Hands-on, interactive activities are so much fun! And when you add food they are even better!! I love incorporating highly engaging, edible activities into our week, and I've got a few activities we've done recently to share with you.

I'm Jem from Jem's Bright Buttons. I had an amazing teaching buddy last year who was always looking for ways to add food, or other interesting or novel resources, to our lessons with the preps (kindergarten). Now that I've moved to grade 2/3 I'm still inspired by that teacher, and I continue to look for ways to add novelty to our learning.


We have a strong focus on Science at my school, and three of my most recent Science lessons have involved food, and my students loved them!! We are learning about Earth Science, and our big Inquiry question is "How does the Earth's surface change?" We are looking at things like soil, erosion, weathering, etc. so one of our first lessons was to define what the Earth's surface is made of. A quick search on Pinterest, and I found this amazing soil layers activity:

Our soil consisted of:
- Large marshmallows for the bedrock
- Small marshmallows for the parent material
- Cheerios for the subsoil
- Coco Pops for the top soil
- Crushed chocolate biscuits for the humus
- Mint leaf and lolly snake for the organic material

Students also had to do a labelled drawing of it:

We investigated whether moving water or still water caused more erosion/weathering using M&Ms and water.

Students filled two plastic cups halfway with water, then dropped in a Mega M&M. One cup they swished around, the other they left sitting on the table. They drew and labelled their observations, and had to write a conclusion about what happened.

To 'tune in' to the topic, we looked at a simplified version of the rock cycle using sugar cubes. Students crushed them (weathering), moved the crushed sugar onto aluminium foil (erosion), and we placed the aluminium foil 'boats' on an electric fry pan to heat the 'rocks' and change them, then looked at how they had changed.

All three activities helped our students to understand complex processes and changes in a hands-on way, and the novelty of food has helped them remember the theory and subject content.


Some activities I've done with students in the past for maths using food include:

- Sorting M&Ms and Smarties.

- Sorting M&Ms, but writing the groups as fractions with older students (no photo of this one).

- Using them as counters, especially on the 100th Day of School.

- Or as counters to show division, or 'fair sharing'.

Our collaborators

Alison and Christie have also used food in their maths activities. Here are some of their awesome ideas:

- Tiny Teddy subtraction

- Jelly bean graphing

- Making 3D shapes with marshmallows

- Learning about mean, median and mode with Oreos

I'd love to know:

How do you use food, or other novelty resources, in your teaching?


As the end of another term approaches the quality of work and student behaviour start to deteriorate. As I walk around the school and talk to other teachers they are all saying the same things. My class needs holidays! My class have gone back to Term 1 behaviour. I need wine after the day I've had! I had to message 3 parents this afternoon. 

So today I am here to share with you the Best Ways to Combat the End of Term Slide.  
Hi I'm Sheri from Early Years with Sheri. I often get told by my colleges I am a little too happy early in the mornings and they always wonder why my class isn't losing it towards the end of the term. Below are five ways I keep my class from reaching the stage where you just want holidays to come a few days or even weeks early because they've lost it.

1. Keep things engaging and rigorous. 

Throughout the term we plan engaging and rigorous lessons for our classes. By the end of the term when the assessment is complete teachers are left scrambling things together for report cards, parents teacher interviews, their beach holiday getaway that their lesson plans get left to the wayside. A bit of reading here, some fact practice here and how about we have some free time. Kids love structure and routine. When we stray from the routine the kids behaviours are bound to start. 

Last term I preempted this problem. It has happened to me many times before. I need to do PM levels, get sight word tests done and expect kids to be quiet and engaged with busy work or free time. It doesn't work. I knew that this term we were learning about non-fiction texts so I read the students a book about dolphins, played YouTube clips with dolphin facts and even a video of the Dolphin Show at SeaWorld somewhere in America. We did dolphin directed drawing and gathered and wrote down facts about them. The kids loved it. They were totally quiet and engaged and all I had to do was read a book. This took up our whole literacy block for the last week of the term. They have all been begging me for a Shark Week which I think we will do in the final week to this term. 
The picture on the bottom is my most hesitant and lowest learner. Yes one of the other students helped him make sure his spelling was right but it is all his ideas and writing. He wanted to do the work!

2. Get Your Students Moving.

In the last couple of weeks of school kids need to move. Whether they are tired from the work you've done all term and needing a break or they are full of excitement and needing to release their energy they will need to move. 

One idea is to do short quick activities around the room. Have stations set up with 8-15 minutes at each stop. Kids will be learning but it is quick enough for them to sustain focus. Then they get to move to a new spot when the time is up. To the carpet, another group of desk or even outside with a teacher aide. 

In my class we do this for reading groups, maths groups and spelling groups. Towards the end of the term I swap out a lot of the less engaging activities to increase movement. For example a quiet write the room activity rather than a worksheet. Kids are still practicing the skill but are moving and exploring while doing it. 

Another awesome way to get students moving is through brain breaks. My kids love GoNoodle. It was a lifesaver when school first went back and kids were still getting back into the routine of sitting for longer periods of time. As the term draws to a close we are relying on them more and more. Students get fidgeting and start getting off task and we all get up and do a brain break to get our wiggles out. Our favourites are Pop See Ko 2.0, Milkshake (it is currently banned in our room though because they were being too loud and crazy with it), Rollercoaster and my favourite is Dance Like this Dude. 

3. Be Kind to Yourself

Yes report cards and parents teacher interviews are time consuming. Making sure everything is just right, last minute marking and all the rest of it can lead to teachers forgetting what is important. Their health. Make sure you are getting to bed at a reasonable time. You are eating properly. I am guilty of having frozen pizza and party pies at the ready for those long days when you get home and can't be bothered. Some of our kids are nervous and apprehensive about the holidays and we want them to see us at our best. Not tired, hungry and cranky. Make them want to come back to school by being your best possible self even in those last couple of days. 

4. Stay Positive

If you've ever been to a school in the last week you would know it can be a soul sucking place. How many days left! Only 3 more hours till holidays. I can't wait to be out of here these kids are driving me crazy. Ahhh I don't know about you but I am a positive believer in positive thinking. All this negativity just brings me down and I turn into the cranky teacher who blows up about all the little things. It's the end of the term and kids are going to be restless, especially your tricky students. School is a safe place for most of them and the thought of leaving it for two weeks makes their impulsivity, emotions and brain do all kinds of crazy things. Focus on the positives and don't get into that negative downward spiral. No one responds to that. 
You could have a circle time to talk about how you're all feeling as the holidays are coming. Let the kids let their emotions out in a safe environment. Let your kids know you're feeling the same, maybe not going to miss work but at least one or two kids. Celebrate the achievements of the term. Who has reached their goals, what were some fun things that happened throughout the term etc. Most importantly stay away from those toxic staff members or staff rooms. 

5. Prepare

While you're winding down to the end of the term your plans won't involve as much copying, laminating etc. Start getting what you need for the next term planned now. Put in your spelling lists, homework and assessment for next term in to be copied. Anything that can be done now to save you stressing over the holidays helps. There is nothing worse than that panic on the last day over what you need to take home to get done over the break. I find it so easy every Monday grabbing my folder going to whatever week it is and having the homework and spelling all there without that mad Monday photocopy line. 

You may be thinking how does the stop the end of term slide? When you know you have nothing to do you get to school later, leave school earlier and are more likely to do no work during breaks. This is the worst thing for me. I get lazy. I put on that movie because I can't be bothered setting up groups. My class are bored and arguments start. I've used a whole ream of paper for the kids who have been free drawing while I sit there supervising. Yes all your work for the term is done but there is no reason you can't start putting up posters for your next units, start seeing what students already know about their next topic to assist your planning over the holidays. 

As previously stated we started our non-fiction unit before the holidays. I knew my students needed help with retrieving information, writing using dot points and leaving a line after each new fact. It took minimal planning and my unit was better for it. 

I hope you have come away with some ideas to help you avoid the end of term slide. I know that we all get in the habit of blaming behaviours and the likes on the end of term but with a few simple changes we can beat that slide. 

Sheri :) 

Hi everyone! Thanks for visiting our blog! We hope everyone is having a good term.


I don't know about you, but term 3 always seems like the busiest to me... Despite not having to do reports, there always seems to be a lot happening - and much of that is outside the classroom! Recently, I've also realised that I'm struggling with the whole balancing life thing? Who else out there has a list with sooooooooooo many things on there that you want to get done, but never seem to have the time to do?

Being a teacher brings with it some unique professional challenges when it comes to time management. Ours is a profession that seems to constantly pull at you, demanding your attention at all times, including your time outside the classroom, which means that balancing life in and outside of school can become difficult, frustrating and sometimes depressing.

When you become a teacher, you quickly learn that there is a lot that you need to balance, including:
  • Planning and programming;
  • Researching better ways to engage kids and get them motivated about learning;
  • Assessing student learning and writing reports, IEPs, behaviour reports etc.;
  • Meeting with parents to discuss their child’s development;
  • Creating an engaging learning space that kids will want to spend the day in;
  • Attending professional development opportunities; and
  • Networking and collaborating with other teachers.
Many people would read this and think "That sounds like most jobs, what are you complaining about?" - the difference with our profession is that between 8:30am and 3:30pm we are actively teaching, engaging with and caring for our students - so all of these things that demand our attention need to happen outside these hours! But then there is the home life that one still leads and and must balance as well. For many of us, we are in relationships and have families that demand our attention once we're home (and rightly so!). Some may volunteer our time with local community organisations, tutor or teach weekend school. We also have homes that need to be maintained, events that need attending and  personal things we like to do - some may want to head to the gym, others may like walking their dog while some of you still play sport! 

Teaching is fast becoming a profession with a high rate of drop outs from new graduates and is well known as a profession with associated high levels of stress related compensation claims for psychological distress, physiological illness, and job dissatisfaction (Kyriacou, 1987). This level of stress can affect a teachers capacity to fulfill duties effectively. It incorporates considerable cost in absenteeism, reduced quality of teaching, and has the propensity to negatively impact student learning.

As teachers and role models to our students, we NEED to make the conscious decision to maintain our physical, mental and emotional health. Not only is it necessary for us individually to survive a very demanding profession, but we are some of the most important (and in some cases, only) role models in our students' lives. We should be modelling what a healthy lifestyle looks like, and also how we can maintain it!

1. Healthy Eating:

Teaching is a cognitively complex profession. In the course of a single school day, we can make hundreds of decisions and must respond quickly to the myriad unexpected turns that life in the classroom may take. Teaching is a high-energy job, so it's essential to arm our brains and body with the right fuel. Start your day with a hearty, healthy breakfast and eat foods throughout the day that consist of non-starchy vegetables and fruits, healthy oils and fats, a variety of protein sources, and selected whole grains. We also need to be careful with what we're putting into our bodies during the day - teaching staff rooms are renowned for their delectable treats - but these aren't always healthy. Rather, they provide us with the sugar hit we need/desire to get through the next teaching phase for the day! 

A way to ensure that you maintain a healthy diet that will fuel your body throughout the day is to plan - planning is something teacher's do extremely well! Plan out your meals by week or month - I often do up a month dinner play, then have a daily plan of what I'm going to eat. It does take time and sometimes it doesn't happen - but it does become habit. Having healthy meals and snacks to get you through your day does have a huge impact on your overall mental and physical health and general well-being.

Check out my favourite yummy snacks below! They are very popular in the staff room, especially when people learn they're healthy! I've also included the some sites where I get my healthy meal ideas from below. Share yours too in the comments!

Yummy, healthy recipes!

2. Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is known to not only keep our bodies healthy for longer, but being physically active can help reduce stress and anxiety and boost concentration - I personally love getting out on the netball court or touch footy field once a week to alleviate stress and frustration! But when time is precious, and there don't seem to be enough hours in the day, what can you do to get more active?

  • Be active in school - some schools organise groups PT sessions or Yoga classes for staff to participate in straight after the end of school. If you have a gym in your school, head in before or after school. If you've got a duty, why not join in the hand-ball comp or involve students in a B-Ball shoot-out, plank hold or squat challenge.
  • I'm one of those rare people who gets up with the sparrows - I prefer to get up and start my day early. When I can, I walk our dogs along the cycleway or I head to the gym. If the weather is bad, or hubby is away, I try to do a workout at home before the boys are up - check out the video below for my new favourite workout clips!!!!! If I've had a lazy morning though, I make sure I walk to our local park in the afternoon so that my boys are expelling any left-over energy from their day, our dogs get a walk and I can walk-out any stresses I've brought home from work!
  • Pair-up! One of your colleagues might live nearby or simply have the same goal - to be happy and healthy! Get together a few times a week at a local park and go for a walk/run or share the costs a PT session. Working out with someone makes you accountable, and it can be fun! 

  • Join a local sporting club or dance troop - participating sports has many benefits, but it's a simple way to make you accountable (you don't want to let the team down by not showing up) and you can escape from the pressures of life and work whilst you're out there working up a sweat (you can't grade papers whilst taking a shot to win the game!)

3. Mental and Emotional Health 

While people accept that eating right and being active help us maintain a healthy lifestyle, we often overlook or simply shun the importance of mental and emotional health.

One way to ensure you are looking after your mental health is to take a mental health day - I realise that some people may not agree with this, but I think mental health is as important (if not more important) than physical health.  It’s really hard to function if you’re stressed, feeling depressed and anxious. By taking a mental health day you will have the chance to take stock and come back fighting.  When you do take a day for your mental health, do not do anything teacher related - (it's unrealistic to not think about teaching) but it is about looking after myself mentally.  This might mean you walk up to your local cafe and sit reading the latest gossip mag whilst sipping a latte/cappuccino/hot chocolate (whatever your poison)... You might book yourself in to a day spa for some pampering (my preferred choice)... You might simply bunker down on the couch and binge on the latest TV series of choice. Whatever it is, do what is right for you and don't feel guilty - know that you'll head back to the classroom fresh and rejuvenated, ready to tackle whatever is thrown at you!

If you're not coping or just feel like something's not right, don't be afraid to ask for help. If you don't feel comfortable seeking help in your workplace then see your GP for a referral to a good psychologist - talking about it and using strategies that are given to you to help you cope and overcome your issues can really help! 

4. Get Organised

Some people are born organisers. Whilst I wouldn't consider myself a control freak, I do like being organised and having a plan. I find that it helps, especially when the sh** hits the fan, because you'll often have back-up plans for emergencies and will remain calm in a crisis.

To-Do lists are a great way of working through the things you want to get done and provide a great visual for seeing what you've completed - ticking or crossing off that task is very satisfying and often provides a great sense of relief. These are great for both home and work - I usually stick to 3 things, and prioritise with the things that MUST get done sooner rather than later.

Have a weekly schedule set up somewhere where you'll actively engage with it - kitchen command centres are HUGE on Pinterest but are a great example of organising yourself and your family for the day/week/month/year. You'll know if Book Week is coming up and can organise your costume in time, and you'll know when that next dental appointment is and give your HT/DP sufficient notice that you'll need to leave on time to make it.

Organising your time means you can set boundaries with home and work. When you're at home, BE PRESENT! If you're like me and work better at home, then set clear times for working at home - don't do it when you could be spending time with your children or spouse. These relationships are the most important work you'll ever do/have so ensure you give them the time and attention they deserve. Set aside an hour a night for school work. If you need to get work done on your weekend, then allocate a few hours, but once that time is up, put it away - giving yourself a time limit will often mean you're more productive. 

5. Be realistic

I’m sure just like me you want to have that perfect classroom... perfect students… the perfect beach bikini body... be the best player on the netball team... be the best mum/parent! But it took a mental break down and much self-reflection to realise that the only person expecting perfection was me! Always aim high, in whatever it is your doing, but be realistic for you and your circumstances. Take a minute to reflect - maybe just having students working in small groups in your class is a major accomplishment? Maybe leftovers/takeaway/cheese-on-toast are okay once in a while and don't mean your children are unhealthy or that you'll get struck down by lightening (just ignore those other 'judgemental mum' stares)...  maybe getting to the gym once a week is all you can manage at this point in time, and that's OK! It's better than nothing at all! So make sure you set realistic goals with your students, school, spouse, but most importantly YOURSELF!

How do you balance life as a teacher? What are your tips and tricks for maintaining your health and well-being?

Sure the hours appear great. And summers off are nice. But the illusion of a life of relaxation underscores the incredible amount of time it takes to prepare, teach, grade, and then prepare some more. Toss in stressful interactions with students and parents, and teachers find themselves in the frustrating position of so many others: Early mornings, late nights, and very little time in between. - See more at: http://www.bornfitness.com/the-teacher-fit-program/#sthash.ZW2EAIAq.dpuf
Sure the hours appear great. And summers off are nice. But the illusion of a life of relaxation underscores the incredible amount of time it takes to prepare, teach, grade, and then prepare some more. Toss in stressful interactions with students and parents, and teachers find themselves in the frustrating position of so many others: Early mornings, late nights, and very little time in between. - See more at: http://www.bornfitness.com/the-teacher-fit-program/#sthash.ZW2EAIAq.dpuf

ART at school

I work in a school where we have a very active Arts Team and this week has been our Arts Week. We have one every two years and on alternate years we have our School Concert. 

Our Arts Team have been preparing for a full on week of exciting tasks. (Unfortunately, I have been sick and at home for the last three days).

Our school started off with a Flash Mob with all the staff and the roar of the children was so loud (570 kids make a lot of noise). We wanted to prove that we would go out of our comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment. There is video evidence out there! '

Then for three one hour sessions we took workshops which the kids rotated through. Three hours of drumming is a looooong time.

Then on Tuesday we went to the local Art Gallery - we went on a walk to look at the local architecture, studied portraits, did some line drawings and saw an exhibition.

Wednesday was the day for class projects for the Art Display which was on Friday night. 
My replacement teacher and my team supported my grade to put together our project. 
Each grade was a given a letter of the alphabet - we got Y.
We had to research and come up with an idea for that letter for an arts project. 

Ours was 'Yummy Food'
We used plasticine to make mini models of food.
The QR code is the artist's statement.

Art is everywhere

The conversations we have about art allows us to have a real connection to others and their interpretation of the same piece - it is a window into perceptions of our world.

Our first interactions with art is in picture story books.
We are never too old to fall in love with picture story books. 
We are never too old to read them and wonder about the illustrations. 

Through illustrations we get to see and talk about animals, landscapes and how we move within them. 
We get to share in traditional stories, see how kids cope with issues and look at expressions on faces and try to work out how characters feel.

We fall in love with an author, a character and a story...

We are challenged by world issues and we get to try to understand why history repeats itself or how we learn from world events.

We get to learn about collections, we get to manipulate materials to show our learning. We explore maths concepts through art.

We draw characters and see if we have the same impressions as our classmates. 
We try to make sense of texts through art.

We do art just because it helps to make sense of things or just for enjoyment. 

We use our skills to design, to create and to build.

A world without Art would be a scary place.

Art Resources

Art Attack has a great website (when I was a kid they had a TV show too)

Pinterest has amazing ideas and this will take you to a board I have just started.

Art Books for kids, just a few...

Have a great time exploring our world through Art.

Paula from Paula's Place signing off

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