Author Archives: Priscilla Hannaford

Essential art resources needed in primary schools

What are the absolutely essential art resources you need to deliver high-quality drawing lessons in primary school?

We all know school budgets are tight. And, sadly, art and design are rarely high on a school’s list of priorities for expenditure. Meg Fabian, the author of Drawing is a Class Act, says you can get by with surprisingly few absolute basics:

  • 2B pencils
  • fine line pens (tip size 0.4 mm)
  • charcoal, medium thickness
  • white chalk
  • fixative
  • oil pastels

Discount stores are often an excellent place to pick up art resources cheaply, but make sure you check for quality. Gradually extend your range a little at a time.

If you are lucky enought to have a bit more money, here are Meg’s recommendations for what a well-resourced art cupboard should have:

9781903853627 Drawing is a Class Act, Years 5-6 Brilliant Publications

Drawing is a Class Act, Years 5-6

9781903853610 Drawing is a Class Act, Years 3-4 Brilliant Publications

Drawing is a Class Act, Years 3-4

9781903853603 Drawing is a Class Act, Years 1-2 Brilliant Publications

Drawing is a Class Act, Years 1-2

  • H, B, 2B, 4B, 6B pencils
  • Fine line pens (tip size 0.3 and 0.4 mm), water-based
  • Fine (tip size 0.4 mm), medium and broad permanent pens
  • Charcoal, thick and thin
  • Fixative
  • Oil pastels, 25 colours, bright and subtle, extra white and black
  • Art pastels, good range of colours, including landscape colours
  • Conté crayons (soft pastels), black, white, earth colours, sepia, burned sienna, etc
  • Pens (with nibs) and drawing inks, including white
  • Good-quality crayons, some sets in people colours
  • Art quality coloured pencils, landscape and portrait sets
  • Water colour pencils
  • Graphite
  • Metallic crayons
  • Metallic pens –fine and broad
  • Sketchbooks with cartridge paper pages
  • Clipboards for outside drawing
  • Black plastic viewfinders
  • Magnifying glasses with flexible necks that clamp onto desk
  • Lamps with flexible necks
  • Collection of reproductions of works of art, filed according to topic or subject, or QCA art documents
  • Collection of CD-Roms featuring works of art for use on computer and white boards
  • Collection of artefacts for drawing

For more tips and lesson plans to support a skills-based approach to drawing, get Meg Fabian’s Drawing is a Class Act series for primary schools.

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Filed under Art and design, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Primary school

Top 10 summer activities for the early years

Looking for fun preschool activities now that summer is here? Here are 10 fun activities that young children will love – whether you are at home or in a nursery, mother and toddler group, playgroup or other early years setting.

9781903853719 Creative Activities for the Early Years Brilliant Publications

Creative Activities for the Early Years

  1. Make giant ice creams. Use light brown A4 paper rolled into a cone and fastened with tape. Fill with scrap paper and glue cotton wool on top as ice cream. Add details like rolled up tubes of paper as a flake, or coloured paint drizzled over as sauce.
  2. Talk about: Has anyone been to the seaside? What was it like?
  3. Make sandcastle pictures by spreading glue all over sandcastle-shaped pieces of card. Decorate with paper shells and flags, and make seaweed from scrunched-up tissue paper.
  4. Sing ‘The Sun has got his Hat on’ – excellent for dancing to and can be found on lots of children’s recordings.
  5. Put out paper, brushes and paints and allow the children to ‘free paint’.
  6. Talk about Pirates: keep it simple and do not make it too true to life! They sailed the seas in big ships, buried treasure and had parrots on their shoulders.
  7. Cut out some simple paper ships and allow the children o paint them. Encourage the children to paint their own flags. They don’t all have to paint the Jolly Roger!
  8. Have a summer picnic outdoors. If the weather is bad, just hold the picnic inside. You could even decorate the room with branches and flowers.
  9. Why not ask the children to bring a teddy and have a teddy bears’ picnic?
  10. Hold a treasure hunt outdoors. Give children a list of things they have to find such as – three different leaves, a red/blue/yellow flower, a small stone, a daisy, a twig – these can be swapped for cut-out coloured shapes if you’re indoors.

For more summer activities for young children get Barbara Melling’s Creative Activities for the Early Years. This book contains over 160 art and craft activities for use by reception classes, nurseries, playgroups, and mother and toddler groups –as well as by parents and carers, on a variety of popular early years themes.

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Filed under Art and design, Early years, Key Stage 0

What’s the best way to introduce French vocabulary?

Flashcards are an excellent way of introducing primary school children to new French vocabulary. They are incredibly versatile and can be used in many different activities.

Furthermore, using flashcards promotes the use of the French as the meaning of the word will be obvious from the image, so there is no need to say the English equivalent.

While it is possible to make flashcards from images, either hand-drawn, cut out from magazines or found on-line, this is a time-consuming process.

To make your life easier, we have created packs of Mon Vocabulaire French flashcards. These time-saving resources are available as pdfs, so you can download and use them straight away.

9781554096800_Mon_Vocabulaire_Au-Zoo Brilliant Publications

Au Zoo – French flashcards and activities for At the zoo

9781554096794_Mon_Vocabulaire_A-La-Ferme Brilliant Publications

À la ferme – French flashcards and activities for At the farm

9781554096763_Mon_Vocabulaire_La-Maison Brilliant Publications

La maison – French flashcards and activities for the House

9781554096688_Mon_Vocabulaire_Animaux_domestiques Brilliant Publications

Les animaux domestiques – French flashcards and activities for Pets










The flashcards are available in 2 sizes. The large colour images are ideal for display on an Interactive Whiteboard. The smaller colour pictures can be easily printed out and made into flashcards for use by individuals or small groups.

We have Mon Vocabulaire packs for many popular French topics:

  • Les animaux domestiques
  • Comptons!
  • Les fruits et les legumes
  • Les forms géométriques
  • La maison
  • Les jours de la semaine
  • Les mois de l’année
  • Les parties du corps
  • À la ferme
  • Au zoo
  • Noël
  • Halloween
  • La Saint-Valentin
  • Pâques

In addition, with each pack you get reproducible activity sheets to reinforce the vocabulary:

  • Coloriez – Introduce new vocabulary
  • Associez les mots – Match the French word to the corresponding illustration
  • Illustrez les mots – Review vocabulary by drawing the image of the printed word
  • Écoutez les mots – Listen to the new words as students mark the corresponding word that the teacher reads aloud
  • Copiez les mots – Spell the new word by printing or writing
  • Mots cachés – Find the hidden words in the puzzle then match the word to the corresponding image
  • Décodez les motes – Match symbols to letter codes to decipher the word
  • Le bon ordre – Unscramble the letters to form the correct word
  • Mots croisés – Identify and spell the word for the corresponding image
  • Mots illustrés – Create a unique word picture
  • Le jeu – A two-player game that reinforces pronunciation and/or spelling of the new words
  • Le livre – Produce an illustrated short-story about the theme.

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Filed under French, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)

A dramatic approach to teaching French

9781783172450 Fun French Fairy Tale Plays Brilliant Publications

Fun French Fairy Tale Plays

Make a drama out of teaching French in the primary classroom

It is imperative that a diverse range of teaching and learning methods are used in the primary classroom, not least because one child will have a very different preferred learning style to the next. Yet there are very few French teaching resources that respond to the needs of kinaesthetic learners, which is why we have produced Fun French Fairy Tale Plays, written by Dot Hamilton.

These 10 specially written plays are adaptations of well-known stories; however each story is given a special twist to add humour. For example, Rapunzel lives at the top of the Eiffel Tower and Snow White loves to play sports, especially golf!

The plays provide an ideal way of motivating children aged 7–13 to learn French. Indeed, pupils will enjoy the challenge of learning a French script and will subsequently gain confidence through performing it to an audience of adults and/or their fellow pupils.

The plays use simple repetitive language and are easily adaptable. Each play has a specific language focus, making it easy to link the plays to topics that the pupils are studying.

The book contains reproducible scripts, English translations and suggestions for performing the plays, and the CD-Rom contains audio files of native French speakers performing the plays, as well as a pdf version of the book.

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Filed under French, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)

Top 10 playground games for primary schools

Now that the weather is getting better, are you looking for some good games to get children active in the playground? These games will get children moving and will help to develop PE skills and teamwork. They have been taken from 100+ Fun Ideas for Playground Games.

100+ Fun Idea Playground Games- Brilliant Publications

100+ Fun Ideas Playground Games

1. Hens and Chicks

This is an ideal game for very young children to play.

  • Chalk out two round circles on the playground approximately 15 metres apart.
  • One pupil is chosen to be Mother Hen who must stand in between the two circles. The remainder of the class are then divided into two groups, one team standing in each of the two designated circles.
  • When Mother Hen shouts ‘Come Home Chickens’ each group have to swop locations while Mother Hen has to try and catch as many ‘Chickens’ as she can.
  • Whoever is caught must then remain and help Mother Hen. The last chicken caught gets to be the next Mother Hen.

2. Scream!

Be aware this is a noisy game and so should preferably be played on a large open field well away from the rest of the school.

  • Everyone lines up alongside one another at one end of the field, and as the teacher shouts ‘Now’ each child takes a big breath and screams as loud as they are able, whilst running towards the opposite side of the field.
  • It may sound easy but the trick is that they can only run for as long as they can scream, so when they run out of breath they must stop.
  • Whoever runs the farthest is the winner.

3. Walk tall

  • The ideal rope game, which can be played indoors or outdoors. Place the rope in a straight line on the ground.
  • The aim of each player is to try to walk the straight line, holding out their arms to balance as they walk. It may sound easy but requires a lot of concentration and if they should lose balance at any point then they are out of the game, whoever reaches the end without falling is the winner.

4. Figure ropes

  • This is a fun game to play for all ages. Simply divide the class into groups and supply each one with a rope. Give them three minutes to make up a fun figure using the rope and then see who can guess what each others shape is supposed to be.

5. Time ball

  • The basic aim is for each child to individually throw the ball up into the air as high as they can throw. The teacher records the time before it reaches the ground.
  • Whichever pupil throws the highest (their ball stays up the longest) is the winner.

Note: Make sure to choose the area wisely and well away from school windows.

6. Scavenger hunt

  • Have a good walk around the playing field and playground looking out for certain items that are in abundance. Make a mental note of these and their whereabouts. (Dandelion leaves or flowers, daisies, feathers, small stones, a twig etc)
  • Ask the children to get together in groups of three or four.
  • Give them a list of items you wish to collect. The winners are the first group to collect all the items on your list.

7. Freeze

  • This is another version of the popular game Tag in which one person is still ‘it’ but when they touch someone, then whoever it was must immediately stand still. The only way they can be freed is if someone crawls between their legs. The game continues until all the players are standing in statues and the last person to be tagged is ‘it’ for the following game.

8. Hula-hoop contest

  • Most schools have hula-hoops in their PE store and this is the ideal game for children to get them out, have fun and get fit at the same time.
  • When the teacher announces ‘go’ the players simply hula hoop as long as they can and the winner is the one who manages to keep the hoop spinning the longest. But if they touch it at anytime with their hands or if the hoop drops then they are out of the game.

9. Who’s the Donkey?

  • The children stand in a circle several metres apart.
  • The idea is that the ball is passed between the pupils until it is dropped. As soon as the ball starts being passed around the circle the children begin counting from 10 down to 0 and the last person to have touched the ball at ‘0’ becomes the donkey.
  • Depending on the time-scale allow each person two/three lives. The game continues until there is only one person remaining who is the winner.

10. Tug of War

  • A super challenging team game. Divide the class into two teams but try not to make it boys against girls. A long piece of rope is stretched out across a chalked dividing line on the playground.
  • After the count of three the teacher gives the signal and both teams start pulling towards their direction. Whichever team manages to pull the other team over to their side are the clear winners.

For more ideas for games to play outdoors with children get Christine Green’s 100+ Fun Ideas for Playground Games.

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Filed under Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Physical Education (PE)

What French words should you teach first?

Whichever words you choose, you will find this new collection of 1000 French words a great starting point.

My First 1000 French Words - Brilliant Publications

My First 1000 French Words

My First 1000 French Words is a fantastic introduction to essential French vocabulary from animal words to types of food and members of the family.

Action-packed illustrations introduce your eager young language learners to essential words in French – plus a few fun ones. From having breakfast together to visiting the zoo or a fantastic art gallery to learn about colours and shapes, these characters will bring new words to life on the page and reinforce those words that you already know.

Each spread features a central scene teeming with details to discuss and discover. French vocabulary surrounds the main picture. Each French word appears along with an illustration to help reinforce learning, a helpful  pronunciation guide and the English translation.

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Filed under French, Nursery and Preschool, Primary school

Practise Times Tables – no paper needed!

When we think of practising  times tables, we often think of chanting in unison or working through endless pages of multiplication problems. But is this the best way to teach the times tables?
Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables - Brilliant Publications

Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables

In fact, drilling children in their times tables doesn’t necessarily help them to understand the mathematical concepts that underpin multiplication. Children need to be able to conceptualise the maths involved if they are to develop fluency in the times tables, able to recall and apply them rapidly and accurately.

This is why we decided to publish Fun Games and Activities for Teaching Times Tables. This book takes an active approach to learning times tables, providing stimulating and imaginative games to make the process of learning the times tables both effective and fun.
The first half of the book contains games specifically aimed at teaching the 2, 5 and 10 times tables.The second half contains games appropriate for any of the times tables. These games are subdivided into three groups:

  • Games for learning each table in sequence
  • Games to test pupils’ memories and thinking skills as they try to identify the table they are working on
  • Games to teach children the different factors that can make up each answer.

The games require minimal preparation and ensure that all children gain a firm understanding of their times tables and will be able to recall them quickly and easily.

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Filed under Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Mathematics