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Skills with Frills - A Mindful Approach to Learning and Life

I offer resources, at primary and secondary level, covering a range of curriculum topics and themes. My speciality is skill-based learning, including: collaborative learning, building attention, emotional intelligence & resilience, independence, creativity, self-reflection, overcoming fear of failure and more. Mindfulness, CBT and wellbeing-based strategies underpin most if not all of what I do, sometimes explicitly, sometimes less-so.

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I offer resources, at primary and secondary level, covering a range of curriculum topics and themes. My speciality is skill-based learning, including: collaborative learning, building attention, emotional intelligence & resilience, independence, creativity, self-reflection, overcoming fear of failure and more. Mindfulness, CBT and wellbeing-based strategies underpin most if not all of what I do, sometimes explicitly, sometimes less-so.
Teamwork - 10 Scenarios to discuss to promote smooth teamwork  and conflict resolution
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Teamwork - 10 Scenarios to discuss to promote smooth teamwork and conflict resolution

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Here are 10 different teamwork-based scenarios which pupils (preferably in teams) can discuss, before teamwork gets underway. Each group is given a specific problem and has to discuss together how they would resolve the situation and encourage the team to work together. They then feedback and we discuss as a class. If I have time and students are keen to add some drama, I’ll ask them to act our their scenario and resolution as a role play. As a teacher of life-skills, I saw teamwork as a discreet skill-based subject, as well as linking this in throughout other subject areas. These scenarios are based on the situations that just seemed to happen again and again. I find it extremely useful to use something like this BEFORE teamwork begins - things seem to run a lot more smoothly afterwards. Inevitably, you may still have some problems within groups, but you can refer back to these scenarios and how the class chose to solve problems. I’ve also thrown in a ‘Top Ten Teamwork Tips’ sheet, which students can use alongside this activity and keep in sight to support any partner/group based task. For strategic advice, ideas, lesson plans related to Inclusive Teamwork - ideas that fit nicely with this discussion-based task, go to https://skillswithfrills.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Published-Optimus-magazine-pull-out-Inclusive-Teamwork.pdf for my 4-page pullout in Optimus Educations’ ‘Special Children’ magazine.
Back to School - New Term - 'Getting to know you' activities
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Back to School - New Term - 'Getting to know you' activities

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This is planning I created a few years ago to use with a year 5 class. We were asked to take the whole first week of term with our new classes to perform ‘getting to know you’ activities Take a look at the plan. It worked really well - it was a great week! I’ve also added the pictures we used for the wartime artwork. The kids throughly enjoyed this activity - they looked at the wartime poster and adapted them for school e.g keep calm and carry on working! These posters stayed up in class all year long. Activities are easily adapted for KS1 - KS2 pupils, and parts of this could be taken and used at KS3 in PSHE, Tutor time, Art or History.
Examples of good and bad persuasion - Teachers need chocolate!
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Examples of good and bad persuasion - Teachers need chocolate!

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After many struggles in teaching persuasion and marking ‘persuasive’ writing, I developed this essay based on the need for teachers to have a free chocolate…all the time! The bad example is based on the mistakes that the kids were making. The good example highlights sentence openers etc. that they can use… I’ve used this examples with students at KS2 and KS3 - Modelling the poor example seems to really improve the quality of writing before we even begin.
Significant Authors unit: The Iron Man - Unit plan with resources
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Significant Authors unit: The Iron Man - Unit plan with resources

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A unit of week - around 4 weeks long - based on the Iron Man: Significant Authors unit created by myself and my rather amazing year 4 colleague. The kids really enjoyed reading it, and their writing improved as a result of reading it. Many adopted the style of Ted Hughes without being asked! I’ve added a few of the resources used on request - not all though I’m afraid as for most we used the actually book or old photocopied worksheets (we’re trying to use more handwriting in school!) I’ve not added the wanted poster, but its just a poster with a box saying wanted at the bottom. This unit is suitable for KS2, KS3 and I’d think KS4 students too, with a few ammendments here and there. I loved this unit so much that I repeated it with a KS3 special needs literacy group in year 9. They loved it too! https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/clips/z878q6f - Follow this link too for the first chapter, read by Ted Hughes himself, from the BBC Bitesize website.
Yr 6 Balanced Argument unit - Creative Writing/History - Henry VIII theme
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Yr 6 Balanced Argument unit - Creative Writing/History - Henry VIII theme

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This is a literacy unit, lasting one week, based on balanced argument. Pupils spend the first part of the week reading/evaluating sources and then put together their own balanced argument. Normally, the week would end with a big write to test the children’s skills but we had a random observation on Friday so we joint-planned the Goldilocks lesson - see extra notebook file. All three year 6 teachers received ‘outstanding’ observation feedback for Goldilocks :-) The unit mixes English and Literacy with History source skills through our Henry VIII topic. I’ve used elements of this when teaching Tudors to Year 8 pupils in History lessons.
Christmas Team Challenge - 4 lessons - Christmas around the World
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Christmas Team Challenge - 4 lessons - Christmas around the World

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I did this with year 4 in the final week before christmas holidays. They loved it! It was very structured groupwork - pupils in country teams researching how christmas is celebrated in their country, then presented this at the end. Our main learning outcome was to develop teamwork skills and we did this through a structured approach. But we also worked on our research and writing skills, creativity, speaking, listening and confidence. The kids were really fascinated by the different cultures and customs from around the world too.
Behaviour Contract - teacher and children
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Behaviour Contract - teacher and children

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I hand out my contract to pupils in the first week of having a new class. They then write their own. We discuss the ins and outs of this, specifically thinking about WHY we have certain rules. I laminate theirs and mine and put them on the wall to be referred to whenever one of us steps out of line! There’s also a planning frame for poor writers.
Belief Unit - RE - KS2
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Belief Unit - RE - KS2

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This is a year 6 unit based on Belief - What is it? What’s the difference between belief and fact? Why/who believes? Do beliefs change? and so on. There&‘s a couple of resources that aren&’;t on here thought bubbles: I just write in class on paper. World Religions various beliefs to sort and answer sheet (this is on TES: author - missjulieclark) It’s a good juicy PSHE/SEAL topic - lots of interesting discussion to be had. Easily adapted for KS3 students to use in RE lessons or PSHE.
Behaviour & Consequences sheet - BESD, Autism, general poor behaviour - Detention
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Behaviour & Consequences sheet - BESD, Autism, general poor behaviour - Detention

(3)
A behaviour and consequences flow chart that you can use after an event with pupils to discuss what they did and what they could have done. I find this useful in that it encourages SEND pupils, including children with Autism, a logical approach to explaining an emotional reaction. I allow children to draw their answers if they’re not comfortable in writing them. I have used this in detention so that pupils are at least thinking about why they’re suffering consequences - because of their own choices.
3D shapes in the real world - quick maths starter or plenary
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3D shapes in the real world - quick maths starter or plenary

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This is a powerpoint showing different pictures of 3D shapes around the world (toblerones and pyramids etc.) Great for a starter or plenary on shapes - ask kids to write down names of shapes on wipeboards to support AFL. I’ve used this with lower ability/SEND maths classes in year 6, as well as with year 9 SEND pupils. Suitable for KS1 and KS2 as well as LA mathematicians at KS3.
Big Write Recount Task with Planning frame - Imaginary school trip
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Big Write Recount Task with Planning frame - Imaginary school trip

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Big write task based on writing recounts, and giving pupils options to choose from, all relating to an imaginary school trip which they’re asked to recall. Planning frame for bullet points before they begin (I usually give 10 minutes for this.) A quick, engaging topic, for any kind of independent writing. Suitable for KS2 students. Works as a baseline assessment or as an end of unit test, to see how students’ writing skills have developed independently.
Slow Writing Cards for KS2/KS3/SEND students - Slow Writing = Solid Progress
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Slow Writing Cards for KS2/KS3/SEND students - Slow Writing = Solid Progress

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These slow writing prompt cards provide your KS2/KS3 writers with an opportunity to be independent, whilst also using a scaffolded approach. Children can shuffle and select from the 16 cards before including this in their writing, leading to a much more structured piece of work. Examples are included with each card to support understanding. I’ve used these cards with a range of different topics and I’ve had a lot of success with this approach, particularly with struggling writers, SEND students, and those who just generally lack confidence in their own skills and techniques. Slow Writing does take time and patience, but what students lack in speed, they more than make up for in the quality and progress of writing. See my blog from a while ago discussing successes with the Slow Writing approach and SEND students - https://wordpress.com/post/skillswithfrills.com/1340
A Journey through Time and Space - Teamwork Lesson & Resources - Cosmic Calendar
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A Journey through Time and Space - Teamwork Lesson & Resources - Cosmic Calendar

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This is a fantastic lesson that I’ve used many times as part of a skill-based curriculum. The topic here is ‘Time’ and this lesson takes students on a journey through time and space, through the ‘Cosmic Calendar’. This topic and the clips included are super engaging and thought-provoking. I’ve had some brilliant lessons following this structure (including tricky classes!) The lesson begins with a clip and brief discussion, relating to how we (the average person) spends our time - e.g. 1 of every 5 minutes on social media. Eeeeek! Students are then given questions for the quiz ahead and have a few moments to look at this as a team - the idea is that they work together to note down and recall specific pieces of information… but I don’t tell them this! We then watch a clip - link included - of Neil DeGrasse Tyson presenting ‘The Cosmic Calendar’ as students jot down notes. Following this, there’s the quiz which they answer in teams. We then peer assess answers, before uncovering how the winning teams managed to remember the info (this is where we discuss team strategies!) After a little discussion - lots of opportunities for SMSC - we have an independent sketching plenary which allows students to demonstrate understanding of this complex concept at its base level. I’ve taught this lesson as a single hour with year 7 students, but I’ve also extended it as a teamwork project in two or three lessons, with students presenting their own alternative version of the Cosmic Calendar. It’s easy to differentiate as low down as year 5 students and as high as year 11, with only a few tweaks! Whether your goal is to learn about Science, Time and Space; to build up note-taking skills in Literacy; or to work on teamwork/retention skills, this lesson is an engaging way of doing them all.
Pirate literacy unit - Instructions - 4 weeks KS2
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Pirate literacy unit - Instructions - 4 weeks KS2

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A four-week long literacy unit, complete with a few worksheets. The resources we used were photocopies from various books. The Scholastic ‘Hot Topics’ Pirates book proved to be very useful and I recommend spending on that too! Pupils really enjoyed creating their pirate instruction manuals. The topic ensured that they were very engaged, especially the boys.
SPAG definitions and vocab - filling in the gaps - KS2 SATs revision
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SPAG definitions and vocab - filling in the gaps - KS2 SATs revision

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Here’s a simple task I use with Y7 SEND students to reinforce and consolidate learning based on SPaG terminology. This would work as a pre-SATs revision task for SPAG - Spelling, punctuation and grammar. Children have the option to work in same-ability pairs and research at the computer if needed. I find that this makes follow-up slow writing tasks easier, as pupils can refer back to definitions when asked to include a word type etc. in their sentences.
Pancake day - team memory game lesson - Active learning
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Pancake day - team memory game lesson - Active learning

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I cut up this worksheet into sections and blue tack it at points around the classroom. I then split the class into the same number of teams. Each team must send one envoy to learn as many facts about that question as they can and then report back to their team, who complete the team question sheet (last page.) Envoys are disqualified if they go more than once. A great, fast paced lesson and pupils are often so competitive that they completely forget they are learning! Builds on team skills, speaking and listening too! I go through the information at the end and award points per key piece of information. Winner gets housepoints/prize.
Transition Teamwork P.M.I Presentation Project Lesson - New class team project
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Transition Teamwork P.M.I Presentation Project Lesson - New class team project

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This is a lesson that I created for all year 7 teachers upon our first meeting with students - it’s a great project to try out with KS2 or KS3 pupils. It will help you to really see who they are, how they think, what their team skills and confidence are like, across different subjects. In a nutshell: there’s a mix of speaking and listening tasks, amidst the introduction of P.M.I (plus, minus and interesting.) At the beginning of the lesson, we model a task, via the example: ‘what if money grew up on trees?’ - Pupils have to really consider the realistic positive, negative and interesting outcomes. This isn’t so much about getting the ‘right’ answers (though one laptop or ipad per group will certainly help with research), but more about engaging students in thought-provoking, curiosity-based discussion. The P.M.I topics here bring up some really interesting ideas and debate, whilst students develop their teamwork, research and presentation skills too. Included here is: ppt. slides for the full lesson, slides to hand out to groups (different scenarios for each group), a blank P.M.I grid to support note-taking and group research/ideas, an assessment grid to judge presentations and a full walkthrough of the lesson.