Anyone who knows me, knows that I love Northern Ireland. As a teenager I loved getting my ruck-sack on and exploring The Mourne Mountains, Newcastle or heading up the Cavehill, Belfast. I was even convinced by a mad friend to head up to the Mourne Mountains one night. (Note that I said “night” not morning or even evening - maybe I was the mad one!) As I explained to my mum at the time, “We have torches - we will be fine!” and I still stand by those securities.
If I was not on my bike exploring the beaches I was on a train checking out Belfast, Lisburn or Ballymena. I was the teenager who was never in the house.
You can imagine what I was like when I got my driving license - I was straight in my green Clio and off round the Antrim coast road, checking out the sights. Heading towards the international North West 200 road races, which attracts thousands of visitors to Northern Ireland every year. On the way taking photographs with my disposable camera; Dunce Castle, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the Giant’s causeway. On other days, usually on a Sunday (yip I was one of the “Sunday Drivers” moving at a very slow pace to take it all in, I would travel around Strangford Lough - an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Now that I am a parent and a teacher, I am always trying to reveal the loveliness and uniqueness of Northern Ireland to my own children and the pupils I teach. I am the teacher who loves planning school trips but unfortunately teaching 5 and 6 year olds, I know that short journeys are best. Otherwise, I would need several …. dare I say it… “sick buckets” with me on the long trips.
I remember when I taught in a school in Belfast - I took a trip to Crawfordsburn beach with my Primary 3/4 class and was shocked to learn that the majority of my class had never been to a beach!! I went with the Primary 2 teacher (one of the lovely teachers who you want to organise trips with) and her class. Well we arrived at the lovely Crawfordsburn beach and this child, from my class, ran like a crazy, mad-thing towards the sea. Regardless of the yells and shouts from the P.2 teacher, his mum (who was a helper on the trip) and myself - he ran directly into the sea!!!!!! As we would say in Northern Ireland, “He was soaked right through!” He went home in a plastic bag and his mum’s coat. It was my first year teaching and bringing a spare bag of clothes in my bag just didn’t cross my mind. The astonishing thing was that kid had the biggest smile on his face and claimed that he saw sharks and mermaids in the sea that day.
So how can I help my pupils to embrace all that Northern Ireland has to offer? All I can say is thank goodness for photographs and the internet. Exploring the resources that are available on many sites, I was delighted to discover that Twinkl has a Northern Ireland section! Not only providing excellent resources for our usual subject areas: Language & Literacy, Mathematics & Numeracy, PDMU, The Arts, RE, Physical Development & Movement, but Twinkl has also embraced The World Around Us!
I have to name a few of my favourite resources here, or should I say promote - As a fellow teacher I want all the teachers in Northern Ireland to check these out and use these in their classrooms. In doing so we will be promoting how diverse and wonderful Northern Ireland is and making our pupils aware of the exciting places and building sitting on their doorsteps. Are we still covering topics of far away places in our primary schools when some children have never stepped onto a beach or visited a local farm? Let’s leave the exotic, far off places to a point when all are pupils are aware of our local delights.
The first set of resources is a new resource on Twinkl - The Balmoral Show Poster. Celebrating farming and Agricultural. This resource stands out to me - maybe because my Grandad owned a farm in Kells, Ballymena and I spent a lot of my childhood there.
Along side the Twinkl resources on farms and farm animals these are great to check out just before the Balmoral Farming and Agricultural show at Balmoral Park Lisburn on 10th-13th May!
The next set of resources are based on iconic buildings: Queen’s University, Belfast Castle. You just can’t miss these magnificent buildings. Primary School children should know about these significant buildings.
Twinkle promotes it beautifully -Queen’s University. You just can’t miss this building in Belfast and our pupils can learn its’ history - (opened in 1849 and designed by British architect, Sir Charles Lanyon ) through several great worksheets and PowerPoints.
As an extra bonus, Twinkl also celebrates Queen’s famous students - Seamus Heaney (Poet), Liam Neeson (actor), Patrick Kiely (broadcaster) and Frank Pantridge (famous inventor) and Mary McAleese (The former Irish President). Therefore, the pupils are learning about famous people who once studied in a University close to their own homes.
Now check out the Twinkl resources on our lovely Belfast Castle:
Belfast Castle - http://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/ni-t-24-world-around-us-eyfs-ks1-northern-ireland-counting-activity-sheet
Not only are there resources on Belfast Castle but there are also great resources on Belfast Blitz, Belfast skipping Songs and Rhymes and a fabbbbbbuuuuuuuullllllllooooouuusssss PowerPoint on “Discover N.I.” (Including Lough Neagh, Information on Finn mcCool, Belfast, Titanic and Londonderry) - and to inspire the Pupils - Twinkl has added a quiz at the end of the PowerPoint. We all love a quiz to ensure learning.
I could go on and on about the fabulous Northern Ireland section on Twinkl and I don’t want to overwhelm you. So I will finish now. But before I stop I have to go back to the Mourne Mountains and point out this resource:
Did I tell you about the time when I went up the Mourne mountains with a torch?
I will leave it there before I start rambling again…. get it? Rambling?