Miss Galvin Learns

April 10, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Five for Friday (April 10)


Hi all, I’m joining in another week of Five for Friday, hosted by the lovely Doodlebugs Teaching!


Well, it’s the end of the last week of the holidays for me, but I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some quality time with this little cutie! Benny has had quite the busy last two weeks, making new friends (or, at least, learning how to), lots of travelling over Easter, and lots of cuddles. And yes, that black shadow of a thing lying against one of my best friends is Benny. He’s awfully difficult to take photos of sometimes, but it was kind of cute he had his teddy with him!


I’ve started a new online course on Hand Lettering over at Studio Calico, and so far I’m loving it. These were a few practise samples I did the other night!


I finally found (a tiny amount) of creative energy for my TpT store, and came up with this simple little activity to practise common nouns with early years students. Check it out in my store (both images link to the product).



How cute is that polka dot desk mat?! I’ve been eying it off for a few weeks and finally bit the bullet and bought it the other day. It’s so bright and colourful and it makes me happy!



I’ve had a few craft ideas on my to-do list these holidays and I’ve been slowly ticking them off, but this is one that I had a go at today (inspired by the Marbled Clay Ring Dish DIY from A Beautiful Mess). I really love how my little dish came out. Also, being one to loathe wasting scraps of FIMO clay, I use the excess trim from the bowl to make a matching bead necklace! I love that EVERY bead is completely different, despite being made from exactly the same materials!



Happy Friday, my friends! I hope you have an excellent weekend!




April 3, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
1 Comment

Five for Friday – April 3rd



An updated look at my personal planner!


This week marked the start of the school holidays. How did I spend my first day? In the classroom gluing work into portfolios. I think I worked it out to be around 430+ pages glued in, using up all 24 of the half-used gluesticks on the tables, for about 4 hours. But it’s done. That’s the most important thing, right?!



Take it to Tuesday and the first ‘official’ day of holiday break with no school work planned. I started the day with a banana and raspberry smoothie and some reading. (Oh, and the puppy got to go for a walk, too!)



I’ve discovered something truly fun making the rounds in the planner and youtube community – Pocket Letters. Basically, pen pal letters in trading card sleeves with fun little goodies tucked away inside for the recipient. This is actually one I made for my Etsy store as a planner embellishment kit for sale.

Would like to do one as a pen pal swap at some point, though! (Excellent for destashing all those crafty things I’ve accumulated!)



I’ve been making these sparkly little paperclips all week! Hoping to have a video tutorial up soon!



March 28, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Kikki.K Planner Workshop


If you’ve followed my blog for the last few months, you’ll know that I’ve been on a ‘planner’ journey. Last year I started to get involved in the ‘planner community’ on Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest and more recently on Facebook.

I’ve always struggled with using a planner to organise my life, but for the last 12 months I’ve successfully maintained a planner, week by week, to make notes, keep track of my to-do lists and essentially create a paper record of my daily life.

I’ve used Kikki.K’s Time Planners for this process, and I have a few (most of which I got on sale!), and currently use a medium, black leather time planner for my day-to-day life, plus a large, raspberry time planner for my school planner.

Last Tuesday I attended my very first Kikki.K Workshop at their Doncaster store – all about planners!

It was a really fun and interesting night, which was as much about the wonderful products Kikki.K sells, as it was about getting your planner set-up, organised and pretty-ified (look, I’m making up words again!) and functioning properly for your life.

Now, I’ve reached something approaching ‘planner peace’ – wherein my planner is working very well for me, I feel – but I do love hearing people talk about their own experiences, and I believe there’s always room for improvement.


Getting to the fun stuff first, all the attendees received a fun little gift, perfect for planners:

Printed Notepad (Mountains collection)
- Sticker Sheet (Life Is Sweet collection)
- Felt Tip pen (I ended up with a grey pen)

On the night, our lovely host Caroline, talk about:
– the difference between a diary (a time keeping tool) and a planner (an ‘everything’ folder for your life)
– how to merge a diary and planner
– customising and decorating your planner to make it work for you
– minimising the to-do lists popping up everywhere in your planner
– how to make an accordion folder for your planner (to hold tickets/notes/etc)
– brainstorming what your planner is actually for, and whether or not you might require multiple planners to help you keep track
– … and other things that are slipping my mind at the moment!



My take-aways from the night:

Creating a Master To-Do List, and doing away with lots of lists all over the place.
I really loved this idea, because it cuts down on all the procrastinating “I’ll make a list for that project” that happens when you try to AVOID doing something. If it’s all in one place, you know where to find it. Also, regularly checking that list each night, adding to it and crossing off tasks that are needed/have been finished so that you go to bed with a clear head. Picking 3 to-dos for the next day that MUST BE DONE to stop from being overwhelmed.

Using a weekly planner to map out your week.
I liked this idea because I think it will help me to map out the major events for the week before I add them to  my various planners. Plus, Caroline made the suggestion for scheduling regular ‘me time’ each day so that we’re more likely to include it somewhere during the day (whether it’s reading 5 pages of a book or taking a bath, or using a face mask – whatever makes YOU happy)!

If it’s paper, you can punch it and add it to your planner.
I do this already, but it was really nice to hear someone reinforcing that concept as well. I have bucket loads of Kikki.K’s notepads, plus their Paper Books and you KNOW I punch them out and add them. They’re cute and pretty and make my planner look pretty so that I want to open it and look at it and see what’s going on in my life.

Finally, I came to an understanding of what my planner is for me. It’s my record of my life. What I do, what I write, what I like at this point in time. I decorate it and I record the little things of my life and I intend to keep these pages. I’ve never been fabulous at journalling, but this is my quick way of having a snapshot of my life that I can look back on, or one day show my kids. For this reason, I decided that night to switch from using the Pilot Frixion pens that I love (because they’re erasable, and thus I can fix any errors) to felt tips, because I’m not convinced that one day the Frixion ink won’t disappear over time. (For reference, it does disappear when heat is applied.)


We also got a discount on the night, for attending the workshop, so I purchased a few things that I thought I could use, as per the talk on the night:

A4 Weekly Planner Pad (Minimalist)
- Round Paperclips in Jar (Gold) (link is for the silver paperclips)
A6 Printed Notepad (Mail Multi)
- Vision Board Kit (Minimalist)
- Felt Tip Pen 10 pack

I believe the Planner Workshops are finishing up for the year (but will begin again later in the year), but if you’re interested in finding out ways to customise a planner to fit your life, I highly recommend attending a session. They also have loads of other workshops as well, covering organisation, happiness, goal setting, etc.


Do you use a planner? What planner do you use? What do you find most beneficial about using a planner? Let me know in the comments.

I’ll also be filming an updated look in my personal planner tomorrow, along with a closer look at the items I purchased from Kikki.K, so keep your eyes peeled for that on my YouTube channel.

If you’re interested in seeing regular updates on my planner journey, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!


March 20, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Five for Friday – March 20, 2015


I’m linking up with Kacey for her Five for Friday linky party. Click the banner above to see her Five Things, or to check out the other amazing bloggers!


Surely this was expected, right? This week’s planner pages featuring my other favourite comic heroine, Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl/Oracle) from DC. A truly fabulous female character in media.



I have some truly lovely classroom neighbours. There are six classrooms and two specialist labs in my building, and I teach opposite two Grade 3/4 rooms. Annie is a beautiful, warm and funny colleague with a teaching philosophy that matches my own. She was such a super-sweetie this week, leaving me this fun sushi-themed candy surprise for Monday morning! Just because!



This week our phonics focus was ‘d’ and we made concertina-fold dragons (I haven’t got a photo yet – when I do I’ll share it!) that necessitated the use of glitter. So naturally I ended up covered in it! So did the floor.



I was home sick today. Just general un-wellness that’s been driving me nuts all week. It was nice just to be able to sleep and relax and do some crafting this afternoon when I felt up to it. I also got a lot of writing done, which helps my mental state, I find. But during one stage of writing, Benny decided to curl up beside me in bed (hiding his face, the cheeky thing) and didn’t move.



If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen this photo tonight, of my new planner dashboard. It’s white with gold polka dots and is very bright and shiny and makes me smile when I see it. I’m contemplating making some more and adding them to my Etsy store. What do you think?

Slide5Thanks so much for stopping by today – I hope that you have had a fabulous week!



March 15, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Sunday Showcase – Zentangles

Title-SundayShowcaseHello, my friends! Happy Sunday!

Today I thought I’d show you something I’ve been really intrigued by recently, and something I hope to be able to take with me to school and use with students. (Perhaps not quite with my Foundation students, but then again, I do believe everything can be modified to allow students the opportunity to practise a skill, so, you never know!)

It’s a doodle-art form called Zentangle.

I first came across this while watching a video on youtube by The Frugal Crafter (a great channel to follow if you love art and craft making!), and gave it a shot late last year. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen some of the pieces I’ve been making over the last 6 months or so. I’m going to link the video at the bottom of this post for you!

Essentially, a zentangle image is a picture created by drawing structured patterns.

Yesterday I played around with the following 4 designs. (Some of the lines – the squares and circles – were printed for these, because I’m considering using it with some students and I think some guidelines might help them focus more on creating the patterns at first!)

Slide1Slide2They are a bit time consuming, but honestly, it’s so relaxing to sit there and create repetitive patterns and they look so effective!

If you want some more info, simply do a Google or Pinterest search. I’ve pinned a whole lot of ideas to a Pinterest board which you’re welcome to take a look at:

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.00.44 pmI’m quite keen to try out those Easter Eggs for the upcoming holiday!

And for those of you who are interested in the video I mentioned:

Thanks for stopping by today – I hope you got a bit of inspiration from it!

What helps you relax at the end of the week?


March 13, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin
1 Comment

Five for Friday (13/03/2015)


I’m linking up again with Doodlebugs Teaching for another week of Five for Friday!



Last weekend saw me busily creating some new resources for my TPT store, including this fun letter and word sort, perfect for March!



I was inspired to create a layout in my personal planner featuring one of my favourite comic book heroines, Kitty Pryde (aka Shadowcat) from the X-Men series. I embraced the idea of using multiple washi tapes in three colours and lots of patterns for an asymmetrical-type look and I have to say, I really love it. Follow me on Instagram if you’re interested in seeing older/future planner layouts!

Also, I’d love to know if you use a personal planner. Do you decorate? Do you not? What do you love about it?



I got a very lovely Kate Spade notebook for Christmas last year from Mel (From the Pond) and while I’m not a huge ‘journaler’ I am trying to spend a night or two each week putting words on to paper in it, filling it with water-coloured pages, quotes and random thoughts.



I’ve yet to pack away my washi tapes from the planner layout in #2, but there’s just something about the colours (especially the yellow and black tapes) that I really like seeing on my desk at the moment, especially in front of my wonderful, big candle!



Finally, something ‘teacher-y’ for the week. One of my drawings for the week, while my kiddos and I talked about creating detailed pictures to help us begin our writing. I was thrilled this week when they not only took some time to think about their pictures (based on our Investigations sessions) and then had a really fantastic go at using their phonetic knowledge to put ‘words’ down on the page. (They helped me write my sentence phonetically, too, which was really adorable!) I’m so proud of them!

Thanks for stopping by, my friends! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!


March 9, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Sunday Showcase – New TPT Packs!


Okay… so technically it’s Monday here, but I didn’t get a chance to do this yesterday!

I’m trying to catch up some blogging, and TPT making and crafting in general, but it’s taking a bit of creative organising on my part.

I did, however, make 2 new products fro my TpT store this weekend, inspired by what my class has been exploring over the last few weeks. We’re 7 weeks into the new school year, and my lovely Foundation class has been working on Letter vs. Word identification, as well as beginning to explore sight words in preparation for the start of our reading program.

Both these products are currently 20% off in my store, as well, for the next 24 hours.




Help your little learners to identify letters and words with this simple sort, with a fun St. Patrick’s theme. Use a pocket chart to display the cards, or have students group them on the table. If you require students to record their learning, a recording sheet has been provided!

Simply click on any of the images above to view this pack my TpT store.



IMG_2756Practise sight words with this fun game, with an Easter Bunny theme. Simply select the sight word cards you would like your students to practise (there are 124 to choose from, but I would definitely recommend selecting between 24-36 of them for small groups). Include the Egg CRASH cards and put them all in a container and you have a fun reading game.

Click on any of the images to view this game in my store.


I hope everyone’s had a wonderful weekend! I hope to get back into a regular blogging schedule very soon!


February 22, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

A Bright Idea for Handwriting


Thanks for joining the Bright Ideas Blog Hop this month.

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post about the handwriting bags I was using with my class and it’s one of my most popular posts that I receive comments and emails for.


Today I thought I’d share the revised version of my Handwriting Bags for my brand new class of Kinder/Foundation/Prep kiddos.

These are bags full of handwriting goodies that the kids keep in their chair bags so that they always have the tools they need ready to go.


I start with a large ziplock bag to pack all the goodies in. This keeps everything neat and tidy and stops little pieces from being lost. Also, because the bags are clear, it’s easy to work out WHO dropped WHAT on the floor.


What’s included in the bags:

  • 1 mini whiteboard
  • 1 A4 laminated handwriting page –  this has our school’s handwriting font (Vic Modern Cursive) in upper and lowercase letters, plus a larger version of their name to practise correct letter formation.
  • 1 little tub of playdough
  • 1 whiteboard marker
  • 1 piece of Magic Eraser sponge


The play dough is there for warming up little fingers. I have quite a few kiddos with very poor fine motor skills this year and I intend for them to use the play dough for the first minute or two.

The mini whiteboards are normally used during whole class instruction, where students record the letter under focus and can then hold the board underneath their chin so I can see how everyone’s going. (Also, it’s a bit easier than having everyone argue about coming up to the teacher’s board to practise writing their letters.)

The A4 laminated pages are usually for warm-ups or early finishers to practise forming each letter correctly, following the arrows provided in the tunnelling font for Vic Modern Cursive.

The Magic Eraser sponges are AWESOME at cleaning whiteboard markers off both whiteboards and laminated sheets and I can buy a couple of packets, cut them up and have really inexpensive erasers for everyone.

Thanks for stopping by this blog hop! I’d love to heard your ideas for handwriting, so don’t forget to leave a comment below. I’d also love for you to stop by my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for more bright ideas!

For more bright ideas, don’t forget to visit these wonderful bloggers and leave them some love!

February 19, 2015
by Ms Stefanie Galvin

Thoughtful Thursday – Growth Mindset



This week I (and all of the teachers in my school’s local mini-network) attended a professional development session presented by Maria Roberto, titled:

Embracing the “F” Word
Using FAILURE to build resilience and motivation at school.

I have to say that, from all of these BIG group professional development sessions that have been run, this one was very interesting.

It is based on Carol Dweck’s research into Fixed and Growth Mindsets in students, and I think it has a lot of implications for teachers.

Basically, the premise is that a mindset is a belief system that is specific to each individual person, and is not something we’re born with, but something that we learn. Every mindset has its own set of rules, and is based on what you believe you are and are not capable of achieving.

Dweck’s research into fixed and growth mindsets in students focused on the specific feedback given to students who were given the same basic non-verbal IQ test: praise for intelligence (“You are so smart!”) and praise for effort (“You must have worked really hard.”). She then tracked student results in subsequent (more challenging) tests, where students who were praised for intelligence struggled to answer the harder questions and students who were praised for effort persisted in answering the harder questions even if they weren’t sure of the answers.

Students with fixed mindsets often find it difficult to move beyond their comfort zone, for fear of not appearing “smart” or for appearing to “fail.” They’ll go to lengths to hide or conceal mistakes. Students like this are at risk of becoming non-learners because they never take those responsible risks.

Students with growth mindsets engage in problem solving, put in effort and work through tasks despite failure. They push beyond their comfort zones and look at failure as an opportunity to increase learning.

I loved that we were given a list of fixed and growth mindset language choices, because as a teacher it’s super easy to simply (and well-meaningly) tell a student, “Wow, aren’t you clever,” because it’s quicker than, “Wow, I love how you put so much effort into answering your questions today.” But when you praise effort you’re encouraging students to persist even when they’re not super-confident.

I had a perfect example today in the classroom with one of my new little kiddos. They’ve only been at school for 11 days, and today we wrote a shared sentence and I had all the students have a go at copying it down. It was a very short sentence about their art lesson and was primarily used as an example of a complete sentence. One of the little boys sat there the whole time and wouldn’t attempt to copy ANY of it down because he was terrified he would do it wrong. Nothing I could say during the lesson would convince him that all I wanted him to do was have a go because he’d worked himself up so much.

Afterwards I pulled him aside and he’d written down the first three letters from the sentence and I told him that I was really proud of the way he’d had a go at the first few letters (and they were legible and neat, so I was super happy anyway) but we had to have a big chat about taking risks and remembering that it’s not making mistakes that makes teachers sad, it’s when students don’t have a go because mistakes are a learning opportunity, not something to be ashamed of.

At the end of the conversation I think he was considerably happier and was talking about going home and looking at words in his books and having a go at copying them down to practise and get better. (Can you imagine how happy this made me? Especially seeing a much happier expression on his face when he realised he wasn’t in trouble? Gosh!)

But, for the curious the words that you might hear coming from students with a fixed mindset include: must have, always, forever, all the time, every time, should, can’t stand it. (I can’t stand it! I must know the answer.)

Words for a growth mindset: sometimes, often, maybe, may, might, at times, occasionally, for now, frequently, (and the most important one) yet. (Sometimes I have the right answer. Sometimes I make mistakes. I may be able to solve this problem. I can’t solve this problem yet. I don’t know the answer yet.)

All of this is a super simple summary of the hour-long talk that I heard earlier in the week, but if you’re interested in looking in to it, or even being able to download a free .pdf full of lesson activities for using failure to build resilience in students, check out the ReachOut Professionals page – simply sign-up (it’s free) and look under the Professional Development tab for the Embracing the F Word download.

You can also see a TED Talk by Carol Dweck, titled The Power of Believing That You Can Improve.

Obviously, this extends beyond teaching and students, but I think it’s a timely reminder that our words (as teachers) do affect our students. We are very fortunate that we are able to influence and support our students in developing a growth mindset just by changing the way we praise them for their efforts.

Thanks for sticking around for this rather wordy post!

What professional development have you done recently that really inspired you?