The trouble with going paperless.


 Letter Dance  photo credit: rosmary via photopin cc

As the year progresses I am realizing I have a small problem that seems to be getting bigger and nagging on my mind. We are quite privileged to have a classroom set of laptops that we use all the time. We use them for so many things it’s hard to keep track sometimes. We have created many things this past year: Thinglinks for our Science projects, Websites for our Social Studies Projects, Endless Google Docs for our writing and collaboration. The list could go on and on but back to the problem at hand: I don’t know how to proudly show off these pieces of work in my classroom.

We’ve tried printing out our projects to put on the bulletin board but then we lose what makes these tools so awesome and end up with 2D dullness. (Sound! Animation! Video! All gone.) We can display them online but, it still doesn’t help with the classroom/hallway display space. I think I will try QR codes next to the print ups. I will teach the students to link their work to them and hope that people will a) have a device with which to scan with and b) know what a QR code is.

Ideally, I would like an interactive display. Something where a passerby could interact and explore our work on the wall. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a touch screen display where we can link our work. *Ah a girl can dream*.

How do you display your digital work in your classroom/hallway?


Math Manipulatives on a Budget

As the summer days tick by  and the new school year is quickly approaching. Being a new teacher this has meant a lot of planning and thinking about what I want in my classroom. On  recent stop at the local dollar store I happened across these little wooden blocks.

As I stood there looking at the blocks an idea struck me, ‘Why not make them into math manipulatives?’. At $1 for 52 blocks I could  easily make a new set of multipurpose manipulatives for my classroom. Armed with a few fine tipped permanent markers this is what I came up with:

One activity idea is that students can grab a few numbered blocks from the bag roll them and then be challenged to create the largest or smallest number possible from the numbers they rolled. Another idea is to use the blocks to create number sentences depending on what we’re working on at that time. The possibilities are almost endless, so for $2 I think this is a great addition to my math corner!

I went back later in the week and came up with these coloured alphabet blocks. Perhaps a good tool for ‘Work on Words’ in Daily 5?

A trip to the bookstore: 3 books to help teach citizenship skills.

I thought I’d share three books that I picked up from a local bookstore yesterday.  The first two are books that I would use with almost any age group (K – 4) to help teach those ever important citizenship skills. The third is more inspirational than about citizenship but it fits well with the theme of never giving up and dreaming big, which we all need if we want to change the world.

 “I Have the Right to Be a Child” By Aurelia Fronty

I could not pass up the opportunity to buy this book! In the beautifully illustrated pages a young child tells of the universal human rights all children have regardless of race, age, gender or socio-economic status. The words are simple but provide a powerful introduction to any discussion to human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“I  have the right to play, to create, to imagine, to make faces and to leap around…. and also to have friends because dancing alone isn’t very much fun.”

10 things I can do to help my world by Melanie Walsh

The second book that I purchased fits in nicely with my love for teaching children to respect the earth. With great illustrations and pop up pages the book shares 10 simple things everyone can do to help the world!

An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton

‘An Awesome Book!’ is one of my favourite FREE books online so I just had to support the author and buy a print copy. What I love about this book is the message to not be afraid to dream big and follow your dreams! I have used this book as an intro for a poetry lesson to get the fear of ‘being wrong’ out of students minds! This is a fabulous addition to any classroom library! Check out his site at:

“To dream a dream as big as big could ever dream to be!”

Math on a Budget: Cheap 10 Frames for Manipulatives

So this idea isn’t originally mine but I thought it would definitely be worth sharing with new teachers who may not be in the know and teachers on a budget!

Using manipulatives in math is all the rage in early years as a way to help kids connect concrete concepts with the abstract ideas introduced in math. I love teaching with manipulatives because let’s face it math is much more fun when you can play with something! One of the tools early years teachers use is the 10 frame. The idea behind ten frames is to help students gain a clear understanding of place value by becoming familiar with units, 5s and 10s in a very concrete manner. Each small rectangle represents a unit and each row have 5 units in them, and finally the two rows put together give you 10 units. They are also great for helping students with their basic math facts, make 10 especially!

An Example Ten Frame with 6 Units in it

I have seen some teachers use laminated rectangles of 10 frames and have students put counters in each place. The problem with laminated 10 frames is that when the students try to move the paper or as young children do bump them with hands and elbows, the counters slide off and students have to start again. *Frustration*

In comes a rather elegant  and  cheap solution: The 10 Frame Egg Carton.

Below you can see: one manipulative per space = 1 unit. So we have 4 units below.

Next comes some magic: Once a 10 frame is filled, the student closes the egg carton and keeps the semi-filled one open. Visually this tells them they have 10 and need to count on the remaining units. Closing the egg cartons as they fill up will also help some students resist the urge to keep adding to already full cartons.

10 and 4 units = 14

A few reasons why I love this idea:

  • The great thing about using egg cartons for 10 frames is that students can pick their favourite manipulative and use it in math. (What I would have given to use those little plastic teddy bears in these pics!). I can just imagine a little boy with a jar full of cars using them in the 10 frames for math.
  • The cartons are pretty sturdy so they can withstand the little bumps that happen with our young students.
  • They are cheap and easily replaceable!

If you would like to try it… you need to do just like the egg producers in Canada say: “Get Cracking!”.

Thanks to  Taryn Deroche (@Taderoche) for her help with editing todays post!

All images are C.C. Mary Bertram