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: http://veryawesomeworld.com/

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


You See Colour Samples… I See..

As a new teacher I find myself thinking of all the resources I would like to get ready for my future classroom. Because I am fresh out of school and am still looking for a classroom to call home, I can’t quite justify spending oodles of money on supplies just yet. With a great conversation with a friend, a bit of inspiration and an eye for ideas, here is what came from a trip to the hardware store with another teacher buddy of mine.

Dotcards to for subitizing games! 

(A fun way to increase fluency and number sense)

 Alphabet squares for an alphabet wall!

A Word family game idea I  found from The Snail’s Trail &  My Crazy Simple Life

 (Check out their blog posts they’re awesome and full of more great ideas for the word family game!)

So there you have it! A few colour samples from the hardware store and three new bright colourful ideas for the classroom! My next stop is going to be at our local ArtsJunktion (a great place for any budget conscious teacher)  to see if there are any similar supplies I can gather for free!

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

The Superhero Within Each Of Us: ESD with Grade 1 and 2

After seeing posters for the new The Lorax movie, I was reminded  of the education for sustainable development unit I did last year in my grade 1 -2 practicum classroom. The ESD project came about as I was rounding up a science unit on the ‘characteristics of objects and materials’. Early on in my blogging journey I wrote a post about the incredible Trash-o-saurus we created together as a class. In that post I mentioned how we sat down and discussed how we could all help take care of the earth and be agents of change in our world. I must say one of the most rewarding things about this whole project was help students see themselves as being powerful enough to create change for the better in their world despite only being 6 or 7 years old.

Being in a grade 1-2 classroom the natural way for me to kick off the discussion was to read stories on the theme of environmental stewardship, Dr Seuss’s The Lorax was one of the many books I chose as one I would share with the class. At first I was a bit apprehensive reading it to a group of 30 grade 1 -2 students because at times the book can get a bit complex and tricky to understand. However, the themes in the book are ones that all young students can understand: use your resources wisely and take care of the planet. I could never do a synopsis justice so see the video below for a full dramatic reading of the book!


A  few of the other books I read to the class were:

  •  Michael Recycle written by Ellie Bethel,
  • The Garbage Monster by Joni Sensel,
  • The EARTH Book by Todd Parr, I Can Save the Earth : One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Alison Inches

Sadly those are the ones that  I can remember reading, just a few of the many we did read!

After reading each story I made a point of asking the students if they could do anything to help take care of the planet; each and every time they said yes. Together we brainstormed and learned about all the ways we could be our very own superhero’s and save the planet one small step at a time. Each child made a leaf with a deed they would do to be environmental stewards and together we created our own Earth Day pledge tree.

C.C. Grade 1/2 M 2011

 During the project  I challenged my students to create informational posters to help teach their schoolmates about the importance of recycling! Below are two examples of what they came up with.

C.C. Grade 1/2 M 2011

C.C. Grade 1/2 M 2011

During all this time we were also creating our very own classroom Trash-o-saurus! (If you would like to learn more about how to make your own dino, head on over to my earlier blog post: Prehistoric Enviro-Art Project)

Some links and resources: