Pedagogue Blog

What are Mnemonics?

Mnemonics, also known as mnemonic devices, are a technique that can be used to help us remember specific topics and ideas. There are many different types of mnemonics, and they can exist as songs, acronyms, rhymes, and many other forms. They can also help kids learn essential facts and information.

What is a mnemonic device?

A mnemonic device, also known as a helpful, is a learning technique that helps learners of all ages to retain or retrieve information. In other words, they’re a handy and effective way to boost your memory and help you store essential details that would otherwise be hard to remember.

Where does the term mnemonic come from?

The word mnemonic originally comes from ‘mnēmonikos,’ an Ancient Greek word that refers to memory. The Ancient Greeks also worshipped Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory in Greek mythology. Even today, the term ‘mnemonic’ is frequently used when talking about memory and studying memory!

Why do mnemonics help with memory?

We’ve defined mnemonic devices, but why are they so effective?

Well, much of it has to do with how our brains store information. While the human brain can be an incredible storage device, it’s less suited to keeping loads of meaningless details. Instead, we’re much better at building connections between new information and previous knowledge and remembering images and phrases.

Mnemonic devices are effective because they tap into how our brains store information. Using mnemonics, we can encode data into a rhyme, sequence, or even an easy-to-remember piece of imagery. Plus, this makes it much easier for us to retrieve it in the future.

What are the different types of mnemonic devices?

One of the best things about mnemonics is that they can exist in various forms. These include:

  • imagery
  • acronyms
  • rhymes
  • chunking

To name but a few! The mnemonic type your learners choose might depend on their learning style. For instance, children who learn visually might use a metaphor or a mental image to remember essential information. On the other hand, a kinaesthetic learner might remember something using a particular gesture.

In this next bit, we’ll go into more detail about some of the different kinds of mnemonic devices:

Acronyms and acrostics

An acronym is a word or phrase formed using the first letter(s) of the items you want to remember. They can make great mnemonic devices because they allow us to condense multiple things into one easy-to-remember phrase!

For example, to recall the rainbow’s colors, you could use the acronym ROYGBIV – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Plus, by using the same example of the colors of the rainbow, we can create an acrostic:

Richard of York gave battle in vain.

This acronym is perfect because we can use it to remember history and colors. That’s because it’s also talking about the unfortunate English king Richard III, who took part in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Notice how it condenses the essential facts about what happened at the battle into one easy-to-remember acronym.


Rhymes are excellent as mnemonic devices. They use rhythm and ‘acoustic encoding’ to make remembering concepts easier. It means that phrases that roll off the tongue are easier to remember because they appeal to our brains.

Here is a rhyming mnemonic you might know:

I before e, except after c,

And when sounding like a

As in neighbor and weight.

This mnemonic is particularly helpful when trying to remember the position and pronunciation of the letter ‘e’ in a word. By referring back to this mnemonic, we’ll figure out that ‘ei’ is often used after the letter ‘c’ in words like ‘deceive’ and ‘ceiling.’


As the name suggests, chunking is a tool that lets us store information by breaking it down into small, easy-to-recall ‘chunks.’ Since our brains can only process so much information at one time, these devices are excellent for helping us to simplify complex information.

A good example, and one that we use every day without realizing it, is phone numbers. Even though they form one long number, you’ll often see them written down in two or three more manageable chunks.

When might we use mnemonics?

While mnemonics are helpful for everyone, they can be convenient for pupils at school. In this next section, you’ll find some common and popular examples that children will likely use in school to remember essential information. But, of course, there’s a good chance that you will have used some of them yourself!

For spellings

One of the most common uses of mnemonics in teaching is to teach children how to spell words. The first letter of each word in the sentence spells out the word children are learning to spell. For instance, kids might learn to spell the words ‘because’ and ‘rhyme’ using this mnemonic:

Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants

Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move

They can also be fantastic for memorizing spelling rules. For example, the mnemonic device reminds children of the commonly-confused homophones ‘hear’ and ‘here.’

We hear with our ears.

For the order of a list

Instead of simply memorizing a list, you can devise an inventive way of remembering it. If the mnemonic device is humorous, then there’s a better chance you’ll be able to recall it. For example, take a look at this helpful for remembering the distance of the planets in our solar system from the sun:

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos

Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune

For remembering rules

How many days are there in September again? Luckily, there’s a mnemonic for that!

To remember whether a day has 30, 31, or even 28 days, we can use this rhyme:

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine each leap year

What is a Sentence?

A sentence is a set of words that makes up a complete thought. It achieves this by following a set of grammatical rules to convey a statement, question, exclamation, or command.

A sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a complete stop, question mark, or exclamation mark.

Usually, a sentence contains a subject and always has a verb. It can also include a predicate – what is said about the subject.

Subject Verb Predicate Predicate
This is a sentence.

When considering a sentence, it’s essential to think about whether it makes sense on its own. It should be a complete thought.

It’s pretty hard to define a sentence, as many people disagree on what it means. However, they help us to make sense of our words and to improve our writing. Constructing a variety of sentences is an essential first step to improving writing.

There are four types of sentences:

  • A declarative sentence

This sentence tells a fact and ends with a complete stop.

‘Cheetahs have spots.’

  • An imperative sentence

It is a type of instruction that ends with a full stop or exclamation mark.

‘Clean your room.’

The subject in an imperative sentence is often implied, so they’re not written out. So, for example, the issue in the above sentence would most likely be ‘you.’

  • An interrogative sentence

It asks a question and ends with a question mark.

‘What’s your favorite animal?’

  • An exclamation sentence

This type of sentence expresses emotion or excitement and ends with an exclamation mark.

Examples of a Simple Sentence

A complete sentence has at least a subject and the main verb, which states a complete thought. It may also have a predicate that describes the issue.

‘Angela is the nicest girl in the class.’

‘Tony plays sports after school.’

Lincolnshire is the tastiest sausage.’

Sometimes, they can be even simpler than that. A sentence can be just a subject and a verb. For example:

Dogs bark.

In some instances, it can be just a single verb.


Despite only being one word, that is a complete, simple sentence.

Examples of a Compound Sentence

A compound sentence joins two main clauses with a connective/conjunction. Compound sentences are joined by coordinating conjunctions/connectives – and, but, so, or.

‘Timmy is a good boy, but he often steals my ball.’

‘I like sausages, and I like potatoes.’

‘It’s sunny today, so I’m going to play outside with my friends.’

Some coordinating conjunctions need a comma before them. It is usually for longer sentences, which can be omitted in short ones.

What is the Milky Way?

The Milky Way is the name given to the galaxy in which our Solar System is located.

It is called this because of how it looks when viewed from Earth.

A galaxy is a large group of stars bound together by gravity.

How big is the Milky Way?

The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy that contains approximately 100 billion stars.

These stars form a large disk with a diameter of about 100,000light-years.

Our Solar System is about 25,000 light-years away from the center of the Milky Way.

Our planetary system is the only one officially called a ‘Solar System,’ but astronomers have discovered more than2,500other stars with planets orbiting them in our galaxy.

How do we know what the Milky Way looks like?

As the Earth exists within the Milky Way, it may seem strange that we claim to know what it looks like.

However, astronomers have discovered clues as to the shape of the Milky Way in the night sky.

One clue is the bright band of stars that can be seen across the night sky in certain areas.

Using telescopes to take photographs from different angles and create a panoramic view, scientists deduced that the concentration of stars supported the theory that our galaxy was a spiral.

If it weren’t, we would see stars spread across the sky, not predominantly in a single band.

The structure of the Milky Way

The Milky Way was previously believed to be a spiral consisting of four arms.

However, scientists have discovered that just two arms dominate the Milky Way’s structure using infrared images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

NASA has officially located our solar system near a partial arm of the Milky Way called the Orion Arm.

What is a Crocodile?

What is a Crocodile?

Crocodiles are one of the most charismatic animals. Crocodiles are reptiles, carnivorous predators, and aren’t fussy – they’ll eat whatever is available in their habitat. That’s one of the reasons they haven’t had to adapt and change much over the last 50 million years.

The Difference Between Crocodiles, Alligators, and Gharials

Though sharing many similarities in their appearance (morphology), crocodiles, alligators, and gharials belong to different families. However, caimans belong to the same family as alligators.

  • Gharials have a very narrow snout.
  • Alligators have a U-shaped snout and a pronounced overbite.
  • Crocodiles have a V-shaped snout and a longer head. They don’t have an overbite, but they have a sizeable fourth tooth that can be seen even when their mouth is shut; this is a reliable characteristic for identification.

All of these semiaquatic reptiles belong to a vast order called Crocodilia. During the Eocene, crocodiles separated from other crocodilians around 55 million years ago.

What Is An Order?

Scientists organize life into categories to determine how living organisms are related. This system or organization is called taxonomy. It’s like a family tree. From the largest group to an individual animal, these categories are Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Crorodilia is one example of an order; primates are another example.

Did you know? The closest living relatives of crocodilians are birds! That’s right, birds and crocodilians evolved from members of a group called archosaurs: dinosaurs.

What Do Crocodiles Look Like?

Crocodiles are predatory reptiles that have adapted to a semiaquatic lifestyle.

Crocodiles are reptiles, which means they lay eggs.

Essential Physical Characteristics

  • They can tuck their feet into the sides of their streamlined bodies while they swim to reduce water resistance and build speed. As a result, they propel themselves through the water at speeds of up to 18 mph! It helps them to catch prey quickly.
  • Webbed feet help them to make quick turns while swimming or pad along the floor of the shallows.
  • They have a palatal flap – firm tissue at the back of their mouth; this stops water from entering their throat. Their nostrils close underwater, too.
  • Crocodiles have smooth skin on their sides and bellies (to aid with swimming), while the top of their bodies and tails are covered in osteoderm. Osteoderms are tough scales rich in calcium. As a result, crocodiles are very rugged and act as armor. This armor is multi-purpose: osteoderms are highly sensitive to movement in the surrounding water.
  • Eighty teeth line the jaws of a crocodile. Teeth are essential to a crocodile’s survival – losing teeth spells disaster. That’s why they can replace their teeth up to 50 times during their life spans. That’s over 4,000 teeth in a lifetime.
  • Smaller crocodiles have a life span of around 35 years, while more enormous crocodiles, like saltwater crocodiles, can live well over 70. In captivity, a male saltwater crocodile at the Australia Zoo, looked after by Steve Irwin, once lived between 120 – 140 years old!
  • Crocodiles have incredible senses. They can hear well; they’re nocturnal hunters with fantastic night vision; they have a very well-developed sense of smell to make it easier to hunt on land, and they can sense movements around them through the scales all over their bodies.

Is a Crocodile a Reptile?

In short, yes, a crocodile is a reptile. Crocodiles are semiaquatic reptiles, meaning they live in and out of water. Crocodiles can be found throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australia. Reptiles can be found on every continent in the world, apart from Antarctica.

Reptiles are cold-blooded vertebrates that are closely linked to amphibians. Reptiles evolved from ancestral amphibians around 340 million years ago. When we hear the words ‘cold-blooded,’ we often think of animals being icy cold; however, this is not the case. If an animal is cold-blooded, it cannot maintain a constant body temperature. Therefore, they must seek sunlight to keep their body warm. You will often see crocodiles lying out in the sun for long periods. Being cold-blooded also means that reptiles, like crocodiles, cannot burn as much energy to keep themselves warm. As a result, they end up eating much less food than a mammal of their size or a similar-sized warm-blooded animal.

So a crocodile is a reptile, but they are not alone in this group. Many reptiles generally fit into these main categories: snakes, crocodiles and alligators, turtles, and lizards.

What Do Crocodiles Behave Like?

When we think of a crocodile, we tend to picture a large, dinosaur-like aggressive creature, which is not far from the truth. However, the very design of crocodiles means that they are built to hunt and survive; this is why crocodiles can live to over a hundred years old!

One of the essential features of crocodiles’ behavior is that they are primarily nocturnal animals. Crocodiles are predators, so they spend most of their time in the water, hunting for prey. Crocodiles can also travel several miles over land because they are only semiaquatic.

So, we know that crocodiles like to hunt, but what do they eat? During the initial stages of a crocodile’s life, it consumes insects, crustaceans, snails, small fishes, frogs, and tadpoles. When they get older, crocodiles move on to eat primarily fish. As crocodiles get older, they also develop a better ability to hunt and so can prey upon waterfowl (birds) and mammals. From time to time, one of the more enormous crocodiles will eat a human; however, this is not common.

Hunting, as discussed, is a massive part of a crocodile’s life, and they are extremely good at it. Crocodiles have massive jaws that capture their prey with a slick sideways movement of their mouths. These creatures also have sensitive pressure receptors situated in pits in the scales around their mouths that they use to detect motion. These receptors are essential for helping crocodiles capture prey in the dark, murky waters they hunt in.

So, that’s how crocodiles hunt in the water, but how do they hunt on land? To hunt effectively on land, crocodiles use the element of surprise. First, crocodiles wait for their prey, typically floating or lying motionlessly in the shallow waters where their prey habitually drink. Then, the crocodiles will pounce on them, using their full force of strength, capturing their prey and drowning it in the water. You may have also seen videos of crocodiles spinning their prey in the water. It is a technique that crocodiles use when dealing with larger prey. In this case, the crocodile grips the prey in its jaw and then spins it around in the water rapidly to make it easier to consume.

Another feature of crocodile behavior is their thermoregulation. Crocodiles thermoregulate, which means they perform certain activities to maintain and control their body temperature. They do this by alternately lying out in the sun and cooling off in shaded areas or cooler water. The preferred range of body temperatures for crocodiles is 30–32 °C. Staying within this range for extended periods allows crocodiles a more efficient metabolism. Being able to thermoregulate is essential for crocodiles, so they will fight hard to access both sunny and cool areas. It has been observed that the distinct hierarchies within populations of wild crocodiles mean that the more dominant animals have access to the best sunning spots. These prevalent crocodiles also have access to the best nesting sites to lay their eggs safely and securely.

How Many Species of Crocodiles Are There?

There are 16 different species of crocodiles alive today. They all have unique differences.

For instance, dwarf crocodiles may only grow to one and a half to two meters in length; meanwhile, the saltwater crocodile grows to a vast seven meters long and can weigh 1,000 kg.

Saltwater Crocodile

Five facts about the most enormous reptile in the world:

  1. The saltwater crocodile is the largest living reptile. Males can grow up to 6 meters long, while females are half the size.
  2. They have very wide, long snouts and mouths filled with(on average) 66 teeth up to 13 cm long.
  3. Their powerful jaws make the most vital bite force in the world.
  4. As with all crocodiles, all saltwater crocodiles lay eggs. Warm nests produce a clutch of primarily male saltwater crocodiles, while a more comfortable nest has mostly female offspring. Females will care for their young for many months, protecting them from harm while they are small and vulnerable.
  5. Saltwater crocodiles can remain submerged for over an hour and swim at speeds of up to 15 mph – ensuring their success as stealthy ambush predators.

Saltwater Crocodile Habitat:

This crocodile species prefers inland lakes, mangrove swamps, and marshes between the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Coral Sea. Thanks to a special gland under their tongue, they can survive in total salt water (an ability that gives them their name), but they thrive in muddy, brackish waters near the coast.

It means you can find saltwater crocodiles in India, Myanmar, Indonesia’s islands, and Australia’s north coast.

Their numbers had increased by hundreds of thousands since the 1970s when they faced extinction in Australia due to the crocodile skin trade. Both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles live in northern Australia today.

Saltwater crocodiles bask and nest in the terrestrial zones around freshwater and marine waters.

Be careful – mother saltwater crocodiles are very protective of the muddy nests in vegetation on the shore. They build these nests to conceal their eggs – they may lay up to 90 eggs at once! When mothers hear a chirping from within their eggs, they will dig them out of the nest, where they will hatch out of their eggs. Then, she’ll take them gently to the water’s edge, where they’ll have their first swim.

Orinoco Crocodile

These crocodiles have a very long snout, almost as thin as gharials, and pale skin that can change color over time.

  • They are critically endangered to extinction. They have been hunted for their skin and are threatened by habitat loss.

Orinoco Crocodile Habitat:

There are small Orinoco crocodile populations living in the freshwaters of Venezuela and Columbia. But, as their name suggests, they live primarily along the Orinoco river.

  • Watch as Steve Backshall and a team of conservationists try to rescue the eggs of the Orinoco crocodile. This crocodile is endangered, and conservationists hope to increase its population by raising eggs in captivity.

She responds by protecting her nest. Backshall describes crocodiles as instinctive caregivers.

Mugger Crocodile

This crocodile species digs caves and holes in which they lay their nest of up to 30 eggs. They also undertake long-distance treks in Gir, India – digging burrows to protect themselves from arid conditions and heat.

  • They are vulnerable to extinction and threatened by habitat destruction.

Mugger Crocodile Habitat:

These crocodiles live around freshwater wetlands in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. They have been found along rivers as high up as 420 meters! Unfortunately, their habitats are fragmented, making it hard for populations to mix.

What is the Story of Hamlet?

Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays, but what is it actually about? Here we offer a summary of Hamlet in simple English, breaking down the story into five acts. Finally, we suggest teaching resources to help your students understand this excellent play.

What is Hamlet?

Hamlet is a play written by William Shakespeare. It is estimated to have been written between 1599 and 1601. One of Shakespeare’s best-known and most highly regarded works, it is also his longest, containing 29,551 words and 4042 lines.

Interestingly, three different versions of the play have survived to this day. The first version, published in 1603, is only just over half as long as the second, which was printed a year later in 1604. The third version was published in 1623 as part of the first version of Shakespeare’s Complete Works. The version most of us know today combines the second two versions.

Hamlet’s tragedy deals with various themes, including love, death, revenge, and mental health.

Because the play is so long and written in the language of the 17th century, many readers find it helpful to summarize Hamlet in simple English.

What is the story of Hamlet?

The play centers around the main character, Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. When Hamlet’s father dies, Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius, marries his mother and takes the throne for himself. Hamlet’s father appears to the young prince as a ghost, telling his son that Claudius murdered him, and he wants Hamlet to kill Claudius to avenge his death.

Hamlet feels he needs proof before taking any drastic action, and he pretends to be mentally ill while investigating the claims made by his father’s ghost. However, he genuinely becomes deeply affected mentally by the situation and accidentally kills another man, Polonius, believing him to be Claudius. Polonius is the father of Hamlet’s girlfriend, Ophelia, and on hearing the news, she kills herself by drowning.

The story culminates in a sword fight between Hamlet and Laertes, Ophelia’s brother. Unfortunately, Laertes has dipped his sword in poison, which he has added to some wine; this results in the deaths of Hamlet, his mother Gertrude, and Claudius at the end of the play.

So, that’s a  summary of Hamlet in simple English. Now let’s break it down into its five acts.

A summary of Hamlet in five acts

Act I

The play opens with a meeting between Hamlet’s friend, Horatio, and two of the palace guards. The guards inform Horatio that they have seen a ghost resembling the King, who has recently died. The spirit then appears to the group, and they decide to tell Hamlet about it.

We then cut to the wedding of the King’s widow, Gertrude, to his brother, Claudius, the following morning. Claudius has taken the throne, and Hamlet is heartbroken about this and his mother’s wedding. Horatio and the guards inform Hamlet about the ghost.

The following scene shows a conversation between the new King’s advisor, Polonius, and his son and daughter, Laertes and Ophelia. Ophelia has a romantic interest in Hamlet, and her father and brother advise her against this. She agrees not to see him anymore.

That night, Hamlet sees the King’s ghost. The ghost tells him that Claudius murdered him, and he wants Hamlet to avenge his murder by killing Claudius. However, he doesn’t want Hamlet to harm Gertrude in any way. Hamlet agrees to his father’s wishes but decides to get proof of the truth before taking action. He thinks the best way to do this is by feigning mental illness, and he informs Horatio and one of the guards of his plan.

Act II

Hamlet starts to carry out his plan, acting strangely. Ophelia breaks off her relationship with him, telling Polonius that Hamlet’s behavior is highly out of character. Polonius is convinced that Hamlet is still in love with Ophelia and tells Claudius. The pair start to spy on Hamlet to try and find a reason for his strange behavior.

Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, is also concerned about the change in her son. She asks his old school friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to try and find out what’s wrong with him. Unfortunately, they’re unsuccessful, as Hamlet won’t answer their questions.

A traveling theatre company then arrives at the palace. Hamlet requests that the following night they perform a play about a man who kills his brother and marries his brother’s widow, hoping it will provoke a guilty reaction in Claudius.


Ophelia and Hamlet meet so she can return the gifts he gave her when they were together. Hamlet tells her the best thing she can do is go to live in a nunnery; this confuses Polonius and Claudius, who is spying on the pair. They conclude that Ophelia hasn’t caused Hamlet’s madness, and Claudius thinks Hamlet should be sent away to live in England if nobody can find out what’s wrong with him.

That night, the theatre company performs the play. Claudius storms out, stopping the action and convincing Hamlet that his father’s ghost is telling the truth. He decides to murder Claudius that night but hears him praying and decides to wait.

Hamlet goes to see his mother, Gertrude, and they argue about everything happening. When Hamlet hears someone moving behind a tapestry, he thinks it’s Claudius and stabs the intruder. He then realizes it’s Polonius he’s killed. The old King’s ghost appears again, telling Hamlet he shouldn’t have upset his mother. Gertrude can’t see the spirit and thinks Hamlet’s one-sided conversation proves he’s gone mad. The scene ends with Hamlet dragging Polonius’s body away.

Act IV

Claudius sends Hamlet away to England with his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. On the way, he discovers that Claudius has asked the English King to kill him when he arrives. Hamlet decides to send Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in his place and return home. He sends a letter to his friend Horatio, explaining that he has stowed away on a pirate ship that is bringing him back to Denmark.

Ophelia has gone mad with grief following her father’s death. Finally, she kills herself by drowning. Her brother Laertes, blaming Hamlet for his sister’s death and his father’s, swears to get revenge. He teams up with Claudius, and the pair devise a way to bring about Hamlet’s death.

Act V

On his return to Denmark, Hamlet meets Horatio in the graveyard. He finds the skull of an old friend, the court jester Yorick, and talks to Horatio about life and death. Ophelia’s funeral procession then arrives.

During the funeral, Hamlet and Laertes fight. A duel is arranged between the two of them to settle their differences. However, Claudius and Laertes have already hatched their plan to kill Hamlet. They agree that they will dip Laertes’s sword in poison and bring some poisoned wine to the duel for Hamlet to drink.

At the duel, Hamlet refuses to drink the wine Claudius has offered him. However, his mother, Gertrude, drinks it and dies instantly. Laertes and Hamlet each wound each other. As he’s dying, Laertes confesses the plot he and Claudius hatched to kill Hamlet and asks for Hamlet’s forgiveness. Hamlet then stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword, killing him.

Hamlet, of course, has also been stabbed with the poisoned blade. In his last breath, he asks Horatio to tell the future King about him. The play ends as Hamlet dies, and Horatio promises to tell his story.

What is a Decimal?

A Decimal point (sometimes known as a ‘decimal separator’) is usually written as a point or a dot and is used to separate the whole part of a number from the fractional part. We understand this through place value. The connection between decimal numbers and fractions is essential to helping children understand decimal numbers and will be explored in the next section.

What are Decimal Numbers?

Decimals are used to write a number that is not whole. Decimal numbers are numbers that are in between whole numbers. An example of this is 12.5, which is a decimal number that is between 12 and 13. It is more than 12, but it is less than 13. It’s essential to note that decimal numbers are the same as fractions, except they’re expressed differently. Continuing with the previous example, 12.5 is the same as the mixed number 12 ½. It is true no matter how complicated the decimal is. For example, the number 0.75 is the same as ¾. If you wanted to, you could take this further and say that 0.75 is equivalent to 75%.

How to teach decimals

One of the most excellent ways to explain decimals to your class or children is through blank hundred-number squares or even ones filled in to highlight decimal numbers. First, however, children must understand how decimals relate to whole numbers. So, when talking about decimals, it might be best to explain that a whole number is split into multiple, smaller parts. Below is an image that showcases this learning strategy.

When teaching decimals, think about how you often use them in your life. One of the most significant daily uses of decimals is using money. The decimal in cash relates to a fraction of the whole value. For instance, if you are working with dollars, the decimal point shows the fraction of a whole dollar. Whatever currency you use with your class or at home with your child, you can show them how decimals work cheaply and easily. There are even some virtual ways of showing this if you don’t have any coins handy.

You can also use the money to help explain equivalent decimals or ensure you explain them to your children adequately. For example, children must know that decimals 0.7 and 0.70 are equal, especially in everyday contexts such as money or weight. They also must understand that changing the numbers before the left digit won’t change the value, so if a number is 005, it is still 5.

Decimal points have a purpose: to separate the ones and the tenths. You can visually show children this. For instance, for 25.35, you would say twenty-five and thirty-sixth hundredths.

You can also show children how helpful the decimal point can be when stacking up numbers in sums. Keeping decimal points in line can help children to complete sums more effectively.

What is Recycling?

Recycling is converting waste materials, which would usually be thrown away, into new materials and objects. Recycling waste reduces the number of harmful materials produced and reduces energy usage, therefore benefitting the environment.

What are Recyclable Materials?

Not all materials can be recycled, but plenty of materials can and should be recycled. Recyclable materials include:

  • Plastic
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Cans
  • Batteries
  • Glass
  • Clothes
  • Electronics
  • Wood
  • Metal

If you are unsure whether you can recycle something, there is usually information on the packaging, or your local council should be able to let you know.

Why Should We Recycle?

Now you know a bit more about recycling, you might be wondering, ‘why should we recycle?’. There are lots of excellent reasons why we should recycle, including:

  • Recycling conserves resources – when we recycle our waste, it is turned into new things! So we don’t have to use more natural resources to make new products. Instead, we can use old recycled materials to create new products. So, for example, many water bottles are recycled, and you can get notebooks made of old tires!
  • Recycling saves energy – using recycled materials in manufacturing takes up much less energy than newly sourced materials.
  • Recycling helps to protect the environment – recycling means we don’t have to gather new, raw materials, which causes water and air pollution. Recycling also saves energy, which means it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to combat climate change.
  • Recycling reduces landfill – everything you don’t recycle will end up in landfills. Some materials can take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to decompose. The more we recycle, the less material ends up in the landfill.
  • Recycling can reduce your carbon footprint – everything we do on this planet leaves a trace. So recycling can help reduce the damage we all do to the environment.

Recycling Facts

  • In the UK, we recycle around 80% of the paper.
  • Paper is one of the most recycled materials.
  • It only takes six days to turn old books, newspapers, and magazines into new ones.
  • The recycling paper takes 70% less energy than making new paper from raw materials.
  • It can take plastic up to 500 years to decompose.
  • 55% of plastic waste ends up in landfills and the ocean.
  • Not all plastics can be recycled, but many can.
  • Glass is 100% recyclable.
  • Once in a landfill, food waste can release methane, a greenhouse gas.
  • Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.

Top 10 Marie Curie Facts for Kids

Marie Curie was a scientist who became famous for her work on radioactivity. Here are ten interesting Marie Curie facts for kids:

  1. Marie Curie is considered one of the most influential scientists of all time. She was the first woman to win a Nobel prize and the only person to win Nobel prizes in two different sciences: physics and chemistry. In addition, Marie Curie discovered radioactivity and changed how scientists understood the atom.
  2. She was born in Warsaw, Poland, on 7th November 1867. She was born Maria Salomea Sklodowska but adopted her French husband’s name, Curie, around the time she married him. She also became a French citizen when she married him. They were happily married until he died tragically in 1906 when he got run over by a horse-drawn carriage in Paris.
  3. Marie Curie’s parents were both teachers. They taught her to value knowledge and help others. She and her elder sister, Bronya, both wanted to live up to their parent’s expectations and succeeded. As a result, Marie Curie was incredibly determined and driven. Even as a young girl, she always asked questions and tried to figure out how things worked. This determination helped her achieve many scientific breakthroughs.
  4. She was the youngest of five children. The family lived in difficulty, and Marie Curie often went without meals. However, she did her best at school and was encouraged by her mother to study hard so she could one day become a teacher and help others in need.
  5. She named the element ‘polonium’ after Poland. There was a food shortage in her native Poland, and many people died from hunger. Marie Curie wanted to do something to help the situation in Poland and chose to name the element after her home country. It was an insult to Russia, which ruled Poland at the time.
  6. One of the most impressive Marie Curie facts for kids: During the First World War outbreak, Marie Curie created and transported over 200 x-ray machines into field hospitals. Albert Einstein once said of Curie, ‘She helped humanity excellently by her work.’
  7. Most of her work was carried out in a shed behind the school where her husband worked. She was so dedicated to her work that she refused to take time off, even when she was seriously ill; this led to her contracting radiation poisoning, eventually killing her.
  8. Marie Curie opened research centers in both Paris and Warsaw. These centers helped to train the next generation of scientists and continue her work on radioactivity; they also helped ensure that women could study science and become essential members of the scientific community.
  9. Marie Curie’s daughter Irene won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1935 for her work synthesizing new radioactive elements; this made Marie Curie the first mother and daughter to win Nobel prizes. The two women remained close until Marie Curie died in 1934.
  10. Marie Curie died on 4th July 1934 in France. Her death certificate states that she died of ‘aplastic anemia, a blood disease; her long-term radiation exposure caused this. Many of her notebooks are still considered to be radioactive. Her notes from experiments are still slightly radioactive today. They must be stored in lead-lined boxes and handled carefully at the ‘Bibliothèque Nationale de France’ in Paris.

What is Language Assessment?

Language assessment measures the proficiency a language user has in any given language. It could be a first or second language. Tests are one form of language assessment, and there are many others. They fall into two categories: summative and formative. Please read our other Teaching Wikis to learn more about summative and formative assessment.

Three main concepts in determining meaningful language assessment are validity, reliability, and feasibility.

  1. Validity means that what is assessed should be assessed.
  2. Reliability refers to the accuracy of the decisions made from the assessment.
  3. Feasibility means that the assessment has to be practical.

A language assessment can cover one or more of the following four essential skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

What is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is the international standard for defining language learners’ proficiency. On a six-point scale of ability, it describes what learners should be able to do as they progress in language learning. The progression points in reverse order of ability are Proficient, Independent, and Basic. These are then broken into two levels (three for Basic).

What’s the purpose of language assessment?

Language assessment has two primary forms: achievement assessment and proficiency assessment.

  • Achievement assessment is the completion of specific objectives set out by a course. It refers to work completed in lessons. It measures the extent to which the pupil has met the learning goals in a given time frame, such as a lesson, a series of lectures, or an entire course.
  • The proficiency assessment assesses a pupil’s ability – what they know and can do in the real world. It measures a learner’s proficiency in a context outside the classroom.

What are the different types of language assessment?

The meaning of your language assessment will depend on your setting.

If you’re teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), you must first gauge your learners’ proficiency based on the standard reference levels (using the scale for your chosen qualification).

Suppose you’re in a primary setting responsible for supporting learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL). In that case, you’ll need a clear strategy for integrating children and their families into school life.

How does language assessment work?

As we’ve seen, meaningful language assessment covers four essential areas: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. So how should each one be assessed, and where can you find resources to help you?

Assessing Reading

Reading takes place in a variety of contexts, not just books. Children read on tablets, computers, and phone screens. No matter what they’re reading, the same simple process applies. They have a goal or purpose for reading. They use knowledge of words and grammar to make meaning from the terms.

So reading assessment should focus on a range of texts and tasks to fit the reader’s purpose; this might be through reading comprehension activities or putting words into sentences, so they make sense.

Assessing Writing

Writing is a complex process. Children need a topic and the message they want to communicate. They might also consider the audience, the overall structure, and the vocabulary they must use.

So when assessing writing, it’s essential to set a range of specific writing tasks to gauge their ability to write for different purposes and audiences. The tasks should also be about something relevant to them.

Assessing Speaking

Speaking happens every day. Like writing, speaking requires children’s brains to find the right words and put them together in a way that makes sense. But, like writing, how we speak and the terms we use depend on the context: who we are talking to and the purpose of our conversation.

Therefore, there are many ways to assess speaking, such as interviews, presentations, and group or paired work. In addition, some everyday speaking activities involve describing pictures or discussing personal information like hobbies or interests.

Assessing Listening

Hearing is one of our five senses. Listening is the act of making sense of what we’ve heard. It’s a bit like reading and reading comprehension. A child might be able to pronounce the words, but do they understand the meaning?

Listening is a complex process. First, our brains process the sounds reaching our ears to recognize them as language. They then organize the sounds into phrases and start to develop our understanding of the gist of what’s been said. Then they use our existing knowledge to understand the overall message better.

For listening assessments, they must copy real-life situations. In general, listening assessments involve listening to a recording or live speaker and then giving a response such as:

  • Identifying the main ideas.
  • Selecting specific information.
  • Picking out words from a list.

What is a Mixed Number?

A mixed number or (mixed fraction) is one integer and one proper fraction making up a number. To write a mixed number, write down the whole number with the fraction next to it.

A mixed number or (mixed fraction) is one integer and one proper fraction making up a number. To write a mixed number, write down the whole number with the fraction next to it.

For example:

3 ¼

6 ½

4,593 8/16

What is the difference between mixed numbers and improper fractions?

Mixed numbers and improper fractions are both types of fractions that have a value of more than 1, but this is where the similarities end. For improper fractions, this means the numerator (the top number) is bigger than the bottom number (the denominator).

On the other hand, a mixed number is made up of a whole number and a proper fraction, such as 2½. Because of this, mixed numbers are sometimes known as mixed fractions. Decimal numbers can be converted into mixed numbers, for example going from 1.5 to 1½. Sometimes known as mixed fractions, mixed numbers are the ending result of a solved improper fraction. Here’s an example of how this works:

An improper fraction is when the numerator (the number on top) is higher than the denominator (the number on the bottom).

For example:


This fraction is improper because 12 is higher than 8, meaning that the value of this fraction is more than just one whole. Therefore, when changed to a mixed number, this fraction will be written as1 ⅝.

How do you turn an improper fraction into a mixed number?

Using the example above, we’ll work out how to change an improper fraction into a mixed number.


Divide the numerator by the denominator

12/8=1 with a remainder of 5

1 becomes the whole number, while 5 becomes the numerator. Making the new, mixed number1 ⅝

Here’s another example:



Mixed number = 5 ½

How to Minus Mixed Fractions

What can confuse children when learning about mixed numbers/ mixed fractions is what to do with the different elements of the mixed fraction during a subtraction sum. To complete a subtraction sum involving mixed fractions, for example, 3 ¾-1 ½, you have to follow these simple steps:

  1. First, work out the result of subtracting the whole numbers. So in this example, you would do 3 minus 1, which is 2.
  2. Next, you have to work out how to the fractions. Start by converting the fractions so that they both have the same denominator. In this case, 3/4 stays the same, but1/2 is converted to 2/4.
  3. Now we can do the subtraction sum involving the fractions. 3/4 – 2/4 = 1/4.
  4. The final step is to combine the fraction with the whole number, answering 2 ¼.

And that’s how to minus a mixed fraction from a bigger mixed fraction! For sums involving addition, the process is the same. First, split up the mixed fractions into whole numbers and fractions, add the whole numbers, then add the fractions. Finally, combine the two, and you’ve got your answer.

What is the Hidden Curriculum?

In schools and institutions, students are taught the “formal” curriculum. This curriculum comprises courses, lessons, and other learning experiences, such as tests, quizzes, and assessments. The curriculum is taught intentionally: teachers teach students these skills and knowledge.

The Hidden Curriculum, however, comprises the lessons and knowledge students learn that are not part of the curriculum or the course of study. This knowledge will not have been included as part of the formal curriculum but will instead be taught – often unintentionally – alongside the other lessons.

What might be taught as part of the Hidden Curriculum?

As the Hidden Curriculum is informal and sometimes unintentional, what is taught from school to school or from teacher to teacher can vary. However, some elements that are likely to be included are written below:

  • Respecting authority: as children learn from and interact with a teacher, they may learn to respect them and other authority figures within the school.
  • Respect for other pupils’ opinions: by making sure that students listen to and think about the views and ideas raised by their fellow pupils, teachers can ensure that they learn to respect the opinions and statements of others.
  • Punctuality: school runs on a formal timetable, with set times for the day and classes to start and end. By maintaining and explaining the importance of sticking to this timetable, teachers can help students become punctual.
  • Aspiring to achieve: teachers can use various methods to help children take pride in their achievements and want to go on and achieve more, whether this is done using certificates or by giving children responsibility for assessing their progress.
  • Having a “work ethic”: a teacher can also ensure that students know what working conscientiously can help them achieve, making it more likely that they will continue to apply themselves moving forward.

Why is it called “the Hidden Curriculum”?

The Hidden Curriculum has its name because the lessons or knowledge it is made from are often unacknowledged or unexamined by educators, students, or the wider community.

However, a lot of what the Hidden Curriculum teaches is often included in the school rules, which are almost always written down and put on display, or told clearly to students (as it’s expected that they should know and follow the school rules!). As this is the case, it has been questioned whether the curriculum can be called “hidden.”

What are the disadvantages of the Hidden Curriculum?

Although it might not necessarily seem harmful, several adverse effects of the Hidden Curriculum have been pointed out. Below are some of the disadvantages that have been pointed out:

  • A hidden curriculum can reveal hypocrisy if what a school says it does is not the same as what it does. For example, a school might claim that it wants all students to do well academically, but the hidden curriculum might teach students that only those from wealthier backgrounds can do well.
  • Learning to obey and not question authority figures – such as a teacher in a classroom – might mean that students are taught and conditioned to follow instructions without asking questions or thinking about what they are being told for the rest of their lives.
  • The hidden curriculum can often mean that children are taught to accept their teacher’s views and opinions. Teachers are important authority figures in a child’s life, and they see an excellent deal; this means they can seriously affect a student’s beliefs and actions.
  • Because of the unwritten nature of the hidden curriculum, it can be challenging to make changes when needed. In addition, unlike the formal curriculum, which can be read and examined, the hidden curriculum may not be apparent or easy to understand.

What is a Hero story?

A hero’s journey is a hero story template that pops up in fiction, folklore, and mythology. In these stories, a hero goes on an adventure in which they face trials, challenges, and enemies. The hero returns home at the end of the adventure as a profoundly changed person with new strength and knowledge. In some stories, they might return with some magical object or reward.

It’s probably the most common type of hero story and can be found in many places. From Homer’s Odyssey to The Wizard of Oz and even many superhero films, many stories use the hero’s journey, also called the monomyth, as their template. In this teaching wiki, we’ll explain how these hero stories work, some of the main recurring character types, and how you can teach your class about hero’s journey stories.

How are hero’s journey stories structured?

There are a few debating ideas about how hero’s journey stories are structured. One thing they all agree on, though, is that this type of hero story is split into three distinct acts:

1: Departure: The main hero receives a ‘call to adventure in the first act, disrupting their everyday life. They might be reluctant at first and refuse to go on the adventure. In some hero’s journey stories, this first act is where the hero is born, grows up, and starts to understand their heroic purpose. At the end of this act, the hero leaves behind the world they know and ventures into a more uncertain, dangerous one.

2: Initiation: The second act is where things get interesting. In this section, the hero faces a series of trials and challenges. They might sometimes fail or be tempted to go down the wrong path (literally or metaphorically!), but they will eventually persevere and continue their adventure. At the end of the second act, the hero confronts the thing that’s been causing all the bother and receives their reward.

3: Return: Even though it might sound like the hero story is over, there’s still one essential act left to go. In act three, the hero leaves the new world they’ve ventured into. They might be reluctant to leave, or in some stories, they’re chased out by an angry guardian or god-like figure. When the hero returns home, they learn to use the new knowledge, power, or magic item they’ve gained.

What other characters can be found in the hero’s journey stories?

As well as the main hero, several character archetypes appear across many hero’s journey tales. These are some of the main ones:

  • The Mentor: This character type plays a crucial role in the plot. The mentor often motivates the hero to go on the adventure in the first place. They might also train the hero or give them helpful advice.
  • The Threshold Guardian: These characters can take several forms, but their role in the story is to challenge and impede the hero’s progress.
  • The Ally: Though not every hero story has one, the Ally is an essential archetypal character. As the name suggests, their job is to help the hero through their adventure. In more modern stories, they’re used to make the story more exciting and to provide some good back-and-forth dialogue with the hero.
  • The Shadow: The main antagonist of the story, The Shadow is a character with immense power who the hero must confront. While this might be a villain or monster, it can also be something more abstract, like the hero’s doubts and fears.

Why are hero stories so popular?

Although it might seem like they’ve been done to death, hero’s journey stories are still viral, and for a good reason. For one thing, a well-told hero story makes us feel good. There’s something universally satisfying about seeing an ordinary person transform into a hero and defeat an evil adversary.

Another reason the hero’s journey is such a tried-and-true format is that it allows us to sympathize with the hero. Seeing the hero face challenges and obstacles makes readers want to root for them even more.

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