How Tall Is My Giraffe? Exploring Measurement

giraffe-cartoon_clipart_image_16A very interesting math lesson stemmed from a story I read toCyan Magenta Yellow Black my students about a king who got a giraffe as a birthday gift. The king challenged his townspeople, offering a reward to the first person who would be able to tell him how tall his giraffe was. The people set off to measure the giraffe in whichever way they could – none of the attempts were successful. Every failed try served as a great lesson about measurement do’s and don’t’s.

How Tall is My Giraffe?

IMG_20150303_111305After extracting important math concepts from this adventurous story, I introduced students to a giraffe of my own (my children’s old plush growth chart). I posed the same question to an eager-looking bunch (there was no gold incentive on my end though). With just enough direction, I let students explore solutions to this problem during Learning Centres time. Students showed remarkable interest in this challenge and began gathering all kinds of objects to use as measurement tools.

measuringBefore long, the carpet was filled with various IMG_20150303_133419objects: building blocks, popsicle sticks, snow pants, jackets, bottle caps, books, markers, etc. Students were so excited, they even suggested using me as a measuring tool. How could I say no to that? After a few chuckles and excited cheers, we sat IMG_20150303_125631down to reflect on our findings, which ultimately led to another great inquiry question? Why did we need so many cotton balls yet such few blocks? How does the size of the measuring tool affect the measurement?

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Happy Mother’s Day!

mothersDayRoses, cards, chocolates, cookies, breakfast in bed, you-name-it, Mother’s Day sure brings out the sweetest in us. Celebrated on the second Sunday in May each year, Mother’s Day is a time to honour our one and only – our precious Mother (or a mother figure in our life).

I am sure I speak on behalf of many moms out there when I say the most precious gift we can receive on Mother’s Day is one that is especially handcrafted for us. As a teacher I keep this in mind as we set out to cut, glue and craft a personal treasure that Mom will want to keep around for a very long time (if not forever). 

Below is a poem I wrote and plan to share with my students this week. Keeping in mind that not all children may have a mother in their life, I left the recipient open to include a figure that takes the place of a dominant caregiver, whether it be a grandmother, aunt, sister, etc. 

 UnderyourWingPoem

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Under Your Wing by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


For this year’s Mother’s Day craft, my students will be making a mobile frame, with the theme of my latest poem in mind. Here is a sample of the finished product.

Mobile frame – Back side

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Front SIDE – option 1

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front side – option 2

birds plate


To download a copy of the poem and the craft templates, for your personal use in the classroom, click on the heart image below.

heart

Morris

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Let the countdown and crafting begin! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Lora

Happy Earth Day 2015

Dvorak-Earth-Day-2015Happy Earth Day everyone! Every year at this time we are reminded of how important it is to preserve the environment for future generations. Whether it be on the radio, television, social media or in educational environments, the flood of content blends into a common message – protect the earth!

We’d like to share a short, yet compelling video clip that made us pay just a little more attention this year. It’s called Dear Future Generations: Sorry. We hope you enjoy it too, and of course … share it.


My favourite line in the video was ‘An error does not become a mistake, until you refuse to correct it’. That is a powerful statement – in all facets of life, but particularly when it comes to taking care of the earth.

With this in mind, I’d like to share some classroom connections …clasroom

After many months of collecting recyclable materials, we finally set out to transform old boxes into new ART.

IMG_20150421_110257We used materials from our Art Centre (containers made from recycled products) to help with this Earth Day project.

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Here is a showcase of some beautiful pieces from our growing collection of Recycled Art:

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Fashionable Writing Utensil Caddies

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hybrid cars

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Spring Basket

IMG_20150421_134138An enchanting castle

IMG_20150424_104059building blocks

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Jewelry box

IMG_20150422_104910 The latest smartphone

IMG_20150422_105743A downtown apartment building

IMG_20150422_110737bird feeder

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Binoculars

IMG_20150423_105948Toy Box

IMG_20150422_111755Marker holder

IMG_20150422_111423IMG_20150423_111655 

 Decorative Tissue Boxes

IMG_20150422_112736 Pirate Ship!


Recycle is a poem I came across online that was written by Meish Goldish . Students enjoy the familiar rhythm, and the catchy pattern makes it a great math extension as well (don’t we teachers love that?!).

Recycle

After reading many books relating to Earth Day, our class sat down to brainstorm ways in which we can protect our environment. We also reviewed some of the things we were already doing in our classroom (i.e., recycling , reducing, reusing, composting, conserving energy, using only as much water as we need, not littering, etc.). Students then all had a chance to reflect on what more they could do (at school and home) and completed a promise note reminding them to take action and contribute in whichever way they could. No contribution is ever too small – every little bit helps.

EarthDayTemplate

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To download a copy of the poem and writing template, click on the image below.earthDaypic


Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed and wonder how these very small acts can possibly solve such a massive problem. But if we all contribute one little building block, we can turn an error into an opportunity.

For more ways you can help, click HERE.

As always, thank you for your time!

Lora

Three Witty Goats Gruff

admin-ajaxHello everyone. I hope you had a restful March break and are excited about the week ahead. I’d like to share a poem I wrote a little while back titled, Three Witty Goats Gruff.  It is based on a variation of the original story, Three Billy Goats GruffI plan to revisit it with my students this week as we continue our exploration around the concept of Measurement and Size.

After reading several versions of the original story to my students, I plan to introduce my version of it via a poem. When I first introduced it (last year), students really enjoyed the chant and patterns, while I loved the teachable moments that stemmed from it.

MATH – counting backwards, detecting patterns, reinforcing concepts of measurement and size, subtraction, etc.

LITERACY – introducing new vocabulary, making predictions, using context clues to make inferences, singular/plural pronouns, synonyms, etc.

TN2

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Three Witty Goats Gruff by Words On A Limb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


giantpuppetsOne of my students favourite follow-up activities was to re-enact the poem using stick puppets. It is a wonderful way for them to practise retelling the story and have fun while doing so. Some benefits of using stick puppets to teach literacy include strengthening oral vocabulary, acting in role, building comprehension, retelling a story in sequence, and recalling details.

Here are some cross-curricular extension activities, including: 1. Three Billy Goats Gruff Maze – students help the Billy Goats navigate through a maze to get to a field of fresh grass (good for refining fine motor, spatial and problem-solving skills); 2. Writing Template – students reflect on their favourite part of the story (while practising important writing skills); 3. Fill In The Blanks – students use a word bank to fill in the missing words from the poem (great for memory skills and practising high-frequency words); 4. Making Patterns Math Worksheet – students complete and create their own pattern using characters from the story (aids with visual discrimination and patterning concepts).

goats2

 

 

Goat_cartoonTo download a copy of my poem, Three Witty Goats Gruff, including the Stick Puppet Templates, for your personal use in the classroom, along with the cross-curricular activities hown above, click on Billy Goat.

I hope you and your students enjoy the poem and have fun with these activities in the classroom. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.

Morris

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Have a great week everyone.

facebook-20141123-101343Lora

Teaching with Monkeys

monkeysImageOne 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.

monkAs 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.


StickPuppetsAs 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.

makingFive

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.


AssessmentA 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).


CardGame

gameMonkeysHere 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.


sangeh-monkey-forest-101

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!

Morris

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facebook-20141123-101343Have a fabulous March break!

Lora

The Giant and I

GiantandIHappy 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.

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

Giant

Creative Commons License
The Giant and I by Words On A Limb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Have a great week everyone!

Lora

Happy Family Day!

Family cloudOur 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 reachgrandma
And bakes the best of brownies.
She tells me stories of long ago
And forgets about my bedtime.
Grandma Nia is the greatest – she is my family!

brotherHe 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 timefamily
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!


Creative Commons License
My Family by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Below is a Family Day Resource package you can download for your personal use in the classroom. It contains the poem above and other fun activities for your students. The download link is found below the samples. Enjoy!

Poems

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


Creative Commons License
My Family is My Treasure by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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.

Puzzle blank   Puzzle sample

‘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.

tree sample

my family tree


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


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What the Leaves Blew In…

fall_leaves_1_Winter is just around the corner (pout, moan, cry). But before its official debut, I thought I’d pay tribute to the wonderful adventures we embarked on during our study of Autumn.

Autumn LeavesWe began our exploration by taking an investigative walk around the school yard, looking for evidence of Fall.  Among the many things we observed, students marveled at the beautiful, colourful leaves everywhere; leaves of different shape, size and colour.

IMG_3884As with any great investigation, we had to gather specimens to bring back and explore further in our classroom – red leaves, yellow leaves, big leaves, little leaves, oak leaves, maple leaves, and what’s this – acorns, pine cones, flowers, twigs and rocks – all were welcomed.

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Over the next several weeks, we were quite busy inquiring, learning and integrating our artifacts into every aspect of our day. We read many books about Fall, trees, seeds and leaves.

leafmanredleafyellowleafwhentheleafblewin mousefirstfall

We documented and wrote about Fall changes. We learned about and labeled the different parts of a leaf. We counted, graphed, sorted and made patterns with leaves. We even made a pine cone shaker (to complement the seed shaker we previously made during our Apple inquiry – it turned out to be a great way to distinguish between the different sounds seeds can make).

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We created art with leaf rubbings and leaf stamps (students loved creating their own Leaf Creatures, which after being displayed on our walls, made an entertaining class book).

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It was endless! The ideas kept pouring, and the fun and learning continued.

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For the culminating activity, we created a class book where each student got to contribute their idea to a page about leaves (parents really enjoyed looking through it during our Fall conferences). Students also had a chance to read a personalized book about leaves with our Grade Three Reading Buddies – they were so excited, I was so proud.

IMG_4373Though I generally have an overall sense of where I’d like an inquiry based opportunity to lead, I can never truly predict how vast or fruitful it will grow to be. It is the students’ curiosity and eagerness that determines the direction and range of learning. Regardless, I am always pleasantly surprised and excited to see where each inquiry will take us.

GravatarEnjoy the last bit of Fall everyone. Thank you for your time.

Lora

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

appleMy 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.

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Making Back-to-School a Success

Making Back-to-School a Success
by Stacy Cline


In my blog in July, I noted that old refrain “…no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers…”
Guess what? We’re baaaa-aack!

I have heard the following phrase often in the last few weeks: “School is a dirty word in our house.” No one wants to let go of summer. But school is around the corner and it’s time to think about it (even if you don’t want to say it, being a dirty word, apparently) so that we’re well prepared to return to you-know-what.

Summer is often a time of lazy days, with a side of ice cream. School is a time of routine. It’s critical to return to those old routines, so that the first week of September isn’t such a shock.

Bedtime routines should be back in place before school begins, if you’ve been lax over the summer. Morning routines should also be revisited. If they have been sauntering into the kitchen to eat breakfast in PJs, then get back into the old habit of getting dressed first, if that had been procedure. Write a checklist for the first week to remind you of all that needs to be done to get out the door. I will, because I know I might not remember to pack their water bottles or something like that. Two summer months is sufficient time to forget.

If nightly read alouds or your child’s independent reading time fell by the wayside over the summer because of late bedtimes, restore that good habit now. A new book of their choice is a great back-to-school gift. A reluctant reader might like a graphic novel or even a comic book.

Ensure there is ample time to eat a nutritious breakfast every morning. This is crucial, and one of my greatest worries as a teacher. Children who arrive at school nourished are energized and perform far better. Aside from nutritional concerns, hungry kids often have difficulty focussing.

Practice new skills. Maybe they are learning to tie shoelaces, dress themselves or pack their own lunch (preferably the night before). Homework policies should be planned and discussed. Where will homework be completed, such that it is a quiet space with little distraction? What time of day? Before or after TV? Prepare for effective and consistent study habits now, and this will help avoid conflicts later.

Organize their supplies. Assuming that the zipper on the pencil case isn’t busted, there aren’t holes in the knapsack and the lunch bag doesn’t smell like feet then all can be reused. Purchase only what needs to be replaced, and teach responsible spending and good environmental stewardship to your children. That doesn’t mean a fresh box of crayons or a fancy pencil isn’t in order. A few little back-to-school treats might brighten your child’s day.

If your kids, like mine, have mostly been wearing sport sandals all summer, then try their running shoes to ensure they still fit. They’ll need them for phys ed.

Some children experience anxiety prior to the start of school. They might even have trouble sleeping. As a teacher, this is something that I have struggled with. I’m excited, nervous, tense, a bit scared, you name it. Perhaps your child is too. New teacher, new grade, new challenge, new faces…

Remain upbeat, optimistic and calm. Listen and demonstrate empathy by validating their concerns. I can’t tell my daughter, “It’s nothing!” when I can barely eat. Remind them of old friends they will see, and the fun things they will learn and do. Talk about favourite subjects, even recess! Set up play dates with friends who they haven’t seen all summer to reconnect and to give them some comfort, and something to which they can look forward.

Last but not least, your pen-and-paper, traditional school teacher here strongly recommends you use a wall calendar to help your family organize your weeks. I know, you have everything stored on your tablet/desktop/smartphone but a wall calendar is a visual aid that your family can use for reference at any time. Anyone can add notes to it so everyone is literally on the same page. It will never fail you. It will also engage your kids to take responsibility and participate in daily planning. And if GYM TODAY is written down for your child to see, it will take one thing off your plate to remember.


STACY CLINE
Stacey Cline is an elementary school teacher and educational consultant. She is amazed by what she learns from her students every day. Stacey is passionate about reading, and has amassed a fantastic collection of children’s literature that her family enjoys daily. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two daughters and two cats. As a result, she loves strong espresso and good wine.
Stacey can be reached at sclineconsulting@gmail.com.


Check out this article and more at: Her Magazine