Category Archives: Thinking Skills

Life Skills: Skills for Learning, Life & Work

‘So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.’ (Dr. Seuss)

They might not move mountains just yet but by following these Life Skills, it will be a stepping stone on their route to success!  See how many life skills your child/ren manages over the Easter Break.


Ryan’s Keys in Primary 2

We love learning about and using Thinking Skills in Primary 2.  We have been learning these to help us improve our analysis, evaulative and creative skills.

Today, we had lots of fun trying out a new way of thinking.  We used the Reverse Listing Tool, which is one of Ryan’s Keys.  Ryan’s Keys consists of different tools to aid what is sometimes called “blue sky thinking” or “thinking outside of the box”.  This helps us broaden our horizons and be as creative as we can – no limits!

We practised using the Reverse Listing Tool today.  To do this, you make a list of things that aren’t true, or are the opposite of facts about something.  It is a very creative tool!

We discussed what we had for breakfast foods using the tool.  This meant we only listed things we didn’t eat!

Here are some of our ideas:

My breakfast – chips, potatoes, beans, green beans, noodles, nutella, ketchup, mud, grass, a dog bone, flowers, bird poo, dirty water, a cat, a horse, a tree, a rock.

Then we used the tool to list disgusting smells:

A flower, air freshener, your dinner, marshmallows, hot chocolate, aftershave, perfume, candyfloss, candy, a cupcake, a candy cane.

We also used the tool to list things we did in the holidays.  The ideas were very wacky!

This made us laugh a lot – but it also made us THINK!

Here is what Primary 2 said about using Ryan’s Keys Reverse Listing Tool:

“Ryan’s Keys – you use your imagination.  It’s the opposite of something” – Isla

“Ryan’s Keys – it can be funny things or nice things” – Aaron

“It is the opposite to White Hat thinking, because White Hat thinking is facts and this is things that we didn’t do” – Jack M

“Ryan’s Keys is something that you tell people you haven’t done” – Jessica

“Ryan’s Keys are like the opposite of the truth, so if it was a nice smell, you would say horrible smells” – Maisy

“Ryan’s keys are something that you say something that you do when it is actually stuff that you don’t do – it is kind of funny” – Tara

Here are some more ideas that we came up with.  For example, if we use Ryan’s Reverse Listing Tool to describe things we wear, we might say:

“A gym rubber on my head” – Anna

“Fries” – Maha

“A chicken on my head” – Aaron

“Fish fingers” – Alistair

“A cup of tea on your head” – Jack R

“Lego on my feet” – Lee

“The Earth on my tummy” – Haaris

If we were discussing places to go to sleep using Ryan’s Reverse Listing Tool, we might say:

“In the grass” – Reese

“In a pit of rhinos” – Murren

“In a burger” – Natasha.

What is the point of this?  Using the Reverse Listing tool is fun  and helps us use all of our Learning Muscles . (Anna)

“Distilling because when you are thinking about stuff that isn’t true you have to ignore the stuff that’s true” – Natasha

“The green hat – you use your imagination” – Murren.

Why not have a go using Ryan’s Reverse Listing Key yourself?  How creative can you be?

More Measure

P2 recently finished their revision on Weight and Capacity. This was a fantastic opportunity for us to revisit our work and helped us to deepen our learning.  It was also a chance for us to exercise some of our Learning Muscles, such as Distilling, Collaboration, Revising, Interdependence, Absorption and Capitalising.

Here is a small insight into this work.  The ultimate aim was to make a set of posters for ourselves and others to help us remember and understand Measure.

Each table worked together to revise and note down everything we knew about each subject – in writing or pictures – then we peer-assessed the work and revised it further to make the improvements our peers recommended. This is the pupils’ learning in their own words and images. Here are some pictures of this process, and the final results. Can we teach you something new about measure?


Working in table groups to create the posters:


Peer-assessing another table’s work:

The final posters:

A Lengthy Task!

Over the last few months, P2 have been expanding their knowledge, understanding and skills to do with Measure. There has been a lot to learn about this topic and we have already covered Length, Weight and Capacity.

Over the last week or so, we took time to find out how much we could actually remember and if we could apply our knowledge. We revised what we knew about length and the children produced fantastic posters summarising their learning. It took us a long time and lots of toil to remember what we had learned as we covered this work way back before Christmas. It was even harder, however, to try to explain what we knew! We imagined we were trying to explain our learning to our penpals. This helped us focus on what was important and to make sure we included everything we needed to know. We used words and illustrations to get the information across.

This was a demanding task that required us to use all of our Learning Muscles and Thinking Skills.  As you can see, P2 did this in an exemplary way.

Have a look at our posters – can you see what we have been learning?

Supporting your child with maths and numeracy

Thank you to parents for coming along to our PATPAL afternoon. It was a great success. The children were very excited to show their parents and extended family about what they have been doing in mathematical problem solving.

Please find a link to our i-solve booklet and our power point presentation in the section “Information for Parents” (above right).

We would also welcome parents to give us some feedback via the following link to Survey Monkey.

Click here

Please find a link below to a slideshow of photographs from our PATPAL afternoon :

PATPAL Photo Slideshow


Thank you to everyone who helped to make our PATPAL (Pupils As Teachers – Parents As Learners) session this afternoon such a wonderful success.

The P2 pupils relished the chance to work on their skills in a different format and to show the adults that attended what they have been learning.

If you weren’t able to join us today, ask your child what they were doing in the session and if they can show you some of the skills they have been learning.

In this post, you can find some of the dozens of photos we took of the session.  You can also find the hyperlink to the document named “Patpal”  that contains the instructions for each of the tasks, in case you want to have a go at home!


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P2 Assembly on Learning Muscles and Thinking Hats

This week, we did our Assembly. We were very good! We practised our own parts at home and at school and made sure that we knew our lines. This meant that when it came to the day, when we had to stand up in front of the school, we felt excited and only a little bit nervous.
“I thought it was going to be embarrassing,” said Aaron, “but it was good!”.
“It was fun,” said Lee.
“It was super-dooper”, said Calum.
“I felt really happy because I like speaking,” said Jessica.
Our assembly was about Learning Muscles and Thinking Hats.
We can tell you a little bit about Thinking Hats.
The Yellow Hat means thinking about the good things – Maha
The Black Hat is thinking about all the bad things – Lee
The Green Hat helps us change bad things – Calum
The Red Hat helps us think about feelings – Jack M
The Blue Hat helps us to think about all the other hats and choose which ones you want to use. It helps us do them better than we did it before – Jack R
The White Hat tells us the truth.
These are really useful for helping us tackle big problems, because sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. Thinking Hats are used in lots of different fields – academia, business and politics to name but three.
What are Learning Muscles? They help us find ways to work hard and learn better. Here are some of them:
Perseverance means keep going – Alistair
Managing distractions helps us concentrate – Calum
Capitalising means making the most of what we have – Lee
Collaboration means working together – Haaris
Making Links means connecting our thinking – Murren
Revising means checking over your work and fixing mistakes – Amelia
Noticing helps us spot information and what is around us – Jack M, Haaris and Anna
We have loved learning about Learning Muscles and Thinking Hats. We also love using them in our work!
Please ask us if you would like to know any more!

A Wee Short Week in P2

Happy New Year from us all in P2. It’s been a really short week and we quite tired after the Christmas holidays, but we have still done some quality learning. Here are some of the things we did this week.

We have been using Number Talks to help us find different strategies to do calculations. We came up with lots of different ways to do 6+6, 6+7 and 6+8. We noticed lots of patterns and used these to find the answers. We are getting really good at explaining our thinking.

We have been measuring with cubes in maths. We learned how to estimate – before you measure, you decide how many cubes long it think it will be. You can’t say any number. If it’s a ruler, it can’t be 1000 cubes long. It has to be a sensible answer. Once you have estimated, you count how many cubes it actually is. The answer doesn’t have to be the same as the estimate as it is meant to be a guess.

We have been practising for our Assembly. It’s going to be on Learning Muscles and all the colour of Thinking Hats. Watch this space for more information!

Thinking Skills

Over the last fortnight, P2 have started learning about Thinking Skills.  We have been looking at two kinds of thinking in particular: De Bono’s Thinking Hats and Guy Claxton’s Growth Mindset and Learning Muscles.

De Bono’s Thinking Hats are a way of describing a way to think about something.  We have been using the Yellow Hat, which helps us focus only on positives, so we have been spotting the good things about our work and learning.  We have started to look at Black Hat thinking, which means looking for the negatives and problems with something, and using the Green Hat to solve these problems or find ways to improve the negative points.

We have also been learning about Guy Claxton’s Learning Muscles.  These are a set of skills that successful learners use to maximise their thinking power and improve their learning.  We have a display of these skills in our classroom and it involves some very big grown-up words, so we have been referring to them by their picture.  Some of the skills we have concentrated on in recent days include Perseverance (the Spider Skill), which helps us keep going, even when we are finding it hard; Managing Distractions (the Ear Defenders Skill), which helps us to concentrate and focus on the task in hand; and Listening (the Ear Skill), which we use to make sure we get all the information we need.

If you know a child in P2, ask them which skills they find useful in their learning.  You might be surprised what they say!

Money Week in Primary 3

‘Money Week’ has been fun and we have been learning about financial education.  In Bellsquarry, ‘Money Week’ is a themed week where every class does some work on issues related to money.

This involved a whole school approach to planning lessons and we linked all of the curriculum to developing our knowledge of money and finance. Primary 5 and 7 went to visit the Money Museum on the Mound and we are looking froward to going there in a few years time.

In Primary 3 we were looking at different types of coins and notes. We were able to do some problem solving by working out how much things cost and how much change we would get. We all decided that we will be much better at working out how to spend our pocket money!


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