Miss Galvin Learns

January 25, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
1 Comment

7 Art & Craft Projects

First off, congrats to Nicole S for winning the $10 TpT voucher. Please check your email for your prize!


Today’s Sunday Showcase is actually a suggestion/request from one my Facebook followers, Rosie. She wanted to know if I taught art in my Prep/Foundation classroom, and if I had any lesson suggestions.

I have a confession: last year I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked of our art/craft activities, but I have gone through my photos from the last few years and pulled out a few examples.

Art at my school:
At my school we’re very fortunate to have Art as a specialist subject, so once a week my students have a 50 minute session with one of the art teachers. (This year we happen to have 3 teachers teaching art part time, with one – very awesome teacher! – who is in charge of Foundation art.)

Any art and craft that I do within the classroom is extra and fun because I love art and craft and I think it’s important for students to have extra exposure. Plus, it also encourages fine motor development, as well as consolidating the basic art skills students are learning in art.

Things I tend to focus on: lines/patterns, colour and colour-mixing, using a variety of media, how to use tools like pencils/crayons/markers to get different effects, cutting/scrunching/tearing/punching paper, etc.

Obviously, with our youngest students, we’re not talking Amazing Artwork (although, let’s face it – it is ALL amazing artwork) – but we are talking developing little artists who are confident in producing a piece of work. To that end, a lot of encouragement is really important.

I don’t consider myself an expert, by any means. I just love finding ideas for my classroom that are easy to implement and that can be tied in to a Reading or Maths focus, because let’s face it: finding time in the classroom is hard. The better you can integrated your lessons, the more successful they usually are.

Some of my class art and craft activities:


One craft activity we do regularly in our reading sessions is a ‘sound craft’ (we have a phonological awareness program we follow, so we do have a sound focus each week). I love using Pinterest to find ideas for these letter crafts and then usually use PowerPoint to create some templates for students to cut out and piece together.

This encourages scissor-skill development, and a bit of puzzle piecing, too as they work out where all the pieces.


Using coloured pasta is a great way to create artwork with different mediums. I’ve used it to create the rainbows (below) – which are great for any work on colour or for a sound focus on ‘r’ or anything else you can think of. I’ve also used them for creating patterns in maths, as well as picture frames. They have a unique texture and look about them (including being three-dimensional) and it takes a step back from the usual ‘noodle necklaces’ (which I do love!) to create a different kind of piece. An alternative to dying the pasta would be to either paint or spray paint them.

Using pasta also teachers students to think about how much glue they need – how much is too much and what is not enough.


This particular piece was used for International Dot Day (based on The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds). He has fantastic books for stimulating discussion on art with students, because the characters in his books are all very self-conscious of their art and work through that feeling to develop confidence.

For this task all students were given 6 blank circles to decorate using a variety of lines, patterns and colours that we discussed as a class. This time I chose the medium – crayons – but in the past I have used water colours, regular paints, glitter, markers, etc. Students had to cut out their circles (fine motor), cut them in half (maths) and then trade one half of each circle with a different person in the class to create 6 new and different ‘dots’. We used black backing paper to make the colours pop!


This art piece was done after reading The Lorax with students, and focused on colour, paper tearing and scrunching. Students were given a blue backing page and a selection of coloured paper on their table to share and had to tear a foreground and background colour for their hills. (They did need a bit of help tearing all the way across the page, but they determined which colour was required wear and some did have a good go at tearing their own paper.)

We used popsticks decorated to look like Truffula Trees and students then tore and scrunched tissue paper to create the Truffula Tufts.

I have used similar techniques for art projects (ala the paper tearing) for book responses to Isabella’s Garden and For All Creatures by Glenda Millard, as well as for a maths activity response to Perfect Square by Michael Hall.


Eric Carle is perhaps my favourite author to use as inspiration for artwork because, quite frankly, the ideas are endless. This particular piece was inspired by Mr. Seahorse.

Students painted their own backgrounds using sponge rollers and blue and green paint. They also painted a page using brighter-coloured water coloured paint, which they then used to cut out their seahorse shapes. (There were some seahorse templates, but most chose to attempt their own!) Finally we added cellophane ‘seaweed’ over the top, and students had the choice to glue it flat, or twist it, or scrunch it, etc.

Obviously, you could use similar techniques for ALL of Eric Carle’s books. I also like using this technique to create student-painted papers for ‘Spring’ pictures early in Term 3, too.



Every Remembrance Day I do some form of Poppy craft with my class. I believe it’s very important to teach them about both Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day and why it’s so important to remember those who have gone to war to keep our country safe. These make really wonderful displays.

We have painted coffee filters, torn and scrunched tissue paper and finger-painted poppies over the years.


My final example for today is a piece of artwork we did using newspaper to create a different feel, inspired by the book Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon. (This is a truly beautiful book – definitely have a read if you haven’t!) It was a Shortlisted book a few years ago so we did this for Book Week.

Students were asked to consider their background – light blue on dark blue background, as well as what they might see in the night sky. They used metallic pastels to create the stars and moon. They had to consider the heights of their buildings – what would it look like if they were all the same? What would it look like if you had some tall and some short buildings? They also had to consider the position of the Herman and Rosie figures. Finally they had to add detail to their buildings and you can see how each student did something a little bit different!

Thanks for reading this super long post! I hope you got something useful from it. If you’re interested in seeing more artwork from my classroom, let me know in the comments, and feel free to ask any questions. This year I aim to be a bit more on top of photo-taking with my class!

If there are any other topics you’d like me to address on my blog, please leave them in the comments – I love suggestions. I’m definitely more than happy to take them!

Enjoy your weekend!


January 23, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Five for Friday – January 23rd, 2015




My last weekend in Ontario, I went out to Niagara Falls with my friend and her family. It was the first time any of us had been to see them and it was just gorgeous. (Also slightly dangerous for me because I have no ice-feet!) I think it would be amazing in the Summer, but – as cold as it was – I think it’s truly a spectacular sight in Winter. I mean, just look.





We also stayed the weekend in the area – more specifically, we stayed at Niagara-on-the-Lake at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast. We spent the afternoon walking around Queen Street – they had the Ice Wine Festival that weekend – and then went to out to the lake. Also stunning!




This year I picked a word for my year. Kind of like a New Years Resolution (but I don’t do resolutions). But this I can do. My word for 2015 is create. I figure it has applications outside the obvious and it’s something I can live up to.

I got this beautiful word art from Colleen Attara, who makes wonderful word art pieces out of recycled plastics.



Yesterday I started piecing together my Teacher Planner for this year. I’ve added in my beautiful new dividers and if you’re interested in seeing how I set it up, let me know!



While I was away I finished and uploaded a Developmental/Dramatic Play activities pack. My kinder-aged students are involved in three developmental play-based sessions each week and the activities in this pack are ELA and Math activities based around the theme of a ‘Cafe’ set-up. Check it out on TpT!


See you guys on Sunday! Enjoy your weekend, my friends!


January 22, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Back to School Bounty Giveaway!

Hello friends! I’m back on home soil after 24 wonderful days spent with my best friend in Toronto. I have that lovely bittersweet feeling of enjoying being home, but being sad that I had to say goodbye to some people that I love dearly. But, the wonderful thing about living in this day an age is the awesomeness of Skype and FaceTime!

I’m interrupting my scheduled blogging program to share a fun giveaway that some friends and I are putting on to celebrate the start of the new school year here in Australia!

So, to all my Aussie friends – this post is to cheer you up as we embark on a brand new year. To anyone who’s not starting the new year now, there are still PLENTY of wonderful things for you to win, so do join in the fun!

My friends and I have teamed up to give you a chance to win 2 fabulous prizes!


All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For those of you who are new to my blog, or those of you who missed this last year, here’s a fun freebie for you – a Valentine’s Day class book that coordinates perfectly with my Start Write Away pack included in the ELA giveaway!

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Finally, you have the opportunity to win a $10 voucher for TpT! Simply complete the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and don’t forget to check out the other fabulous blogs involved for a chance to win other vouchers, too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I’ll see you all tomorrow for my Five For Friday post!   Sig_NewBlog2014

January 11, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

GoNoodle Sanity Savers Linky

I’m linking up with Elizabeth from Kickin’ It In Kindergarten for her GoNoodle Sanity Savers linky!

You all know how much I love GoNoodle, right?!!


Fav GoNoodle Brain Break… is definitely I Like to Move It. Mostly because this was the dance that my class did to be involved in GoNoodle and Zumba Kids’ collaboration video last year and they were SOOOOO excited to see themselves dancing alongside many other schools in an online video.

My happy place… is anywhere where I can sit and read a book without interruption, or where I can sit and write. Both de-stress me pretty quick.

My guilty pleasure… is buying waaaay more craft supplies than I need. I like to bounce around different crafts so I’ve got bits and pieces everywhere. But just like I need time to read and write (see above), I also need time to craft!

Keep calm and… think happy thoughts. Being positive is key. (I’m trying to remember that!)

Don’t forget to head over and see all the other posts in the linky and join in, too!

Happy weekend!


January 10, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Five for Friday (Jan 9th, 2015)


I’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another week of Five for Friday!

Technically speaking, this is a bit of a round-up of my first two weeks in Toronto:

1. Snow


Where I’m from? It’s currently Summer. And I’ve only ever previously seen slushy snow or ice, so this is a novel experience for me. On this particular day we’d been out for a walk to a cafe and had to walk back in the snow and all looked like snowmen.

2. Royal Ontario Museum


We went to the ROM. I’m totally a sucker for dinosaurs and great displays.

Also, still fairly new at doing touristy things with a nearly-two-year-old in tow. Her favourite word on outings like this seems to be ‘Wow!’ Yep, totally agree!

3. Ice Hockey


Went to see my first ice-hockey match, the Maple Leafs vs. Washington.

4. Ripley’s Aquarium


This was FUN! I love aquariums, and the set-up was really fantastic.

Also the word ‘Wow’ featured heavily. :)

5. CN Tower


We went for lunch at the 360 Restaurant (moving restaurant!) for lunch after the aquarium. Awesome food and views… until the snowstorm kicked in. And even then it looked very cool from up there!

I hope you all had an amazing week!


January 6, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Happy 2015 and Future Blogging Plans

I did post this yesterday, but I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone a very HAPPY New Year!

I hope that 2015 is an amazing year for each and every one of you!

This year I’m setting myself some goals for Miss Galvin Learns. I’m hoping that they’re achievable and that I’m able to bring you some fantastic content this year on a regular basis.

My goal is three posts a week (with some content that I’ll be able to prepare in advance), along with any special events, linky parties/etc that come up. I’ll also be trying to better utilise my Miss Galvin Learns Youtube channel this year as well.

So, without further ado, here is my proposed schedule:

Tuesdays: Text Talk Tuesdays – I’ll share some of my favourite children’s literature, as well as some books that I’m reading to review for you all. This will include Picturebooks and hopefully some early chapter books and Young Adult novels (when I have the time to read them, of course!).

Fridays: Five for Friday – This is the weekly linky party hosted by Doodlebugs Teaching, and I hope to use this as an opportunity to share what’s happening in my classroom on a weekly basis, along with descriptions and explanations.

Sundays: Showcase – On Sundays I’ll be sharing any new products in my TpT store, and special projects, craft ideas, etc.

I’d love your feedback – is there anything else you would like to see me sharing on my blog during the week?

My thoughts for my Youtube channel this year include showcasing some of my own products from TpT, reviewing other fantastic teaching resources that I’ve purchased (both from TpT and elsewhere) and sharing short tips for you to use in your classroom.

What else would you be interested in seeing videos on?

I’d love for you all to leave me some comments letting me know your thoughts!

And, having laid out my Grand Plans for 2015 – I am still on holidays and thus won’t be in a proper posting routine until I get home. I will try to share some of these things over the next few weeks, but please forgive me if I fall behind! I will be 100% back on board in the last 2 weeks of January!

Until next time, enjoy your week!


January 6, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

January Pick 3 Pinterest Linky

Hello and Happy New Year!

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve been busy. Currently I’m a long, long way from my lovely home in Melbourne. In fact, I’m all the way across the world in Canada, staying with my best friend.

Can I just say, it’s much colder here than it would be at home!

I’ll try to upload some photos from my trip – not that there’s too many of them at the moment because mostly we’re chilling out and relaxing, which is awesome! – but until then, I thought I’d join in this fun linky that I’ve seen in my feedly list today.

It’s hosted by Inspired Owl’s Corner and PAWsitively Teaching, and I think it’s a lot of fun!

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Now, I have to admit, I’m thinking ahead a bit to the 27th of January when I’ll be returning to work for the START of a brand new year, with a brand new class. For those who are new to my blog and unfamiliar with Australian school years, our school year runs from Jan/Feb – Dec (with our Summer break over Dec/Jan).

So, without further ado, here is my Top 3 Pinterest ideas I want to try out this month:

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Click the image for the Pinterest link (I did have trouble finding the original post for this though, so my apologies – let me know if you know where it belongs and I’ll update the links!). I think this would make an amazing display for the first few weeks of school as all students are settling in to their new classroom!

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More handprints! I think this would be a really nice way to ease separation anxiety – especially with parents. I’m teaching a straight Foundation (Kinder) class next year and I think it’s important to remind students AND parents that they’ll see each other again soon.

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This one I thought would be an amazing piece for portfolios. We put together a book of samples of student work throughout the year to give to students at the end of the year as a reminder of all the great work they’ve done. (And, especially in a world where people like to declutter, it gives parents an option to save ONE book with lots of work samples rather than having to keep EVERY book and piece of work.) How lovely would it be to have one of these at the START and END of year?

So those are some of my favourite Pinterest finds for this month. I’m sure there’ll be PLENTY more to come. If you don’t already follow me on Pinterest, do stop by! I have over 9000 pins (yes, my mind does boggle at that number!) and they’re predominantly teaching related.

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Don’t forget to join in the linky – just click the links at the start of this post to take you back to check out all the other amazing blog entries for even more inspiration.

Until next time, have a lovely week! <3


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!