Easter Activities

Easter is on its way, despite the inclement weather and recent snow! Two weeks of no school and for those still teaching this week a few days to prepare for the holiday whilst also keep the children focussed and learning.
There are a multitude of Easter themed activities that can be completed either at home or at school and make learning fun.

1. Easter Poems
Easter is such a visual time of year with images of eggs, chicks, lambs, flowers and most of all chocolate popping into children’s heads at the very mention of the word. Why not channel your children’s imagination and get them to compose an Easter poem! Acrostic, egg-shaped or featuring only E-words the theme is up to you and can be tailored to the needs and ability of your children.

2. Egg Hunt
Turn your Easter egg hunt into a quest, leave clues or riddles that children must read in order to find the eggs or have maths questions that children must solve along the route.

3. Egg decorating
Many of us remember the trauma of boiling an egg to decorate it with feathers, pva and felt tip only for it to crack before we have chance for any adornment. Often simply colouring or creating a pattern on an egg on a sheet of paper can be much easier to organise. Children can be asked to make symmetrical patterns or use certain shapes to make their patterns. For those of you who are more adventurous using real or plastic eggs can in 3D creations can be a great way to explore your children’s creativity.

4. Chocolate science
Why not use the chocolate theme to experiment with chocolate. Investigate whether white, milk or dark chocolate melts the quickest and for older children at what temperature. Find out how long chocolate takes to set and whether flavour, colour or ingredients has any effect, you could even make your own chocolate truffles or eggs. Finally smarties in warm water make for a great colour mixing experiment for younger children.

5. Web-based resources
There are a multitude of resources online for use at Easter. Some of my favourites are TES resources , DLTK activities and 10 Ticks Maths .

Happy Easter!

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Homework

As both a parent and teacher I have had plenty of experience of giving out and helping my own children complete their homework. From the age of 4 onwards parents often face the Sunday afternoon battle to complete homework. Children often seem to keep their school and home lives completely separate, with entirely different behaviours and a definite belief that school work should be done at school and not at home. Also with football clubs, dance lessons, taekwondo class and other after school activities a child’s spare time is often precious.

One of my pet hates is pointless homework which is issued each week, photocopied from a book of ‘100 homework for Year?’, dutifully completed by conscientious parents and pupils each week only to be given a token tick by the teacher and returned home with the child in a plastic wallet at the end of the year. I strongly believe that homework should have a real purpose and not be given out or completed just for the sake of it.

There is a real benefit in using homework to reinforce what has been completed at school and keeping parents informed and engaged in their child’s learning. Learning times tables, preparing for a big write and researching for an aspect of a topic are all examples of homework which have an obvious purpose and real benefit to the child’s learning.

Wherever possible homework should be engaging. In school there has been a move away from endless worksheets and children sitting to complete them so why should homework consist of a return to this. Playing a game or discussing ideas can be much more rewarding for both parent and child and lead to more effective learning.

Holidays often signal the ‘project’ style homework where children are asked to complete a Viking longboat or Medieval castle but this is only beneficial if the child takes the lead in the planning, preparation and creation of these masterpieces. Parents up and down the country have spent hours researching, acquiring elusive components and working into the small hours to try to ensure that their child’s model is to a desired standard.

From my own experience these are my key features of successful homework:
* Challenging without needing more than minimal prompts or support from an adult
* Relevant and wherever possible contribute actively towards the learning and topics in school.
* Differentiated to the ability and needs of the children in class
* Evaluated and valued by the teacher in a way which is apparent to the child.

There is nothing more disheartening for parent and child than spending hours putting heart and soul into completing a fantastic story for homework and then the child receiving no feedback from their teacher whatsoever!

Teacher need to not be afraid to explore alternative ways of providing effective homework and parents should feel empowered to question a teacher if they feel that the homework being given is not valued or productive. Above all homework should be a way of teachers and parents working together to help a child develop and improve in their learning. What do you think?