Saturday, 5 September 2015

Using Castles to Cover the Curriculum

Hello and welcome back! I don't know where the last six weeks disappeared to - we wait in eager anticipation for the summer break to arrive and when it does it just seems to zoom by! I can't believe that we're now back at school, well and truly back into the swing of things. Oh well, here's counting down to half term in eight weeks....

Although I didn't get away anywhere during the holidays, I did manage to spend lots of time enjoying my beautiful Wales. Wales has so much to offer, from great cities, shopping, eating out, theatre and music, to the most glorious countryside ranging from sparkling white sandy beaches, dunes, craggy cliffs and coves, to rolling green hills, patchwork quilt countryside and towering, dramatic mountains. One of the seven Celtic nations of the world, Wales can boast its own language (we are a bilingual nation) and a rich history of proud Celtic traditions and culture.

The earliest inhabitants of Wales were Celts from continental Europe, who migrated in several waves.  The Romans occupied most of Wales, where they built roads and forts, mined gold and conducted commerce, but their interest in it was limited, because of the difficult geography and shortage of flat agricultural land. They established several forts, including Caerleon (Isca), Chester (Deva) and Caernarfon (Segontium) and one major town in Wales - Caerwent (Venta Silurum). The Silures were the major tribe of south-east Wales. Their military leader, Caratacus (Caradoc), had joined them from another, defeated, tribe. Under his leadership, they defied the Romans for a period after the Claudian invasion, but eventually Caratacus was captured and taken to Rome, where his dignified bearing made such an impression on the people that his life was spared.

When Rome withdrew its rule from Britain in AD 410, Wales was left self-governing. One of the reasons for the Roman withdrawal was the pressure put upon the empire's military resources by the incursion of barbarian tribes from the east. These tribes, including the Angles and Saxons, were unable to make inroads into Wales, but they gradually occupied the whole of England, leaving Wales cut off from her Celtic relations in Scotland. Wales was divided into a number of separate territories, and for a single man to rule the whole country at this period was rare, the first to do so being Rhodri Mawr, during the 9th century AD. Rhodri's grandson, Hywel Dda, succeeded in drawing up a standard legal system and brought peace to the country, but, on his death, his territories were once again divided.  A major difficulty in achieving national unity was the inheritance system practised in Wales. All sons received an equal share of their father's property (including illegitimate sons). Liberal as this policy was, it resulted in frequent internecine violence and the division of small territories into still smaller ones, so that, by the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066, Wales was again fragmented. The princes of Gwynedd, in the north, were increasingly dominant. Owain Gwynedd, who died in 1170, had a strong hold on his principality, but, following his death, his sons squabbled and murdered one another. Out of the ensuing power struggle eventually arose the greatest of all Welsh leaders, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, also known as Llywelyn Fawr or Llywelyn the Great, but internal strife again broke out after his death, culminating in the rise to power of his grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Llywelyn the Last.  He gained the antagonism of King Edward I of England, who determined to complete the conquest of Wales. After Llywelyn's death in battle in 1282, only token resistance was offered by the surviving princes. King Edward's ring of impressive stone castles assisted the domination of Wales, and he crowned his achievement by giving the title Prince of Wales to his son and heir in 1301.   In 1400, a Welsh nobleman, Owain Glyndwr, revolted against King Henry IV of England, inflicted several military defeats, and succeeded in evading capture, but he did not have the strength to survive as a leader. Subsequently, a Welshman, Henry Tudor, gained the throne as King Henry VII of England.

The evidence of this is easily spotted in Wales. You do not have to look hard to find ruins of Norman castles and Roman forts. Caerleon, the home of around 6000 Roman soldiers, has a well preserved bath house, barracks and amphitheatre. Caerwent has shops, villas, a basilica, a forum and even a Roman temple. Some of the best castles in the world can be found in Wales, including Raglan, Harlech, Caerphilly, Chepstow, Caernarfon and Conwy - a World Heritage Site. In addition, the ruins of Tintern Abbey and Valle Crucis stand in painful witness to Henry VIII's ruthless pillaging of the monasteries.

I love history, and consider myself truly blessed to live in a country where I can reach out and touch the evidence. Over the summer I walked the ruins of mighty stone castles, piecing them back together stone by stone in my mind until I had conjured up a picture of what they would have been in their glory days. I trod the footings of Roman barracks, knowing that Roman feet had left their footprints almost 200 years ago. I wandered around the remains of magnificent monasteries, saddened by the mindless dereliction inflicted by Henry VIII. It was truly awe inspiring.

So how can we bring history to life for children who have little concept of time, who live in an age where technology moves so fast that it becomes outdated within weeks, where new inventions and discoveries are happening every day? Our children cannot imagine a life before mobile phones, the internet and ipods: they have never seen a vinyl record and can't imagine why anyone would need to feed coins into a slot to make a phone call! Sometimes timelines just don't hit the mark.

It saddens me when I hear people say that they don't like history. History is what has made us who we are, for better or worse, and if we don't have an appreciation of where we came from and what made us, then it's difficult to know why we act in a particular way and hold certain beliefs. Bring history alive! Breathe life into old tales! Field trips are great and don't need to cost the earth. Dress up as Romans, eat meals, teach lessons, play games as they did. Children love to see, touch and explore things for themselves, so give them every opportunity to do so. If you haven't got the luxury of having the real thing on your doorstep, be creative!

Cadw, the Welsh Government's Historic Environment Service, has produced an education programme to help school groups to tackle subjects including literacy, numeracy, geography, science, technology, engineering and mathematics while on their historical visits. Click on the image to take you to a full list of resources.

Castell Coch

Friday, 21 August 2015

How to make Geography lessons stick

How to make geography le
ssons stick - Educents 
How do you teach geography? Do you spend hours creating a map, labelling, cutting and pasting? It's so fun imagining all the ways this Mona MELisa reusable US Map that can be used in the classroom or at home. All the states, capitols, and geogra phic information is ready for you to stick on to the map!

  Here are a few geography activities to try:
  1. Playing "Name That State" with family an d friends during the holidays. What better way to get the whole family together than a game for kids of all ages. Work in teams or alone to identify stat es and challenge seasoned family members in lightning fast rounds.
  2. Need a little direction? Use the compass to have children in the class describe where states are in relation to each other.Let your kiddos take turns directing each other around the country by using the directions on the compass. They'll have an awesome time walking their fingers from east from west in search of the correct state-- but be sure to watch out for the oceans!
  3. Guess and reveal state capitals by peeling awa y the brightly colored shapes. Remembering capitals can be tricky, but the easy to peel states with state capitals hidden underneath offer up a great way to ditch the flashcards and take the learning to the walls!
  4. Keep track of where you've been (or where you're going). I love this one! Use the state names to label the states wh ere all of the students in your class have been.
What a cool tool for your geography lessons! Don't miss out on all this time-saving geography tool, so be sure to check out the discounted Peel, Play & Learn sets on the Educents site. Mona Melissa Peel &amp
; Play Geography Set
Looking for more ways to save on geography resources? Check out more geography deals.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Back to school Science projects

Check out these science experiments, science freebies, and science books that will make back-to-school fun for everyone. Science Projects - Educents Blog

Magic School Bus Polymer Group Pack

Seat belts everyone! Get ready to grow amazing polymers! Young Scientists grow super balls, snow, rainbow beads, crystal gels, and polymer flowers while learning about the importance and science of super-absorbent polymers. This kit provides enough materials for 30 students and is great for the classroom, after-school programs, science enrichment, boys and girls scouts, camps, and a Magic School Bus birthday Party!

FREE - Osmosis: The Colourful Celery Experiment

Experiment - Educents Blog
Are you teaching your students about osmosis? Perhaps it is a part of your science curriculum, or maybe you want to just do a little experimenting... The Colourful Celery Experiment is the perfect introduction to Osmosis. Your students will learn how water moves with this fun experiment.


Science Story eBooks - 50% OFF

Follow Merrin and Pearl to combine science with adventure in Brainiacs. Also learn about the nervous, digestive, immune, skeletal and circulatory system with a five part series from Human Body Detectives eBooks.

Magic School Bus Inspired Planet Study - 30% OFF

Plan games, worksheets, and colouring pages to expand your young astronomer's understanding of space! Planets  

More Science Resources

Looking for more inspiration for science experiments? Check out these resources:
  • The Young Scientists Club - Engage boys and girls around the world in an educational science ad venture that lasts a lifetime.
  • Science printables for older kids - Teach With Fergy offers printable task cards, complete science un its, PowerPoint lessons, and more!
  • STEM Mystery Books - Teach science and math with these books full of dozens of one-minute mysteries that kids love to solve!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Grab some bargains in the TPT One Day Bonus Sale

Don't miss your chance to grab some great bargains today in the TPT One Day Bonus Sale!
There are loads of resources in my store that you can use for the first few weeks back at school, including "First Day Jitters" and "The Apple Pie Tree". You will also find lots of resources to support Common Core, and a whole range of colourful Open House slideshows, including pirates, cheerleaderscarnival and my latest sock hop theme.
My whole store is on sale at 20% off! And if you use the discount code MORE15 at checkout, you will save even more. Clicking either of the TPT ads will take you straight to my store.
Happy shopping all!

Free lessons for kids about Ancient Egypt

Tut Mini Unit - Educents
Students LOVE to learn about King Tut and Ancient Egypt! Download a FREE lesson for kids about Ancient Egypt and jump into King Tut's history! The freebie has several activities included in this pack, including reading comprehension, math review, map skills, and timeline practice, so there are a multiple ways to use them.

Hieroglyphics Math

King Tut Mini Unit - Educents
Use these fun pages to practice place value and/or addition and subtraction skills! Page 12 of the King Tut Mini-Unit Freebie asks students use the symbols to determine the number. The following page goes a step further and asks students add or subtract numbers.

Fun facts about Ancient Egypt:

  • The Egyptian alphabet contained more than 700 hieroglyphs!
  • Egyptians believed cats were a sacred animal and having a pet cat would bring a household good luck.
  • Ancient Egyptians invented pens, toothpaste, and a game very similar to bowling.

More Ancient Egypt resources:

Mini Bio: King Tut - Here's a mini bio about King Tut to go with your mini unit!

Ancient Egypt Lapbook - Study interesting facts about the discovery of hieroglyphic writing, the Rosetta Stone, the great King Tutankhamun, the lovely Cleopatra and more. Recipes From Egypt - Delight your little cooks with two authentic and easy-to-make recipes from Egypt: Tameya (the original veggie burger), and Basboosa (Semolina cake with honey and lemon). My Book About E gypt - My Book About Egypt takes elementary students to the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Damietta, and Giza.   King Tut Mini Unit - Educents Want free lessons for kids about Ancient Egypt? Download the King Tut Mini-Unit Freebie on Educents!

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