# Teaching with Monkeys

One of my favourite ways to teach combinations of five begins with the story, Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed (bear in mind, I teach Kindergarten but this could easily be adapted to other grades as well). After reading the story, initially exploring rhymes, patterns, and chants, I like to use it as a tool for teaching math facts to five.

As I go through the story again (generally over the span of a few days), I take a moment after each verse to introduce a math fact or draw a composition of the monkeys in relation to the bed (i.e., 5 monkeys on the bed and 0 on the ground; 5 + 0 = 5). By the end of the story, we cover all the combinations of five. While we review the math facts, I draw their attention to the pattern that emerges (i.e., when the number of monkeys on the bed decreases the number of monkeys on the ground increases).  For the rest of the week, I invite 5 different students each day to come up and re-enact the poem while we sing to it.  We continue to review the math facts as we go along.

As an extension, and one that students really enjoy, I have students re-enact the story/song using stick puppets.  They begin by colouring and cutting out a template of the bed and the 5 monkeys.  Then they glue a popsicle stick to the back of each monkey and take turns re-enacting the story/song to a partner.  By the end of the week, the stick puppets get sent home with a letter to parents.

### Here is a class chart we made using the templates from above (photocopied on construction paper). It outlines the various ways Five can be made and serves as a great visual around the math centre.

A great way to gage students’ understanding of the concept and evaluate their learning is to have them repeat this activity with bingo dabbers (one colour representing the monkeys on the bed, and another representing the ones on the ground). Each student gets 6 bed templates and uses two colour dabbers to show the various combinations the monkeys could be arranged (i.e., 3 dabs on the bed, 2 on the ground).

Here is a card game I made to help students practice their facts to five and sharpen their memory skills while they’re at it. After introducing it as a whole class activity, I left it at the math station for students to play with during Centre time. I will be sending home a template of the game for families to assemble and enjoy during the March break as well.

To download a Teaching with Monkeys resource kit, including the poem, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, stick puppet templates (bed and monkeys), bingo dabber assessment sheets, Gimme Five card game and instruction sheets, click on the monkey.

Now for some more fun with monkeys … enjoy!

Happy teaching everyone.

Like us on Facebook to stay in the loop for more teacher content and resources.

Have a fabulous March break!

Lora

# The Giant and I

Happy Monday everyone. I’d like to share a poem I wrote a couple of years ago and plan to share with my students this week, as we begin exploring the concept of measurement. The Giant and I is a charming poem about a little boy who outsmarts a fearsome giant. It opens up a great discussion about the various ways the characters could be described (big, small, tall, short, heavy, light, wide, narrow, etc.) hence setting the stage for building the appropriate vocabulary for the unit. A follow-up activity is included, integrating concepts about size and shapes.

Click on the image of the giant to download a copy of the poem and worksheet for your personal use in the classroom.

Have a great week everyone!

Lora

# To Build or Destroy – The Power of Our Words

Bullying is a major problem in our schools, workplaces, homes, and over the Internet. During the month of February, many organizations across Canada will work to raise awareness on this issue and give us the tools needed to stand up against bullying and step in when we see it happening. February 25th is Pink Shirt Day and it is recognized in schools across Canada and worldwide by wearing pink in support of anti-bullying.

I would like to share an animation that highlights the power of our words. Words (which is also the introduction post to Words on a Limb) has truly become one of my favourite videos to share with students when discussing issues around bullying and raising awareness of the impact we have on others through speech and actions. The power of our words can never be underestimated. To build or destroy, it is always our choice.

Here is a snippet of the Globe & Mail article that describes how Pink Shirt Day began:

“David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied [for wearing a pink shirt]…[They] took a stand against bullying when they protested against the harassment of a new Grade 9 student by distributing pink T-shirts to all the boys in their school.

‘I learned that two people can come up with an idea, run with it, and it can do wonders,’ says Mr. Price, 17, who organized the pink protest. ‘Finally, someone stood up for a weaker kid.’

So Mr. Shepherd and some other headed off to a discount store and bought 50 pink tank tops. They sent out message to schoolmates that night, and the next morning they hauled the shirts to school in a plastic bag.

As they stood in the foyer handing out the shirts, the bullied boy walked in. His face spoke volumes. ‘It looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders,’ Mr. Price recalled.

The bullies were never heard from again.”

It is not always easy to broach difficult topics with our children and students. This is where great literature comes in handy in opening a platform for discussion and reflection. Below is a collection of wonderful picture books to provoke questions about bullying, both as victims and perpetrators. Feel free to share other great books you’ve come across in the comment box below.  I will be more than happy to add them to our list. Continue reading

# Happy Family Day!

Our family is the proverbial egg that we were hatched from. Everything about who we are, both our nature and nurture stems from our early interaction with this group of people we call family.

There is no doubt that we all lead busy lives and the daily hustle and bustle make it difficult to stay connected with the ones we love. Special times like Family Day are opportunities to re-connect and re-evaluate those important relationships in our lives. As such, I will continue to focus on friendship and family with my students throughout the month of February.

Considering that many children no longer grow up in traditional nuclear families, the need for literature that is inclusive of varying experiences is of paramount importance in the classroom. I’d like to share a poem I wrote that can be used to springboard a discussion on what constitutes a family, moving away from a pre-defined understanding of what a family should look like and embracing what makes families unique.

My Family
Lora Rozler

She brings the sky within my reach
And bakes the best of brownies.
She tells me stories of long ago
Grandma Nia is the greatest – she is my family!

He piggy-backs me to my room
And makes monsters disappear.
He plays with me even when he’s tired
And let’s me win at checkers.
My stepdad is my superhero – he is my family!

They take me places all the time
And buy me books and toys.
They care for me and teach me things
And help me with my homework.
My parents love me endlessly – they are my family!

### ‘My family’ Poem, ‘my family is my treasure’ interactive poem, ‘love is…’ writing template

Here is a fun activity I can’t wait to share with my class. Invite students to draw and colour a portrait of their family. Then have students cut the page along the faint lines to create puzzle pieces. Send the puzzle home in a zippy bag to share with families. It’s one I’m sure they’ll cherish.

### ‘we stick together’ Family puzzle

Students use the blank template rectangles to draw, colour and label their family members. They then cut and paste the images around their own on the family tree.

### To download this family activity pack for your personal use in the classroom, click on the family icon below.

If you enjoy our content, please feel free to share it with your friends.

# What is Peace?

As we commemorate Remembrance Day and pay tribute to those who have fallen to give us the life we enjoy today, it is important to think about our role in maintaining that peace every day; whether it be on a global scale or in the minutia of our daily lives. As a teacher, this becomes a vital teaching opportunity to inject lessons about peace, love and acceptance through activities that foster friendship and respect.

What Is Peace? is a poem I wrote and plan to share with my students next week, as we begin our discussion around the topic of peace. To download a copy of the poem for your personal use in your classroom, click on the poppy image below.

What Is Peace?

The gentle breeze that caresses me as I swing to and fro,
…..That is peace.

The handshake that follows a match despite victory or defeat,
…..That is peace.

The kind hand that reaches out for me when I stumble and fall,
…..That is peace.

The warm smile that greets me when I walk through the door,
…..That is peace.

The tender words that heal my wounded heart,
…..That is peace.

The love inside me that I share with others,
…..That is peace.

.
.

Let’s get our students thinking – What is peace? How is peace manifested in our day to day interaction with others?  Click on the image below to download a copy of the various activities to use as follow-up with the lesson.

### “Peace is in our actions” (Natalie, 10)

In the spirit of extending the feeling of peace at the classroom level all year round, I created friendly letter-writing templates for students to use in the writing centre (I call them Smile-o-Gram in my classroom). You might want to laminate the Smile-o-Gram cards and have older students copy the messages on the blank templates (or alternatively, write their own message), or else photocopy the templates with the messages directly on them (it is helpful to have a list of student names nearby for the greeting).

### Blank Template                                       Smile-o-Gram Cue Cards

Please let us know if you enjoy the free teacher content by clicking  or visiting us on our Facebook Page.

# Happy Thanksgiving

Thank-You Lucky Star

I thank my lucky star

For the light that guides my way.

For the beauty that surrounds me

New beginnings every day.

I thank my lucky star

For the ocean’s calming lull.

For the stars that shine above me

The gentle sparrows call.

But most of all I’m thankful

For my family, near and far.

For their love surrounds me daily

Thank-you lucky star.

– Lora Rozler

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone!

To download a copy of the poem for your personal use in the classroom, click on the star image below (follow-up writing templates also included).

Lora

# Apples Big and Apples Small, Apples, Apples, One and All

My first inquiry-based unit this year started off with a simple school snack – apples. I walked into the classroom just after Snack Break, and to my surprise, found a bin full of Golden Delicious apples.  Apparently, my three, four and five year-old students already had some pre-conceived ideas about apples – green ones specifically.

“I don’t like green apples,” the explaining began.

“Green apples are sour,” chimed in a few others.

Well, with that said, I walked over to the snack table, curiously staring at the batch of rejected apples. I grabbed one, inspected it for good measure and then took a big bite (good thing I always enjoyed Drama class in school – it sure comes in handy teaching Kindergarten).

“Hmmm, yummy,” I teased. “It doesn’t taste sour to me.” I shrug my shoulders and continued promenading around the tables, crunching along, making my usual small talk.  I then finally sat down to enjoy the rest of my juicy apple.

Across the room, I noticed one student get up and grab an apple from the bin.

“This is sweet,” she announced (thank goodness for those unknowing volunteers). Soon, another green apple landed in the hands of an unsuspecting child, and before long, nearly all of the apples had been gone.

Hello everyone.  Hard to believe, but the summer months are drawing to a close.  September is right around the corner and a new school year is about to commence.  For us, teachers, it is that time again – setting up, organizing, preparing and planning for the year ahead.  As we get ready to open our doors and our hearts to the newest treasures, I would like to share a poem I wrote, welcoming everyone on this great journey together.  Feel free to download a copy of the poem and use it in your classroom – just click on the image below.

One of the things I like to set up at this time of year is individual student portfolios.  I designate a specific area in the classroom for showcasing each child’s work in a bulletin format.  Throughout the year I make sure to add new writing pieces to each child’s portfolio, highlighting their growth and changes over the course of the year.  It is always fascinating to see their progress, however big or small their steps may be.

As an extension to the poem, Please Stay Awhile, I prepared an initial portfolio assignment.  Toward the end of the first week of school, students will be invited (in small groups) to sketch a picture of themselves and write their name.  Please note that this is not an assessment piece.  It merely gives me an indication of where my students are at – a point of reference for each child’s starting point.  It is also a great way for me to see what my returning SK students retained from the previous year.  Perhaps the best use of this task is that it allows me to plan my program in a way to address whole-group as well as individual needs.  Feel free to download a copy of the template by clicking on the image below.

Happy Start-of-the-Year everyone.  As always, your comments and feedback are most welcome.

If you enjoy the Free Teacher Content, please let us know by pressing
or visiting us on our Facebook Page.

Thank you,

Lora

# My Favourites – June 2014

Hello again everyone. Summer is always a good time to discover new books to add to my home and classroom libraries. Here are some of my recent favourite additions.

Bella’s Blessings
Brenda Stokes, Trisha DesRosiers (Illustrations)

When Bella Beaver is born, Grandma Beaver gives her a special gift, a blessing stone. Each year Bella receives a new blessing stone, and each stone guides Bella through the difficult situations she faces as she grows up. But can the last blessing stone help Bella face the biggest challenge of her life?

Anna May’s Cloak
Christiane Cicioli

When Anna May is young, her grandmother makes her a beautiful blue cloak. When she wears it, Anna May feels like a queen. Soon the cloak is too small for her–but Anna May never forgets her favorite piece of clothing. Snip, snip, snip…see how Anna May’s cloak is transformed as her family grows.

Touch The Sky
Ann Malaspina, Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)
Albert Whitman & Company

A biography of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, from her childhood in segregated Albany, Georgia, in the 1930s, through her recognition at the 1996 Olympics as one of the hundred best athletes in Olympic history. Includes bibliographical references.

The Short Giraffe
Neil Flory, Mark Cleary
Albert Whitman & Company

Geri is the shortest giraffe in the herd, which causes all kinds of problems when Bobo the baboon tries to take a photo. Can Geri stretch up tall enough to be in the picture? Or are the other giraffes looking at things from the wrong perspective? A very sweet story for pre-schoolers about difference and acceptance.

Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!
Kyle Mewburn (Writer), Ali Teo (Illustrator), John O’Reilly (Illustrator)
Peachtree Publishers

Every time Auntie Elsie comes to visit she gives Andy two big sloppy kisses. Kiss! Kiss! on the left cheek. Kiss! Kiss! on the right cheek. Yuck! Yuck! Andy says to himself.

Andy is a fast runner. But not fast enough to outrun Auntie Elsie. Andy is good at hiding. But Auntie Elsie always finds him. When he ducks down in a pig pen, she climbs right over the fence. When he climbs a tree, she follows right after him.

But then Auntie Elsie breaks her leg and stops coming to visit. Andy realizes he misses Aunt Elsie and her sloppy kisses. One day, a taxi pulls by the gate and out come two crutches. Now it s Andy s turn to get Aunt Elsie. Kiss! Kiss! Hug! Hug!

Kyle Mewburn s funny story of an overly affectionate aunt and her long-suffering nephew will resonate with readers, who will instantly recognize the bond of love that unites the two characters. Ali Teo and John O Reilly s colorful and quirky multimedia illustrations, which combine freehand drawing and photographic collage, exaggerate the humor of the story.

What Do Parents Do? (When You’re Not Home)
Jeanie Franz Ransom
Peachtree Publishers

Two children set off to spend the night at their grandparents. Throughout the course of the day, the young boys imagination runs wild as he imagines what his parents are doing while hes away. Jumping on beds, he thinks, or sledding down the stairs on pillows. Watching hours and hours of television, playing ball in the house, dressing up the dog, eating junk food, playing video games, and in general making one VERY BIG mess! The next morning when the kids come home the house looks tidy. It was pretty quiet, says Dad… but was it? Mom is hiding something behind her back. And those socks hanging from the ceiling fan. They werent there yesterday. Cyd Moores antic illustrations contrast the wild adventures at home with the more wholesome fun at their grandparents house. Jeanie Ransoms clever tale will keep young readers laughing long after the story has ended.

A Sack Full of Feathers
Debby Waldman, Cindy Revell (Illustrator)
Orca Book Publishers

Yankel loves to tell stories, as long as they are someone else’s. He does not see the hurt that his stories cause, the way they spread and change. Then the rabbi hands him a bag of feathers and tells him to place one on every doorstep in the village. Yankel is changed by what happens and finds himself with his best story yet, one of his very own.

Alphabetter
Dan Bar-el
Orca Book Publishers

Did you ever try to use an egg in place of a football? Or dress up a live quail in doll’s clothes when you didn’t have a doll? Or strap rag-dolls onto your feet in place of slippers? In Alphabetter, twenty-six boys and girls find themselves in twenty-six different predicaments when the alphabet refuses to cooperate with them. In the end, the solution turns out to be right on the next page, if only they can find it…
Did you find all the letters hidden in the pictures in Alphabetter? Some of them are very hard to find! These are the ones that we know about. Maybe you found others as well. Happy searching!

Must-Have Marvin!
Christy Ziglar, Luanne Marten (Illustrations)
Ideals Children’s Books

The second title in the Shine Bright Kids series, Must-Have Marvin! teaches children that people are more important than things. Marvin loves new thingshe especially loves finding the latest, greatest, most awesome new things! Soon Marvin finds himself focusing on a new robot that he wants, to the exclusion of his friends. He lets them down when they need his help and nearly loses their friendship. Through a chat with a wise neighbor and a second chance to help, Marvin learns the important life lesson that people are more important than things.

Eileen Spinelli, David Leonard (Illustrator)
Ideals Children’s Books

A delightful adventure emerges as each little boy and girl goes about the task of cleaning his or her room–a chore no child likes! Eileen Spinelli spins a glorious tale as she inspires children to clean their rooms–not in a rush, but with the wildest imaginings and a tender touch. For the bedroom is where you laugh and cry, dream big dreams, and store your precious memories. This book could start a whole movement of children asking to clean their rooms!

Amber Waiting
Nan Gregory, Kady MacDonald Denton (Illustrations)
Red Deer Press

“Amber makes a bid to catch her father’s attention.” Amber lo-o-o-v-e-s Kindergarten — painting, looking at books, tying her shoes, sliding when it snows. But the one thing she can’t control is being picked up on time. Her father is frequently late, so she must wait and wait and wait in the secretary’s office after everyone else has left. It’s so embarrassing.

To deal with her frustration, Amber concocts a world in which she sends her dad to wait for her — on the moon — while she has all kinds of wonderful adventures. This, she knows, would teach Dad a lesson he’d never forget, and all the dads from around the world would, like him, turn up on time to collect their children and embrace them. Back in the real world, Dad at last shows up and Amber makes a bid to catch his attention, to let him know what it feels like to be left alone in school — and finally, maybe, he gets the point.

This delightful picture book combines the work of two extraordinary talents.

How Smudge Came
Nan Gregory, Ron Lightburn (Illustrator)
Red Deer Press

Cindy is developmentally challenged and no pets are allowed in the home where she lives, so she must hide her new-found puppy in her room until she can find someone to care for him.

I hope you enjoy these new additions as much as I have. I would love to hear your new book discoveries. Please feel free to share them in the Reply box below. Thanks as always!

Lora

# Three Lessons My First Year in Teaching Taught Me

A young woman walks into a school, dressed in a tailored suit, just loose enough to mask her anxious composure. In one hand she holds a resume, in the other a leather portfolio.

“You can do this. You can do this,” she chants to herself, while quickening her steps, fighting an impulse to run back to her car. She heads straight to the office, looking for the principal. Minutes later, a tall bearded man steps out of the adjacent office and extends his arm.

“Hi, I’m Craig,” he begins and the young woman’s shoulders relax as she looks into his warm eyes. Phew, she can breathe again. “Yes, I received your resume this morning,” he explains. “We’ve actually just finished interviewing for all the positions we have available.” The young woman’s spirit sinks; but is reignited as he continues. “I have to say, though, I love your assertiveness and determination. How would you like to stay for an interview?” A smile breaks on the young woman’s face as the principal proceeds to call in other staff members to join in on the interview.

So began my journey as a primary grade school teacher. Continue reading