Classroom Curiosities XVII

This belated edition features some failed origami, Ramadan, and some of my students grappling with the longevity of life.

My primary classes have been learning about procedures, and my 7 year olds were invited to make a paper boat. I tried before the lesson but couldn’t fathom the last step, so I asked my colleague for some help.

Like any good Blue Peter presenter, I had two that I had prepared earlier as a model. However, in the class, it all went a bit pear-shaped. I encouraged the children to fold it one too many times, so we were doomed from the start.

Then, when it came to the final inside-out manoeuvre, there were nearly tears. The desks were littered with crumpled and ripped paper. The children became frantic, wanting to have something to show their parents. I hastily threw more sheets of paper at them and encouraged them not to give up.

Finally, one of the students came to my rescue. In the end, everyone walked away with some sort of boat-shaped thing, although I dismissed the class ten minutes late. Oops.

Fast thinking
During Ramadan, I try to avoid any mention of food or drink to save the rumbling bellies of my Muslim students before sunset. I’ve even covered up pictures on my sound boards.

However, one thing I cannot control is our course material. In one activity, we did a dictation and the final line was ‘Suddenly, I was very hungry.’ Then in the comprehension task, the unfortunate question, Which word means the same as ‘famished?’ 

I allowed some students to skip that page until they got home. My next class had to unscramble this:


Cor blimey, Guv’nor!
I didn’t realise I was teaching Victorian Cockney English…

I proudly displayed these on my classroom door as it is a British institution. However, when my boyfriend’s mum came to visit recently, we requested Yorkshire Tea. The packaging just isn’t as pretty…


Sneaky silent letters
Many children I teach do not initially know how to alphabetise, and my theory is that many do not have access to a dictionary at home. Instead, they Google the meaning of a word on their tablet or phone, rather than discovering it (and other words) the old-fashioned way.

When I set an extra dictionary challenge, even my 10 year olds were slow to find the words. One became very confused because he believed that silent letters didn’t count. It took me a while to convince him that although you don’t hear it, you still spell it with the sneaky letter at the front.

The concept of time is a funny thing for a child. My students often guess my age within the ranges of 7 to 50 years old. I tried to explain short versus long term goals, but I’m not sure if this child understood:


Trust me, I’m a teacher
In a one-to-one class this week, I very nearly got the giggles. The student was trying to blend the word ‘programme’ but he kept adding another syllable to the end, saying, pro-gram-me. I explained that we don’t hear ‘me’ at the end, but he continued to say it.

We clapped the word out, but he would say the two syllables along with me before adding a sly ‘me’ at the end in defiance. We must have tried it a dozen times. I will never admit that any American spelling is superior to British English, but perhaps in this one case it might just have helped him.

New idea for Bake Off


Stating the obvious
One thing I love about teaching young learners is how literal they are. I suppose we should never assume anything!


One of my 5 year old students shared a song with the class that teaches you how to draw a pig. Check out my YouTube demonstration here. You’ve been warned: it’s very catchy.

Finally, I wanted to share some of the rewards of teaching with you. These messages brightened my day, despite the leading question:



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