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Pass it on

It is always difficult to keep young children occupied during a wet afternoon. To get older pupils to sit quietly, I sometimes suggest they attempt to draw each other. This de-mands a lot of concentration and whiles away playtime peacefully. They could aso try to produce a newspaper during wet playtimes. This kind of activity involves the whole class as each pupil has to try to think of a different article. Younger children are a different kettle of fish. If the school hall is unoccupied, invite them to take part in some on-the-spot aerobics. It's great fun and certainly uses up a lot of energy.

Ruth Glegg Supply teacher in Aberdeen

For teaching addition and subtraction of tens and units with base ten rods and cubes and a place value sheet - laminate the sheets (if you have a laminator) and get children to write numbers on with a dryboard marker. The child then places the tens rods and unit cubes on top of the relevant numerals. This helps them make the connection between what they are writing in their books and the practical activity, and reinforces understanding of place value. After each operation the child simply wipes the (very durable) sheet clean with a dryboard eraser. When the light dawns the child relinquishes the marker and eraser.

Peter Pozman Deputy head at St Augustine's C of E First School, Bradford

To liven up a lesson in animal classification, try to get hold of a set of animal picture cards to use with the traditional branching key method. Draw the key on the blackboard, dividing the animal kingdom into vertebrates and invertebrates. Place a pile of cards on each table and get the children to divide them up like the key on the board: they should overlap them to show the name of each animal pictured. When the children have worked through all the cards, direct them to divide the cards among the five vertebrate groups mentioned on the blackboard. Once pupils have mastered this, encourage them to tackle the more difficult divisions of insects, crustaceans, arthropods and so on. When I tried this with my Year 6 children it resulted in a really dynamic lesson as children discussed, argued and decided which animal fitted where. Those who finished before the lunch bell visited other groups to observe their results.

By the end of the lesson I felt I had achieved a concrete, visual representation of a fairly abstract concept, which more than adequately met the demands of my mixed-ability class.

Peter Leyland Year 6 teacher at Woodland Middle School, Bedford

Have you made a simple but useful discovery which saves time, quietens the class on a wet afternoon - or helps the children learn? Please share it with your colleagues: each successful tipster wins either a free copy of Ted Wragg's Guide to Education or Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley's Children Just Like Me. Indicate your choice on your submitted tips when you send them to Maureen McTaggart at The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171 782 3200

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