This week we spoke to primary school teacher Mrs Dunn, who shared some fabulous arts and crafts activities with us. Read on for more on her original ideas and our interview with her.
Hello Mrs Dunn! First of all - please could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?
Hi there! My name’s Julia and I work as a teacher in Stockport. I qualified as a teacher six years ago and taught Year 5 in my NQT year, before moving to Year 6, where I’ve taught for the past 5 years.
Idea 1 - An emotion palette. Encourage your charge to visualise abstract concepts such as happiness, anger or fear using only paints and paper
How did you initially get into teaching?
I obtained a degree in Early Childhood Studies at Liverpool John Moores University in 2012, before taking a year out to have my son. When he turned one, I enrolled on a distance-learning based PGCE at the University of Cumbria. Whilst this took longer to complete than the average PGCE, its flexibility meant it was perfect for me in terms of family life. I was able to secure placements near to my home and lucky enough to secure a permanent role in one of my placement schools, which I absolutely love.
Idea 2 - a painting with a powerful quote can make a wonderful gift for your charge's parents
What do you like best about working with children?
No two days are the same. I enjoy having a laugh with the children and they’ve always got a tale to tell. I love seeing them make progress in my lessons - those lightbulb moments, where they suddenly understand something they’ve been struggling with, make the more challenging days worthwhile.
We all know that keeping order in a classroom can be challenging - How do you keep so many children engaged, and what tips could you give for a nanny or governess wanting to keep their charges on the ball?
I try to make lessons as exciting as possible and I like the children to produce work in exciting ways, such as creating Instagram profiles for famous people, writing adverts using eBay templates and producing longer pieces of text in an origami-style. Keeping things interesting means I am always excited about lessons, too - there’s no time to get bored! My advice would be to make lessons as engaging as possible by keeping things fresh and interesting - following educators on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration always helps, too - and of course, following me if you haven’t already @mrsdunnprimary!
Idea 3 - Encourage your charges to design their own comic strip
How do you personally go about creating a good learning environment for your students? Do you have any particular tips or ideas that nannies and governesses can use?
My classroom is my absolute pride and joy. During last year’s lockdown, we completely overhauled it to make it as minimalist as possible and went for a neutral theme, which the children adore. A clutter-free, clean and tidy environment means that the class can focus on what they’re doing without too many distractions. Everything has a place and the children know that we expect them to take care of the learning environment as well. I have lots of pictures of my classroom overhaul over on my social media profiles - it was even retweeted by the Department of Education!
Idea 4 - Work with your charges to create a learning space, using quotes from their favourite books or characters
Might you have any recommendations for keeping learning fresh and fun for nannies working with children who are currently being homeschooled or in a 'lockdown' situation?
If you aren’t enthused by a lesson, chances are the children won’t be. Try to make their learning journeys as exciting as possible. I like the children’s books to look beautiful and create lots of things on Canva to enable them to present information in lots of different ways. At the moment, we’re completing double page spreads on Ancient Greece and the children are loving it. I often show them examples of good work from tweets and posts I find online which inspires them. Lockdowns are no fun and it’s so difficult to keep them engaged - lots of opportunities for physical exercise breaks throughout the day, too.
Idea 5 - Create half pictures on the computer and encourage your charges to complete the second half
Thank you so much for all this information Mrs Dunn! Where can readers find out more about what you do?
I am on Twitter and Instagram @mrsdunnprimary and love to share examples of our learning on there! It would be great to connect with nannies and governesses and share ideas. Give me a follow!