Thursday, 26 January 2017

Family Literacy Day- Friday January 27th

Family Literacy Day in Canada is this coming Friday.

Although I am working in the realm of Special Education this year, I can't help but think what I would do with my kiddos and their families if I was in the classroom this year.

Family Literacy Day® is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.
Taking time every day to read or do a learning activity with children is crucial to a child’s development, improving a child’s literacy skills dramatically, and can help a parent improve their skills as well.

15 minutes Friday and every day, to make literacy fun!

Parents often ask me how they can get their kiddos to read. I think the easiest way (especially when they are young), is to make it fun. And to make kids unaware that they are reading. 

In my Monday to Monday folders/ Monthly newsletters home, I would often give parents websites or ideas on how to get their children to read more. I found this great little idea list a few years ago. You can grab it HERE.

In the classroom, fun is the only way. 
Reading can seem so mundane to students. It's our job to make it fun, make it engaging and make it worthwhile. 

Christine and I have posted a few ideas in the past about how to engage kids in reading tasks.
Here are a few of my favourites.

Digital Book Reviews (HERE) and HERE

or Digital Info Videos

Main Character Gallery Walk 

Reading Coffee House (HERE)
and HERE

Sometimes just giving students choice is more than enough. For example, using Reading Response Cards (found in our Independent Reading Boxes)
Allows students choice on how they would like to respond to a reading/book/magazine etc. I often allow them to read what they would like to read, oppose to forcing them to read a chapter book (for example) that they dread. I often receive better written responses when they are interested in the material. 

For more ideas for older kiddos, please see this blog post about interactive learning (HERE).

Whatever you choose to do to celebrate literacy tomorrow or every day, make it fun. Life's too short for photocopied worksheets and a silent classroom ;)

Happy Literacy Day!


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Halloween- Last Minute Ideas!

Ok, so tomorrow is Halloween. It's a nutty day and unfortunately has landed itself on a Monday. Meaning, cuckoo children Monday and Zombies on Tuesday, followed by candy high and lows for the rest of the week. 


But tomorrow is the focus. And if you haven't already completed your planning, here are a few ideas to add to your day.

For The Littles.....

Christine and I created this a few years back. And the kids LOVED it! Seriously were so excited. In our province, we had a "preposition of place" curriculum expectation, so this played very well into that :)

Grab a FREE copy of it HERE.

This year, I am also doing a scavenger hunt with my kiddos. I teach a phonics program, daily, so here are some skeleton pieces I picked up at Target a few years ago. 
Each student will need to find a bone. Behind each bone is a letter/sound. In order to pass inspection, the students must tell me the sound the letters makes and a 1-2 words that begin with that sound. Then they are to bring their bone over to the graveyard, to put the skeleton back together. 

There are two sets of bones, so I may even separate the class into two groups.

Brain Break, needed?

For Upper Grades....

How about this writing idea!? 

 Free Story Writing Templates HERE
Step by Step instructions, too! Love this!

Pumpkin Word Parts for some quick word study fun!
Click HERE for the freebie.

Opinion Writing Prompts
Click HERE for a few freebies :)

Whatever you choose to do, make it fun :)
These are the days kids remember.

Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Two Months In....

It has been a few months since the 2016/17 school year began. It's been a whirlwind! 

I realize this year how much I miss having my own classroom since having my daughter, but making the choice stay working 1/2 time has been a huge blessing, allowing me to be home part of the day with her. It's made me a better mum, wife and teacher. 

My role this year is once again, LSST (Learning Support Teacher), specifically working with JK/SK students. I work with students needing remedial support (specifically with ELL students and students needing a little extra). The majority of my morning is working with 3, 4 & 5 year olds, teaching them a phonics program called PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Strategies). It is a scripted program that teaches students. My goal every year (not matter what grade I teach), is to make it FUN!

PALS- I move the students around often, having them sit down and stand up many times! Their attention spans are ultra small in the early months, so I pack my classes with the scripted program, as well as various supporting activities.

Here are a few ideas on how I get my kiddos to stay focused and to stay on task:

I always start my classes with a copy cat game or a roll and catch question and answer game. The students love to tell me new things (i.e. what they did last night, what they had for dinner, what they are being for Halloween, that they have a cat, or that they have cheese in their lunch pails). You name it, they want to tell me. So this is my way of getting to know them better, and honouring their excitement of wanting to share something they deem important or interesting. 

I ask them questions about their field trip or favourite season or favourite snack foods. They answer in complete sentences and they expand their thought. It's a fast warm up to get on the same page, yet get to know each other better. 

Found these cute "would you rather" for kids, cards. You can grab them here.
Even lining up is a game of some sort. I always play a quick game of "Can you hear Mrs. Edmunds?" As they get into line, they are to listen for my instructions. Whether it's saying "Yehaw" or "jumping 4 times", their actions tell me very quickly who is "on the train" and who is not.  

I then take my kids to a media room. When they enter they need to find their name card (in a different place every day). Eventually their name cards will come with a game card or puzzle piece, linking to my lesson. Stay tuned.

Once we find our names and settle in, I do a recap of the lesson from the day before. I try to make this interactive. I am super lucky to have access to a Smartboard. I have created a few games that allow me to 'check in' with certain students individually, or as a group. I have also found some great freebies on Smart Exchange.

I then have them move around. I sometimes stick with a phonics based song/dance or mix it up with something they are into (like the Gummy Bear song). Ha!

Then we sit back down and get to a lesson from the PALS program. We'll have competitions on which group sounded like a choir, say our sounds in wacky voices or just keep it simple. Either way, it has got to be engaging or they're done. And really, so am I. 

As of now, I am teaching in a whole group setting. Eventually, I would like to get my kiddos into some small groups. But that'll take some time. Until then, each day is a new adventure. 

A few months ago I would have said "Junior and Senior Kindergarten is not in my wheelhouse". But now, I can't imagine spending my morning any where else. It's tiring, but definitely rewarding and hilarious, all at the same time. 

Lots planned for this year. Hopefully I will get around to blogging about it, often. 


Thursday, 15 September 2016

2016-2017 Grade 1/2 Classroom

Setting up the classroom

Welcome back to school! I hope everyone had a great summer.  

I wanted to share the new things in my classroom with our followers. I have a split 1/2 class this year, which means I have quite a few students from last year coming back into my room. So I commandeered my children and their friends and girlfriends/boyfriends to come and help. It turned out fantastic. I get so excited each year with a fresh new start but this one feels the best so far. 

I tried to create separate areas, and independent activities throughout the classroom, because there will be times when I need students to work independently when I am working with the opposite grade. 

Here is what it looks like, starting with the outside of my classroom and door. 

Here is inside the classroom.  

My daughter Jocelyn felt that I needed a desk fairy this year.
 This is how her little desk fairy turned out. 

I should have taken a close up.  I will take one this weekend and post it with the new writing centre I just finished tonight. 

I would like to shout out a thank you to all the wonderful people who helped with my room, including my friends two sweet children, 
Abbey and Ella!  

Hope everyone is having a good start to the new year. 


Monday, 5 September 2016

2016/17 School Year! Here--We--Go!

It's that time!!! Say it isn't so!!!

Are you ready?

I took the summer off from all things teaching (well, for the most part) and enjoyed every-last-drop!

I have loved being home with my daughter all summer and watching her change and grow. Nothing beats quality time. Nothing.

I hope you all had a great summer and are ready to hit the ground running, as we meet our new kiddos for the year!

This year I have moved schools once again (insert shocked face). HAHA! I was the second lowest in seniority at my last school and was redudant. I have decided to return to teaching half-time again this year, in order to be home half a day with my daughter. 

My position this year is 'LSST' (Learning Support Services Teacher). I provide support to students with needs in the classroom and implement the PALS program (an early reading program) to JK/SK students. Like always, I try to add my own spin into everything I do in the classroom, so I will try to blog some new ideas I have throughout the year on the blog. 

If you don't already follow us on FACEBOOK, please do. That way you'll be able to keep track of new blog posts and new materials that we create. 

I need to meet my littlest learners and see where they are at. Some may be only 3 (turning 4) and others are close to 5, so I love to see what they are familiar with, as they begin the school year. We have a few sound tests we do with them, but I like to make it fun, too. 

Stay tuned for a few new ideas...

Wishing you a great start to the school year!


Monday, 30 May 2016

*NEW* - French Immersion Resources

So.......I have received quite a few requests to create French Immersion resources, through the TPT forum. I have replied numerous times with "I am so sorry. The resources are only available in English"...... UNTIL NOW!

I am uber excited to team up with my colleague and friend, Natalie, to turn some of my teaching creations in French Immersion resources. 

Natalie currently has a French Immersion store on TPT (you can find it HERE), so we made it simple and posted our first F.I. Package together in her store (HERE). Eventually we would love to create a French Immersion shop, so that it is easy to find our joined resources. 

This pack has been updated and revamped! 

“Mon dossier de lundi à lundi” will help keep track of your students words of the week, reading log, important notes and information, as well hold reading strategy cards and tips for parents/guardians. This package is great because you are not checking on things DAILY. 

In this package, you will find the French version as well as the English version and may use the languages you choose most suitable for each activity.. All sheets also appear in black and white and coloured, versions.  Sheets also come in American and Canadian spellings. 

What's inside:?

*”Mon dossier de lundi à lundi” Folder Covers

(colored & black and white)
*Mon journal de lecture/Reading Log
(colored & black and white)
*”Mon dossier de lundi à lundi”
Explanation note for Parents
*Cartes de stratégies de lecture/Reading Strategy cards
(Print, Folder/Cut, Laminate)
*Conseils de lecture/Reading Tips Sheet
*Questionnaire d’élève/Student Questionnaire
(Great for the beginning of the year)
*Questionnaire de parents/Parent Questionnaire
(Great for the beginning of the year.)
*”Mots de la semaine”/Words of the Week
Explanation/Note home
*”Mots de la semaine”/Words of the Week templates
*“Les nouvelles du mois”
2 newsletter templates

Thanks for taking a look!

Wishing you a great week ahead!


Friday, 13 May 2016

Thoughts on "The End" & Classroom Book Release #1

The end is near. As we begin to tie up loose ends, and reign the kiddos in (reminding them that it ain't over YET)...... let's remind ourselves that we gotta keep trudgin' until THE END. Now is the time to introduce something new. Mix it up! Create a lesson that is out of the box or that challenges your kiddos. 

Don't tap out because they seem to be--- change it up! 

My job as a Learning Support Teaching can get mundane (if I let it). Every week I am thinking of new ways to spice it up or introduce something new to the students. Because I work with JK/SK's and grade 3 students, it's a smorgasbord below..... but you get the drift.

My teaching partner and I have created a corner of our room dedicated to 'reading creations'. We all find fancy things on Pinterest that we pin for a rainy day, knowing full well that they will never come in fruition. SO, we have made it our mission to find easy, yet attainable games and activities to do with our kiddos. 

This activity was one of those!

Our students in Junior and Senior Kindergarten work with a list of sight words through our PALS Program. We took craft paper from our paper room at school, and wrote down various sight words and letters (for sounds) along the paper in a variety of colours. To practise, I pulled students names and had them hop along the paper saying sight words and sounds until they got to the end. As they got better, I timed them. We'd have competitions-- (i.e. Girls vs. Boys or JK's vs. SK's etc.) on who could get to the end of the paper the quickest. They get so pumped to beat their previous time. 

Another easy game is called BAM! We wrote their sight words on cue cards, and added cards that said BAM into the mix, as well. I've done this as a whole group or separated the class into teams (calling up 1 student at a time). 

The student flips or pulls a card out of the pail or bag, and reads the sight word or says the sound the letter makes. For each word they say correctly, I give their team (or entire class), a point. As soon as someone pulls the BAM card, they must put all the cards they read correctly, back into the pail or bag and begin again. Sometimes we play students vs. teacher, which they LOVE. They get so excited HA!

I will post some more easy games again, soon. I promise--- they are easy to make and very fun for the kids! Win, win!

In my grade 3 PALS class, we are continuing to partner read. 
Every student has a partner to read with (PALS reading program). As previously mentioned, I give points/tokens to students (see here). In addition to the tokens I give to 'individuals' in the pair, each student is also part of a larger team of 4. At the end of the PALS circuit, I have each student meet with their larger team to add their earned tokens. Each team gives me their tally and I add it to their group points. This process holds them very accountable. Reporting back to the team with their earned tokens is a confidence booster. The team motivates them to do better because they all have a part to play. 

Here was this months team prize. Each student in the group of 4 received a little packed prize. 

The month of April was a large box of Nerds, a travel connect four game or travel tic tac toe game and a mechanical pencil. 

Each Tuesday is what I call "Tech Tuesday" as mentioned a few posts back (here). With the digital world continuing to explode, students need to know where to find quality reading pieces and know that digitized reading material is another option. I break the students into their 4 member groups. I provide them a reading site. They have 5 minutes to agree on a story before they plug their headphones in and either read or listen to a story. 

From there, I lead a think-pair-share-type of discussion. I pose a question, and each student then turns to their group and discusses the question, based on the book they read. Students are able to practise their predicting and retell skills, as well as various comprehension questions. I rotate to each group, listening to discussions and awarding tokens.

These comprehension questions can be found in our independent reading box kit. Check it out here :)

A few reading sites I love:

Most recently, I have discovered Oxford Owl. I especially like the non-fiction choices. They aren't commercialized books-- just easy reading. I like to project these stories as a read aloud and then break the students into groups. 
Registration is free.

Below, the students are using Storyline Online. Love this site. Great for reluctant readers who want to read the books that others students are reading, but are not strong enough, yet. 

Each Thursday is what I call "Teacher's Choice Day", where I bring in reading material or a reading game. The kids are always itchin' to know what they are doing. 

Last week I used this pack by Hello Literacy-- High interest informational texts. I broke the students into their groups.

We used the article entitled "The Vortex of Video Games".
What I love is that you can choose from 4 different reading levels for your students (so they can be used for multiple grades).
 Students read the article out loud to each other, highlighted key points and worked on various questions, together.

Lots more on tap for the next 6 or so weeks before Summer Break!


While I was on maternity leave, I made a list of projects I wanted to complete before heading back to work. These were activities that I had great success with in my classroom that I wanted to clean up for future use and share. 

One of the more simple, but effective resources were "Class Books" for primary classrooms. I love using mentor texts. Our curriculum is embedded with teaching students to connect a variety of texts to their experiences, world view and other texts. The problem is that when you are 5,6, 7 and 8 years old, your world is school and home. In order to teach them these concepts in a simplistic way, I made a variety of 'class books' with my kiddos. These were pages that students created and I bound together. I displayed these books and sent them home to be shared. 

Here is one that I recently refined.

This pack is focused around "Text to Self" Connections using the book "The Grouchy Ladybug" by Eric Carle.

What's inside?
- Detailed instructions
- Learning Goal
- Read Aloud Discussion Questions
- Variety of Class Book Cover Pages 
- Curriculum focus/ learning goal cut outs for notebook
- Text to self sentence starters (for notebook draft)
- Class book sentence stater pages (good copy) with a variety of line choices 
- Home share page 
- Example photos

Click here to see more and preview!

Hope you take a peak.

More importantly, have a great weekend! And continue to keep on truckin'.