Friday, September 19, 2014

25+ sunflower activities for children PLUS a mega cash giveaway

I think sunflowers are one of the coolest plants.

Some are amazingly tall.

Their faces follow the sun.

They bring a bit of summer into fall weather.

They feed birds in winter.

And they inspire lots of fabulous activities.

(read all the way down to the bottom, as well as a bunch of wonderful activities, there is a  chance to win one of four $500 prizes)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

how to make a pillowcase curtain

Curtains are fabulous classroom tools.

They hide clutter.

They soften hard edges.

They are easily cleaned.

They are cheap and easy to make.

And did I mention, they hide clutter
(or activities that are not currently available).

I had a cute little curtain (that luckily, I had brought home to wash over the summer) that hid a shelf full of boring very important teacher books.  

But it was a bit too cute.  And it did not work with my beautiful new rug

It was time for a new curtain.

Since I am on strike, all projects have to be on the super-cheap.  That meant no trips to the fabric store to find the perfect shade of the perfect colour.

It meant a trip to the thrift shop to see what the Universe would provide.  Two pillowcases in an acceptably neutral and warm colour for $1.50 worked for me.

First job was to rip the seams.  That was the part that I did on the picket line.  That was the part that I forgot to take picture of.  You will just have to trust me that I sat on the side of the road with my seam ripper and a couple of pillow cases.

Seams ripped.  I had two bits of fabric this size. 

A bit of ironing ...

and a bit of sewing (I joined the two pieces of fabric together and made a casing at the top for the curtain rod to go through) ...

For $1.50 and a bit of time, I have an up cycled pillowcase-curtain that looks good with my new rug.

Hopefully both will be in the classroom soon.  (We will be voting on a tentative deal.)

This is another of my 

ps.  We are back in the classroom now - first day with kids tomorrow - yipee!

Here are the curtain and the rug in their intended habitat.

Image Map

Saturday, September 13, 2014

tree block alphabet

It has been alphabet week on the picket line.

First it was glass gems, and then wooden blocks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

alphabet glass gems

With a $2 investment, modge podge and a bit of time, I have a set of upper and lower case glass gems that look amazing.

Glass gems and an alphabet sticker pack from the dollar store.

Luckily there was an alphabet with a kindergarten friendly "a", that was fun, but not too distracting.  The animal letter pack was too distracting.

Step 1  Modge podge the letters to the back of the glass gems.  (Since I was sticking the letters to the back of the gems, I had to glue the front of the letter to the gem - and add a dap of modge podge to the sticky side on the back to seal it.)

The modge podge took a while to dry

 - but when it did, those gems looked pretty good.

My co-picketer (and grade one colleague and friend) decided to leave her gems like this.  Her plan is to use them on a cookie sheet covered in black paper for word work.

I want to use my alphabet gems as loose parts (because I know that loose parts stimulates so many facets of learning).  I decided to put a paper backing on my gems.

Since all the gems are slightly different, I traced around the  gem, cut it a wee bit smaller, modge podged the gem, and then another layer of modge podge on the top of the paper to seal it.

It was a bit space constrained making them on a small plastic table.  But that is a #picketlineproblem.

Repeat the same processor the capital letters.  (I thought that they might be too big to fit on the gems - but woot woot, they weren't!)

This time, I borrowed an idea from another co-picketer, and backed them in blue.  Differentiating the capitals is a good thing.  

When I got home, I started playing with letters and words.  I pulled out an ancient overhead projector that was rescued from a dumpster because I need more school stuff in my basement.

I know that the kids will come up with so many creative ideas for these gems.  I love the way they use their brains. 

This is another of my

This is why I am on strike.  The latest update is that teachers have said that we are willing to accept binding arbitration; the government seems to think that is too much of a risk for them.  

Last week's picket line project was painted rocks.

Image Map

Thursday, September 4, 2014

book report: Tap the Magic Tree

September is apple season.

Time for picking apples, making apple sauce, apple pie, apple crisp, making apple art ... and for reading books about apples.

Last Spring I bought a book that I was saving for apple season.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

painted rocks

Since I have to spend three hours a day on the picket line, I might as well be productive.

Kindergarten teachers never have enough time to make all the loose parts /manipulatives /learning tools that are on their want list.

But, my government has given me time (albeit, unpaid time), so I might as well make lemonade.

Or, at least, painted rocks.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

on strike .... for public education

It's Labour Day Monday.

Usually, I am soaking in the last day of summer freedom, while looking forward to getting back to school, reconnecting with my kids from last year, and looking forward to meeting the new little ones that I get to share with their families for the coming year.

Usually, I have already spent hours (unpaid) in my classroom, thinking about how the children will interact with their environment.  Reflecting on their learning and how I can support it.  Moving furniture, making sure the house area is inviting, checking over the dress up clothes, putting out intriguing bits and pieces from the beach or the forest (magnifying glasses included), looking from all angles to see that the classroom is warm, inviting, intriguing, but not overwhelming.  Making sure that it is a place that 20 (or so) little people can feel that they belong and can make it their own.

But not this year.

This year I am on strike.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

sunflower sensory bin

Who can help but love the amazingly tall sunflowers that stand sentinel over the last days and weeks of summer.

Blazes of yellows, oranges, russets and browns.  

Bringing us into Fall.

And inspiring a sunflower sensory bin.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

a braided rug for a cosy corner

My friend Val Galvin makes the most amazing rugs.  

I figured that one of her braided rugs needed to be in my kindergarten classroom.  And I told her that each time I saw one that caught my kindergarten eye.

She didn't give me a rug.  She did one better.  She taught me how to make a braided rug.  

I wanted a nice soft, comfy rug for sitting on in  a quiet, mellow time corner in my kindergarten classroom.

Recycled blankets would make a soft inviting rug.

There's a special fancy bit to do right at the beginning.  I happily let an expert take over. 

First job was to rip up the blankets and roll them ready to use. 

And then braid. And braid. And braid. 

And change colours. And watch it grow. 

Until it was ready to be laced.  

I used a flat, slightly curved, round topped  needle that Val has made locally
 (by the father of one of my past students - the joys of small town living!), and special linen lacing thread.

It was almost exciting to see the rug showing its personality.
Val would say it is very exciting to see the rug find its personality. 

And a fine personality it has.  
It's warm, inviting, gentle, and random with a wee bit of structure.

A perfect place to take some time away from the business of a kindergarten classroom.
A perfect place to curl up with a book.
A perfect place to think and to be.

Imagine this rug, a cosy corner, a couple of pillows, soft light from a small lamp
and a couple of kids curled up, making plans for the day. 

Can't wait to see it. 

If you can't make it to Vancouver Island for one of Val's courses, and until Val gets tutorials on her Facebook page, Renditions in Rags Hooked and Braided Rugs (and she says she is going to),  Sunshine's Creations has a braided rug tutorial. 

Image Map

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

book report: The Most Magnificent Thing

For anyone who has ever tried to build, bake, sculpt, paint, to create ... something  ...  and the reality did not work as well as the plan ...

For anyone who has become angry when a project does not go as planned ...

For anyone who has wanted to give up when a project does not work ...

For anyone who has needed a fresh perspective on a project .... 

For anyone who has plans to create a magnificent thing ...

The Most Magnificent Thing
written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
published by Kids Can Press (2014)
picture book
ages 4 - 8

Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 quirky books for children

A list of 10 picture books.

They said it would be hard.

I didn't believe them.

It was hard.

So, after many half done lists, many beginnings of draft posts  ...

10 quirky picture books for children

something that is strange/not normal but cool  

[kwur-kee]  Show Iadjective, quirk·i·er, quirk·i·est.
having or full of quirks.
quirk  (kwɜːk) 
— n individual peculiarity of character; mannerism or foible unexpected twist or turn: a quirk of fate

Thursday, August 7, 2014

elephant activities for children

My daughter has loved elephants since she was wee and called them "phants".

Now she is not-so-wee and spent a few glorious days at an elephant conservation centre while backpacking in SE Asia this Spring.

This post is for my elephant loving, vintage bike riding, Thai food cooking,  wonderful daughter.  Happy Birthday Anna.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

book report: None the Number

Oliver Jeffers, with the help of the Hueys, is answering the question, "is none a number?"

None the Number: A Hueys Book
author/illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
published by Harper Collins Children's Books (2014)
 thought provoking for children age 4 - 7 
picture book
numbers, counting, math

Monday, July 28, 2014

Very Hungry Caterpillar sensory bin

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a fabulous book for retelling.  

It has progression of numbers, the days of the week, it's all about food, and it has a miraculous ending.  Every syllable of every word is right where it belongs.  It just invites retelling. 

How about we retell the story with a sensory bin.

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