Tag Archives: Brilliant Publications

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by | May 29, 2020 · 2:03 pm

Songs to improve children’s mental health

Looking after children’s mental health and well-being is more important than ever during the Covid 19 virus. This is a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty for children, whatever their circumstances – whether they are in lockdown at home or attending a near-empty school because their parents are key workers. They are understandably worried and concerned.

So, what can we do, as teachers and parents, to improve children’s mental health and well-being?

One thing that has been proven to help reduce stress is music. Research suggests that music can stimulate the body’s natural feel good chemicals such as endorphins, oxytocin. It can help put us in a better mood and help us to take control of our feelings.

This is why children’s TV presenter, Samantha Dorrance, decided to create a new pop band called Sammy & The Sparks.

Sammy & The Sparks songs work by acting as musical affirmations. Each song is designed to teach a different self-help technique in a fun, positive way, helping children be emotionally and mentally equipped. They have songs to help encourage self-acceptance, self-reliance, self-belief… they have songs to help children cope with and understand bullying, loneliness, anxiety etc… they have so many happy songs designed to help your child live their happiest lives.

In addition to writing and sharing songs, Samantha is about to launch “Sammy & The Sparks at home lesson plans” for use at home, during isolation. These lesson plans are designed to:
• Help children explore and understand their feelings.
• Help them deal with their feelings in certain situations.
• Create loving and thoughtful discussions between parents and their children.


The lesson plans will soon be available at www.sammyandthesparks.com. Follow Sammy & The Sparks on social media for lesson plan updates.

Brilliant Publications is delighted to include a link to the Sammy & the Sparks website from our special Free resources for the Covid 19 Pandemic page.

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It’s springtime – gardening activities are a great teaching resource

Gardening – Activities for 3 to 5 year olds

For example, ask the children to fill several plant pots with potting compost and plant seeds or cuttings. Water them and place transparent, colourless plastic bottles which you have cut in half over some of the pots to form mini greenhouses. Explain to the children why you are going to cover some of the pots and leave others uncovered. Otherwise treat all the pots the same: give them the same quantities of water and keep them in the same place, so that they get the same amount of light and heat. Every day observe what has happened to the plants and to the plastic bottles. As an extension activity the children could measure the temperature in the plastic bottles and in the room.

Afterwards talk with the children about which plants have grown the fastest and why that might be. Talk about how plants need warmth to grow and that they grow more rapidly in a warm atmosphere. The plastic bottles have a film of condensation on the inside which helps to keep the plants moist.

Further details about this activity can be found here.

This is just one activity out of many in Gardening: Activities for 3 – 5 year olds, published by Brilliant Publications.

For more information or to order Gardening: Activities for 3 – 5 year old for just £6.50, visit https://www.brilliantpublications.co.uk/book/gardening-102

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Early years, Key Stage 0, Key Stage 1, National Curriculum, Nursery and Preschool, Primary school, Science, Teaching Ideas

What are the two most important factors that determine the success of French lessons at KS2?

For many years the answer to the question above came down to one factor: “the availability of a specialist teacher”. However, in recent years matters have changed.

This is, of course, mainly because so many primary schools don’t have a specialist language teacher. As a result publishers have put a lot of energy into the second important factor: creating materials that are specifically designed for use by the teacher who is not a language specialist.

Following this work, KS2 courses in French are now available which include stories, songs, games, and activities along with lesson plans giving creative teaching ideas that can be used by specialist and non-specialist teachers alike.

The teaching of French via stories has itself created something of a revolution in the way French can be taught by non-specialist teachers. Because stories introduce children to language structures in a natural and fun way, pupils quickly develop the ability to communicate and use the language with confidence themselves.

This is very much the basis of our particularly successful “Learn French with Luc et Sophie” scheme. Throughout this story-based scheme there is a combination of appropriate level storybooks for the children to read with clearly laid out, easy-to-use, creative teaching ideas aimed specifically at the non-specialist teacher. This complete approach takes the stress out of preparation and planning.

Each of the 14 units in “Learn French with Luc et Sophie” is based around a story featuring a young brother (Luc) and sister (Sophie) and their friends and family. The stories are topic-based and introduce key vocabulary and language structures relating to the topic. Each unit also contains an original song to reinforce vocabulary.

One problem teachers encounter when trying to share a story with a class is how to make sure everyone can see the pages and follow along. To ensure this isn’t a problem, we’ve created audio enhanced e-book versions of all the stories for use on a whiteboard. What makes these e-books particularly beneficial for non-specialist teachers is that with the click of a mouse you can hear them acted out by native French speakers so children will hear correct pronunciation.

Pupils will love the humorous twists at the end of the stories and will naturally pick up the rhythm and intonation of the language. Indeed, their confidence and self-esteem will grow when they realise they can read and understand these French stories.

Also, to help embed vocabulary and grammar language structures there are sentence-building activities for use on an interactive whiteboard.

In short, what happens is that the children will not only learn French through the evolution of the stories provided but also through the multiple ideas for teaching. This will make it easier to recall what they have learned and to use it to create sentences of their own.

There are full details about the scheme on our website along with links to our article on the seven reasons why using stories as a way of teaching French is particularly beneficial.

I do hope you will find this interesting.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Teaching division to beginners

When we teach division to primary children, we tend to introduce it as being a sharing operation where objects are divided into a number of groups of equal number. We also discuss that division has an opposite, multiplication. We talk about Division being about separating groups, while its opposite, multiplication is about combining groups.

We often assess our children’s understanding by using worksheets which can be printed for each child or which can be projected onto a white board. This worksheet is taken from Brilliant Publications ‘How to Sparkle at Beginning Multiplication and Division’ for 5’s to 7’s.The children are asked to share the objects evenly between the crackers.

If you like it, you will find more in the book. Click the button below to download a free copy to use with your class.

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Filed under Key Stage 1, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Primary school, Uncategorised

Springtime can be a source of great ideas for the Early Years

Springtime is fun – the days are warmer and the children feel happier. One idea is to set up a large spring picture on a wall or using powerpoint on a whiteboard, with a tree, pond and field. You can add frogspawn, tadpoles, frogs, blossom, spring flowers, etc as the season changes and as the children learn about them. Attach them with a tacky substance so that you can move them about and change the number of each of them on a weekly or daily basis.

Ask the children to count the number of butterflies, daffodils, tadpoles, lambs, ducks and caterpillars.

Each day or week change the numbers in the picture and ask them to count again.

Download the free worksheet from this blog and when the children are confident, ask them to complete it.

If you like this activity there are more in our book called Springtime Activities for the Early Years.

You can order Springtime Activities for the Early Years in any of these ways:

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Early years, Key Stage 0, lesson plans, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Nursery and Preschool, Teaching Ideas

Who needs Lesson Plans for Painting in Primary Classes?

Painting is a Class Act

Teaching painting can be daunting for the non-specialist. This set of three books ( for ages 5-7, ages 7-9 and ages 9-11) takes the hard work out of planning art activities. The books set out the progression of skills to be taught for colour mixing, colour theory, composition and using watercolours and other media. They use works of art to provide examples of how skills can be applied.

Painting is a Class Act is aimed specifically at non-specialist art teachers, but more experienced art teachers will find it inspirational too. It contains carefully planned, clearly laid-out lesson plans which Introduce pupils to the skills of painting and which use the work of great artists and of children  as examples.

Painting is a Class Act:

  • Provides a structured, skills-based approach to developing painting skills
  • Helps pupils develop a knowledge and feel for paints and colours
  • Provides pupils with a way to express their ideas and feelings – confidence and pride will ensue.

You can order Painting is a Class Act: in any of these ways:

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Filed under Art and design, Brilliant Publications, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, Primary school, Teaching Ideas