9 Tips for Caring for Your Teacher Voice

9 Tips for Caring for Your Teacher Voice

As a teacher your voice is your most precious resource. I can’t even number the days that I couldn’t go to work simply because my throat was too sore. I didn’t necessarily feel unwell (at least not enough to stay home from school) but without a voice I was useless, so resting my voice was wise.

Do you know how to care for your voice? Here are a few tips and tricks I have learnt over the years (as well as some that I have researched), to keep that voice box working for years to come!

The Technical Stuff

Your voice is produced when your brain is stimulated. The flow of breath from your lungs causes the vocal folds in your larynx to vibrate. The vibrations resonate in the space of the the throat, mouth and nose and become your voice. Voice training is an excellent way to prolong the life of your voice.

Voice Care Tips

  1. Your throat cannot stay too dry – keep your voice moist with plenty of water. NOT ALCOHOL ;P
  2. When you are talking breathe through your nose – this helps to filter and humidify the air. NOT THROUGH YOUR MOUTH!
  3. Try not to talk for too long at any one time – enjoy your breaks and rest the voice as often as possible.
  4. Raising your voice causes damage to the tissues of the larynx so quiet voices are good.
  5. Don’t cough and clear our throat habitually, drink water and clear the throat gently.
  6. If you have a cold or flu avoid talking as much as you can.
  7. Tip for the ladies (boys can block their ears!). During the premenstrual period your voice can be prone to sensitivity. Take extra care within this period by drinking lots of water, limited alcohol and lots of downtime.
  8. Beware of the following irritants: caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, antihistamines, diuretics, cocaine and marijuana, vitamin C, cigarette smoke.
  9. The only way to use any of the above is in moderation, with lots of water.

I truly hope this helps you and your voice function for many years to come!

If you have any other tips or tricks, add them in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Online Professional Development Courses for Teachers – 7 of the Best!

Online Professional Development Courses for Teachers – 7 of the Best!

Finding it difficult to fill your Professional Development hours for the year? Have no fear; we have you covered! Not only are all of these short courses accessible online but they all offer FREE courses. And we know how much teachers love free things ;p

So read on and take your pick and know that you will be covered for another year with the content that these course providers offer.

“To develop professionally: Adopt a beginner’s mindset, stay teachable, seek feedback, teach others, embrace teamwork.” – Dan McCabe

This website is an initiative funded by the Victorian Government. It provides a wide variety of free options for teacher professional development, including webinars and on demand learning sessions. Click through using the link above to find out what free goodies they have on offer!

“Take time to invest in yourself as much as others… By doing so, I have seen that the impact I can have on others is greater when I am in a better place and space.” – Jimmy Casas

CSER MOOC courses
These programs are run by the University of Adelaide and are designed to support Australian teachers with implementing the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. These are free online courses that provide teachers with background knowledge about concepts and topics in the curriculum, as well as practical examples that can be tried in the classroom.

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” – John Cotton Dana

Future Learn
Join millions of people from around the world learning together. Future Learn offers courses in a variety of categories with most courses accessible for free. The variety of their courses offers a fun way to explore subjects you’re passionate about.

“Life is growth. If we stop growing technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead.” – Morihei Ueshiba

Be You – Beyond Blue
Be You is a free, evidence-based online professional development package that provides educators and learning communities with the building blocks to support good mental health in children and young people.

“Professional development to support teachers is our greatest need. It’s important to scaffold what is expected of teachers as much as it is of students.” – Michael Soguero

Microsoft Education
Microsoft offer a wide variety of courses, all categorised from Beginner to Advanced, to support teachers in learning new skills and discover classroom activities aligned with integrating digital technologies in your classroom.

“Expecting excellence from yourself is a choice. Striving for excellence each day is a lifestyle.” – Jimmy Casas

Apple Certified Teacher
Apple Teacher is a free professional learning program designed to support and celebrate educators using Apple products for teaching and learning. As an educator, you can build skills on iPad and Mac that directly apply to activities with your students, earn recognition for the new things you learn and be rewarded for the great work you do every day.

“The most valuable resources that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.” – Robert John Meehan

Happy learning! If you have any other suggestions please feel free to leave a comment below.

Egg Carton ANZAC Day Wreath

Egg Carton ANZAC Day Wreath

There are a lot of different ANZAC Day Wreath ideas out there. This one is budget friendly and offers the opportunity to get your students involved as well!

You will need:
– a large piece of foam board (or cardboard from a box)
– at least two egg cartons (more if you want more poppies)
– acrylic paint: red, black and green
– scissors
– stanley knife
– string
– skewer
– lead pencil
– craft glue
Lest We Forget template
– paintbrushes
– sponge dabber (optional)

Making your wreath:
Make your wreath from foam board or cardboard.
1. This can be done by marking the centre of your cardboard with a pencil. Measure a piece of string from this centre point to the edge of your cardboard (leave a little extra before cutting. And from the centrepoint, move your string around to make sure the string doesn’t leave the cardboard – if it does make it slightly shorter).

Measure the string.

2. Tie one end of the string to a skewer and the other to a lead pencil. Stand the skewer on the centrepoint you created earlier and pull your string tight. The pencil should now be facing down towards the cardboard.

Pull the string tight. Skewer should be on the centre point and the lead pencil facing down towards the cardboard.

3. Keeping the string pulled tight move the pencil around the skewer. Your pencil should be creating a circle on the cardboard.

Keep the pencil pulled tight and draw a circle around the skewer.

4. After you have completed this large circle. Draw a smaller circle inside the large one by using the same technique (just make sure you make the string shorter.

Do the same to make a smaller circle inside the larger one.

5. Use a stanley knife to cut along both circle lines that you have created. You should now have a wreath shape.

Use a stanley knife to cut out the wreath.

Create your poppies.
6. Take your egg cartons and cut away the lid and any extra parts. Leaving you with the egg cup tray (note: don’t through away the extra pieces and lid – you will use those to create your leaves).

Cut all parts off the egg cartons except for the egg cups.

7. Use a stanley knife to cut out each individual cup and then use scissors to tidy up any excess from the cups to make them look neater and more uniform.

Cut out each egg cup.
Tidy them up with scissors to make them look neater.

8. Paint each egg cup with the red paint and then use your sponge dabber (or a paint brush) to paint the centre of each egg cup black.

Paint the egg cups red.
Paint the centre of each egg cup black.

Create your leaves.
9. Put the poppies aside and take the lids and excess pieces from your egg cartons. Paint the green all over. Leave to dry and then cut out leaf shapes from them.

Paint the extra parts from your egg cartons green.
Cut out leaf shapes from the green egg carton pieces once they have dried.

Bring it all together.
10. Take your cardboard wreath shape and glue the Lest We Forget banner to the bottom of it.

Glue the Lest We Forget Banner to the bottom of your wreath.

11. Using craft glue, adhere the poppies to the cardboard wreath.

Secure the poppies to the wreath using craft glue.

12. Use the craft glue to attach the leaves to the wreath as well.

Use craft glue to attach the leaves.

And you are done! Well done :)

The finished product.

Don’t forget to share your wreaths with me on your social media posts! Just use the tag @ridgydidgeresources to grab my attention so I can give your post a little love.


Transitions in the Early Years Classroom

Transitions in the Early Years Classroom

It has been absolutely delightful watching Lucy completely embrace her Kindy experience this year. Every day it seems she comes home a little wiser and with a little bit more understanding about the world around her. Our world is fascinating and it is delightful to see her getting excited about all the new things she is experiencing each day at Kindy.

The other day she came home and was singing one of the songs her teacher uses to settle the children into circle time where they have to listen to the teacher and to one another. Through a simple song (which Lucy adores), she is being trained to settle down and sit quietly. She is learning what to do with her body while listening to someone else speak.

As she was singing this song, memories came flooding back of songs that I used to use when I taught in Early Primary. And yes, even though my resources are strongly Upper Primary, my University training majored in Early Years Education.

The songs that I used in this environment, were usually for transitional purposes (moving from one activity to the next) or like in Lucy’s case, for the purpose of behaviour management. I was so excited to hear her singing her little song that it prompted me to write some of my transition songs down. A copy of these songs can be found at the end of this article.

What are transitions?

But firstly, let’s quickly chat about what transitions are and their purpose in an Early Years classroom.

Transitions are what happen from one activity to another. For example from free play to lunch, lunchtime to story time, a maths activity to handwriting lesson, etc. Transitions happen frequently in the early years as children’s attention spans are less which means there is a frequent change in activity as well. Transitions can form a large part of the day and are a large part of the learning environment and process.

How well your day flows in the classroom depends on how well transitions are handled and allows children to feel safe and secure in the learning environment. Research states that planning for and supporting transitions is beneficial and assists with children’s engagement in a task and motivation.

It is best to manage transitions with care as they are periods when students can become quite disruptive. Transitions keep students engaged and helps students become independent and responsible workers. Carefully managed transitions involve both time management and behaviour management. Successful transitions between lessons or activities are fast moving and have clear beginnings and ends, reducing the amount of ‘down time’ between activities.

The Key to Successful Transitions

Chaotic transitions can occur because students are unsure of what to expect during the day. To avoid this and to ensure that transitions are an effective teaching strategy in Early Childhood classrooms, teachers must give consistent visual or auditory signals and verbal cues to alert students that a period of transition is coming. This should be done in advance so that students have enough notice to finish up what they are working on and prepare for the next activity.

Once students have been given the cue or signal that it is time to make a transition (such as a bell ringing, an alarm going off, clapping hands, etc), teachers should provide enough “wait time” for students to follow through so that they are ready for the next activity or set of instructions. Teachers may find it useful to circulate among students during transition times, to attend to individual student’s needs and questions and help them prepare for the next task.

When to Use Transition Songs

Moving Students

This can be the most chaotic time of the day when students need to move from one activity to another. But it doesn’t have to be. Here is a simple song I used to use after our morning circle time:

Where is Linda?
(tune: Frere Jacques)
A morning song of for circle time

Teacher: Where is Linda? Where is Linda?
Linda: Here I am. Here I am.
Teacher: How are you this morning?
Linda: Very well, I thank you.
Teacher: Hop away. Hop away. (Linda hops away to the activity)
Repeat using other children. Also vary the final action: walk, skip, or jump away, etc.

Quiet and Sitting Still

Little people probably find this the hardest of all instructions to do. Sit and listen quietly. While it will take time for some of your little ones to perfect this skill (and let’s be honest, even some adults have difficulty sitting still and listening), there are some fun ways you can remind yours students of your expectations during these times by using songs. Here is one example:

The words describe the actions

My hands upon my head I’ll place.
upon my shoulders, on my face,
At my waist and by my side,
Then behind me they will hide.
Then I’ll raise them way up high,
And let my fingers fly, fly, fly,
Then clap, clap, clap them–
One – Two – Three!
Now see how quiet they can be.

Clean Up Time

Motivating little ones to stop what they are doing and clean up can be tricky at times but with the help of transition songs, you can get them cleaning up and helping you in now time. Here is one example:

Let’s Clean Up
(Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

Let’s clean up today
Let’s clean up today
We’ve had our fund
Our day is done.
So, let’s clean up today.

For more of these songs please visit our Free Resource Library to get your copy of some more simple songs to help manage the little people in your classroom effectively.

I hope you have found this useful! Please share any other songs that you use frequently in the comments below. Let’s help one another manage our classroom more effectively.

If you found this article interesting you may be interested in exploring these resources further:

Back to School Salt Name Art

Back to School Salt Name Art

At the beginning of the year, within the first week of school, I like to get something up in the classroom that personalises the classroom for the new cohort of students I am teaching. This usually takes the form of some sort of art, whether it be a self-portrait, name art or some sort of personal goal pop art exercise, these little touches from the students themselves really bring the classroom to life!

So today I thought I would share with you a fun name art exercise which as always can be modified to suit any age level. The way I have designed this particular exercise to share with you today, will allow your students to explore mixing primary colours to make new colours. And for the lower primary grades, it also gives your students a fun way to practise writing their name.

So to get started you will need:
– table salt
– Edicol dyes (blue, red, yellow)
– paintbrushes/pipettes (I prefer paintbrushes for this as the amount of paint added can be better controlled for littlies with a paintbrush but up to you)
– craft glue (in squeezy bottles)
– A3/A4 cartridge paper (this paper is thicker than normal printer A3 paper, therefore withstanding higher volumes of liquid without tearing)
– lead pencils
– plastic or baking tray

Here’s how to make your very own salt name art:
1. Give each student an A3/A4 piece of paper. Have them write their name on the piece of paper using their lead pencil and then go over the pencil lines with craft glue – demonstrate squeezing the glue to follow the lines before letting your students loose with the glue!

I used Aquadhere because that is all I had but any child friendly craft glue will work fine.

2. After their name has been fully written with glue, give students some salt to shake over their paper (students will need a lot of salt to ensure it is all covered). Demonstrate to students how to gently lift the paper and tip any excess into a tray at their table (alternatively a teacher or teacher aide may like to assist younger students).

Shake on salt – ensuring coverage of the whole name.
Have a tray on hand for students to shake off excess into.

3. Once the excess salt has been removed, introduce your students to the Edicol dyes. Demonstrate the following to the students: dip just the tip of your paintbrush into the dye (they won’t need a lot of paint to make this work). Wipe off any excess on the sides of the dye container. Touch the salt gently with the paintbrush tip. The dye will transfer to the salt and the salt will spread the colour along the letter.

Encourage students to touch the salt gently – they don’t need to wipe the brush along, the salt will carry the colour along the letter.

4. Using the same technique as described above, encourage your students to use more of the colours to cover the letters of their name. What do they observe? The colours will mix with the other colours, creating new colours. This should prompt a great discussion about mixing primary colours.

Finished product!

Annd you are done! Well done!! I hope you and your students enjoy decorating your classroom with these masterpieces this year. Don’t forget you can send me photos to share on social media either by tagging me in your Instagram posts @ridgydidgeresources or by sending them to my email: ridgydidgeresources@gmail.com

For more free Back to School resources, don’t forget to head to our Free Resource Library!!

Wishing you all the best at the start of this new school year!