Anytime is a great time to take learning outside the classroom, but it's a particularly nice time in term 4 in Australia to go outside because the weather is getting sunnier and warmer.

Kids love being outside during the school day. At recess and lunch breaks they get to relax, play, and be social. As teachers, we can use the outdoors, and outside of the school grounds, as teaching spaces which are highly engaging, a novelty to students, and can break up the school day.

An easy resource to use is chalk! Use the concrete or asphalt as the paper, and chalk instead of pens and pencils. Students can practice writing letters or high frequency words, write maths sums, draw 2D shapes, draw life cycles of plants and animals, create mazes (perfect for STEM and Design and Technology), write a poem, play a friendly game of Noughts and Crosses... the options are endless! It's fun, it can encourage creativity, and chalk drawings are great for motor skills and upper body strength/control.

Science and STEM activities work wonderfully outside! Creating colourful paintings using bubble mixture coloured by food dye, testing soil samples to find out if they are loamy, sandy or clay-y, testing plasticine boats to see how much they can hold before they sink, creating mazes in the sandpit, and doing an Earth's surface field study are just some ideas. You could also look at the natural changes that occur during the changing seasons, make a sundial and look at how the sun moves, search for mini-beasts/bugs, explore forces such as push and pull, or create a larger scale model of the Solar System on your basketball courts or ovals.

Sport is an obvious suggestion for doing learning outside. But, you might also like to investigate going to your nearest ten pin bowling lanes or lawn bowls club to expand your students' physical education experiences. You could create an obstacle course on the play equipment to practice location and directional vocabulary. And, of course, a game of Poison Ball is fun, too!

Going further outside the school grounds, School Camps are awesome learning experiences for our students. They practice independence, getting along and resilience. Don't forget to continue the 'camp' learning back at school by writing and drawing about the activities they did on camp, discussing their feelings and the strategies they used when they were unsure or were taking a risk, and even recreating some of the activities, but maybe on a smaller/simpler scale.

If your school goes through some building changes (like mine is) embrace the change! I take my class out every couple of days to look at and discuss the construction site, to see what has changed and to look at the different equipment and vehicles they are using to change our school. This can be incorporated in lots of different ways in class, as well, like plotting the changes on a calendar to look at how much time has passed, designing and creating models of a "dream school building", recording or graphing the different materials students have seen on the work site, or exploring the process for constructing and building and follow or writing a procedural text to create a mini building.

What are your favourite activities to do to take learning outside?

Happy teaching, 
Jem (Jem's Bright Buttons)

Hi all, it's Christie here from My Mum, the Teacher. 
Today I've decided to write about what gift to get your child's teacher for Christmas - yes, yes, I know it's months away but after being asked by many friends, and seeing many more posts popping up on social media, I thought I would do a post to answer this question and provide some what to get and what not to get ideas!

As teacher’s we don’t actually expect anything – so when we receive gifts, we are truly amazed and grateful. It shows that you’ve appreciated what we’ve done for your child across the year, and that you respect us. Whether it’s a Christmas present, a thank you note/card or just an end-of-year farewell gift, here are some of the gifts I’ve received in the past:

I love getting cute Christmas ornaments and they always have a special place in my house or on our Christmas tree (and the other bonus is they’re small & aren’t dust collectors that get in the way). I’ve even kept some in my classroom boxes and use them to decorate the classroom tree!

A nice Christmas dish and some delectables are never scoffed at – I got this lovely Maxwell Williams plate and box of Lindt Choccies this week from one of the parents of a child I taught this year! It’s nice to feel appreciated.

I’ve also received some lovely gifts including perfume (and a good one at that), coffee mugs, photo frames, stationary, chocolates and glassware.

A very special gift I received at the end of my first teaching job was two beautiful Willow Tree ornaments –
these were from a mother of a boy who had ASD. I worked very hard with him in the two terms I had him, and he made tremendous progress. Again, it’s things like these that I keep and provide me with a reminder of the appreciation some have for the work I do.

So here are my top gift ideas for teachers:

1.    A hand written note/card – this reinforces that you appreciate what we have done throughout the year. It’s the simplest things that often make the biggest impact.

2.  Vouchers – movie, iTunes, coffee, local cafes & restaurants - and if you know your teacher well enough, a voucher to their favourite clothing, nail or hair salon or homewares/craft store is also a nice idea.

3.   Simple (and inexpensive) jewellery – now you do have to be careful here because what you may like, the teacher necessarily won’t, but if you know your teacher well enough go ahead!

4.   Nice pamper packs – now some sites say to stear clear of these, but if they’re a good quality brand I quite like receiving them as I often leave a hand cream in my bag, car, on my desk, near the kitchen sink, bedside table etc.

5.   Massage voucher – I don’t know of anyone who would turn down one of these! Especially at the end of the year! If there is a good place near where your teacher lives, go for it!
6.  Baked Goods - and don't just do them for your child's teacher. Make a big tin of yummy treats and send it in to the staffroom. Trust me, you'll be everyone's favourite parent!

Some things NOT to give to teachers may include:
  • Money – we cannot accept this (as much as we’d like to).
  • Coffee Mugs – I personally don’t drink coffee (yes, I know I’m strange), and these can add up pretty quickly over the years.
  • Anything ‘teacher theme’ – as cute as you may think anything with a ruler, apple, schoolhouse or chalkboard themed trinket may be, where exactly are we to keep all of these throughout our teaching years? Classrooms are small and have limited space as it is, and I don’t have an ‘ode-to-teaching’ decorated room at home.
  • A photo of your child – as much as I liked them, I don’t need an individual photo of them. Their class photo is enough to ensure I’ll remember them.
  • A gardening kit or a pot decorated with your child’s hand prints and some quip about “how my child bloomed this year” or thanking them for “planting the seeds of knowledge.”

Today I am writing my first blog post for the Australian Teacher’s Blog, having recently joined the list of collaborators. A little about me; I am Alison from Teaching Maths with Meaning. I have been teaching for 11 years and started off loving Maths and Science, but now I am a lover of all things Primary Education! I am currently on family leave, spending time at home with my toddler, but I am relief teaching throughout the week to keep my hand in the game. I love teaching everyday I get the chance, teacher for life!
Teaching Maths with Meaning

Today I want to talk about multiplication, specifically the teaching of Times Tables. We all have those students who love daily times tables tests, quickly remembering sums and recording them. As the days go on, they move up to the next level and get faster and faster. But what happens to those who are stuck on the x2 tables day after day? Perhaps they are slow, maybe they struggle memorising facts, maybe they know the answers just have trouble recording them? Whatever it is that holds these children back, should it be held against them everyday?

I believe learning times tables by rote definitely has a place in the classroom. I have taught so many students who love the challenge and get excited by daily tests. But the other students concern me, if I ignore their needs do they go onto Grade 5/6 and High School not knowing how to solve simple multiplication sums?

So what can we do? My biggest tip is get to know the multiplication sums individually, look at the numbers and look at the patterns. Memorising sums or songs may help some students, but may not help everyone in your class.

Forming arrays are where the discussion of multiplication begins. Students learn this skill in Foundation and gradually build on their understanding. At the beginning of your discussion on Timestables, you could teach the game Array Boxes – it’s a great reminder for students, as well as fun to see the game board fill up. Also head to NZ Maths for a great activity on Multiplication Stories. 

Skip Counting
Then I explicitly teach students to use skip counting to solve multiplication sums, we even use our fingers! Skip Counting can be done as a warm up verbally, written down on whiteboards or using the repeated addition on a calculator. Simply enter 5+5= on a calculator then continue to push =. It will skip count. Ask students to shut their eyes and press = until you tell them to stop, they love the competition! It leads to great discussion also.

So with skip counting we can check off
x2 tables = done!
x5 tables = done!
x10 tables = done!

Double Double
Approaching the 4 times tables as a double double is a great strategy. So if students know 2x4 = 8, then double it and they know 4x4 = 16, 2x10 = 20 so 4x10 = 40 therefore Double Double!

x4 tables = done!

This approach can also be used for the x6 times tables if student's know the x3 times tables. 3x6 = 18 which means 6x6 must equal double 18.

x6 tables = done!

This strategy can also be used for the 12 times tables but there are easier ways.

Visual Strategies
There are some great videos on youtube teaching times tables strategies. I particularly like this one for the 3 times tables. By creating a simple grid, you can show the pattern when counting by 3. The same presenter has a video for learning x7 tables which is equally as easy!

x3 tables = done!
x7 tables = done!

Times tables charts are on display in my classroom and students are encouraged to use them. If we are completing a longer multiplication sum, students can show me they understand the process and get the answer correct, even if they can't memorise their sums.

We all know the x9 trick using your fingers - I often see students using this strategy in class time. If you are unsure about it check out this explanation.

x9 tables = done!

11 Times Tables = Easy!
Students often find the 11 times tables fun and easy and can quickly recall the double of the number, until the reach 11x10.

x11 tables = done!

Addition assisting Multiplication
When teaching the 12 times tables, simply break the sum up. If student's know their 10 times tables and know their 2 times tables, then they can solve any 12 times tables problem.
12 x 4 =
10 x 4 = 40
2 x 4 = 8
So 40 + 8 = 48 therefore 12 x 4 = 48

3 for Free
Teaching students the strategy of 3 for Free helps them understand that if they know
3 multiply 4 = 12
They also know
4 multiply 3 = 12
12 divided by 4 = 3
12 divided by 3 = 4
Using this strategy will give students double the number of times tables. You can learn more about this strategy here

Some Resources You Might Like

This art/maths activity is based on skip counting where student’s draw lines to create circular patterns. Discuss the different patterns different numbers make. Students will be able to visually see the link between different sets of timetables.

Find out more about the 3 for Free Strategy in this pack, where you can purchase fact family cards to use in games and in class activities.

Check out this Times Tables Pack from Paula's Place or Times Table Posters from Miss Jacob's Little Learners for posters, checklists and activities. 

I hope you found this blog post useful, until next time,


Hi teachers!

Did you know that there are a whole heap of awesome Australian-based teaching resources to assist you in your classroom just waiting to be downloaded? And what's even better is that lots of them are FREE!
I'm Chantelle from Miss Jacobs Little Learners and today I'm going to be giving you some links to some really useful free resources that you can download to use with your kiddos!


Aussie FREEBIES Pinterest Board

Firstly, if you are on Pinterest, I highly recommend following the 
Aussie FREEBIE Teaching Resources Board which you can find here:

This board will link you to numerous free resources that have been designed and created by Australian teachers for all curriculum areas.

Free Literacy Resources

Reading Comprehension Story Wands

Word Wall Cards: QLD Font (also available in other State fonts)

Seasons - Writing Activity

Journal Writing Tasks for Grade 3-4

Free Numeracy Resources

Take a Chance Game

Fish Frenzy

Australian Money Match Game

Australian Coin Spinners 

Australian Feral Animals Hunt - Maths Game


Birthday Toppers

Become a Kind Student

Australian Flag

Classroom Committees


When you download free resources from TPT, it is always nice to leave some feedback for the creators who spent time developing these resources. 
Your feedback is always appreciated! 

Back to Top