Pass it on
Here is a way to help children classify and make connections. I have in my classroom a large Venn diagram, formed from two intersecting circles of brightly coloured string stapled to a board. The circles have detachable labels which are changed regularly. At present they are labelled "all sides equal" and "at least one right angle"; every child cuts out a drawn or traced plane shape which must fit a circle or intersection. For instance, a 5cm square could go in the intersection. They attach their contributions with a blob of Blu-Tac to build a focus for a discussion on properties of shapes.
Next week's labels will read "multiples of 3" and "even numbers" followed by "manmade" and "natural" for classifying materials. A box of blank paper strips ecourages children to add to the display as ideas occur to them. It also provides a sorting activity to reinforce spelling rules. It can encourage careful scrutiny of words and thoughtful oral classification of plants and animals.
It takes only seconds to strip and replace labels and contents of the circles and the complexity of the diagram can be adapted to suit ability. Children feel they "own" the display. They add to it at any time and readily query the eligibility of a doubtful entry.
Mary Montgomery Deputy Head, St Patrick's Primary, Newport, Wales * Have you made a useful discovery that you would like to share with your colleagues? Each succ-esful tipster wins a free copy of Ted Wragg's Guide to Education or Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley's Children Just Like Me. Send your tips (indicating preferred book) to Maureen McTaggart at The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171 782 3200