The Acorns really can’t seem to grasp the idea of the sequence of the months of the year, so I’ve been mulling over an idea for presenting the order of the year in a way that makes it personal to them. When Cheerz asked me if I wanted to review their
photo magnet printing service my musing suddenly bore fruit – rather than fiddling around drawing out bits of paper with seasonal ideas on each, I could simply print out a photo magnet for each month. I chose the retro-style photo magnets as they came as a set of 12 and had space underneath for a printed label, but I also really liked the sweet heart-shaped magnet option available. I browsed my photo archives to find images of the kids for each month, with as many clues about time of year as possible, then quickly uploaded the images on the simple-to-use website. I cropped and labelled each photo, and just a few days later the cute little gift box of photo magnets arrived, ready for our lesson.
I started off with a puzzle in which the boys had to complete a standard linear representation of the year. I wrote the numbers 1 to 12 along the bottom of our whiteboard (a fridge would work just as well) and the boys had to figure out which image came where. We started off by making groups by looking for clues as to where the images came in the sequence, for example grouping the frosty and cold looking images together, and the sunny ones separately. Then Ollie read out the months for Toby, and using their rough groupings they tried to place the images in order.
They got the idea of the seasons from the images really quickly, along with the images from their birthdays, but struggled getting the sequence exactly right, so we brought in another clue in the form of a calendar our German friend sent us. The months were in in German on this calendar, so Ollie had to read the months out and then the boys had to use their foreign language skills in order to help complete the puzzle. This might seem like over complicating things, but to them it was just clues in a game. When they were happy with their sequence we checked it against our normal calendar. Getting the kids to check things for themselves has a lot more learning value than me just simply saying that something is correct. I then asked the boys what happened in December? Did the world just stop? This lead to the boys giving the idea that the months are a cycle.
To reinforce the image of the months cycling from December into the new year, I asked the boys to arrange the images like a clock, with December at 12 o’clock. I was really happy that the quality of the magnets was very sturdy so they withstood a lot of handling without getting damaged or covered in fingerprints when the boys manipulated the magnets into the positions they wanted. This image of the year as a cycle was a lightbulb moment for Toby and you could see that flash and smile kids get when they understand a concept for the first time. I then asked the boys to take turns marking on their birthdays with arrows, like the hands of a clock, and that of myself and Matt. They added initials to label each arrow, and I added initials around the clock to show where other family members birthdays were, so the boys could see who in the family shared a birthday month with them.
This kind of activity, where children stand up, write on a big board and use more of their
body has been shown to have benefits both to learning and to health. For example, working standing up is thought to help aid concentration because it increases blood circulation and through that increases alertness. Kids behaviour improves when they are not made to sit down for long periods because they can burn off more energy when standing, and their core strength and posture benefits too. Writing on a board uses different muscles to writing on paper, especially when the kids are stretching up and reaching across themselves, so both fine and gross motor skills are developed. But best of all, it’s fun, so when the boys had finished with their lovely new magnets, they naturally progressed into producing big drawings of the boats from the ‘How to train your dragon’ series of books they are currently obsessed with. Talking of books, I have an idea for printing photograph booth style bookmarks for the boys…
Notes: I received a voucher code for a set of photo magnets from Cheerz in return for a fair and honest review. All images, opinions and the lesson ideas are my own.