Thursday, 26 July 2012


Followers of my Twitter feed will have noticed a rash of mini-book tweets and links over the last couple of days.  You know when you start looking for something and then get completely side-tracked?  That.  

I thought I would put all the links together here.

How to make a mini-book:

Instructions from with photographs

How to make different types of mini-book:

This PDF from Bookmaking with Kids has lots of ideas

This YouTube video shows you how to make a mini-book with pockets.  As darktigerlily says, just think what you could put in the pockets.

Lots of creative and imaginative templates on this PDF from Practical Pages

Practical Pages' instructions for making different kinds of mini-book with one sheet of paper

Instructions and templates for making small books with lots of pages, from Lost Button Studio

Make mini-books online:

Use the Stapleless Book generator from ReadWriteThink

Ideas for using mini-books:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Playing right into my hands

The first thing on my list of Things To Do With The Girls In The Summer Holidays was to go to the beach for a picnic.  We did that yesterday and it was lovely.  Today we went to the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland to make sculptural books with artist Ellen Henderson.  We didn't know what to expect, but my arty eldest had found these on the Web and was very excited.  When we got there, it turned out that the sculptural books in question are made out of one sheet of A4 paper, à la mini-books.  Then it was me who was very excited.

To make a sculptural book, you fold a piece of paper into 16 and make 3 cuts.  The cuts are shown by the red lines:
Then starting at one end (bottom left-hand corner, for example) you fold the little resulting pages concertina style.  Next, stick a small piece of card on the top and on the bottom as covers.  Then you can open it out flat again to draw and/or write on one side or both sides:
The reason, I think, that it is called a sculptural book is because you can open it up in lots of different ways to look like different sculptures.  Your words or pictures look different each time.

These remind me of mini-books and also of Aztec Codices.  It would be a nice way to illustrate poems in the foreign language, as that is a form of text that lends itself to a more abstract presentation.  Maybe you could put one word on each of the 16 sections and then see what they say when the sculptural book is arranged in different ways.

Any other ideas?

Sunday, 22 July 2012


The first weekend of the school summer holidays.  The sun has come out, it's stopped raining.  I have six weeks to spend with my lovely daughters.  I have some bits and bobs of work to do, like typing up my Y5 Spanish scheme of work and planning lectures for Primary Ed students at my alma mater, nothing too strenuous.

All the while I am reflecting on the academic year that has just finished, and thinking about how it has matched up to my expectations from September.  All in all, I can't help but feel that this year has been a real low point career-wise.  My decision to go it alone after my redundancy last August coincided with rarely-cover, The Cuts and the continued uncertainty of languages within the KS2 curriculum.  Consequently I have had not had the opportunities that I hoped for to speak and consult.  I seem to be pigeon-holed now as "just a primary teacher" and my experience across four key stages is overlooked.  Am I not pushy enough?  Should I be networking more for more opportunities?  Hopefully things will get better from next September.  I already have a few things lined up, and languages are finally going to have a definite place in KS2.

Teaching-wise, though, things are good.  I used to quite enjoy teaching KS3 and occasionally KS4, but I never thought to myself that I loved it.  I used to get the sinking feeling every time I drove to work.  I'm not quite sure how I managed it for 14 years.  But I love KS1 and KS2.  They amaze me with how much they can remember from week to week, how they take on board complex notions like gender without questioning them and saying they are rubbish.  I look forward to seeing the children every week and finding new and exciting things for them to do.  Thank you, children.

I think I shall bear in mind these words from David Frost: "Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally."

Monday, 16 July 2012

A Spanish fan

A little something for the end of term.  Make a Spanish-style fan decorated with words and images that the students have covered this term or this year, and then they can have some fun with the secret language of fans.

I searched for ages this morning to find a craft activity for a fan to make with my KS1 children, but have decided that simpler is better.  To make this one I folded a piece of A4 paper in half lengthways and then cut along the fold.  I stuck the two strips together to make one long strip.  I then decorated my paper strip with words and pictures to show some of the things that Year 1 have learned this year.  Then I folded up the strip concertina-style to make the fan.  I haven't stapled or sellotaped the bottom yet to keep the whole thing together as I need to show the example to the children.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Using Web2.0 tools to promote reading

Today I gave a presentation at this year's Atlas conference in Durham - "The International School - Promoting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of global learners".  I gave some ideas for using Web2.0 tools to promote and facilitate reading.  The context was for reading within a partnership with schools overseas, but of course the tools that I have highlighted can be used across the curriculum and not just for reading.  Here is the presentation:

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Bear's Magic Pencil

I've blogged before about using Anthony Browne's Silly Billy to introduce Guatemalan worry dolls to Year 2.  Last year I bought Bear's Magic Pencil, also by Anthony Browne.  It's one in a series of four books about Bear, who uses his magic pencil to draw himself out of trouble.  This book is a little different in that all the characters except for Bear were drawn by children as entries for a competition run by The Sun newspaper.

This morning I read the book to Year 3, and I also read to them the preface in which Anthony Browne describes how he works with groups of children in schools to make their own Bear stories.  We used the Spanish dictionaries and our knowledge of gender in Spanish to make our own Bear stories in Spanish.

I gave the children a blank template which had space for the pictures and the time sequencing words already on it.  They had to use the dictionary and their imagination to find the things that Bear drew next, select "un" or "una" as appropriate, write the words in to complete the sentence and then illustrate it.  I have been encouraging them to include the kind of lush backgrounds which are such an integral part of Browne's books.

I'm looking forward to seeing them finished!

Aztec Codices

Year 4 Spanish have more or less finished "Family and Pets".  I wanted them to do a summative piece of work, a piece of writing, and needed a new way of doing it.  They have already done two mini-books and so I was looking for something a bit different.  I had a look through this book and found out about Aztec Codices.

An Aztec Codex is essentially a concertina-style book.  The Aztecs filled them with glyphs painted in red, blue, yellow and green.  Many were destroyed by the Spaniards when they conquered the area now known as Mexico in the early 16th century, and therefore not many remain.

In today's lesson, the first thing that we did was to brainstorm and write up on the board everything that we know about members of the family and pets, and what we can say about them.  Then I gave them a quick overview of the Aztecs, including where and when they lived and what was their eventual fate.  Finally we looked at some photos of surviving Codices.

Then we set about making them.  Here are the resources and instructions if you would like to make one:
Aztec Codex

The children were very enthusiastic in making their Codices - we were so engrossed that I almost didn't notice that it was playtime, and we had to do a very quick tidy-up.  About half the class has started writing and illustrating their Codex.  All they have to do is to include some of the family and pets vocabulary and structures that we brainstormed at the beginning of the lesson, the rest is their choice.  The results so far are very promising.