Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Chick Love

I often get my best ideas on my drive to school in the morning. The drive back, at the end of the day, not so much cause my brain is too full. But, I have a 30 minute commute each way and if nothing else, it gives me a lot of time to reflect. A few weeks ago on my morning drive, I was thinking about the journal prompt that I was planning to give my kids that morning and wishing I could just throw the pages out the classroom window and just do something fun! Do you ever feel like that? I knew that I wanted them to write and I do value journal prompts, but I just needed to mix it up that day. So, instead of starting our day off the usual way, we did something different.

Enter - The Grade 6 Chicks. We visited them. As in, we went down the hall to the grade 6 class and visited their chicks. And the fun began…





And once the fun was done, well we wrote about it and it made for some truly genuine writing, the kind of writing you don't always get from a random prompt. 

Since that chick day, I have been working harder on letting my kids write about what matters to them. It's not always easy because it means I need to let go of the reins a bit. Plus, I tend to fret over the kids who are less motivated. I had one little guy come to me in the middle of our Penguin unit this year and tell me - "I'm not really that interested in penguins." While I appreciated his honesty, turns out since then he has repeated that same sentiment about polar bears, sharks, dogs, pretty much anything. So, giving a kid like that freedom to write worries me a little because I fear not much will interest him. Aside from him though, the rest of my kids like having the freedom to write about whatever sparks their interest. So much so, that the prompt is now an option each morning. I let my kids choose the journal prompt or write about whatever they want and I love it this way. The other day, I read journals all about the world of Pokemon and the one thing I noticed that morning was those little Pokemon writers were not at a loss to write. They had lots to say. So, onward and upward from here. My kids are free to write, I have to take a step back and just let them be. I know they will impress me.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Polar Bear Writing and a Shapes Freebie

Just before I give you an update on what's being going on in my classroom, I just want to tell you how cold it has been here. It is sooooo cold that even my little fur ball of a dog will only stand on the deck for a few seconds before begging to come in. And she loves to be outside, so that's saying something.

Since it is so cold, we've been learning about an amazing animal that just happens to love that kind of weather - the Polar Bear. You gotta love them. While I was researching the Polar Bear, I came across this movie and ended up watching it. It's fantastic and the scenery is beautiful.
My kids are little so I only showed them parts of it, the Polar Bear parts of course. We did lots of great activities during this unit, but my favorite was this writing.
My kids wrote about The Life of a Polar Bear Cub. To get them pumped for their writing, I started with this great story.
It's basically a day in the life of a Wombat. Really cute read and it helped my kids to imagine that they were polar bear cubs when they were writing. 

Now we are onto Penguins and Shapes cause I am hoping to make these two things come together at some point. Click on any of the pics to download.



And since Valentine's Day is only a week away, I've got a Freebie for you. Just click!
Stay warm for the weekend.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Snowman Art

I know it's been a while, but I have thought of you often, believe me. I am going to get right down to it. We just made this snowman. We make it every year, it is one of my favourite Art activities. I found it on Pinterest a few years ago.
After all my kids are finished and I display the snowmen or "snowmans" if you're a first grader on my bulletin board, it looks lovely. It's so easy to do! Here are my kids in action.

All you need is background paper (I used blue), snowman pattern, click here, some glitter glue or just plain glitter and pieces of felt. Follow the pattern, the scarf goes around the snowman's neck in 2 strips. I get my kids to create a pattern with the felt pieces. We use the glitter glue to make fun snowflakes, but there are many other things you could use for the snow. One year, I just had my kids draw snowflakes with white wax crayons.


If you are a Pre K Or K teacher or your first graders just need a little counting practice, you can check out this Penguin Counting Freebie. Just click on the pic. 
Have  great weekend. Stay warm!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Year of Awesome - Poppies, Bears and a Sparkling Read to Self

Hi there, hope your November is rolling right along and if you are celebrating American Thanksgiving, it'll be here before you know it. If I forget to tell you, enjoy your break. I need a little American Thanksgiving right about now.
I'm linking up this week with my friend Erin at Mrs. Beattie's Classroom for


We spent a lot of time on Monday making our poppies for Remembrance Day. This takes a little bit of red tissue paper, a little bit of green tissue paper, some liquid glue,  a popsicle stick, concentration and perseverance. My kids did a beautiful job.




Then, in keeping with the poppy theme, we had our Remembrance Day ceremony on Tuesday. We had talked at length about the Veterans in the weeks leading up to this, and my kids were so happy to see "real" Veterans. 

It has started to get colder out and that of course makes me think about Winter, which makes me think about hibernation, not for the animals exactly, but more for myself. Hibernation = Winter Survival. Anyway, all this leads me to think about this sweet story, which we started to work on.
I Love this story so much. The characters are the sweetest ever and year after year, kids respond so well to it. We started by voting for our favourite character and then drawing it.

May I just say that by Thursday, I needed a nap. I fell asleep on the couch after school for like 2 hours. Talk to me Teddy. As always, I had my faithful nap buddy by my side.

We ended our week with an amazing, awesome Read to Self. It was the first time this year that my kids were totally on task and everyone stayed in their reading bubble for a whooping 15 minutes!!! I am so happy about this. We have worked so hard to get to get to this point and it was a great feeling to see it work so well today.

That's it for my week of awesome! If you like those Read to Self posters, just click on them for the free download.  Hope you link up with Mrs.Beattie's class so I can read all about your awesome week.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Line Up - Single File

If you are at all like me, you've noticed that some things work really really well in your classroom, while other things just don't. I spend a lot of time self evaluating, not just my teaching, but all that goes with that - classroom management, housekeeping around the room, logistics, you get my drift I'm sure. And I am constantly making lists. I make so many lists that I actually bought myself this semi huge Post-it pad (it's like bigger than letter size I swear) and I fill it up with stuff to do, check em all off, rip the page off and start again with yet another To Do list. Every time a new idea pops into my head, I write it on the post-it list otherwise it may never pop into my head again.

So, one thing that was just not working in my class was the line up. I don't mean the line-up to go to recess or lunch, I mean the LINE UP, the one kids make when they have rushed through finished their work and just can't wait to show you. For me, this line up is my enemy. It starts out straight, then it takes a right curve, then a left, then the talking starts, there's touching, some poking, it's anarchy. And as this line begins to snake across my room, it blocks my sight lines and what was, 2 minutes before, a very quiet class working diligently has now turned into Happy Hour at The Keg.

I needed to fix this once and for all. So I put it on my list, gave it some thought and came up with this.
I know, I'm really fortunate I can write right on the floor with a Sharpie! Now the LINE UP has some order (no pun intended). You stand on a face and wait your turn. Rules - only 4 kids at any given time. No touching - how could you anyway the reach is too far now. Wait quietly so that the person who is with the teacher can concentrate. And I am happy to say it works like a charm. 

Just wanted to end by saying Happy Halloween. My kids took this sweet little book home for homework today.

It's on sale and so is everything else in my store. 

Whatever you're up to tomorrow night, have fun!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Catching Up With October

I just checked the date of my last blog post and all I will say is that the last time I checked in, it was still summer. My bad. That's what a new school year will do to ya. I have an awesome class this year though, they are so spongey and ready to learn, I have been able to move at a much quicker pace than I am used to. We've been in school for 31 days and I've already covered the short vowels. That's a record for me, truly.
October is a great month for picture books and there are so many good ones. Here are just a few of my favourites.
Even though October is half over, I still want to share my Smart Board Math Problems. We do one of these problems every day to get Math class started, then we work on another problem from my 200 set in our binders.  My kids love using the Board to interact and solve each one. Here are just a few.


You can have a better look at the preview here. If you'd like to win a copy, leave me a comment and I'll choose a winner tomorrow.
This month has been so busy that when it was time for my daughter's 21st birthday and I was shopping for candles for her cake, they were all out of 2's and 1's, so instead of going somewhere else to find them, I bought three 7's instead. Teach much!? Aren't we always thinking of numbers differently?
But, she loved it just the same. This cake is awesome BTW, for the recipe click here.
Have a great weekend.