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The 5 best plants for the classroom

The best plants in a classroom

Growing plants at school is a great opportunity to teach children all about gardening. But, with so many holidays (and excitable children) to take into consideration, you’ll want something hardy that can tolerate classroom life and even improve it. Here, Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert from Wyevale Garden Centres, gives us his list of the five best plants for the classroom.

Growing plants in the classroom gives some great topics for children to learn about, from the life cycle of a flower and how to care for them, to the bugs and animals they can attract. Plus, some varieties are great for air purification, and others have been linked to better classroom performance, reduced stress and anxiety, and even better health (PHS Green Leaf). In this article, I’ll be giving you my expert advice on the top plants to grow in a learning environment.

Rubber tree plants 

Sensory plants are great for schools, aiding with sensory development and therapy of younger children. Because of their tough rubbery leaves, rubber tree plants are perfect to develop the sense of touch. As their name suggests, these plants are very hardy, so they’re good for classrooms full of excitable children. 

They also work to remove toxins, such as formaldehyde, from the atmosphere. Formaldehyde can come from many commonplace items found in schools, like paper towels and tissues, and has been linked to headaches, eyestrain, and is even classed as a carcinogen, which means it’s capable of causing cancer. So, rubber tree plants can actually reduce the risk of sickness and can even boost productivity!

Rubber Tree Palm
Rubber tree palm

If you’re looking for a quick-growing plant for your classroom, rubber tree plants are ideal and, due to their hardy nature, they’re relatively easy to take care of. They do grow best in bright or medium sunlight, though, so try to place them near a window if you can. 

Peace lilies

Peace Lily in your classroom
Peace lily

With their lovely white flowers and deep emerald leaves, peace lilies are perfect for brightening up even the darkest of classrooms. Teachers and children alike will feel more motivated to work each day in an attractive environment, feeling happier while doing it.

Because of its air purifying properties, the peace lily is probably one of the best indoor plants for cleaner air. It was even found by NASA to be particularly effective at removing harmful toxins, like trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene, from the atmosphere — the latter of which is commonly found in plastic, glue, paint and detergents — so, having a peace lily in your classroom can even improve health.

Peace lilies are one of the best plants for classrooms because they can tolerate the dry air from central heating quite well, and only need watering when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Bamboo palm

Bamboo Palm
Bamboo palm

Bamboo palms will make a great addition to your classroom, as they can inject some much-needed colour to greatly improve the space. They also pump moisture into the air, which is perfect in the winter when central heating can dry the air out. 

They’re relatively easy to care for, only needing water when the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch. However, they do grow best in bright indirect sunlight, so are best for lighter classrooms with windows. 

Dracaena

Dracaena
Dracaena

Dracaena plants are particularly great for busy classrooms, because they can tolerate quite a bit of neglect before they start to die. They can also grow well in darker environments so, if you’re in a classroom that doesn’t get much sunlight, these plants can still thrive.

They also have great air purifying properties, removing trichloroethylene, which can be found in some cleaning products. Exposure to trichloroethylene can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, so, having a dracaena plant in your classroom could actually reduce sickness and absences. 

English ivy

English Ivy
English ivy

English ivy is perfect for smaller classrooms, as it can be grown on high shelves or on top of cupboards. They are also considered to be great sensory plants due to their interesting leaf shapes and trailing branches, which can hang down and make even the dullest of rooms look more attractive

English ivy is perfect for smaller classrooms, as it can be grown on high shelves or on top of cupboards. They are also considered to be great sensory plants due to their interesting leaf shapes and trailing branches, which can hang down and make even the dullest of rooms look more attractive

They’re relatively easy to take care of, only needing enough water to keep them moist when they’re still growing. They can typically tolerate dryer environments when they’re fully established. As one of the best indoor plants for low light, English ivy can fare particularly well in rooms without windows. Just remember that these plants are considered to be quick-growing, so you might need to trim the vines occasionally to stop them getting out of control. 

These five plants all have great benefits for the classroom. With quick growing plants like the rubber tree plant and English ivy, air purifying plants like the peace lily, and plants that are easy to care for like the dracaena and bamboo palm, you can easily improve your learning environment.

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Unplugged activities in the classroom

LOGICO shop

In this blog post we are looking at how screen-free, ‘unplugged’ activities can help children learn in a classroom (or any other!) environment. I am probably the ‘odd one out’, as a teacher of IT and Computer Science, to believe not to give children a screen at a young age. There is plenty of time to learn how to do things and to properly learn how to use the computer, at an older age. Just because you start early, it doesn’t mean you will get good at it sooner. I believe, it is all about giving children the right learning tools, at the right age.

So, what do we mean by ‘unplugged’ activities?

‘Unplugged’ means unplugging the computer, turning off screens and engaging our children in activities without electronics. In some ways, this also means more meaningful learning and nevertheless a lot of engagement in the subject! Not to mention, unplugged activities can help children (or adults!) to retain a particular topic better, in the long-term memory. Unplugged activities mean that a lot of different type of learning is going on. Visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. We can see and hear what we are doing and work collaboratively. Talk to one an other and conduct purposeful talk! Mainly, converse about the topic that we are learning about.

Why should we do this?

Has it ever happened to you that you tried to take a tablet off a child? What did you find? Did the child abandon the tablet straight-away? No doubt, he didn’t. In my experience, I have seen a lot of frustration in connection to games on screens. Stopping an on-screen activity can be really stressful for both parents and children. Children can get frustrated and emotional whilst playing. Not to mention that often these games operate at a fast pace, with vibrant colours and loud sound effects, affecting all the senses. Children, especially younger ones, can get fully immersed in such games and stopping the game can often result in anger and frustration.

So, why are we allowing this to happen?

I often think that parents choose to give children tablets and phones as they cannot think of an alternative. If you are out and about, a small screen seems the perfect solution, isn’t it? It is ‘easy’ for a while – but unfortunately, not long-term. In this article, the advice is to avoid using electronic devices at dinner. Screens do not replace talking and conversations. Ultimately, using screens is an independent activity.

The same applies to schools and classrooms. Should we invest huge sums in equipping our children (as some schools do, from the age of 4!) with tablets? Do we use them to their full extent? Are staff fully trained and immersed in technology so that they can enable children to learn the most they can, using tablets? Are screens the best way to communicate with children what we want them to learn? Is this the only way we can fully engage children in a meaningful way? I believe, the answer is ‘no’.

LOGICO classroom unplugged activities

Starting off with ‘unplugged’ activities

Switch off all computers and hide the tablets. Go off-line. Start thinking of the bigger picture. What would you like to teach children? How can you achieve that greater goal? Then start breaking it down into small parts. Finally, here comes the fun bit; you can find alternative ways to put the same message across to children. For instance, have you tried introducing ‘loops’ in programming by teaching children how to knit? Or using storytelling to teach sequencing in programming, following the foundational idea that programs run line by line, instruction by instruction? This great article offers ideas to teach programming through offline play.

The main message of using unplugged activities is that, to learn children need to see the bigger picture. Children need transferable skills, not skills limited to a small group of on-screen games. It’s all good with drag-and-drop activities, but how about when they actually have to do it? Can they transfer those skills to others?

Unplugged activity ideas include ‘make and build‘ or ‘make and do’, construction. Creative ideas, such as dressing up, acting out, puppets or dolls, cars are equally great. Logical games are fantastic to challenge individuals and they are a good foundation to introduce paired or group work to children. Don’t think of buying new things all the time, as often simple things make the best games. Just think of origami and kirigami, with very little resources.

Using LOGICO in the classroom unplugged activities

How to use LOGICO PRIMO in your classroom?

The current LOGICO PRIMO range for ages 3-6 comes with 11 different learning card sets. As each set contains 16 different cards, this gives you a huge variety! LOGICO PRIMO topics include counting, letter recognition, shapes and colours, foundations of geometry, concentration games, arts and crafts, learning about daily routines, matching, sorting and sequencing. Once you have an overview of each area, select the cards which are relevant to your current topic. Or you might just want to go by the illustrations and see where the activity takes you!

It is a very good idea to combine different learning areas, as it helps children create links between what they already know and the new. Furthermore, important areas, such as literacy or mathematics, are not ‘stand-alone’, they can be linked and work together really well!

For instance, children can be learning about different traditions (such as, Easter or Christmas) and this could then lead to learning about what sort of music is played during these festivals. Then, children can solve a LOGICO PRIMO activity showing different musical instruments. After this, children could listen to some music and try picking out all the different musical instruments playing . Finally, the class could come up with a special dance routine to fit the occasion.

Each learning card is beautifully illustrated which often leads to further conversations. Children are happy to talk about what they see as this helps them reinforce what they already know. Whilst learning, we want to categorise our world and learn about how things work. This helps us understand what surrounds us and help us fit in better. Children, especially younger ones, do this all the time through both observation and physical activities.

Finki LOGICO in education UNPLUGGED activities

Meet Finki

Finki, LOGICO’s favourite bird, appears on many of the learning card sets. Children can recognise Finki and they are happy to talk about what Finki is doing on the pictures. This also includes children’s daily routines! Children can relate to this and think of their own experiences. Essentially, talking and engaging children in a purposeful conversation about their own learning, helps them improve their literacy skills. LOGICO PRIMO is aimed at a younger age group of ages 3-6 and the illustrations suit this age group really well.

Indoors or outdoors?

A huge benefit of LOGICO frames is that they are durable. They are great for both indoor and outdoor use. Each card is laminated so they wipe clean and they last.

If you are only using LOGICO in the classroom, you might want to try..

  • introducing a ‘cosy corner’ where children can read or work quietly on an activity
  • one table = one challenge, by providing different activities in different parts/tables of the classroom, and where children can choose their own learning
  • paired activity. You can pair up children, according to their abilities, to solve LOGICO challenges. Alternatively, you might want to make use of learning partners and pair children with higher and lower abilities to coach and support each other.
  • whole class LOGICO challenge. This is, of course, if you have plenty of frames on your hand! (Did you know our SALE continues?)

Which time of the day?

LOGICO is great to use any time of the day, depending on your own classroom routine. Often, when children first come into the classroom, they need some guidance and direction to settle down. Providing a range of little activities is a good way to settle children. LOGICO can be used as part of this.

Winding down time or free time. Many teachers use the idea of ‘golden time’ or free time when children can engage in an activity of their choice. LOGICO can also be used as part of this.

After school or lunchtime clubs can also be a great time to use LOGICO. Children can wind down, work on their own or with a partner. A great benefit of the LOGICO frame is that the buttons stay in place so children can leave and come back to the game later on.

Variety means opportunity for unplugged activities

Using ‘unplugged’ also means being creative and resourceful. How can we broaden our children’s learning? How can we create variety, breadth and depth?

LOGICO classroom unplugged activities

So, try rotating toys and games, providing some variety will keep children engaged. Keep it simple and make sure that there is not too much choice and the activities are visually simple.

Knowing that tools, such as LOGICO, exist gives teachers and opportunity to create variety and engagement. Quality time above all and purposeful dialogues in the classroom.

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LOGICO has been featured on SENResources!

Finki LOGICO in education UNPLUGGED

We are proud to announce that the Special Educational Needs Resources blog has reviewed LOGICO PRIMO! The review highlighted all the good things we love about LOGICO! So, its ease of use, its portability and the playful learning – all got a mention. Above all, LOGICO is used and tested by children, who enjoy playing with it. Nevertheless, with each and every activity, we are encouraging young learners to build their confidence in learning. LOGICO does exactly just that.

LOGICO in education

So, how does this fit in with teaching children with Special Educational Needs?

Enjoyability and building confidence – these are the key words to success with any learner. Moreover, LOGICO is easy to differentiate. There are 11 available card sets in the LOGICO PRIMO range. This spans over the age bracket of 3 to 6 years. Each learning card set has an age shown, for guidance. So, teachers can choose the most appropriate sets for their learners. Furthermore, learning cards in each set start with easier levels, progressing towards more difficult ones. So, the skills gained in each task build up towards the next one.
The blog post also highlighted that children do not need to speak, read or write to use LOGICO. It is indeed very special, giving children a chance to progress in learning new skills, regardless any of these abilities.

Teachers have achieved great results using LOGICO with children with Special Educational Needs. Patience is usually a key to learning. LOGICO encourages this by using bright, colourful buttons which children need to physically handle. Children slide the buttons next to the correct solution, without noticing that they are practising a pencil grasp!

Patience?

Teachers said that the children using LOGICO became more patient, over time. The LOGICO method contributes to this. First, an adult has to explain the task. This is followed by children selecting a colourful button and finding the corresponding coloured spot on the task area. After children worked out the solution, they need to look on the right-hand side of the task card. Then, move the button to the correct position. You can, of course, work ‘backwards’ and start by looking at the images on the right-hand side. Either way, there is a real method and challenge in the process. This gives that extra twist to encourage children’s logical thinking.

Being independent is so important! When children move all six buttons in their positions, they can easily check their answers by flipping the cards over. The solutions are on the back of each card. Children can see whether their answers are correct!

LOGICO in education

Tactile, screen-free and portable

LOGICO does not require batteries and it is screen-free. ‘Unplugged’, as they call it! It is portable and is easy to handle. LOGICO is durable and wipeable. Therefore, it can be used either either indoors or outdoors. LOGICO is portable, as it can be used on the move. For example, in the car, on the train, on the beach or any other outdoor setting. There are no loose parts at all. Another bonus is that the buttons, once slid into position, will stay where they are. This means, that children can always go back to to the task, where they left it.

Being screen-free is a huge bonus. Using screens has been controversial and it is still not clear what impact screens really have on us and our children. The illustrations and colours used in LOGICO are age-appropriate. Whilst gently stimulating children’s learning, the illustrations also engage them. Children can relate to the images as they often depict scenes from their daily lives. For example, what children do in different times of the day, such as at bedtime or playing with sand or particular toys and so on.

LOGICO is just a starting point

LOGICO perfectly complements teaching. The various topics fit in really well with children’s everyday learning in this age group. By doing so, each card can be a conversation or a start of something more or bigger. For example, if you counted shapes on a LOGICO card, why not practise drawing these shapes afterwards? Children are also happy to talk about the illustrations. This helps expand children’s vocabulary and later on, this can lead to practising sounds (phonics learning) or writing.

Would you like to find out more?

Drop us an e-mail via hello@logicotoys.co.uk or call us on + 330 133 1628.

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Easter special

HAPPY EASTER FROM LOGICO UK

Getting ready for Easter?

Celebrate Easter with spending quality time together, with your children! Are you looking for something fun and educational at the same time?

So, LOGICO has been specially designed by teachers, for children. Each and every activity is different and engaging. Learning card sets focus on the development of a certain set of skills, but each time using a different approach.

So, what sort of starter sets are available?

Do you own your LOGICO PRIMO frame already? You can, of course, buy individual card sets:

Booster packs on the go!

Celebrate your child grow with LOGICO!

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Meet Finki!

Meet Finki, LOGICO’s favourite bird! Finki loves to learn, play and work out tricky questions.

Finki appears in most of our LOGICO learning card sets where children can follow him on his learning journey in the world of Mathematics, visual perception; logical thinking skills; problem-solving and many more!

Can you find Finki?
Can you find Finki?

Are you a school or nursery? Don’t forget your educational discount – get in touch with us via hello@logicotoys.co.uk or give us a ring on +44 3301331628 to find out more!

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Using LOGICO in the classroom – Teacher interviews

This is the summary of the second part of Andrea’s interview, where she asked her fellow colleagues to find out how they use LOGICO in their classroom teaching. 

Why do you use LOGICO in your classroom? What benefits and learning opportunities can you see in this learning resource?

‘It motivates students, thanks to the design and the easy handling of the learning material’ (i.e. LOGICO frame and learning cards)


‘It is possible to differentiate and to support individual students’


‘(LOGICO) makes it possible to provide students with specific and meaningful tasks’


‘With LOGICO’, students can work at their own pace. Students can check their own solutions and record the results by themselves’

How much do your students like working with LOGICO?

Fellow colleagues found that almost all children like working with LOGICO and for an extended period of time. Teachers often use LOGICO during ‘free learning’ phases, where children can choose their own learning activities.

Teachers reasoned as:

‘The (LOGICO) content and themes are child-oriented and appealing to children’


‘Children are given instant feedback with the possibility of self-checking’


‘Students are not required to write’


Are there any potential difficulties using LOGICO?

Teachers agreed that, just like using any other differentiated teaching materials, it requires longer preparation of the activity.

In conclusion, teachers have found that LOGICO is a useful classroom resource and it is very rewarding to work with. Once integrated in one’s classroom teaching, LOGICO provides an opportunity for teachers to encourage and challenge children through the tasks provided. LOGICO complements other teaching resources and materials really well. Teachers feel more confident at supporting students at their individual levels and provide a more tailored approach to differentiated tasks.

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What do children think of LOGICO?

The interview below was conducted by Andrea Muschknowski, primary school teacher and co-author of the LOGICO boxes in Germany. LOGICO has multiple uses and it can easily be adapted to suit different learning phases and form part of the classroom routine. LOGICO can be used in many ways and it works well in both individual, paired work or whole class teaching. Children can self-check their answers or they can work with a partner to solve solutions together. The individual learning cards have been carefully designed to expand vocabulary as well as encourage local and/or mathematical thinking.


Ms Muschkowski: Briefly describe, when do you use LOGICO in your learning and what for.

Leona: I know LOGICO for example from the free learning phase at the beginning of the school day. Before classes begin in the morning, we have the chance use different learning materials. We choose independently a card from a box and work it out. If we want to repeat or practice anything specific from a subject like German, Math or English, we take a card from the “subject box”.

Wangyu: With LOGICO I learn at home and at school. When I came to school here, I barely spoke German. Ms. Muschkowski gave me the box “Listen-LOGICO” and a discman to practice German. Without reading, I was able to solve the assignments just by listening and looking at the pictures.
I learnt more and more German words and how to pronounce them properly. Also in special support lessons at school, we regularly work with LOGICO. Among others, we use the images of the cards, to tell, to learn new words and to formulate phrases correctly.

Janne: Frequently during lessons, we may also – when we have finished our other tasks – take LOGICO frames with already given cards.

Pablo: Most often we are working with LOGICO during times of the week plan or free learning phases. In free learning phases (which follow mainly the completion of the week plan) we can work and learn with LOGICO depending on our own interest, either alone or with the help of Ms. Muschkowski.


Ms Muschkowski: Pablo, you said that you learn, especially during the week plan phases with LOGICO. Could you explain this in more detail?

Pablo: On Mondays, each child receives a weekly plan with different tasks in the subjects German, Mathematics and English. On the week plan Ms. Muschkowski lists the cards (card number), and in which area to find them (symbol – top right of the card), whether we shall work alone or with a partner and if we need a Discman or CD player (for LOGICO- Box “English for Beginners”). Gradually, we take the cards by ourselves from each box and work them out, the way it is written in our week plan. (Photo 1)


Ms Muschkowski: Pablo mentioned that sometimes you learn with a partner. How exactly does that work?

Leona: During the week plan phases or in English class, we often work out LOGICO cards with a partner, especially cards where we do not listen to CD. We take turns to talk about the tasks and give each other advice, when we have a word or phrase that we cannot read or understand. We can solve most tasks together, without asking the teacher for help. (see photo below)

Vincent: Sometimes I work with a partner when it comes to an additional task on the back of LOGICO card (Writing tasks, communication or researchers tasks). I can discuss the questions with my partner or we work together to find a solution.


Ms Muschkowski: How and where do you document you findings?

Janne: When I have finished a LOGICO card and checked my answers, I mark the appropriate card number with a pencil or a small sticker on my mini- learner. (see photo above)

Leona: If I made many mistakes with a card, I will write the number of mistakes beside the card number in my mini-learner and later I will solve the same card again. After some repetition, I know that I am getting better and it helps me prepare for the “level tests”.


Ms Muschkowski: When and why do you write the level tests?

Vincent: If we have finished a subject area completely, we usually write a “Test Your Knowledge”. A short time later Ms Muschkowski will discuss the results with us and decide whether we need to repeat any specific exercises.


Ms Muschkowski: Explain why you like working with LOGICO?

Janne: I enjoy working with LOGICO because I can choose for myself what I want to learn, practice, or repeat. During free learning phases I can choose between easier or more difficult learning cards and even determine how long and how much work I want to do.

Wangyu: I like the most, that I do not work with a book or write in my note book. With LOGICO I can start right away, without having to get out different materials.

Leona: I like that I can check my answers by myself and can record in my learner-mini, what I’ve done. In this way, I do not lose time and can always see what cards I have already worked out and where I can continue next time.

Pablo: What I like best about LOGICO is, that there are tasks for which I have to think and reflect. Often I learn something new or I improve in a certain area.

Vincent: I like the fact that I can get help on the back of the cards or work together with another child if I am unsure and do not know how to proceed.


Ms Muschkowski: Are there any difficulties in working with LOGICO or is there anything you do not like?

After short discussion, all students agree and answer the question with a clear NO.


Ms Muschkowski: Imagine, you could participate in publication of new LOGICO projects. What ideas would you have?

Leona: I would make white LOGICO cards. Then each child could choose his favorite theme and create own cards. Furthermore, everyone could decide how many questions are there and what colors of the buttons are used.

Vincent: I would develop a LOGICO App* (application) or a LOGICO computer program. Then I could start working with LOGICO everywhere and would not have to wait for a LOGICO board or a particular card.

This interview clearly shows that children of a second year are already able to deal consciously and differentiated about their teaching materials and that they are experiencing LOGICO as an opportunity to reflect and shape their individual learning.

To be continued with teacher interviews!