Ring around the Rosey and The Black Death

Put your hands up if you’ve always believed Ring-around-a-rosey is about the Black Death:


Image Source: OpenClipArt.org

Even worse, how many actually teach that that nursery rhyme is about the Black Death?


Image Source: OpenClipArt.org

Yeah, I thought so too. Then I started fact checking my Black Death Year 8 History unit before posting to TPT. Nope:



That’ll teach me: I should run everything via Snopes.com!

It’s quite amazing though: do a Google search on Ring-Around-The-Rosey and you’ll find more than a dozen websites which appear quite reasonable yet consider the Black Death connection as fact. Generally, I’d be happy if most of my students referenced a site like Rhymes.org.uk – it seems relatively reliable and it’s even an org!

So anyway I rewrote the beginning of my unit to include a source evaluation task: those that can’t do, teach!

It’s available now on TPT at my store, if you’re interested in an activity on Ring-around-the-rosey and source evaluation. The remainder of my Black Death unit is soon to make it there too.


Here’s the preview if you’d like to have a look: BlackDeath01-RingaRingaRosesPREVIEW (PDF)


Worksheet: Punctuation Crossword Puzzle Freebie

One of those ideas I had one day …

Crossword puzzle where the clues are punctuation symbols. Why? Plenty of my students frequently ask me ‘what’s an a-poss-troff?’ Includes answer key.



PDF File: PunctuationCrossword

Images were sourced via Openclipart.org.

If you want the original DOCX file (free), visit my TeachersPayTeachers store (you’ll need a login to download it).

16 Fancy Literary Techniques explained by Disney

I took Adam Moerder’s brilliant Buzzfeed article about literary techniques explained via Disney movies and turned it into a series of simple posters. The images and text are taken directly from the blog article, bar a few vocab changes. They’re headed for my classroom wall. I highly recommend checking out the original blog: see it here http://www.buzzfeed.com/moerder/fancy-literary-techniques-explained-by-disney


Download PDF: Language Techniques as explained by Disney

Simpsons Blooms Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences Posters

What is it?

An adaptation of the excellent Multiple Intelligences posters, checklists and record sheets from Kurwongbah State School (in Queensland) using the Simpsons. I loved the concept of the original posters, just not the clipart. See the originals plus a lot more MI stuff at http://www.kurwongbss.eq.edu.au/thinking/MI%20Smarts/smarts.htm

While you’re there look for Kelsie Torrisi’s Book Reports the Blooming Smarts way. Awesome.

To match there’s a Blooms Taxonomy poster featuring the different levels of Homer’s brainpower.


2010 Simpsons Multiple Intelligences Poster (Landscape) DOC

2010 Simpsons Multiple Intelligences Poster (Portrait) PDF

I’m afraid I don’t know where the original .doc file for the Portrait posters are – they could easily be adapted from the Landscape posters.

2010 06 Mulitple Intelligences Checklist DOCX Quiz for the students to discover their ‘intelligences’, adapted for Australian high school students.

2010 06 Multiple Intelligences Personal Results DOCX

2010 06 Multiple Intelligences Personal Results PDF

2010 Simpsons Blooms Revised Taxonomy Poster DOC

2010 Simpsons Blooms Revised Taxonomy Poster Version 1 PDF

2010 Simpsons Blooms Revised Taxonomy Poster Version 2 PDF

I no longer have the DOC file for the Version 2, sorry.

Word Study / Spelling Contract / Vocabulary Study

What is it?

A spelling / vocabulary program of small word study activities. A friend gave me a copy of a basic spelling contract which I adapted for use in my classes; it has been further developed over the last few semesters with feedback from students. Ideally the program is self-directed: it can be set as homework. I’ve also used word study as a regular activity in the first five minutes of lesson while I set up.

Adapt the included checklist and spelling activities to suit your program.

How it works:

The process I use:

  1. I develop new vocabulary words each fortnight, taken usually from the content of the class or the novel we are reading.
  2. I do ‘Have A Go’, a mock test where I read the words aloud, and students give them a try. This is to allow students to connect the way a word is pronounced with its written form.
  3. Students copy the words into their book.
  4. Students complete a worksheet or activities where students match vocab to definitions (matching or crosswords work well); or with grammar or cloze activities. Word Search and Crossword generators are useful here.
  5. Then students choose which word study activities they would like to complete. They have two weeks to complete 5 points of tasks.
  6. Each term, students get a new word study checklist.

Battleship Vocab:

A suggestion from several spelling websites, very popular. Students play Battleship but with vocabulary words instead of ships. Included is a printable chart.

Stencil Art:

I keep a collection of stencils in my classroom for projects and word study. They were all bought from a dollar shop.

Alphabet Sampler:

For the Word Art activity I mention an alphabet sampler. Find it here.


As part of our History of English unit we did a quick fun lesson on how to do cursive, an unusual thing for high school students to try.

Australian students don’t learn cursive when they are learning to handwrite; they learn some silly thing called ‘Linked Script’.

My main motivation for wanting to do a lesson on cursive was to help students understand how to read it. Some of the kids actually enjoyed writing in it, so it was included in the Word Study.


  • The checklist is set up for fortnights. You can adapt easily to weekly, if you prefer, by adding columns.
  • Provide a new sheet each week with the words and four or five activities to complete rather than use a new checklist.
  • Choose for the students which activities they are to complete each week.
  • Vary the points required: 5 points is very low.
  • Change the activities.
  • Ask the students which activities they prefer and have them come up with new ones.


Let me know if you feel there’s a copyright infringement here. There is nothing original about this Word Study except its layout and design; all of the activities were compiled from suggestions across the web or from students themselves. It is adapted from a photocopied spelling contract given to me at some point; and others have taken my spelling contracts and adapted them to suit themselves.


2011 300 Word Study DOC

2011 300 Word Study PDF