Thursday, 31 December 2015

Christmas Projects

Christmas Plaques

As usual the students and teachers at our school created Christmas gifts for all the families on our colony.  This year's idea came from the Facebook page of my friend, Candice Cancade.  Hers is much more elaborate than our simplified version.
For the backboard, we used 1" x 4" board which were planed down and cut into the required lengths.  Joy - 16", Love & Noel - 20" and Peace - 24".   The letters were cut on our C & C router by my brother James.  The older students and their  teacher, Robert did most of the work: painting the letters and edges of the boards and gluing the letters in place.  Linda took on the decorating duties.

Baby Jesus Craft 

I found the idea for this project at  Baby Jesus Craft.  I wasn't able find the specified baby socks, so I ended up sewing stretchy fabric into 6 inch long cylinders so they're about the size of baby socks.  On the sides of the paper bag we glued labels reading "The best gift is Jesus" and "Es besta Tschenk is es Jesulein."  
We  kept them at school for several days and whenever the kids had spare time, they enjoyed pulling them out and playing with them.  

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Nativity Silhouettes

Painting can be messy, but oh, sooo fun!  In this project, students were introduced to value.  I followed Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips to create the backgrounds.   That Artist Woman uses a similar procedure, so, I've added both links. 
For the silhouettes, I simply googled "nativity silhouettes" to find the images pictured below.  Ideally, the images are to be traced on black construction paper and then cut out; however, since I did this with younger students, I chose to simplify it by merely having them cut out the printed images.
As you can see, we used two different tones of blue for our projects.  I'm not sure which I like best, the warm or cool blue.  What do you say?

Leaf Relief

 One of my fall art projects came from Fall Leaves.
We basically followed Cassie's instructions, except that we created leaf rubbings (using wax crayons and a black paint wash)  for the background rather than the ideas that she suggested.

What intrigued me most about the project is the "metallic" leaf created out of cardboard, leaves, tinfoil and spray paint.  In the end they really looked as if they were tarnished metal.

If I were to do it again, I would perhaps have each student create several "metal" leaves for their background.

As you'll notice, some of the backgrounds are more grey than black - I made them with different classes and added more water to the black paint.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Figure Me Out Math Project

 Figure Me Out Poster

One of my first math activities for my grades 1 & 2 class this September was having them create "Figure Me Out" posters. There are several variations around, but I found mine at Shut the Door and Teach and adapted it for my class. 
  • They first answered the question on a BLM that I created. 
  • Next, we brainstormed for different ways to represent numbers: number word, tally marks, etc,. which I recorded on chart paper for the students to refer to when they created their posters.  
  • Then they looked at their answers and decided which number representation they will use for each one.  They recorded those on 8 cm x 8 cm sticky notes.  One the actually poster, they did not write any numbers, they had to decide how they would illustrate the question, e.g. What is your phone number, most decided to draw a phone.  
  • Finally they stuck their stickie notes on top of the matching illustration.
This poster idea is similar to the "Math About Me" ideas floating around on Pinterest, but I found this activity takes it a step further.  The following day, the piled up their stickies, reread their questions and re-positioned their stickies.  For some, that proved to be quite challenging.  Each student also tried to "Figure Out" several of the other students by answering their questions.







String Heights Graph

One of questions on their poster asked about the students' heights.  We decided to measure our heights using an idea from  Going back to Kinder
  • We measured string for their heights and taped the students' head shots on one end to create a graph.  
  • When we do graphing, I usually ask my students, "What does the data tell us?" and we create various statements about the information including comparison statements.  In this particular case, we had to refer back to the information on their BLMs and posters, since measuring with string isn't overly accurate and some string stretches, so students are able to increase their height if they are so inclined :)!




Who Lives at My House

Another question on their poster is about the number of people in their families.  I found a simple, but neat idea for this Family Glyph and want to credit the blogger, even though I wasn't able to visit the blog, but her picture is self-explanatory.
One of my university methods professors reminded us that "If you're just going to do a glyph to simply hang on the wall, you haven't done any math. That is just a glorified art project."  I don't even think it's art either. 
So, after completing the glyph, we all gather around in a circle on the floor, with the glyphs in the centre to do some logical thinking!  I start by giving clues about the information on the glyphs: I'm thinking about someone who has... at least one sister, a pet, etc.  Usually I try to make it so that just a few people are removed with each statement.  After a few goes, the students take turns giving clues. 

Birthday Board

A third question on their poster asks about the students' birthdays.  I extending this section by creating a birthday board similar to the one I found at Etsy a while back.  Their's is made out of wood, while we made ours out of poster board and card stock.
  • I started by asking my students when their birthdays are and in what season they fall  in.  For most of the class, the latter was a new notion for them.  
  • We then looked at a twelve month calendar.  My students have agenda books, so we found a copy inside the front covers.  
  • We googled the first day of each season and proceeded to sort the months according to season.  Of course there is overlap, so for simplicity sake, I decided to start with the month the seasons start with and the following two months: e.g. spring - March, April and May.  
  • We colour-coded the month labels by gluing them to different coloured card stock, depending on the season. I printed the name of each students and staff member on white card stock.  
  • Next we added the birthdate to each name card and arranged the names below their corresponding month in numerical order.. We punched holes below each month label and above and below each name label, then attached the labels with plastic chain links.
We concluding the activity by filling in a BLM where students referred to the Birthday Board to answer questions regarding the months and seasons of our birthdays.

When reflecting on this personal identity project, I discovered we had worked on concepts in each math strand:
  • Number: counting, comparing and ordering numbers,
  • Patterns & Relations: repeating patterns
  • Shape & Space: months of the year
  • Statistics &Probability: gathering and recording data

In addition we touched on several social studies and science concepts:
  • Social Studies: similarities and differences
  • Science: four seasons
Sometimes items in a series of lessons seem to fall into place without too much effort and this was one of them!  It was great to have it develop into a learning experience that spans several different curriculum areas and more importantly, one where students are excited about the discoveries they make about themselves.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Back-to-School Prep

 I'm sure most teachers will agree that back to school preparations, what with unit planning, familiarizing ourselves with new curricula, creating school plans, etc. can be a rather arduous and time consuming undertaking.  Still, there are some of us who add several other projects to our prep work, not necessarily because everything else is already completed or that we want our school year to run smoother.  Rather, we like feeding our creative streak and adding a bit more spark to the upcoming year be it for ourselves, out colleagues or students.   Below are some of the projest I indulged in, just because...

Chair Bags

Not sure why I'm not able to rotate this picture, but I trust you get it.
For years now I’ve provided chair bags for my students so that each of them can have several books on hand for whenever they finish their work early or arrive early.  Actually, I think a student said it best.  Once a school visitor asked about the bags and the student replied, “This is where we keep our books and when Elma answers the phone, we get to read.”  In short, whenever they have down time, there’s always a book or two on hand.
Earlier this year, a fellow Night Writer, after reading my sister Linda's newly published book "Hutterite Diaries", asked us if we would like fabric pieces for future quilting projects.  Of course we accepted them and he presented us with almost a dozen "books" of fabric samples from perhaps a drapery store.  So, the prints of this year's set of chair bags will be as varied as the personalities of the students that will use them: floral, checks, solids, bold and bright...  Since I made an extra one, each students will have a choice. 


Birthday Gifts

Many teachers present their students with a gift when their birthdays roll around.  Some bake cupcakes once a month to celebrate all  the birthdays happening in that month, while others present books or other small gifts.  For this year’s birthdays, I found something that’s all about the presentation: unique birthday smoothies!  I found the idea at: Monday Made It and decided to add my own twist to it with the items I selected to include in it: stickers, eraser, sharpener small writing tablet, balloon, candy, birthday bracelet.  To add the bubbles on top, I added a handful of Easter grass.  For the straw, I inserted a fancy birthday pencil.    I don’t think the total cost per gift was more than $2.00, but I’m sure my students will love them!

Gifts for Teachers

Typically each year, I leave a back to school gift on the desk each teacher at my school and also some of my teacher friends at other schools.  This year it’s several small items and each comes with a special message:

Sharpie, Marker or Highlighter sets

Fourth & Ten  gets the credit for this idea,


Thanks to Little Priorities for this cute idea. She used M&Ms but I used Smarties.  Teachers are smart people, right?  This is prescribed to ease various teacherish symptoms from curriculum overload to headaches to fatigue and more.





 Box of Rubber Bands

At our semi-annual back to school I was presented with several boxes of elastics – something all teachers use almost as regularly as the school bell.   I decided to add the following quote to each box: "Blessed are the flexible, for the will not be bent out of shape,"


  Cleaning Cloths

Of course, nothing says 'a new school year' like a newly serged set of cleaning cloths and towels!

May YOUR school year be bookish and bright, celebratory and sparkly!

What's part of your school year prep routine just because" ?

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Symbols of Canada and Manitoba

Symbols of Canada 

My final social studies unit of the 2014-15 school year revolved largely around learning about Canadian and Provincial  (Manitoba) symbols.  Several times, as they learned about each symbol, I was able to present my students with a sticker, pin, bookmark or some sort of object to help them remember that particular symbol.
Almost every time they added loot to their Ziploc baggies, one of my students was sure to ask, "Can we take our bag home today?" We kept them until the last day of school and the excitedly clutched their bags as they embarked upon their summer vacation.  This Canada Day they could proudly wave their flag and wear a Canadian flag pin.

RCMP Guest Speaker

One of the guest speakers for this unit was an RCMP officer, Constable Moyer from our local RCMP detachment.  She arrived in plain clothes and I had totally not expected that.  It didn't take her long however, to convince us that she knew her job.  After spending about an hour presenting on her job and locking several students in handcuffs, she allowed our students to "check out" her truck and did they ever! I believe every bell, whistle and siren was experimented with.

Pins of Manitoba

 After emailing our MLA, Mr. Ian Wishart about our project, I received a beautiful package of pins - all of them symbols of Manitoba, for each student as well as a lovely bookmark depicting the Manitoba Legislative Buildings. Each pin was accompanied with a brief write-up on the symbol.  I created a close activity for each symbol which I made available both for the SMART board and the students' booklets.


Legislative Buildings 

I believe every student should have at least one tour of thee legislative buildings and I cannot think of a better time to do this than after they've studied about provincial symbols.  When we had our annual year-end field trip, it seemed that every symbol from the golden boy atop the dome to the bison bracketing the grand staircase to the limestone Union Jack symbols bordering the second story walkway, all of them spoke to my class of first and second graders perhaps even more than the older students.
Manitoba Legislative Buildings

I believe the combination of in-class lessons, mementos, guest speaker and field trip will make this social studies unit one that will not be forgotten soon!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

SmArts 2014-15 Part 3

Chalk Pastels

Our final classes introduced students to the delightful realness and the great results of working with Chalk Pastels.   


Elephants and Dragon Flies

The younger student's chalk pastel project were a dragonfly and a baby elephant playing with a big ball.  


 The older class project was a large African scene featuring both an authentic adult African elephant and tree.  The pastel chalk medium lent itself to creating very believable skin for the elephants bringing them to life on both projects.  

Self Portraits

Janelle - Grade 1

After our first exposure to working with chalk pastels we moved on to pastel self portraits.   In hindsight this was a very advanced level project requiring many hours of one on one, hands on assistance, and in the end some fine tuning via the instructor with the student present.  

Daniel - Grade 1
The sum total of all efforts of students, Brennan School teachers and EA's were certainly worth it.  Our instructor, Carol Barbeau, felt that the basic lesson of bringing to life each student's image registered with each of the children at their individual level of learning.   

Joel - Grade 4

The lesson taught how very important details are. Students learned to seriously think about their own eye color and other details of their eyes, and the unique, individual shape of lips, head, ears, hair, the special shape and hair of eyebrows, skin tone, plus the simple few strokes that create their nose.
Nicole - Grade 6

Once completed, we framed the self portraits and the students presented them to their dads as Father's Day gifts.

Thanks Carol for volunteering your time to spend several one-on-one classes with our students to see the projects to completion.  Also, I appreciate your input in this blog post!