March books!

PHEW. WE HAVE COME TO THE END OF MARCH. 
What. How. When did that happen.
(I realise it was when the past 30 days passed but whatever!)

As it is the end of March, here we are with our round up of the month!

Books I acquired:

IMG_4160

Goodly and Grave – Justine Windsor*
How To Capture an Invisible Cat – Paul Tobin*
How To Outsmart A Billion Robot Bees – Paul Tobin*
Twenty Questions for Gloria – Martyn Bedford (I won this in a competition, I think)
Unconventional – Maggie Harcourt (My lovely book fairy sent me this! TY!)
If Birds Fly Back – Carlie Sorosiak*
Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake (recommended to me by a wonderful friend… I can’t wait to dip into it!)
The Beast Within – Serena Valentino (obv being a massive BATB fan, I bought this)
Nowhere Near You – Leah Thomas*
Stargazing for Beginners – Jenny McLachlan*
Noah Can’t Even – Simon James Green
As Old As Time – Liz Braswell (again, I bought this because BATB)

Now, picture books!

IMG_4164

Message in a Bottle – Matt Hunt*
Pilot Faye and the Runaway Plane – Caroline Baxter* (BOOKBLOG: Caroline Baxter)
Beauty and the Very Beastly Beast – Mark Sperring* (BOOKBLOG: Mark Sperring)
We’re All Wonders – R.J.Palacio* (BOOKBLOG: R.J.Palacio)

(Books with * beside them were sent to me by publishers! Thank you so much everyone! Reviews are either live or will be up in the coming weeks!)

Books I read this month: (looking a bit sparse BUT I am still ahead of my Goodreads target, thanks to an awesome read over February half term!)

Image result for caravalImage result for ink alice broadwayCaraval – Stephanie Garber (BOOKBLOG: Stephanie Garber)
Ink – Alice Broadway (review coming next week!)

So there we have it, my March round up!

S x

Advertisements

The state of education…

Welcome to Wednesday! It’s me. I’m here to talk about something which is quite dear to my heart… education. As you all know I work in a primary school and am currently doing my degree and everything going well I should be doing a teacher training course in September. I can’t wait. I’ve never not wanted to be a teacher. Yes, I’ve wanted to be other things and yes I’ve had other passions and done other jobs, but teaching is the one thing that has given me most happiness. I know that it’s the one job I’m MEANT to do. I know it’s not easy. I’ve lived it, worked it and seen it with my own eyes for the past 7 years. I have the experience. It’s the one thing I have the passion for.

BUT there’s something I need to talk about… 

Every day you will read the news and you will see news articles saying things such as “Teachers need to teach this“, “Teachers need to teach that“, “Had I been taught this when I was at school that would’ve been better“, “There needs to room in the curriculum for this/that/the other“. Just doing a quick search on Twitter and news outlets you’ll find things about financial matters, internet security, sex and relationships among other things that teachers SHOULD be teaching.

Now… I’m not saying these things aren’t important but I am saying that teachers have a curriculum, prescribed to us by the government, that we must follow. These things that change daily, that are suggested daily, are NOT NECESSARILY part the curriculum. Things such as digital literacy and internet safety ARE on the curriculum. We can’t MAKE children listen to us. We can’t MAKE children NOT go on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. We can’t STOP children bullying. We do a brilliant job of educating children about how to safely use social media, how to behave online, the dangers of cyber bullying and how to be good citizens. I can’t speak for every school but you ask any teacher and they will tell you that YES they do teach that. That is in their lesson plans. It is part of their whole school initiative to make children safe online/in school/at home but we can’t ENFORCE it. We aren’t in control of what happens to children outside of school. Certain things are out of our control.

These other things which are suggested are great, we need to grow with the technology and the society that we are in… but where does that leave teachers? We can’t teach EVERYTHING. There’s not enough time in the day. There’s so many other things that teachers are now becoming. Teachers, counsellors, friends, mentors… yes this comes with the job but shouldn’t there be a shared responsibility. Since when did the line blur between what teachers teach and what parents talk to their children about? I’m not saying there should be a book listing what teachers teach (but essentially that’s the curriculum) and what parents should be in charge of instilling in their children, but I do think parents need to take a role in their children’s upbringing and education as much as teachers.

I don’t want this to become an argument saying “parents do nothing” because I know parents have an incredibly complex and difficult role in their children’s lives but there is so much onus on teachers now that it’s becoming stifling.

An ever changing world needs ever changing and adaptable teachers, but there needs to be some shared responsibility with everyone involved in a child’s life. 

S x

A Week In My Life…

Not the whole week… just snapshots! 

As you all (I hope by now) know I work in a primary school! I am a HLTA and I teach in most of the classes from Year 1 to Year 6! I thought it would be interesting to give you a snapshot into the working week of me and for you to share your working weeks too! Mine is truly diverse and this is a very general look at what I do; it can change from day to day and from week to week! So here goes…

Monday
9-10 Phonics interventions (2 different groups)

10-12 Year 2: Maths and English
1-3:15 Year 6: Guided Reading, French and Topic (Geography/History)
(Monday I do Out of School Club until 5:30)

Tuesday
9-9:30 Phonics intervention
9:30-12 Year 2: Maths and English
1-1:30 Y5 French
1:30 – 2 Year 5 1:1 reading 
2-2:30 Year 1 Phonics intervention
2:30-3 Year 3 French
(Tuesday is staff meeting day!)

Wednesday
9-9:30 Phonics intervention
9:30-12 Year 2: Maths and English
1-3:15 Year 4: Guided reading, Topic (Geography/History half termly) and assembly (then story time!)
(Wednesday again I do Out of School Club til 5:30)

Thursday
9-9:30 Phonics intervention
9:30-12 Year 2: Maths and English
1-1:30 Year 2 Guided reading
1:30 – 2 Reception support
2-2:30 Year 1 Reading group
(Thursday I go to uni after work… it’s exhausting).

Friday – Year 4 ALL day
9-9:30 SPAG
9:30-10 Whole class reading (We’re currently reading The Suitcase Kid)
10-10:45 Science 
11-12 Maths
1-1:30 French
1:30-2:15 Art
2:15-3:15 Assembly, treat time and story time!

So there you have it! My week! It is super varied and I’m always super busy but that’s the way I like it! I get to see a lot of different children and work with lots of different age ranges. This is only going to help me for whatever the future in my teaching career has to offer! 

I would love to know what other people’s work weeks look like! You don’t have to be working in a school for me to be interested! I am just nebby! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Caroline Baxter

Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane: fun, inspiring, new!

IMG_4075

“Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!”

I was emailed a while back and asked to be involved in the blog tour for this wonderful book – perfect for KS1! I happily accepted and I am so glad. This book went down a storm with the girls at school! I took it in to school to read to the girls in KS1 and it is incredible how many of them didn’t even know girls could be pilots! It’s important to break down stereotypes early on! 

IMG_4079

This book is wonderfully illustrated and it’s fun! It highlights so many wonderful ideas – working together is better than working against each other (Mitch learns this!), the power of determination (Jane is a lovely example of this!) and that women are awesome. It’s great for girl power! Girls, go out there and be whatever you want!

Thank you so much Faye from Big Sunshine Books for sending me a review copy of this book! 

IMG_4078

Want to see what the rest of the bloggers thought of it? Check out the rest of the book tour!

Pilot Banner2

Author Information

Caroline Baxter lives in Oxford with her husband and two young children. From an early age she always had her nose in a book – and now does so for a living! Caroline grew up in South Wales and, after graduating with a BA in English Literature from Cardiff University, held a variety of management roles at UK universities including, most recently, at the University of Oxford. The Bear Cub Bakers, her first book, was written while on maternity leave with her daughter. Her second book,Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, was published recently on International Women’s Day (8 March 2017). Caroline loves travelling, yoga, baking (and eating) cake, dogs, days out and snuggling up with a good story.

Information about the Book
Author: Caroline Baxter
Illustrator: Izabela Ciesinska
Release Date: 8th March 2017
Publisher: Big Sunshine Books
Format: Paperback
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34538699-pilot-jane-and-the-runaway-plane
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pilot-Runaway-Plane-Caroline-Baxter/dp/1910854034

BOOKBLOG: Tom Fletcher

The Christmasaurus: fun, engaging and exciting!

IMG_4062

I KNOW I KNOW.
IT’S MARCH.
We’ve just finished The Christmasaurus in Year 4 and it was SO GREAT. 

I get 1/2 afternoons a week to read to Year 4 (hence why it’s taken us so long to get through it!) and listening to me read is their favourite time of day. Generally the 3pm bell goes, we tidy up, collect our belongings ready for home and they get to lounge/sit on the carpet and listen to me read. As a teacher who LOVES reading it has been incredible watching my children fall in love with being read to – through all of the books we’ve read together – and it becoming their favourite time of the day. They HATE when I stop (I like to stop at a cliffhanger or in the middle of a really exciting part, it keeps them wanting more!).

This is such an incredibly written and well thought out story. It’s perfect for the run up to Christmas (we did start this before Christmas and I asked them if they wanted me to stop after Christmas but they wanted me to keep going!)

IMG_4063

“Forget everything you thought you knew about the North Pole, and set off on a Christmas Eve adventure with boy named William Trundle, an elf named Snozzletrump, Santa Claus (yes! The real Santa Claus!), a nasty piece of work called the Hunter, and a most unusual dinosaur . . .”

This is the story of young William Trundle, dinosaur loving and inquisitive, and his incredible journey to the North Pole – including Santa, a beautiful Christmasaurus, a mean girl called Brenda, some wonderful elves and an evil evil man called the Hunter. 

My kids loved this book so much. They loved William. He wasn’t a boy in a wheelchair that they needed to feel sorry for; he was a young boy who had interests like them, who had dreams and wishes. It’s filled with adventure, humour and heart. 

I had one of those rare moments while reading this where there is a resounding gasp across the carpet. There’s a moment in the book where there is a BIG BIG BIG reveal and all of my kids were COMPLETELY taken aback. It filled my heart with SUCH joy to watch them. To know that they had been taking it all in, that they were as invested in this book as me. As an adult, I think kids lit is incredible. So beautifully written and illustrated. This definitely sparked something in my kids. I can’t wait to see what is to come from Tom Fletcher next. My kids want more. 

The end papers and the hardback jacket are pretty gorgeous too… which ALWAYS helps!

Thank you Tom Fletcher for continuing our wonderful book journey and for helping my kids to keep falling in love with books!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Stephanie Garber

Caraval: magical, beautifully written, well crafted.

30964236

“Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year, week-long performance where the audience participates in the show. Caraval is magic, mystery adventure and for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father. When Scarlett discovers her father has arranged a marriage for her she believes all her hopes of escape have been dashed.

Then the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive and it seems their dreams have come true. Yet, no sooner have they entered the confines of Caraval than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. Real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.”

Ah, Caraval. I had SUCH HIGH HOPES. I had heard such wonderful things. I had been hunting for a new The Night Circus for forever. I had my hopes that this was going to fill that void… it did, kind of. Now don’t get me wrong… this isn’t going to be a review that pulls the book apart – far from it! I am going to regale you of all of the things I loved about it, but for me SOMETHING was missing. I enjoyed Caraval, but there was SOMETHING not there. It took me about 300 pages to properly invest my time. 

The characters of this story were ones in which definitely grow on you, except Julian. I liked him instantly. I don’t know what it is about loveable, rogueish types… I just fall for them instantly. Scarlett, the main character, in this annoyed me A LOT for the first half of the book but then she found her edge, she found her personality. I get that her sister was her main drive for this adventure but at times her sister was ALL that she could focus on and it aggravated me to no end. She’s reasonable, an overthinker and a worrier. Her sister Donatella on the other hand is compulsive, spontaneous and brazen. The juxtaposition of the two sisters was one of my favourite things about this book. Their relationship was important. Their comparisons endearing. Their father is repulsive. He is a violent, repulsive, manipulative bully. He’s mean. He’s intimidating. I would want to escape him too. 

I loved the idea of this story though. I am a sucker for magical stories. I was sold on this as soon as I heard of it. The Night Circus is one of my favourite stories of ever and when people started comparing this to The Night Circus I knew I had to see what the hype was all about. There are some exquisite moments of description and you definitely can get lost in the writing. It is a book that when I was reading I was getting through massive chunks – the writing is so descriptive, so precise that you could be there. You can imagine the landscape, the colours… you can be there because it is written so beautifully. Not only is it written beautifully but the hardback covers are so exquisite. I prefer these beautiful illustrations to the paper cover… so tempting to try and get all 4. I have the clock. It’s beautiful, I wish I had the dress though. The magical dress that Scarlett ends up with.

Image result for caraval

This book is definitely one big adventure. There are moments that pack a punch. There are moments of sheer frustration. It is worth the ride. I didn’t love it as much as I hoped, but I enjoyed it. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in this series though. I’m not sure where it’s going to go from here!

Have you read Caraval? Did you love it? Can you recommend me a magical book that will fill in my The Night Circus void? Let me know in the comments or on twitter (@eenalol).

S x

Pearls of Wisdom

A while back I was contacted by Louise from St Andrew’s Hospice asking if I would be interested in helping them to spread the word and celebrate a book they’d released to celebrate their 30th anniversary. I instantly accepted and when I found out I’d be getting a book with gorgeous quotes in I was made up.
IMG_4069

“To celebrate our 30th Anniversary we have created this little pocket book which has inspirational quotes and stories with colourful uplifting pictures.

The ideal gift to brighten someone’s day.”

IMG_4072

This is such a gorgeous little book filled with quotes for strength and wisdom. Reading through it gave me such a smile. I love a quote (those of you who know me personally will know this!) so having a book full of them just is perfect for me! 

IMG_4074

This book is on sale to raise money for St Andrew’s Hospice – it is priced at £3 and helps raise money for an incredible cause. We all know how important hospices and hospitals are for those who are in need of help! 

Interested in buying the book? Link to buy book

Want to know more about St Andrew’s Hospice?  Link to St Andrew’s Hospice website

Thank you so much to Louise who sent me this book to help raise awareness of the release of the book!

S x

#AskMissElliott 2

IMG_3988

Last week I tried this for the first time and the kids asked me every single day if they were doing to get the chance to ask me more questions so I told them they could! If you want to see the questions I asked the first week see Ask Miss Elliott. It’s certainly a whole lot of fun! 

This week’s questions included:

IMG_4056
Have you always worn glasses?

No I haven’t! I started wearing glasses in secondary school I think. I always WANTED to wear glasses though. Wear glasses and have curly hair… I have both of those things ha! 

IMG_4057

 

Where were you born and what is your middle name?

(Sneaky 2 questions on one sheet there!) I was born in Newcastle, I am a thoroughbred Geordie! My middle name is Danielle. I have an awfully long name ha!

IMG_4058
What books did you like to read as a kid? What is your favourite book?

The books I loved the most as kids were anything by Roald Dahl, The Secret Garden, Charlotte’s Web, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe but I was one of those kids that would read just about anything! I’m still very much like that now. It will come as no surprise to you all that Matilda is my favourite book.

IMG_4059
Can you speak Spanish?

Nope, sadly. I can speak bits and bobs but not that much. It’s one of the languages I would like to learn to speak most. I think it’s a gorgeous language. Alas my secondary school did not teach it! I can speak French and German.
So those were some of this week’s questions! This is quickly becoming the kids’ favourite thing to do! I will keep going as long as they have questions. 

If any of you have questions then holler and I will happily answer them! Post them in the comments or ask on twitter (@eenalol)

S x

 

Drawing on interests?

IMG_4061

When I found these pictures whilst browsing Pinterest I knew instantly that I needed to use them to inspire my Year 4 class to do some drawing! Throughout the year we have been doing a variety of different portraits (we did selfies, then used Picasso as inspiration) displaying them on the window facing out for the parents to see. I decided our window needed a change and knew this idea was going to be the one! 

As soon as I showed Year 4 these ones they were hooked. They loved the fact they were portraits filled with the people’s favourite things! We then talked about different things which they might put inside their own portrait (it was interesting asking them their favourite things… some of them couldn’t get past X-Box/PS3/iPad!). We then got out sketch books and started sketching! The room was a hive of activity with each child encouraging their friends and talking about what they were drawing! 

I remembered to take a picture of a few examples to share!

I loved this idea and I can’t wait to display it on the window for the parents to see! The kids were so proud of their sketches! I’ll show you all once it’s done!

What kinds of portraits have you done in school? I’m always looking for new ideas! Let me know in the comments or on twitter (@eenalol).

S x

Beauty and the Beast

IT’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST DAY PEOPLE. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. IT IS HAPPENING. I AM EXCITED. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOR A LONG TIME. (I was apprehensive at first, but now that it is time… I AM THE MOST EXCITED).

Image result for beauty and the beast

Hello, my name is Steph and I love Beauty and the Beast. I do not remember a time where Beauty and the Beast wasn’t my favourite Disney film. I do not wish to think of a time when Beauty and the Beast will not be my favourite Disney film. I am going to outline now a few reasons why Beauty and the Beast SHOULD be one of your favourite Beauty and the Beast films. Lots of love and all that, x

So here are the reasons why I love the original (I am sure I will have feelings about the new version, and will share them at same point!)…

original-beauty-and-the-beast

Image result for beauty and the beast belleBelle: she’s bookish, she’s smart, she stands up for herself against Gaston (who I have strange feelings about… more of that in a minute) and she loves her dad. She locks herself up in Beast’s prison for him! She’s incredible. She sees people for their heart, not for what they look like. She’s curious, she’s inquisitive. She’s BEAUTIFUL too. (I mean duh, Belle is French for beautiful after all).

Image result for beauty and the beast beastBeast: yeah he’s scary, he’s not particularly friendly and he was mean to the witch at the start of the story (which turns him in to a beast in the first place) but watching him change from a hardened, mean, shut off beast to an open, loving, accepting man at the end is wonderful. Look at his daft little face man. He provides many little laughs during the film. The bit with the birds? The bit with the hair? Yep. I like the beast. He’s lovely. And he fights for Belle – he lets her leave when her dad is ill. He physically fights against Gaston. Good old Adam (for those of you who didn’t know… he’s Prince Adam)

Gaston: Image result for beauty and the beast gastonI know, I’m surprised he’s here too. He’s cocky, smarmy and not the kind of fella that I would want to be associated with, but he’s necessary. He’s malicious, sly and sneaky. He’s not the quintessential Disney villain, but he’s certainly one of the most wicked. Plus ‘The Mob Song’ and ‘Gaston’ are particular exceptional songs. 

Supporting characters: there are SO MANY characters I love in this story. Mrs Potts, Chip, Cogsworth and Lumiere are particular stand outs for me though. I like Lumiere’s impression he’s suave and sophisticated. I like Cogsworth’s scepticism, he’s the voice of reason. Mrs Potts is the sheer romantic of the group. I love her. Chip and his gorgeous innocence make my heart so happy. 

Image result for beauty and the beast cogsworth and lumiere

Soundtrack: now here I could just list ALL THE SONGS because the soundtrack to this film is exceptional but I’ll just choose 3. (HELP HOW DO I CHOOSE 3?)

‘Belle’ perfect Belle song. This tells the story of her little town and how she wants more. I know every. single. word. I sing it OFTEN when I’m pretending I am Belle. This song highlights how different Belle is from her townspeople but she remains kind. And it includes a bookshop… SOLD.

‘Gaston’ perfect song for Gaston. Full of his own self importance and how much the ladies are in love with him… except Belle. I can’t help but sing along to this all the time!

‘Mob Song’ – I think this is one of the most underrated songs in the whole soundtrack. It shows Gaston’s menace and macchiavellian ways perfectly. How manipulative he is. How much the people worship him by following him. How Belle tries to fight for her Beast. The Beast just giving up at the end because Belle’s gone. How people change and some are just mean.

That yellow dress:

Image result for beauty and the beast yellow dress

Ok, so as you’ve gleaned I LOVE everything about Beauty and the Beast and I could mention so much more, but I’ll leave it there! 

Do you agree? Do you love Beauty and the Beast? What are your favourite soundtrack songs? I would love to hear! I love talking Belle and Beast! Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @eenalol.

S x