Sunday, June 04, 2017

Literacy in the Classroom: Using apps to create stories

I am always amazed at this time of year as to how far my students have come!
My group this  year has been so interested in storytelling.  We have read and compared many fairy tales and fables over the past month, which has inspired so many children to draw and create their own books.

We had many discussions about what to include in a story.  The children co-created this anchor chart which hangs on our closet door near the Writing Centre.

I discovered this app and thought immediately how amazing it would be for our class!

Students took so much time thinking and creating their stories.
It's very simple to use and I love how the students were able to work on this independently.
In fact, it was their idea to turn our hallway into the "recording studio" where you could go to record your story, page by page, so you wouldn't hear background noise.
Here are some examples!









After they were all complete, I downloaded the stories onto each students' Google Drive folder and saved them as QR codes so that they could be shared with our school community.

You can find out more about how this app works by watching the short video:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

{FREEBIE!} Can You Build It? Re-creating famous landmarks during block play

We often change materials around the room and encourage our students to use these materials wherever they like!  A few weeks ago, we noticed a group of girls gather the coloured plastic blocks we had at the light table and bring them to the carpet area.  They began building "towers and castles" all while engaging with each other as to how the structures should be built. 

That afternoon, my teaching partner and I had a discussion about extending the learning happening here.  We decided to print some pictures of structures and landmarks from around the world and add them into a binder set nearby.

The next day the girls noticed the binder and began to look through with sheer joy.
Some landmarks were familiar (C.N. Tower) and many others also caught their eye.

M.P.:  This is the C.N. Tower!  My dad works near there!

K.M.:  Is this London Bridge like the song London Bridge?

A.G.:  This I've seen when I go downtown!

Then they started building some of the structures by looking carefully!

This student spent much time looking carefully at the picture of the Eiffel Tower and trying to re-create it using the blocks. 

When I asked her to describe and tell about what she noticed, she realized that the bottom of her design didn't match the picture and worked at re-positioning the blocks carefully so it wouldn't fall.

Another student noticed that the binder had no front cover and wanted to create a title page for it.  I asked her what we should call it, in which she replied "Can You Build It?"!  So she designed a beautiful cover.

You can download these images (18 pictures total) by clicking HERE.
(Note: All pictures were downloaded from Flickr)

I hope your students enjoy building these just as much as ours do!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Snow and Ice Inquiry

Back in January, when we first returned from Christmas Break, the students were curious about the snow falling and would often collect snow and ice (in their pockets!) to look more closely at them inside.  
You can guess what happened next!!!

Well, I just love the book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and so we read that book with the students to generate a great conversation about the weather.

We like to see if the interest continues for several days before jumping into planning an inquiry, so when we noticed that our students could not stop talking about snow and ice, and collecting it outdoors, we decided to think about where we could go with this inquiry.

My teaching partner and I use this inquiry web when planning for inquiries.  I found this idea originally a few years back from Darla Myers.  Simply draw a web and think about the different curriculum areas you can incorporate.

We set out a provocation using frozen blocks of ice with small objects inside and other blocks of ice coloured with food colouring.

How can we get the objects out?

C.C.:  Mine is cracking now! My hands are cold when I touch it!
(Adding warm water with a paper towel)

N.R.:  It's melting!  We put hot water on it and it's melting fast!

The children collected ice pieces and tried to melt them in different ways:

K.M.:  I can put it in my hands.  See - it's dripping!  The ice is melting!

V.P.:  If you leave it on the counter it will melt.  It turns to water."

O.S.:  Snow melts.

How does the ice feel in your hands?

I.A.:  It feels cold and soooooo watery!

F.P.:  Cold.

One day after coming inside from outdoor recess, some students noticed that our custodian was sprinkling the ground with something.  This sparked a great conversation about what we add to ice and what happens.
One child discussed the ice her dad used on the driveway that morning to "keep everyone safe and not fall down".  We invited her to bring in some of her salt so we could try some experiments using it.

Some children remarked that the salt they used at their homes looked different.  They brought some in to compare and, of course, we tried all 3 salts to see if they all took the same amount of time to melt the ice.

C.F.:  My dad uses this outside so we don't slip.

S,F.:  My salt is different.  It's white.  My dad puts it on the driveway.

We also set up an experiment to see what other things would melt ice the fastest.

I.A.:  It smells like cotton candy!

L.P.:  It smells like chocolate.

F.P.:  It looks like white ice cream. (pointing to baking powder on ice)

We invited children to paint the snow using watercolours...both inside the classroom and outside!

And we used food colouring and eye droppers to add liquid to the ice trays, which we later melted and then watched them turn back to water.  We measured how much liquid there was initially, and then once again after we froze and melted the ice.

Our inquiry lasted several weeks until we got some great (warmer!) weather in February.
I wonder what the students will be interested in learning and researching about next....???

Monday, February 20, 2017

Show Me The Number! {Representing numerals to 10}

We work with numbers to 10 on a regular basis.  I like to expose my students to a variety of ways of representing each numeral - meaning that although many of them can count orally and find the numeral, I want them to understand that numbers can be shown in many ways!

We have our students sign in each morning in many different ways.  Here is an example of how you can use 10-frames - make small square pictures for each student and have him/her find their picture and place it on the 10-frame to "sign in".  
Note:  I have MANY MORE than 12 students (actually 29 in total - LOL)!  This was taken as an example.

We use dot plates on a regular basis as well.  These are simple to make.  All you need are paper plates and bingo dabbers (or markers).  Dot each plate to represent numerals 1-10.  I like to have the plates look similar to how numerals would look on a dot die for quick number recognition.

This game is a staple in our math centre.  It's called Domino Parking Lot and it is a free download from  You can download it here.  Just add dominoes!

Provocations, or invitations for learning, are activities set up that are meant to "provoke" children.  Math provocations are simple and easy to set up and I love how flexible the materials are so that the children can use them in many different ways!

Recently we added these math cards to the math centre.  Students could use them to represent numerals 1-10 in many different ways.

This student took nearly all afternoon concentrating so that she could explain her great thinking!

You can download these cards for FREE by clicking on the picture below.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February: All About Friendship!

I love the month of February - the students are very eager to write cards for each other for Valentine's Day and it's the perfect opportunity to discuss what it means to be a friend!
We brainstorm all the nice things we can do for each other.

Last week we set up a post office in our classroom, filled with various cards, stamps, and envelopes (and a mailbox too!) to encourage the children to write messages to one another.

You can find everything you need to set up your Post Office{here}.

They even made their own "mailboxes" when the postal worker delivers the mail!
(yes, they are wine boxes, free from the liquor store!)

You can read all about how we set up our Post Office {here}.

We set up a lot of fun provocations this past week, perfect for Valentine's Day!

The students chose a "secret friend" and made that person a pattern bracelet.  Then wrote "To: and From:" on the envelope and mailed it!  We can't wait to open our packages on Valentine's Day!

We have been working a lot on identifying numbers without having to count them (subitizing) and these games were lots of fun to play!

Roll the die, count the "mail", record on graph.
We often set up co-operative games so that Year 2 students can show Year 1 students how to play.
We played this with a partner or in a small group - roll the die and cover up the numeral on your playing mat.
Flip over a 5-frame card and read it.  Colour in the correct box.
The book, The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins, is one of my favourite books to read - it discusses fair shares.  How many ways can you share the cookies?  Is it fair?  We had a lot of great discussions as we tried to share the "cookies" with our friends.

Then in small groups we worked with numbers to 10, looking at if we could share them (even numbers) or could not share them (odd numbers).

M.M.:  Every time you could share the cookies it reminds me when we count by 2!

We discussed what we could do with the extra cookie when we could not share fairly.

S.F.:  We could cut it in half so we both get part of it.

C.F.:  No one gets it so it's fair.

C.C.:  We could throw it away!

You can find the above math games (and lots more!) in my I Heart You!  A Friendship Unit on TpT.