Melbourne Cup – Classroom Ideas for K-6

(Image by Samantha Scholl)

Never let it be said that we don’t have enough public holidays. Because in Melbourne we get two bonus public holidays. For sporting events. (And yes, that is kind of as absurd as it sounds, but I’m not complaining, just pointing out a fact!)

We all learn through real-life examples, and what better way to teach than to celebrate learning through nationwide – or, in this case, state-wide – events that our students are going to see and hear a lot about. Not only does it help to teach them about the historical, social or cultural importance of such events, but suddenly they begin to see the real-life applications of maths and literacy skills in action.

To that end, I’m here to share some activity ideas that Melbourne teachers may be inspired by during the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup celebrations. Each activity can be differentiated to meet the needs of your students – I may suggest year levels, but ultimately, these are just suggestions to spark ideas that will best meet your class’ needs.

Side note: this is gambling free – I wouldn’t not encourage or condone Melbourne Cup sweeps, no matter how culturally prevalent they are for this event.

Maths Activities


1) Give each student (or pair of students) a beanbag and a picture of a horse to decorate and pin on to the beanbag. Line students up in an area with enough space (either indoors or outdoors) and have them throw their beanbag.

For junior grades:
  • Have students use ordinal numbers to mark where the horses landed. You could do this with ordinal number cards or take a photo and work on an IWB to label as a class
  • Measure how far the horse travelled using informal units (such as popsticks, blocks, pencils, etc) and record. Students can compare each others’ results – this will provide a great opportunity to discuss using the same unit of measurement to accurately compare findings. As a class graph the results using a bar graph.
For middle and senior grades:
  • Measure how far each horse has traveled using formal units of measurement. Collect all data as a class and have students find the mean, median and mode for the class data.
  • Discuss the factors that may have affected the outcome of the ‘horse race.’
  • Repeat the race – is the data the same?

2) Run timed foot races over a specified distance – group students (strategically!) so that each ‘team’ collects points for first/second/third places. Collect the data and discuss any patterns students notices.


Pull up the current (or past) Melbourne Cup line-up and have students make observations about the various jockey silks.
  • What colours do they use?
  • What shapes do they use?
  • What patterns do they use?

Tally and graph the various answers to these questions.


Draw how big you think a horse is. Measure it in hands. Investigate how big horses actually are and compare.

ELA & The Arts Activities


  • Look at the names of past and present Melbourne Cup horses. Discuss which names stand out and why? What words do the owners use to make their horse stand apart from the rest?
  • Choose an interesting horse name and write a story about that horse – how did it get its’ name? What does it mean?
  • How many vowels and consonants are in a horses name?
  • Do any of the horse names use alliteration, metaphor or similes?
  • Are any of the horse names puns?


Draw a horse – either independently, using a guided drawing or just use an outline – and craft its’ features. Label the horse. Craft a name for your horse and write a history for it – where does it live? What does it eat? Does it race?


Look at examples of real-life jockey silks and notice the colours and patterns. Draw or use a template for the outline of your jockey silk.
  • Draw your own jockey with pencils/crayons/markers.
  • Paint your own jockey silk.
  • Collage your own jockey silk.
Write a short paragraph explaining the design of the jockey silk, including any inspiration used.

Display the class set of silks with their explanations.


Have students write a persuasive text about the Melbourne Cup. Topics could include:
  • We do/don’t need a public holiday for the Melbourne Cup.
  • The Melbourne Cup is an important Victorian Holiday.
  • We do/don’t need Fashion on the Field competitions for Melbourne Cup.


Invite students to come to school dressed as a jockey, or as if they were attending Fashion on the Field. (Your school may choose to run a fundraiser for a charity of its choice and have students bring a gold coin donation for the free dress day.)

Activities might include:
  • Jockey parade
  • Fashion on the Field parade
  • Design a race day hat/fascinator activities
  • Design a fashion outfit
  • Use fabric scraps (or coloured paper) to design a race-day outfit.

Do you have any activities to celebrate Melbourne Cup?



Teacher On Holiday!

Hello, my wonderful teacher friends!

It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve been on my blog, and I have no excuses. This year has been a bit difficult for me in my career (as well as also very rewarding at the same time) which has made it difficult to find inspiration for my blog. But I think I’m getting it back.

One thing that has been floating around my head for an absolute age is that I’m looking to change up my blog/TPT title. I’ve already got a domain name in place and over the next few months, you’re slowly going to see everything change over.  It’s going to take a while, so bear with me, but I’m really happy with my decision.

So stay tuned!

In other news, Spring has sprung here in Australia, and I’m in the last few days of the term three school holidays. I’ve survived a concert term, my birthday, and a whole lot of bookish events in the last few months and I’ve been enjoying taking time to recharge and get myself ready for the last term of our school year.

(No idea yet what I’ll be teaching in 2018, but I’ll keep you all posted!)

One of my new favourite ways to look after myself is to make a Smoothie Bowl for breakfast.

Now, I’m still new to this, but I’m getting better at it and at putting different combinations together.  As someone who’s never been a big breakfast fan, this is a change of pace for me, but something that I’m greatly enjoying.

I’ve also made time to read, read, read.

I was given a stack of books from our school library over the school holidays:

It’s been fantastic to read some books that I know will be on the shelves for the kids at school to pick up – I foresee great conversations up ahead. (Except The Special Ones, which I was reading to see if it was too advanced/inappropriate for a primary school, and yes, it is, but still a good book.)

I’ve also been reading plenty of other books, both adult and young adult fiction.

(I may have also started to get back into a little bit of yoga practise. A tiny bit.)

Ultimately, these things have helped me to settle back into myself after a stressful work period.

Stay tuned for future months as I begin to share a few more school-related posts – I’ve got a big post prepared for Melbourne Cup in November (especially for Aussie teachers), plus a few things on immersion and a creative approach to planning.

What are you keys to unwinding after a busy time period?



Copy-Free Mother’s Day Card!

It’s been ages since I last posted on this blog, and as usual, I’m fashionably late to the Mother’s Day craft ideas – but in my defence, the last week or so has been absolutely CRAZY. There’s been so much going on, and finding the time to sit down and create something new for Mother’s Day had to take a back-seat.

But not this weekend!

I’ve filmed a tutorial for this fun, pop-up-like Mother’s Day card, which can do double duty as a thank you card or just a fun general purpose card that kids can make. I made a variation of this card with Grade 1/2 students earlier in the week and the best part is this is completely copy free. (That’s right, no arguments with the photocopier and coloured cardstock!)


  • Coloured cardstock in a variety of colours
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Markers (optional)

How to:

This is an easy-to-modify card that can be used in lots of different ways. I hope that it inspires you to create your own interpretations on the more traditional Mother’s Day cards.

Have a wonderful weekend (especially to all the mums out there)!

#betterthanchocolate $1 Flash Sale

It’s approaching the end of term here in Australia and to celebrate, some wonderful Aussie TPT-ers are having a quick $1 sale so we can all stock up on activities for the end of the term, celebrating Easter and other upcoming events. We’ve called it #betterthanchocolate!

I have 5 products up for $1 so grab them while they’re cheap!


Sight Word Bounce Practise sight words with a fun bunny and egg theme!

Alphabet Centers (Spring Themed) Reinforce alphabet and sound knowledge with this quick and easy to implement center activity!

Mother’s Day

Love in a Box Creativity Prepare for Mother’s Day with this interactive poster to celebrate the wonderful things about mums!

Mother’s Day Print-and-Go A collection of activities that can be printed, copied and used with minimum fuss. Sentence sorts, mini books and simple Mother’s Day gifts make this a great product to have.


Donut Numbers 0-20 Practise number fluency with this easy to print, laminate and go centre.

There are so many great resources up already, so definitely check them out and snag yourself a bargain!

Back to School $1 Sale!!


It’s nearly back to school time here in Australia and to celebrate and help everyone get prepared for the start of the year, a few wonderful teacher friends and I are celebrating by sharing some fantastic teaching resources at a huge discount for this weekend only. We’re having a ONE DOLLAR flash sale on select items in our stores.

You can find all the $1 items on TpT by searching using the hashtag #ausbts17.

We want to make sure that everyone goes back to school with a great collection of resources and products that will make the start of the year a breeze!

In my store you’ll find the following items on sale:


School Makes Me School first week activities pack.


Start Write Away class books writing pack.


Victorian Handwriting Placemats featuring Vic Modern Cursive font.


Serving Up Numbers 1-20great for revising numbers!


Hip Hip Hooray, Today It’s Your Birthday! classroom birthday pack!

And, as a bit of a bonus, for those of you wanting to stock up on fun fonts to use in your classroom, I’m also putting my font bundle on sale for 50% off, too. That means you can get 75 exclusive fonts (plus 18 free fonts, too!) for only $12.50.


Now’s the perfect time to stock up on items for back to school at crazy prices!

Remember, just search #ausbts17 when you visit TeachersPayTeachers!

5 Things to Read Before You Go Back to School


Here in Australia we’re about half-way through our Summer break and will be headed back to school at the end of the month.

Today I thought I’d share some of my favourite posts that are particularly relevant to the start of the year. If you’re new to my blog, or missed these posts, I hope you’ll take the time to check back over them and see if these tips can help you in the lead-up to the start of the new school year!


The First Week of Prep was a much requested post about my experiences starting the year with our youngest learners who are experiencing school for the very first time. From personal anecdotes, to tips and suggestions for activities, this post is bound to include at least one thing everyone can take away for the start of the new year.


5 Ways to End the Day is exactly that – 5 different ways you can end the day with your students on a positive note that will see them eager and ready to come back the next morning with a big smile on their face!


5 Reasons to Have a Classroom Blog outlines some ideas for using blogs in your classroom with your students. Blogs are a great community outlet, a great way to communicate and an amazing way to teach writing for an audience, so stop by and check out ways you could use a blog in your classroom!


Why I Said Goodbye to Post-It Notes. Controversial? Possibly, but this post shares some of the organisational tips that helped me streamline my giant paper pile and to-do lists last year. Well worth a read if you’re looking for a new organisation system.


Celebrating Birthdays in the Classroom is my post full of ideas that you can use to implement great birthday practises in the classroom. It does share my product pack for birthdays, but each idea can be taken and adapted to suit YOUR class and YOUR students.

Stay turned later this month for more organisational tips and tricks to help you started right in the new school year.

2017 | New Year, New Goals

Hello lovelies!
Welcome back to my blog, and Happy New Year!
I’ve been absent for a long time, and there’s really no excuse, but I’m being kind to myself and I’m not going to make any. Life simply gets busy and things have to take priority, however, I’m happy to say that I have plans in place for 2017!
Firstly, you may have noticed that Miss Galvin Learns is getting a bit of a make-over. For a while, I’ve been meaning to change my blog name and align it a bit more with my other creative pursuits, so Miss Galvin Learns has become A Novel Classroom. I’m really pleased with the change and while it’s not complete, it’s on track. (I just couldn’t wait to share it with you!)
Thus, one of my goals for 2017 is to complete the change over, update my blog layout (and maybe tackle the change on my TPT store).

My home base (read: office) for 2017.

Next, this year holds significant changes for me, teaching wise. For the first time, I will not have a classroom of my own. Next year, I have taken on the role of Early Years Support which will see me working in the Foundation-Grade 2 classrooms in my school, working in support and coaching across multiple curriculum areas and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m also continuing my role as Foundation Team Leader, so I will continue to work closely with my beloved Foundation students and teachers. Some of my future posts will be around my 2017 role, so if there’s anything you’re interested in reading about, let me know in the comments!
Finally, I will be moving to my new apartment in early 2017, which will cut down on my commute time. I’ll be working on organising my time so that I can better bring you content here on the newly revamped A Novel Classroom. Ideas for posts include organisation tips, coaching tips, art projects and more. I want to bring YOU tips and tricks that you can take, modify and use in your classroom, which means I need YOUR input. Let me know in the comments what areas of teaching you would like me to cover in 2017.
I hope that everyone has had a safe and happy start to 2017. May it bring new adventures, experiences and opportunities for you and your loved ones.

Have you unlocked Dance Party?


You guys know I love GoNoodle.

(I’ve talked about them a lot!)

I’m very proud to be a 2016-2017 GoNoodle Ambassador and share the wonderful resources offered by the website with all of you (and my class… and everyone else)!

This last week, GoNoodle unlocked a really awesome new feature on their site: Dance Party.

What is Dance Party, you ask?


Well, it’s a great activity that pairs some funky music with fun dance moves… but that’s not even the best part! The best part is that your students can now connect their Champs from their home accounts (via a unique class code) with your class account via Dance Party.

Which means, they get to see their awesome Champs in their classroom, and share them with their friends!

Needless to say, my class are very excited by this. So far, we have 14 out of 22 Champs connected and there’s been a lot of talk about how they know which Champ belongs to which student.

It’s also helped introduce GoNoodle to families, who’ve been sending in some wonderful feedback about how much they’re enjoying joining in at home and sharing with siblings, cousins and family friends.

So, if you haven’t already unlocked Dance Party, you definitely need to check it out! Just log in to GoNoodle, click on Dance Party and print your class code!

What is your class’ favourite GoNoodle activity?

Review | Australian Curriculum “Health”


The second book R.I.C. Publications sent me for review this month was their new Australian Curriculum “Health” resource book for Foundation. This resource is available for Foundation – Year 6 (each level with it’s own resource book) and aligns to the Personal, social and community health strand of Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education.

As with all R.I.C. Publication’s books, it is designed to support teachers in implementing the curriculum.

This particular resource consists of 20 units that cover the three sub-strands:

  • Being healthy, safe and active
  • Communicating and interacting for health and wellbeing
  • Contributing to healthy and active communities


Each unit with this book consists of a detailed lesson plan that includes an introductiondevelopment (including differentiation) and a concluding task. All Australian Curriculum outcomes are clearly outlined, as well as the provided resources, assessment options and ways of extending the content further.

The resources included are large and clear (which is very important in the Foundation years) and include a range of cut and paste and recording options, props for interactive lessons and stories for teaching concepts.


Where available there are links to online resources of videos that are age-level and content appropriate.


I am really pleased to see resources for feelings that very young children feel often but don’t often have the language or skills yet to deal with themselves. The units on Feeling Left Out and Taking Risks really struck me as being spot-on for targeting areas that are difficult for my young students. I love that the lessons are taught through simple stories that students can easily relate to.

The other unit that I think is highly important is Being kind, fair and respectful and it includes a great set of puppets for students to make and scenarios for them to explore what it means to be kind, fair and respectful which is so incredibly important for young learners.

As always, this resource has been designed with R.I.C. Publication’s trademark clean, simple styling. They don’t overpower any of the pages with unnecessary illustrations (unless they demonstrate a point) and the pages designed for students to use have simple phrases that students can read independently or with minimal support.

This is a wonderful resource for any teacher who teaches the Health curriculum but doesn’t know where to start (or those of us who love fresh, new ideas!). The lessons are simple and clear and easy to understand and implement.

If you would like additional information about the other books in this series, please check out the publisher’s website here. You’re able to preview all of the books in full.

Thank you to R.I.C. Publications for the opportunity to check out and review this title.

I received this title from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review | Australian Curriculum “Money”


R.I.C. Publications contacted me this month and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing one of their new release Australian Curriculum resource books on “Money” and I said yes, because one thing I’ve had trouble sourcing a lot of great resources on for maths is money and it’s one of the topics we’re covering next term.

The Australian Curriculum “Money” resource book by Clare Way is available in three year level options:

Book 1 – Years 1 and 2

Book 2 – Years 3 and 4

Book 3 – Years 5 and 6

I was sent Book 1 for review and as always, it’s full of great resources and ideas for classroom teachers.


This book is broken in to two sections – one for Year 1 appropriate content, and one for Year 2 content. Each section has clear, concise teacher notes for introducing students to money (notes and coins) as well as display ideas and teaching points. Where available there are links to online resources to supplement their suggested activities.

I especially like the sections on Warm-Up activities as these activities are all short and are great to include in a maths warm at the beginning on your lessons to get students started on thinking about money and currency.


Both sections include teacher resources that can be reproduced for displays or hands on activities with students. These resources include picture representations of coins, the symbols on coins, international coins, blank coins, notes and price tags.


Each Year Level section is clearly marked at the top of the page, and activity worksheets are very clear and uncluttered.

I love that the activities included have a very heavy focus (particularly at a Year 1 level) on knowing and recognising coins. There are activities for each individual coin in which students look at the features as well as practising making different values using known coins.

The activities become increasingly more complex as you move into the Year 2 section, as students begin to look at notes, as well as begin to add up and make collections and begin to write these values.

Each year level section has two assessment pages, as well as a checklist for the teacher and answers to all activities for quick and easy marking.

If you’re looking for an in-depth series of activities focusing on Australian money for your classroom than this is a really wonderful resource. It is a great supplement to hands-on activities using coins for young students.

If you’re interested in more information, check out R.I.C. Publication’s website here.

Thank you to R.I.C. Publications for sending this book to me for review.

I received a copy of this resource for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.