to experiment with how far away to hold their magnifying glasses from their faces and from the object they’re studying (most children hold them far too close to their face).  SLOOWWLLYY moving the magnifying glass also works much better than jerking it around
  • If you’re worried about your class using glass magnifiers, you can purchase plastic ones at most dollar stores (but plastic lenses scratch far more easily and have varying quality)
  • Make some connections between wearing glasses and using a magnifying glasses.  Magnifying glasses have a curved ‘convex’ lens that makes things appear bigger – what do glasses have?
  • Think outside the box when it comes to magnification – do you have access to digital cameras with a strong zoom lens? (This has the added bonus of being able to save what you observe) Are your students old enough to gently handle a microscope? (These are also an amazing thing to include on your nature table if possible)  Even better – does your school have access to a digital microscope?  These are awe inspiring when hooked up to your overhead projector…
  • Don’t forget to take a photo of your children with their magnifying glasses so they can share their learning with others later
  • If you need a little more structure, organise a variety of different stations around the classroom that the children can rotate through (sketching or making notes as they go)
  • If you have a special topic that you’re learning about or studying, you might want to use the following sheet to scaffold their observations.  The children start by draw a picture in the box about what they can see (before using the magnifying glass) then complete the sheet with their magnifying glass observations – “What can you now see that you couldn't see before?”  You can find your free copy of this sheet below!
~Download your FREE PRINTABLE here!~

DISCLAIMER: The author takes no responsibility for cries of “Ohh my gosh Mrs__________ your wrinkles are ginormous” or “Whoa, that’s a lot of grey hairs” etc….

Above all – have some fun!  Science is all about observation and asking questions… no need to get too serious!

Happy magnifying, 
Grubbily yours,

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Top 5 coolest facts about.......SILKWORMS! {+Free printable}

The latest addition to our 'top 5 coolest facts about bugs' series is.............. the silk worm!  (*Don't forget to check out our previous 'Top 5' posts featuring worms, ants, cicadas & bees for more FREE mini fact posters!)

Would you want to be a silkworm or silk-moth?
  • PROS:  Silkworms live a life of luxury!  They are kept warm and clean and well fed at all times.
  • CONS:  Silkworms have been so heavily domesticated (over 5000+ years)  that they are unable to survive by themselves in the wild.  To get the silk from the cocoon in a clean, single thread, most cocoons are exposed to high heat to kill the pupae inside.  If the pupa is allowed to continue its lifecycle, it will release a special enzyme to dissolve some of the silk threads so it can emerge as a moth.  The enzyme means that the silk thread will be broken into different lengths, which isn’t as valuable as an unbroken length.  Did you know that Gandhi promoted cotton spinning machines as an alternative to silk and also promoted wild silk (known as ‘Peace-silk’) which is made from the cocoons of wild and semi wild silkmoths?
Looking for a more in depth resources about silkworms?  You might want to check out our 'Fuzzy Moths & Silky Worms' resource - packed full of lots of fascinating facts and fun activities all about the life of the silkworm and silk moth.
Click here to find this resource in my TpT store

Don't forget to tell someone next time you're wearing silk, that the fabric is actually made out of hardened silkworm saliva!
Grubbily yours,

Friday, 10 April 2015

Top 3 flowers to grow for BOYS! {why they'll love them and what to do with them}

*Disclaimer - I'm not saying that all boys don't like all flowers (my little man is a huge fan of flowers - especially if he can pull the petals off and stir them into a 'soup') and I'm certainly not saying that girls won't like the following list - these suggestions are for those who are less than enthusiastic about 'floral fabulosity' or maybe think that flowers are just for looking pretty!


These bright easy to grow flowers have all sorts of intriguing qualities.....

If you gently squeeze the sides of the flowers, you can make the snap 'dragons' open their mouths.  They are then perfect for slipping onto the ends of your fingers to make claws!  The coolest (and least well known) feature of this plant are its seed pods.... let your flowers die back, and the have a careful hunt around for the tiny seed pods. If you flip them upside down, and look really closely you'll see that the seed pods resemble TINY SKULLS!! So cool!!

  • The name 'Snapdragon' (also sometimes known as the dragon flowers) comes from their supposed resemblance to a dragon’s head.  In Asia, snap dragons are called “rabbit’s lips", and in Holland “lion’s lips!"
  • They are native to the rocky areas of Europe, the United States and North Africa.  


Things that grow quickly and end up taller than yourself are always impressive, so sunflowers are definitely on the list...

  • Plant your seeds in a circular pattern - when they're fully grown you'll have a hut! (you might need to provide some supports)
  • When the sunflower head has dried, carefully brush off the florets to reveal the seeds. If you're really careful, you can make a pattern (maybe a face or your initials) while removing the florets.
  • Removing the seeds with a pair of tweezers is also a fun fine motor skill challenge that will keep a little one busy for ages! 
  • You could use some of your seeds in a home made bird feeder (they love sunflower seeds)
In the photo (above left) you can clearly see all the tiny individual florets that make up a sunflower head (with the white seeds underneath). The photo on the right shows the sunflower seeds being removed from the flower head.

  • If you look really closely at a sunflower, you'll find that the single flower head is actually made of many tiny flowers called florets!  When viewed together these central florets create a "false flower".  This design helps pollinating insects and birds to easily see the sunflower. Each little floret will turn into a seed.
  • The stem of a sunflower can grow up to 3 m (10 ft) tall and the flower head can be 30 cm (11.8 in) wide.
  • The florets in the sunflower are arranged in an interconnecting spiral pattern (the number of left and right spirals are consecutive Fibonacci numbers)
  • There are two kinds of sunflower seeds - black and striped. Sunflower oil (which is used in cooking and margarine) is made from black seeds, and snack food is made from the striped seeds.
  • The sunflower is native to the America's and was used extensively by Native American Indians (for food, as oil, in bread, for medicinal purposes, dyes and body paints). 


These flowers are bright, easy to grow and edible!  The large seeds are also easy for little hands to sow.
  • Did you know every part of the plant is edible? Leaves, stalks, seeds and flowers! The addition of flowers to your salad (or straight off the plant) is always a good talking point, and the kids love the drama of daring each other to try the peppery/water cressy flavour (and all the shrieking and hilarity that this causes...!) Young tender leaves are less peppery than older ones.
  • You can even use green nasturtium seeds and pods as a substitute for capers - pop a few onto your next pizza!
  • If the peppery flavour is not to your taste, show your children how to nibble the end of the tube at the back of the flower and suck out the sweet nectar – yum!
  • Nasturtiums are good climbers - make a tee-pee shape out of old sticks and let the plant grow over it to create a hut.
  • Make nasturtium flower butter by mixing a handful into some softened butter. Chill in the fridge before using
  • Bumblebees and honey bees love immersing themselves inside the deep nasturtium blossoms, so keep a careful eye out when picking or eating.
  • Nasturtiums are named after the Latin term for watercress because of their peppery flavour.
  • The leaves are high in vitamin C and iron and have strong antibacterial qualities. The flowers contain B vitamins and lots of other beneficial nutrients.

Head on out with your kids to smell the flowers and have fun!

Grubbily yours,

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

How to blow GIANT bubbles {Top secret bubble blowing recipe + free printable!}

Pre children, my gorgeous hubby used to indulge in fire poi twirling, but since having our little Grub, his hobbies have become a little more child friendly!  His latest obsession has included trialing and tweaking multiple different *secret* recipes for blowing giant bubbles....
'Bubbles' was our wee boys first word, and as he's grown, he's gone from admiring bubbles, to now wanting to create his own!  My clever husband recently whipped up a toddler sized pair of giant bubble blowing 'wands' for him (you could make the wands in any size you choose) - they make an awesome gift for a child, especially when accompanied by a box that includes the ingredients to make the solution plus the recipe card. 

Little Grub testing out his new wands...

I'm sure hubby won't mind me sharing his secret recipe with you (bubble solution number 6B - shhhhh!)  After testing many different batches of solution (using ingredients such as glycerine and different varieties of dish washing liquid in different quantities) he's finally settled on a no fail recipe that includes: 

[1]  Hot water 
[2]  Dish washing liquid (he prefers the specific 'Fairy' brand shown below, but most dish washing liquids will work to some degree)
[3]  Glucose corn syrup (brought in the baking aisle at your local supermarket/grocery store)

Simple materials for creating a bubble blowing wand include: dowel (bamboo also works well) cotton-cord, screws with eyelets and washers.  Download the free instruction card above!
Hubby picked up the materials for his toddler sized bubble blowing wand at the local hardware store for under $6.00. The most expensive material to buy is always the rope/cord. You'll need to find a cotton variety, as this is what soaks up and holds the bubble solution (which then allows you to blow large bubbles!) Many varieties of rope contain a synthetic inner (as shown in the picture above - top left) which you'll need to carefully remove before constructing your wands (check the free instruction card for more tips and tricks).

If you're looking for a more in depth resource about the science behind bubble blowing, you might want to have a peek at our 'Bubble bubble' resource!
Click here to find this resource in my TpT store.

Get outside and have some fun creating and blowing giant bubbles!!
Grubbily yours,

Monday, 6 April 2015

How to squeeze a daily dose of nature into your busy classroom routine {+36 free 'Nature Snack' prompt cards!}

Respect your class's need for a few minutes here and there to just burn off some energy, run bare feet and feel the wind in their hair... in fact, why not take your shoes off and join them?
Ekk!  I'm uber excited to be guest blogging over at Rachel Lynette's fabulous blog 'Minds in Bloom!'  Whip on over there for a peek at my blog post: "Nature Snacks: How to Squeeze a Daily Dose of Nature into Your Classroom."  It's full of lots of practical tips and a free set of 36 'nature snack' cards with prompts that encourage engagement with the natural world…some of the cards can be used inside the classroom by looking out the window, others can be used while moving as a class from one part of the school to the other, and some are best used outside in the playground!
Check out the blog post above or click here for your free set of cards!
Grubbily yours,
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