Miss Galvin Learns

December 14, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

A Christmas Conversation LINKY

The Silly Season is here and I’m running around like a crazy person. (Well, not right this second… trying to find the will to get up on this lazy Sunday morning!) There is so much to be done and so very little time to do it.

In one week (this Friday) I will say goodbye to my current class – the end of the year is nigh for those of us in Australia – and at the moment it’s a bit of a struggle to get there. But all will be good!

I’m linking up with The Inspired Apple for her Christmas Conversation Linky!

CC Linky Button


Happy holiday season! Don’t forget to link up with your own responses!


December 6, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Five for Friday

Oh, my! It’s been a while since I updated the blog – apologies! It’s the Silly Season, for sure!



Oh. My. Goodness. It’s December. Last weekend I started decorating my planner for the festive season!



Elfina made her grand return to Room 16 this week on the first of December, express from the North Pole (sorry, forgot to take a photo in all the excitement!). Since then she’s wrecked havoc with the school photocopiers, become mates with The Pigeon, spied on the Grade 3/4s across the hall and hung around the class Christmas tree during Maths Fun Day (after a suggestion from one of my Grade 1s that it might be a safe place for her with so many unfamiliar faces wandering in and out of the classroom all day!).

I have some wonderful teachers (and a wonderful prin) who have played along with the kids and made it extra special for them this year. It’s been a great first week with our Elf on the Shelf.




I’m so lucky to come home and have cuddles with this cutie!



I opened an Etsy Store a little while ago. It’s still in it’s infant-stages at the moment, but I plan to sell a whole lot of planner pages for Filofax/Kikki-K style planners. I’ve been busy working on different designs and they’ll go up some time in the new year. Plus, there’s some fun journaling card pages listed, too! I’d love for you to check out my store: The Noveltea Corner



I’ve added my first-ever set of graphics to my TeachersPayTeachers store this week – a set of unique backgrounds. All, save for one, have elements of transparency so they can be layered over other images/colours. There are 10 in all and I’m quite proud of them! Check them out here.


Thanks for stopping by this week!

What have you been up to?


November 16, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Maths Resources by R.I.C.!

Hi friends! I’m back with another book review for R.I.C. Publications. You may remember earlier in the year when I reviewed a few Australian Curriculum-linked resources for them (you can check out that post here). R.I.C. do send these books to me free of charge to review, but all opinions are my own, based on my own classroom experience and the needs of students I’ve taught.


First up I want to talk about the Maths Handbook for Teachers and Parents. This is a new release title from R.I.C. Publications (it was released towards the end of October this year) and retails for $24.95 from their website.

This book is designed to explain (in detail) the content of the Australian Mathematics Curriculum for the Middle, Upper and early High School years of school – from Grades 3-9.

The purpose is to provide teachers (or parents) with the simplest explanation for a content topic, and provide suggestions for ways of tackling maths problems. They include lots of detailed examples including explanations and working out, which is incredibly helpful.

It’s also sorted by content areas – including Number, Geometry, Measurement and Probability.


If you’re someone like me – which translates to ‘okay with maths but not fantastically confident!’ – this is a fabulous resource. The explanations are easy to read, the examples are clear and the layout of the book is great. There’s a really detailed Contents page and Index section which makes it really easy to find what you’re looking for. It’s always really useful to have a book that you can pick up, flip through and find exactly what you need!

Now – you might be thinking, “Hey Stef, you teach Foundation/1, not Grade 3+” and you’re absolutely right! First up, I may not always teach in the early years, but another great feature at the start of this resource book is a little section on Useful Approaches to teaching Mathematics from Foundation to Grade 3. It’s a small section (a double page) but it has some really fantastic, practical, hands-on ideas for teaching maths concepts in a fun and engaging way for students.


This is such a reasonable price for a helpful handbook that you can keep on your classroom shelf and pull out when you need to double check a concept, or find a suggestion for teaching a concept to students who might be really struggling to understand!

The second product I was sent to review is more closely related to the content I teach on a daily basis. Maths Games for the Australian Curriculum is a three-book series for Years 1-4. I was send Book 1 which is meant for students in Years 1 and 2.

These books cover Number concepts, including Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number and Operations in Base Ten and Number and Operations (Fractions).

Each book has 12 games, plus warm-up activities and differentiation suggestions, along with BLMs to go along with all their games. (Which is a bonus – anything I can copy, laminate and store for easy use in advance makes life so much easier in the long run!)

As with all of their resource books, Maths Games for the Australian Curriculum includes sections on teacher resources (including a bibliography for additional information), curriculum links for all the games and detailed sections for each game that is included.

To give you a feel for the book, the following photos will give you an idea of the layout of this book.


Each game has 4 pages of information that you need for the games. Page one includes the mathematical understanding and skills under practise, the prerequisite skills students need to be able to play the game, the vocabulary used and the materials required (including reference the BLMs at the back of the book or any additional resources you might need) for the warm-ups or the game.

Page two features Warm Ups which can be used in advance of the game to prepare students for the content of the main game.

I love this feature, because at my school we have a school-wide planner and maths lesson protocol where we begin every lesson with a number fluency task or game. These warm-ups are fabulous for that – they’re short, easy to implement and there are multiple options giving you a huge range to choose from. All the directions are very clear and concise.

Page three features the explanation of the game, the object (which is great for those of us who need to include learning intentions) and the details for how to play the Main Game – which in the photo example is Fast Facts. If there are any variations that you can run, they’re also featured here.

Page three for this particular game includes differentiated tasks, including options for students who require more support and those who need extension or a challenge.

Finally, they also have conversation starters/questions aimed at helping students articulate their understanding as well as links to the mathematical capabilities students are showing through their explanations.

All of the materials required are included at the back of the book and can be copied for your classroom needs. There’s no need to run around and find things in the classroom which makes this very practical to use. All of the BLMs are very clear and uncluttered (which is great for students who just need to focus on the task, not the intricate design details of teaching resources).

This resource book is $37.95 on the R.I.C. website and if you’re looking for a collection of great maths games for centres or to reinforce a number concept, definitely check out this book.

The last few items I was sent to look at were review copies/samples of some of their other mathematics resources.


The first one is Starting Point Mathematics which is a test assessment booklet (similar to the English Skills Practise assessment booklets I reviewed last time). These are very brightly coloured, don’t look like traditional tests, but give a really good overview of a student’s understanding on various mathematical topics. They’re designed to be quick (administered in short 10-20minute bursts) making them easy to mark and record. They also have a great area for student self reflection at the start – it’s a great way to get some insight into how students feel about the work they’re doing.

These would make great pre- or post-tests for topics you’re covering in your classroom.

There are booklets for Years 2 to 6, and are $16.25 for a pack of 5, or $32.50 for a pack of 10 booklets and will be released later this term!


Lastly, I was sent some trail booklets for New Wave Mental Maths to coincide with the recent release of Book A (appropriate for 5-6 year olds) in the series. The new release is bright and colourful and would definitely engage younger learners moving from an informal activity structure to a more formal one as the year progresses. As the books go up in difficulty (Book B onwards) they look more like the English Skills Practise assessment booklets.

These are daily assessment tasks that could be completed at the beginning or end of a lesson (and would make a good warm up task), with between 4-20 questions based on the difficulty level of the booklet. There’s a neat tracking calendar for results in the student booklets and would be a nice way to quickly see how students are handling different mathematical topics.

Alternatively these would be ideal for morning work or early finishers.

If you’re interested in New Wave Mental Maths, you can download a free two week sample of each booklet from their website. Each book is worth $11.95 and includes activities for each day/week of the year.

I hope this has given you a bit of an idea of what’s out there for maths resources. I know I can never have too many to call on when teaching and it’s great for students to have a range of activities to complete on any given topic. For more information on other resources by R.I.C. Publications, check out their website, FacebookTwitter and YouTube accounts!


November 15, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Bright Ideas Round-Up!

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Thanks for stopping by for the November Bright Ideas link-up! This month is a special month where the participating blogs are highlighting all the wonderful bright ideas that they’ve shared over the last ten months. I’ve only participated in the last few months, but it’s still fun to revisit all of the great tips from teachers who are in the classroom every day – they do have the most practical, relevant ideas, after all!

Back in August I shared an idea for managing the Pencil War that happens in every classroom – what to do when you’re fighting the blunt/dull pencil fight! Check out my post here for some tips!


Back in September I shared my tips for how to manage indoor/wet recesses! You can check out that post here.BrightIdeas_Sept2014_3

Finally, last month I shared some tips for keeping my most-used math resources handy on a day-to-day basis. You can read about that here.


I hope you got a handy tip or trick from these posts. Don’t forget to check out all the links below for even more fabulous ideas that you can use for your classroom!

Thanks for stopping by!


October 19, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Happy Snaps Sunday


The very lovely Shanyn, from Classroom Chit-Chat, has started up a fun linky to celebrate all those things that make us smile each Sunday.

Since I’m a firm believer in smiles making the world a better place, I’m linking up this week with the thing that’s made me smile the most this week:


This is Benny, a 3 year old Miniature Poodle who joined my family this week. He needed a new home, and we’re so very glad to have him. He’s getting to know us, his new house, and we’re getting to know him. He’s a beautiful little dog and he makes me smile just looking at him!

Click on the banner above to link up with Shanyn and share the moments that make you smile!


October 18, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
1 Comment

A Bright Idea for Storing Math Resources



As teaches, we accumulate, use and store A LOT of different resources. Most we pull out every now and then when a topic or theme comes around and we need to use it.
Then there are resources in the classroom that we just need to keep easily accessible and on hand.
For me, that’s my counting charts. I love for my students to have these readily accessible for number fluency, independent activities and the occasional five-minute time filler activities that require nothing more than a hundreds chart.
For a long time I had them stored in folders, or in boxes on a shelf and when you pack materials like that up, it often becomes ‘too hard’ to pull them out and use them (even when you want to and know that you should).
Enter my file stand.
I bought this file stand when I first started teaching and was under the misguided idea that I could keep my desk tidy and organised (for reference: that was never going to happen!). It ended up sitting on said desk doing absolutely nothing for 3 years.
Then I realised that it was perfectly capable of holding laminated counting charts. And they didn’t need to be in folders. If they weren’t in folders, these counting charts would be easily accessible and easily seen.
If you can see it then you will use it.
(Or, at least, that’s my motto!)
Now I store this on a shelf in my classroom. It’s right within view.
It’s also neat and tidy.
I store any maths resources I need to be able to access quickly: counting charts, tens-frame mats, some sharing mats and usually a few relevant maths games, too. I don’t use folders to hold them because that would defeat the purpose of having them in clear view. Some of the items I keep in the stand include:
It also makes ‘packing away’ resources less painful, because they simply get slotted back into place, ready for next time.
How do you store your counting charts?
If you enjoyed this Bright Idea, I’d love for you to join me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for more great ideas!
For even more Bright Ideas from over 100 fantastic teacher-bloggers, don’t forget to check out the wonderful links below. There are plenty of grade and topic options available and you’re sure to find something that interests you!


October 14, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
1 Comment

Question and Comment Wands!

Earlier this week I posted a brand new product to my TeachersPayTeachers store: Question and Comment Wands!


(Click the image above to view on TpT!)

This little pack is designed to help those gorgeous kiddos who still (occasionally?!) mix up their questions and comments during whole class discussions.

How often do you ask your kiddos if they have any questions and you ask a little cherub and they pipe up with something completely off-topic? (Say, for example, when you’re introducing a new CAFE menu strategy and one poppet decides now is the perfect time to inform you that today is his uncle’s birthday!)

This is my day. At least once during instruction time.

Don’t get me wrong – I love that they want to tell me everything that’s happening in their lives, but quite often comments pop up right in the middle of that WONDERFUL lesson that’s going so well and then you have to spend 30 seconds redirecting one (or more) kiddos back on task.

Enter the Question and Comment Wands!


A handy little tool that each of your kiddos can make to provide themselves (and you) with a visual tool for identifying the types of thinking happening during your instruction time.

This would work well in whole group instruction time, or even in small group instruction, particularly if you have a focus on turn-taking and speaking and listening skills.

It also offers a great opportunity to teach or revise the difference between comments and questions, especially with our youngest students.

Check out my quick video below, with a run-down on my thinking behind this little pack, as well as a demonstration on how easy it is to put together:

Thanks so much for visiting!

I’d love to hear your

October 3, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
1 Comment

Blogging Buddy Weekend!







One of the most magnificent things that has come from my blogging journal is the connections and friendships that I’ve made – both internationally and here in Australia.

Last weekend I had the fabulous opportunity to get to meet some of the loveliest, most inspiring ladies that I know, who have not only been my blogging and TpT support for the last two years, but have also been great friends who’ve supported me through personal issues, too. Friends in the truest sense.

With OUr Tags


Back: Alison (Teaching Maths with Meaning), Mel (From the Pond), Me
Front: Brooke (Teachable Moments), Emma (Clever Classroom), Shanyn (Classroom Chit Chat), Tania (Mrs Poultney’s Ponderings)

These ladies and I met up in Darling Harbour (NSW) to catch up and put faces to names. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet both Alison and Brooke before, but sitting down to chat with these ladies over drinks was just amazing.

We started off in our hotel, having drinks and snacks and talking non-stop. Tania even made a Blogging Quiz, which was hilarious. Brooke organised for us all to have fancy GoNoodle lanyards with our blog buttons on them, and Mel gave us chocolate!


(Yes, I’m terrible at selfies! Don’t mind me!)

After a while we decided to go for a walk down to Darling Harbour to find some food and we came across something fun and spectacular: fireworks! (Seriously, who doesn’t love fireworks?)




Can you tell I love fireworks? (I had about 40 photos of the fireworks, but I thought I’d spare everyone!)

We had dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant on the waterfront called Olivo. I had homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli, a lemon and lime tart and a fabulous mocktail:





The Big Green Frog at the Back

On the Sunday, Alison, Brooke, Tania, Emma, Shanyn and I went on a ferry from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay, giving us a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House:


We also saw Luna Park:


And this giant cruise ship!


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It was such a fun weekend and I’m so lucky to count these girls as friends!


September 21, 2014
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

A Bright Idea for Wet Days


I’m linking up again with the September Bright Ideas Blog Hop. This is such a fantastic blog hop through the wonderful land of teacher blogs, with a whole host of amazing teachers sharing handy, USEFUL (and FREE!) tips for the classroom.

Today’s tip is something that I started doing this year. I have a vague feeling that I saw this somewhere online (or at least a variation of it) and I can’t find it – so if you’ve done this and shared it before, I’d love for you to let me know so I can link to your post!. BUT, it has been an absolutely fantastic routine that I’ve trained my kids to use independently.


Do you dread days like this? Days when it rains (or snows?) and your kids are stuck inside ALL DAY with no chance to run around an burn off that excess energy?

Me, too!

(A bit of background for my non-Australian friends – at my school, we have recess (30 mins) and lunch breaks (50 mins) where students are outside in the yard while the majority of staff are on recess/lunch breaks.)

When it’s a Wet Day Recess/Lunch the students are stuck inside and my classroom is at the mercy of their whims! I’m not required to be in the classroom with them (that’s the job of the yard duty teacher who has duty on that day) and so in order to stop the near-compulsive need to remain in the classroom to supervise, I’ve implemented my visual label system.

This systems lets students know which classroom resources/toys/games they’re allowed to access on a wet day.



See those cute little rainclouds?

If a classroom container/drawer has one of those labels, students are allowed free reign/access to the contents of that container.

I have some on my art trolley for white scrap paper (for drawing), scrap coloured paper (for crafts/collages), paper punches and scissors, odds and ends and How to Draw books.


I also have some on my Maths trolley – students can access dice and counting cubes and unifix blocks.



I also have a tub of card games, student-made board games and Pokemon cards that students can pull down and use.

Honestly, it’s been such a life-saver here in rainy Melbourne! No more “Can I use the (insert activity of choice here!)?!”

Additional Wet Day Tips

With our IWB, students have the option of 2 different video options during wet days.

At lunch times I usually put on a DVD (usually a Magic School Bus DVD or something Disney) for those students who just want to sit and chill out. It’s usually a small portion of my kids, but it keeps them settled and out of trouble. The rest of the kids choose activities from their Wet Day options and keep themselves busy.

At recess times I always put on a Dance Party – which is just a playlist of Just Dance videos. Because our recess is short, it gives kids the opportunity to move and get rid of some of their excess energy!

One of our favourite Dance Party dances is Moves Like Jagger.

If you’ve got a great wet day/indoor recess tip, leave it in the comments!

If you enjoyed this Bright Idea, I’d love for you to join me on Facebook or Instagram  for more great ideas!

For even more Bright Ideas from over 100 fantastic teacher-bloggers, don’t forget to check out the wonderful links below. There are plenty of grade and topic options available and you’re sure to find something that interests you!