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Monday, December 12, 2011

Best Christmas Gift Ever...

I am very fortunate to have generous parents in the schools I have worked in.  Over the years I have been given Gift Cards varying from $20-$200, Swarovski Crystal Ornaments, Cooking Items, Chocolates, Candles, Body Lotion, Cd's, Movies, Books, Mugs, Journals, Pens, Lunch Bags, Water Bottles, Jewelry, Booze, Homemade Treats, amoung many others.  For every bought and made item I am truly grateful and treasure each thoughtful gift. 

The last two years I have started a new tradition that not only benefits my current students, but future ones as well.  I put up a Giving Wreath on my classroom door, it has tags that have an item and its price.  I put items from $5.00-$50.00 of items that would benefit the classroom.  The parents and students enjoy choosing an item and buying it for the class in lieu of a present for myself.  I find this gives parents a sense of relieve when they see the suggestion as then they dont have to rack their brains for a gift for the teacher.  By no means are parents obligated to purchase anything from the wreath its nearly a suggestion if they wish.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Glue sticks for the year $89.00,
construction paper $54.00,
stickers $28.00
Changed lives of children... Priceless

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Classroom Money

I have used a classroom money system in my class in the past. It was definetly a learning experience... 

Here is a list of what I did...
1. I printed off different coloured and quantity bills.
2.  The children sewed their own wallets
3. We learned about money, currency and place value. 
4.  I explained to the children that if they meet all the expectations for the week they would receive $1, if they didn't they would only receive .50cents.
5.  Every Friday I would give out the appropriate amounts to each child and they would either save it for the "store opening" or could put it into a bucket.  The buckets was used to collect money the children wanted to donate towards a classroom party or special priveledge. 
6. Every month I would open the Classroom Store which had items priced. (My rule of thumb was, if it cost me $2 it would cost them $2).  The children would then spend their money or could save it for another month to purchase a more expensive item like a book. 

Things that went wrong...
1.  Some children were bringing items in from their home and selling for Classroom Bucks to other students
2.  Some children were stealing Classroom Bucks from other childrens wallets
3.  Some children were not motivated by the system
4.  Some children always donated their money to the bucket and therefore didnt have any more left to purchase items from the Classroom Store.
5. Some children never donated their money to the bucket and yet still benefited.
6.  It ended up costing me over $300 for the year to run. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The infamous "F" word

Since I teach a primary grade, its bound to happen one day, someone brings the "F" word into the classroom. When I first heard a student say " I know a really bad word that starts with "F"  I jumped right in, saying " if you know some inappropriate word, please do not share with others,  if you choose to do so, I will have to speak with your mother and the princpal" .  End of story, or so I thought.  Nope, the very next day (after warning his mother he may or may not know the actual word I am thinking of) I hear him saying,     "I cant tell you the word, cause the FRIZ will get mad, but Ill tell you on the weekend".  Of course the kids are curious, and he finally gives in and says "okay, okay its F....A.....R.....T!  hahah I had a good laugh and took a sigh of a relief.  Its not a word I neccesary want in the classroom but definetly better than I was assuming.

The children in my class also refer to the "S" word as some sinister word.  It being Stupid!  Which yes, not a great word to use, there are lots of other adjectives you could use to describe learning all the names of Europes countries, or the use of cheap glue from Dollarama, but this being said its atleast its not worst "S" word there is.  Gotta love the younger grades for their innocence!! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Freaky, Frightening, and Fun

Personally I love Halloween.  Its always mayhem in the classroom during the day.  The kids are excited about the party, there is lost and broken costumes, teachers paranoia about too much sugar, and lots of crafts, games and spooky music.  Here is my infamous Witches Brew recipe...

I bottle of Orange Fanta,  4 scoops Vanilla Icecream, plastic flies or spiders (optional), and of course the cauldron!!  They love it.  Have a Safe and Enjoyable Halloween

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Keeping with the Times

Okay I feel that I'm a pretty cool teacher and try to keep up with the times...

I know who Optimus Prime and Yoda are.
I always have toys, books and kid stuff in my car.
I know how to make Bakugans rip,
and love a good field trip.

At Halloween I give out tasty treats,
and often play Bob Marley beats.
We watch spooky movies
and make some delicious orange smoothies

I have all the best toys,
and gross, funny books for boys
I play soccer at recess,
and dont get crazy when theres a mess. 

But there are some things I just cant take...
I mean they dont have to take their DSI everywhere for goodness sake....
And what about these Skecher shoes,
I mean they are full of colours, sparkles, lights, I'm surprised they dont report the news. 

Some kids lunches are so full of junk
and don't even try to give me attitude punk!
But at the end of the day you have to be with the times
and be able to spit out the rhymes!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Glitter will be the Death of Me!!

I love the idea of glitter.  It shimmers, it shines.

Yet,  I often have to remind myself that I need to bring it into my classroom once in a while.  You cannot even pathom the mess it can make.  A sprinkle of glitter can suddenly be in a child's nostrils, ears, hair and not to mention on the floors, walls and sinks. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


As an eager teacher who loves books I have signed on again as the Scholastic Rep for my school.  I think this program is brilliant and it offers affordable books, and other items for children and their families.  However, don't be fooled, there is a lot of work that goes into running this program.  First you get a stack of flyers that have to be separated by age groupings and handed out to each student, then you have to post the due date and prepare an envelope for each classroom.  When the due date comes around you can spend hours imputting the orders via telephone or online.  You calculate all the cheques and mail them off.  Then of course, two days after you have already sent the order someone comes and asks you to please please please put in their order.  They try to give you cash, which means you have to either say "heck no, give me the check" or you take the money, spend it on gas and have to write a check on their behalf.  Then finally the order comes in, it takes about 3 to 4 days.  You have to go through each order and ensure all the books are in.  You distribute them through the school and just as your finishing up the next batch of flyes has arrived and so it begins again!!! 

Oh and PS- I spend a fortune on books each month

Some of my Scholastic Picks this Order.. Flat Stanley, Geronimo Stilton, and Captain Underpants

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Peace in the Classroom

At our school we have a huge focus on Peace Education.  We have a peace table which features a peace maker of the month-  people we focus are Dali Lama, Black Elk or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  We decorate the area with mandalas, singing bowls, lotus candles, and a zen garden etc. The students are free to use this area to just relax, to problem solve with a friend or if they have an interest in learning about various religions, symbols or our peace maker of the month.  I think this is often a concept that goes untouched in a public school system.  I believe that teaching the students in an age appropriate way about serious issues can instill a sense of empathy and compassion towards others from the past and future.  Just today a student asked me;  What did Anne Frank do to deserve to die? 

Monday, September 26, 2011


I'm not a huge fan of homework.  I never have been!  I only give the students in my class homework once a week and thats to keep the parents happy.  I personally feel my students work hard all day and do enough during the day-  I would rather them be outside playing than sitting at the table for an hour working on a math problem.  Every Monday at the end of the day we have some "Ketchup Time", where each child is assigned a task they havent yet finished.  This being said, I am always up for a challenge and usually have some homework of my own each night.  Whether I am researching an answer, printing off new worksheets, buying items needed for the classroom from ebay or heading to the library the hours are endless, but always worth it!  What are your thoughts on homework? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Its almost Fall and I'm feeling Fresh and Ready to Go!

I feel so refreshed after the amazing Summer I had.  I find I can't wait to get back into the classroom each morning.  I love the themes of September; fall, leaves, trees, getting to know new students and setting up the routine.  I also feel full of new ideas and love the eagerness of each student to learn a new skill.  With just our fall theme we have made apple sauce, made leaf patterns, estimated how many acorns filled the jar, labelled tree parts, and drew tree rings for how old each student is. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to the Grind

Well its back to school now!  I havent stopped photocopying, cleaning, labelling, or shopping in order to get my classroom all ready for my new munchkins!  This year I am teaching a multiaged grouping (6-9) and loving it.  I am very thankful that I have a small class size of 10- it enables me to do soooo much with them.  It always surprises me just how advanced my students are!!  We are currently working on latitude and longitude, biodiversity and naming and labelling all countries and capital cities in Europe!  I am so happy to be back in the classroom.  Every year I have new ideas and feel I improve as a teacher- whether is being better prepared, new resources or just through trial and error how to keep their attention and have fun! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Question of the Day...

A three year old at our schools day camp asked me today; how worms are born?  Without google can you answer....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dumb and Dumber

I have over 6 years of post secondary education, and can still feel like the dullest crayon in the box on any given day in my elementary classroom.  The children are always surprising me with their curiousity.  I have literally came home from school do to my homework in order to satisfy their need for answers.

Here are some tough questions I have been asked over the last year...

1. "When there is sheet lightning and a bird is flying could they be struck?"
2. "Do all mammals have belly buttons, cause I have never seen my cats?"
3. "Why do people on different continents have different skin colour then me"?
4.  "Who made up all these religions anyways?"
5. "What did spiders adapt from"?
6.  "Whats the point of even having Antartica, its the worst continent"!?
7. "Why do boys have nipples?"
8. "How come there are homeless people, there are lots of houses around"?
9. "If it takes a stars light million of years to reach us, doesnt that make me old?"
10.  "Do you think I have been to Earth before"?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What they didn't teach me in Teachers College Part 2

4. Save your money on a gym membership- you won't need it! Between the numerous bags you will carry back and forth each day, to the endless game of tag played at recess and not having any time to eat or sit down you will be burning lots of calories in a day.

5.  Rent a storage unit- between the puzzles, and toys, and paperwork, you will need either a big closet or a large storage unit. 

6.  You can never have enough post its, glue, construction paper, laminating sheets, and sticky tac amoung other things.  The Dollar Store clerk will know you by name. 

7. The principals office is still a scary place. 

8. Always carry hand sanitizer

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who is Mr. Nobody?

In our classroom we use the Mr. Nobody program to instill the students with a sense of community and to act both locally and globally.  At the beginning of the year I had my Grandmother make a blank doll- I told the students  that Mr. Nobody would be coming to our class but didnt reveal too much more information.  They were all curious who this person was.  When the package arrived I showed them the blank doll and explained how we as a class would make him into a Somebody...

The program really allows you to have open discussions about issues that matter to them.  The instructions were simple; each child would take Mr. Nobody home for 2 weeks, in that time they could take him anywhere.  They were responsible for helping a living thing; it could be the environment, their grandparent or a child who was half way across the world. After which, they were to attach a souvenir of sorts to show what they did to help.   The children were eager to get their turn and in the end he definetly became a somebody. 

A few exaples of what the children in my class (who are 5 and 6 years old) did are;  donated to the food bank, ran a 2km race and raised money for a boy in Chile, planted trees, sold some of their toys and used the money to donate to the blind, bought only fair trade items, gave up their allowance to help the humane society.  I was very proud of all their generosity and will definetly be continuing with this program in the Fall. 

Check it out for yourself

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thanks Dad!!

For the past several years when Father's Day rolls around,  I always ask the children a series of questions about their dad.  This is not only a great keepsake for a father to treasure but also hilarious for me as I read the results. 

Here are some of the memorable responses I have encountered over the years....

What is your dad's job?
- "his job is to clean the dog poo"
- "to listen to my mom"
- " I don't know, but I hear him complain about it all the time"

What does he like to do?
- "anything hockey"
-  "play with me"
- "workout for big muscles"

What is his favourite food?
- "steak"
- "chicken nuggets and kraft dinner"
- " apples"

What animal does he remind you of?
- " an elephant"
- " a bear"
- " a butterfly"

What do you love most about your dad?
- " his hair"
- " he loves me ALOT"
- " he looks good in jeans"

How old is your dad?
- " 76 and a half"
- "I'm not sure... but old"
- " I think about twelve"

Does your dad clean?
-" hahahahh NO!"
- "yeah of course, my mom is too busy and besides all dads are suppose to"
- " no, he makes my mom do everything"
- " nope, my mom has another man for that"  (after further questionning I realized they had a male housecleaner)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

School's Out for Summer!

Well, the countdown until Summer if offically on.  Our school has 6 days left.  I find June to be one of the longest months!  There are no new lessons being taught, its just finish up,  clean up and pack up. The kids are pretty much wild- mostly because the weather is nice and there is less structrue in the class.  I seem to have about a hundred things on the go and its my own damn fault!!
1. I decided it would be a great idea for each of the kids to sew their own bag to take all their workbooks home in.  Two weeks later we are still sewing
2.  I  decided it would be cute if they could each make a little something for their end of the year gift for 2011.  So 3 buckets of clay later, 100 wipes of the table and over 20 minutes per child- they each have of their very own labryinth.
3. Of course then there is  Father's Day- we had to do a craft and card.
4. I  displayed all the lost and found items- funny enough all those mitts, sweaters, coats and other items still don't belong to anyone?!!
5. I cleaned out the collection of pencils, puzzle pieces, toys, bandaids, paints, and other random and miscellaneous items from your cupboards.
6. On top of all that-  I am totally freaking out about the end of the year performance.  Will they remember their lines, will someone fall of the stage, will everyone show up, what if there is a costume malfunction?!

Ahhh well, just breathe.  6 more days.  Well that is until next year!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Win or not to Win....

My husband always jokes that I only think I'm really good at stuff because I compare myself to kindergarteners.  For example;  I was bragging one evening that I was undefeated in chess, checkers and tic tac toe.  I however, forgot to mention that I had only played against 5 and 6 year olds.  This brought me to my next topic... winning. 

Should you let your child win every time?  I would have to stand up and shout and undoubtedly NO!  I can easily  point out the children in my class who have won every game of any sort at home.  They are the ones, who are poor losers, are crying or are refusing to continue to play if they see they will inevitably lose the game.  This is not a good character trait.  I can reassure you I also do not like to lose, I am a very competitive person but feel its essential to teach children that its okay to lose sometimes and to do it with grace.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No Toys Allowed

As crazy as that sounds for a Kindergarten teacher to post a No Toy Zone on her door- its happened.  And I have to admit I agree.  In our school we seem to have the never ending problem of students bringing items from home into the classroom. 
This causes many problems....
1. It causes distractions
2. It could get broken, stolen or go missing
3. Children sometimes trade toys.  15 minutes later, one believes the trade was unfair and wants their toy back, the other child refuses. There are tears, name calling and pushing.  Before you know it- you have wasted 30 minutes of your lunch break mediating over some Bey Blade.  (for an example)

If a child is caught with a toy in the classroom it is taken away until the end of the day.We do have show and tell once a week and encourage students to bring items of interest.  Any thoughts?!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I gotta go!

As a teacher we cannot just leave our classroom when nature calls.  I am grateful this year to have an assistant in my class so we often just sneak out for a tea, washroom break or to breathe.  However, there were many years when going to the washroom needed to fit into a 25 minute prep period in which you also needed to photocopy, email parents, talk to colleagues or clean. I think washroom breaks when you actually have to go should be a constitutional right! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Birthdays in the Classroom

I have witnessed first hand the mayhem that can arise during birthday parties in the classroom.  I'm talking balloons being let loose, wildy flying around, half full of spit, hitting innocent bystanders-   
 to parents bringing a cake with four inches of icing thats big enough for 50 into a class with 15 students.  Oh and not to mention the dreaded loot bags, which by the way should always have the exact same toys, candies and other goodies.  I have also dealt with the birthday inviation ordeal.  A couple kids arent invited,  tears, parents emails.

 I told myself from day one I would have definetly encourage birthday celebrations in my class- with certain limitations.  I believe that birthdays are a big deal- I certainly make my own birthday a month long feista!  Here are my birthday guidelines...
1. All invitations go through me.  If not every chid is invited, I will hand them out privately- directly to parents.
2.  The parent is permitted to bring in one peanut free treat for the children- be it; cake, cupcakes, popsicles, fruit.  This is eaten at the last snack of the day, before recess. Go and burn off the sugar kids!
3.  The child will complete a Birthday Walk- they use a globe and go around a sun one time for as many years they are old.  During each rotation I talk about what they were starting to do developmentally, and their interests.   We sing happy birthday!
4.  The child can donate a birthday book to our classroom.  Inside I write their name, year and birthday.  The book is then put in our classroom library for others to share. 
5.  I present the child with a birthday certificate and small present.
6. Above all- stay calm and keep cool

Monday, May 9, 2011

Elementary Teacher Must Haves

According to me (this is my blog) there are some items that every elementary teacher must have.  This list is complied with convenience, practicality and fun in mind. 

1.  A large sturdy bag for carrying items back and forth- Do not just get your average cloth grocery story bag.  Spice it up a little.
2. Unique and effective rainboots.  These are not only a conversation piece but also come in handy during those dreary, wet days. 
3. Stickers.  Of all shapes, sizes, smells and textures. Stickers for every season, holiday and event can bring many smiles.
4. An emergency kit.  These items come in handy for the unexpected.  Mine includes; Tide to Go, Lipgloss, Gum, Hair Elastic, Deodorant, Bouncy Ball, Cards, Floss,  $10, Needle and Thread, Tylenol, Granola Bar, Band Aids, Wet Naps
5. An art coat.  I always put on my art coat when we are about to get out the glue, paints and sparkles.  You will be glad you did!
6. Mountains of books!!
7. Festive clothes- yes you can break out the ghost socks and flashing Santa earrings.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Don't quit your day job!

"Funniest thing happened today at school"... this is typically how I start my carpooling conversation with my husband upon pick up- that is unless I give him the "don't even talk to me look"!

Today as everyone was working away at this and that- one child called to me from across the room.
"Hey, how come you never go to work?" 
I smiled and replied "  I come to work everyday, I work here"
He laughed and said " All you do is go to school, my dad, mom and everyone else goes to work- but you just come here."
I try to explain..." Your dad, mom and everyone is good at something.  That is why they choose their job.  I am good with kids so I work as a teacher."
He turned from me and said "hmmm.. I think you should get a real job" 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just a Teacher

When I told my sister I was going to Teachers College. She simply replied, "You're going to be just a teacher?"  For years this has stuck with me.  The funny thing is that now  5 years later she is in Teacher's College herself.  I can guarentee you that a teacher is hardly ever just a teacher.  Please see the poem below. 

I Am A Teacher
I am a counselor and psychologist to a problem-filled child,
I am a police officer that controls a child gone wild.
I am a travel agent scheduling our trips for the year,
I am a confidante that wipes a crying child's tear.
I am a banker collecting money for a ton of different things,
I am a librarian showing adventures that a storybook brings.
I am a custodian that has to clean certain little messes,
I am a psychic that learns to know all that everybody only guesses.
I am a photographer keeping pictures of a child's yearly growth,
When mother and father are gone for the day, I become both.
I am a doctor that detects when a child is feeling sick,
I am a politician that must know the laws and recognize a trick.
I am a party planner for holidays to celebrate with all,
I am a decorator of a room, filling every wall.
I am a news reporter updating on our nation's current events,
I am a detective solving small mysteries and ending all suspense.
I am a clown and comedian that makes the children laugh,
I am a dietician assuring they have lunch or from mine I give them half.
When we seem to stray from values, I become a preacher,
But I'm proud to have to be these people because ...
I'm proud to say, "I am a teacher."

Stacy Bonino

I would also have to add
Dentist.  I've pulled out 5 teeth so far this year!
Nurse. Never ending scraps and bumps
Musician.  You should hear me belt out Ole McDonald
Chef.  Don't forget those memorable cooking days
Entertainer. Need a good game? A rainy day activity? Or someone who can make the kids  happy using only a sponge and some toothpicks? 
Referee. Playing fair is not always easy! 
Artist. You need to be able to draw just about everything.

So remember your teacher today  on National Teachers Day...and get them something special... and please no chocolates, candles or body lotions!  =)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When you Grow Up...

Have you ever stopped to wonder what certain children will grow up to be based on your observations of their character, or interests. Some examples of my students include;

The child who decided it was best to do nothing in class to earn "classroom money" yet somehow ended up with the most in class.  I questionned how he got so much, and he simply stated he was selling items from home for others money.  He will be some multi million dollar entrepreneur. 

The child who is always washing his hands, washing his food, and reminding others to do the same.  He only eats his healthy food first, and never eats desserts at special occasions.  He wont touch a door knob for fear of germs.  He will be a Doctor.

The child that can read at a Grade 3 level and is in Senior Kindergarten.  Tells the most imaginative stories and is not interested in any other curriculum areas.  She will be a Writer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Liar Liar pants on Fire!!

I have a child in my class that has an imagination like no other.  He comes up with the most elaborate, far fetched stories and provides details that make you second guess.  I love it!  If I could just sit with him on a daily basis and talk about his "weekend trip to Australia" or  about how "his dad was in World War 1"  I would be in heaven.  I am in awe that he can provide such quick answers to my never ending questions.  The children in the class have come to realize too that when Liam tells you something, he may or may not be telling stories or tricking. I will often hear them asking- Did you really have 341 brothers?  Your having a fashion show at your house tonight,  for real? 

A recent conversation I had with him went like this....

Child- Do you want me to take you out for dinner tonight at McDonalds?
Teacher-  I would love to meet you for dinner, but Ill pay for myself- thanks for offering.
Child-  Okay Ill meet you there at 5
Teacher- How will you get there, is your mom or dad coming?
Child-  Ill take the bus silly.
Teacher- Alright see ya there.

Next day...

Teacher-  I waited for you, but you never came.  I had to eat my Mc Nuggets by myself
Child-  Yeah, sorry about that.  Im going to give that bus driver a piece of my mind.  He was late! 
Teacher-  Ah well next I turn and grin! 

Would you confront the child about "lying" or making up stories or embrace the creativity and delight in the joys of their imagination? 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Are You Nuts?!!!

As most schools are- we are a nut free facility.  We have been since the doors opened and its in every policy and procedures manual the parents receive, mentioned at our curriculum nights and reminded to the parents when food is sent home due to its ingredients.  But today as I was helping to warm up food, and getting spoons and wiping up messes and tending to the lunch time mayhem-  a  child approached me and told me that one of the kids had brought peanuts.  What?!  Are you kidding me!  This is not some fruit snack with some fine print, or a new warning label on an otherwise trustworthy company- this was a big bag full of peanuts. 

The children in my class are very receptive  and understanding to why we do not have peanuts in our classroom- I explained it to them on day one.  (Jack) could get sick, very sick.  Why cannot parents see how serious this is?!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's in a name?

As a teacher I come across a lot of potential baby names in a year.  There are weird names, cute names and those that are hard to pronounce. And then of course there are the names that I will absolutely, never in a million years name my future unborn children.  When I hear certain names I instantly cringe and that send a chill up my back. I will of course not list them here with fear of insulting you..  my readers, and for confidentiality reasons as well.  But am I the only one? 

There is also the inevitable question of the teachers name.  I searched for years for a suitor with a distinguished last name for my choosen profession, as I feared I would be mocked if otherwise.  I however, gave up my search of such a dream and married an amazing man with a horrible last name (for a teacher.  I vividly remember the jokes and play on words that clever kids could come up with for teachers surnames.  I did my research on this subject and there are some really bad last names out there that do not need any jokes, they are just flat out inappropriate!! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What did you learn today?

I often wonder when the inevitable question of "What did you learn today?" is asked to my students what the response is?  Most parents have reported that the typical response is "Nothing".  
That both concerns and delights me...  

 It either means that they are learning, without realizing they are learning.  All those hands on experiences, games, and interactive lessons are paying off.  It's like I'm sneaking the vegetables into the spaghetti sauce!   While on the other hand... maybe they aren't learning anything at all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Indoor Recess

Oh the dreaded rain or frigid cold and even the humidity could make or break my day.  On such a day we are doomed with indoor recess.  Often both the teachers and children give the expected "ohhhhhhhhahhhhh"  when it's declared  unsuitable to venture outside.  Believe me when I say, there are days that I don't neccesarily enjoy putting on layer after layer, or smothering kids in suncreen, but most days I would rather be outside in the elements than endure an indoor recess.

An indoor recess in my classroom is as follows; loud, chaotic and messy.  Children have every toy out and are busy making rockets, and houses and  light sabers.  Pieces of puzzles are scattered, no matter how many reminders you give about tidying up.  Some children are using the chalk boards, while others are playing with stuffed animals. When things get too crazy, I always can rely on the trusty "eye spy", "hang man", "freeze dance" or "simon says" games. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Joys of a Field Trip

You know those days, when you pile all the kids on the bus for an adventure.  Won't you probably don't realize is all the work that goes into the preparation for the day out! 

First there is the field trip forms.  You send them out, you remind parents to return them, you photocopy more forms for the ones they lost, you collect the money, you remind the parents again to return.  Then the day of the field trip arrives and parents are scrambling to fill out forms and pay you in twoonies found underneath their car seat.

The day of the field trip ... teachers come in early to ensure the name labels are made for each child,the snacks are packed, the cell phone is charged, reservations are confirmed, parent volunteers know their duties, payment is in hand.

15 minutes prior to departure... you ensure everyone has gone to the washroom, they have everything packed, you are scramble around to get the last minute details- epi pens, and emergency contact information. Prior to boarding the bus you remind the kids of the rules, during the bus ride you remind the kids of the rules, after about 20 times of telling the same two kids to stop kicking the seats in front of them and to sit down you seperate them. 

You arrive at your destination, the kids are estatic and all you can think is I should have brought more coffee.  The day is fun filled- for the kids.  You are too busy counting little heads, and re counting, running to the washroom, making sure everyone has sanitized before snack and reminding them that it's not okay to climb on the displays and that the ropes are there for a reason- dinosaur bones are old and don't want to be touched. 

Time to head back to the school- you are exhausted, the kids are exhausted but all you can think about was- that was interesting,... when is the next field trip?!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


What are your thoughts on incentive programs in the classroom?  My theory is basically this... whatever works!  Although in an ideal world, every child would be intrinsically motivated to learn every subject with ease, this is not the case in my classroom.  Every child is different, I value and honour that, so therefore created different incentive programs for every learner.  Some children in my class need daily reminders to choose some work in different areas of curriculum. Since I know these boys would rather talk about their recent Mario Bros accomplishments than do Math, Science,  Language or anything else that has to do with learning- each time they complete some challenging work they recieve a coin.  If they can collect 12 coins in a week they recieve $1 to spend at our classroom store.  This money can also be spent on purchasing a party for the classroom.  Part of me feels guilty for bribbing these children to learn and the other half of me thinks- how guilty would I feel if I couldnt get them to do any work.?  What do you think....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yoga in the Classroom

Before I get into this blog I must confess that I am a Children's Yoga Instructor so therefore I am a little bias about the benefits of yoga in the classroom.  I have a yoga mat and yoga cards in my classroom that the children can use at any time.  That being said children's yoga is not the relaxing, peaceful kind you may be use to.  I'm talking ... a peeing downward dog, flea eating chimps and trees blowing in the wind. 

I believe yoga can be integrated into any classroom and can easily link to curriculum expectations.  
Science- While doing cat/cow pose get into a discussion about animal classification.
Geography- See how long they can hold airplane pose and if they could fly anywhere in the world where would they go?
Math- While in triangle pose ask the children to name all the different types of triangles they can think of
Language- I love to integrate stories into my yoga instruction.  The children love to act out the stories using yoga poses.  Try "Were going on a bear hunt" or "Brown Bear, Brown  Bear"
Art- During my yoga programs we always end with a craft, whether it be mandalas, or something that incorporates the theme for the day. 

I have added some helpful resources.  Check them out! 

Little Leprechauns

With St. Patrick's Day approaching I thought I would have a  little fun with the kids.  While they were out at recess I quickly ran "into the washroom" ( Not to worry someone was watching them) to set up a little surprise. I took some green paint from our easel and over turned it.  I then proceeded to make little finger prints in the shape of tiny footprints from the easel to the table.  The footprints walked from lunch box to lunch box inspecting for healthy foods.  The footprints proceeded to go over to the whiteboard and wrote a message for the kids. 

It read  "Dear Children,  I enjoyed playing in your classroom!  My name is Mindy.  I am a Leprechaun from Ireland!  I like to make messes and enjoyed a munch of some of your lunches." 

Upon arriving back into the classroom for lunch I seemed shocked and upset and who had made such a mess and who was the last to be at the easel as there was paint everywhere!!  Everyone denied it (obviously) and then.... we found the note from Mindy.  The looks of surprise and excitement are definelty not something I will forget anytime soon.  They went around telling every teacher in the school about our visitor.  After the commotion was settled we had a circle to discuss St. Patricks Day, Leprechauns and why it is important to tidy messes.  As a class we wrote Mindy back saying its not polite to come in a mess up something and eat things that don't belong to you.  We also asked her about rainbows and gold. 

Tomorrow I will hide gold coins around the room- one for each child and write another note from Mindy.  Man.. my job is fun! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cooking with Kids

 For Valentine's Day we made cupcakes.   Why not I think, they are easy to make and everyone loves them.  Although, I started off with great intentions I soon realized I just acquired some new grey hairs. I just hoped that they would't end up like last years christmas cake disaster!!    During my prep time I prepared all the ingredients, cleaned the work space and took some time to breathe.  No matter how many times I have cooked with kids each time it's a unique and unforgettable experience.  The kids are so excited they are pratically jumping off the walls- why am I giving them more sugar?!    First off,  I explain to the children that everyone will have a chance to help with the reciepe and that I will call them over three at a time to wash their hands and help out. 

Next thing I know I'm being bombardded by every child around the table!  Someone sneezed in the cupcakes general direction and everyone was  being pushed and squished.  Oh no!!  There is the first spill- milk everywhere!  Okay, let;s try this again!  I call over the next group and try to get the other kids engaged in something.   I tried to ensure every child had a turn to mix and pour.  Next thing I know, some kids are crying because other kids have apparently had a longer time than others with mixing or they wanted to crack the egg.  Other kids are tattling because they saw someone sneak some batter.   Through all the mayhem we discuss measurement and fractions and allergies and how so and so's grandma can only eat things with fiber because it helps her with "her morning routine".  All in all, the cupcakes turn out wonderfully.  What's on the menu next month?!! 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Recess Mayhem

Its hard to fully describe what goes on in the minutes prior and post recess.  In order to get the full effects of what I may be experiencing- try to imagine 15 small children in a confide space, with all children scrambiling to be the first one out the door.  It's like the Walmart clothing department exploded.  No one can find a thing... hats 20 feet from where they should be, liners falling out of boots, two left handed mittens.  I'm talking total chaos. 

And then there is the fact that everyone is chatting all at once.  To me, to themselves, across the room to a friend.  I stopped today and took a thirty second observation of what was actually occuring and made a mental note.

Three children are all trying to tell me something- at once.  One child wants to show me their Scholastic order and proceeds to tell me about their favourite dinosaurs, and how when their grandma is like a fossil too.  From what I can make out from the other two, who are now talking over each other and its like verbal diarhhea for my ears. They are trying to tell me something about their DSI games, and how Mario is superior over Luigi.  All I am thinking is who the hell cares, "get ready to go outside", and in the same breath, damn I wish I had a DSI. 

Oh crisis, excuse me!!  I climb over three children as two children are fighting and one crying, through the " It wasn't me" and the " I already said sorry"  I get the just that one child spit on the other .  While trying to put out that fire, two more munchkins approach asking me to help them with zippers and mittens and finding their neck warmer.  As I multi-task like nobody's business I overhear a girl and a boy discussing their marriage plans.  I smile!  I'm soon distracted as I catch one child showing their karate moves in the corner.  I explain for the 100th time- karate is for the dojo!
Everyone is almost ready, then I look over to see one child is sitting in their cubby, having made no attempt to get ready, they are just sitting there picking their nose.  It was so gross, yet I couldnt stop staring- I'm sure if their was a Olympic medal to be won for digging for nuggets- he would sure to win.    Totally oblivious of the mayhem that surrounds him, I gently remind him to get ready, oh and wash your hands!!   I sigh!

 Finally we are all outside!  Two minutes in to recess time the dreaded  "I have to pee" is chanted.   ARGGG!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Parent Teacher Interviews

The dreaded parent teacher conferences.  You prepare, stress and re-think what you will say. Then before you know it- it's here....

Today when Sadies' mom arrived for her daughter's parent-teacher conference, I scrambled to get her report in order, and some samples of her work.   I began the conference as I always do, by telling her that her daughter is a joy to have in class.  Then I typically review the report card and move on to "sandwiching" a great attribute, a not so great, and another special quality Sadie has.  In this particular case, I started telling her that her little girl didn't always pay attention in class and, at times, need assistance with organization.  "For example, sometimes she'll do the wrong page in her workbook," I explained, "and I've even found her sitting at the wrong desk."

"I don't understand any of that," replied Sadie's mom defensively. "Where could she have gotten that?"
I went on to assure her that her daughter was still doing fine in school and was a sweet and likeable little girl. After pausing for a moment, I added, "By the way,  our appointment was for tomorrow."

Joke adapted from

Monday, February 14, 2011

One of those days...

Every teacher has had one.  A day that seems to drag on forever, nothing seems to go right.  Today, was one of those days...

8:00 You arrive at school to find there are four staff away and no substitute teachers. Great!!   You notice that the electric outlets in your classroom are not working and all the snack food in your fridge is gone bad.  A colleague comes by to notify you that the pipes are frozen and the children cannot use the washroom until they are fixed. What else could go wrong?!

8:30 The children start arriving with their smiling faces and enthusiasm, unsuspecting of your foul mood.  A parent approaches about their child not eating their full lunch the day before. Like, what am I suppose to do, force them to eat their macaroni and cheese leftovers they clearly do not like?!! 

9:00 Circle time is a disaster with about half the kids talking out of turn, and with no attention span.  Jane sat on Tom and now he is crying.  Frank stole George's sticker and is now pinching him.  The heck  with it, circle time is over.  Go and find some work. 

9:30 It's suppose to be French time but the teacher is away, so  I guess no pre time today.  Just as the children are settling into some work- the fire alarm goes off.  Okay... line up! 

11:30 Indoor recess.  Paints get spilled all over the floor.  Grace loses chess against Jackson and is upset.  Liz has a fever and needs to go home and Payton has a wiggly tooth and asks you every two minutes to pull it out. 

12:00 Lunch time and finally your first break.  Washroom, photocopies, clean up, check emails and oh yeah scarf down some lunch before heading back into the jungle.  Come back to find out that Ben has punched Sadie and Trent was throwing food.  Not to mention that Vince was giving a little show of his own and decided it would be a good idea to moon the class while they were enjoying their lunch.

1:00 Put out fires, Liz's goes home, write accident report of Sadie's mark on her arm. 

2:00 The rest of the afternoon is spent running around getting scissors, papers and glue  for each demand.  Prepare snack, Frank just sneezed on you- time for some sanitizer.  Frank pukes on the carpet.  Yuck! 

Finally 3:30- Home here I come, and bottle of wine for dinner.  Thank you!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What I love about teaching....

It's hard to know where to begin.  I truly love what I do (most days).  Below is the list in no particular order about the best job I've ever had. 

1.  I love learning.  A few of the thing I have learned this year are ......
Where Uzbekistan is
Who Thich Nhat Hanh is
That an sand dollar is considered a Clypeasteroida.
All the parts of a flower
What a preposition is.
Where Van Gogh was born

2. I love to see the children learning.  When they come back from the Art Gallery and tell me they recognized a picture painted by Tom Thompson it makes me smile from ear to ear.  Or when they finally understand division and their eyes light up- it makes my day!

3. Integrating peace education is a crucial part of our curriculum at school.  When the children implement the values I have tried so hard to instill in them without prompting, it's remarkable.

4. Gift cards!  The families at my school are amazing and every so generous.  I typically recieve anywhere from $100- $300 in gift cards in a year!  Thank you.

5. Summer Break- March Break- Christmas Break

6. I love being creative!  I enjoy setting up bulletin boards, coming up with craft ideas

7. It's never the same.  Everyday is different.  Everyday is new.  Each year I have new students, new challenges, new themes and new curriculum. 

8. The students- they give me the opportunity to work on patience, share my enthusiasm and they inspire me.  They are full of energy, light and love. 

Kid's Say the Darnest...

Over the last ten years that I have worked with children I have undoubtedly heard the cutest things. Below are some quotes I wanted to share with you..

Teacher- "Why did you put those googly eyes in the French Teacher's coffee mug?"
Child- " I just couldn't resist!"

Teacher- "Wow, Jane you have a new baby brother!!!!"
Child- "Yes, and I got new barettes too"

Teacher-"How did you get so smart?"
Child- "You taught me everything I know!"

Teacher- " Well, your pretty cute!"
Child- "Of course I am God made me"

Child-" You are the best fort making teacher in the world"

Parent to Child- " What do you think the teacher's would like most for a present?"
Child- " They mostly like it when we learn stuff!!"

4 Year Old Child to Teacher- " I used to be a diva... but not anymore"

Teacher- " What are you going to be when you grow up?"
Child- " Well mostly I want to be a mom but if that doesn't work out an astronaut would be fine."

Child while showing me something on his finger- "What is this?|"
Teacher while examining between their fingers- " I am not sure, where did you find it?"
Child- " In my ear!"

What they didn't teach me in Teachers College

Oh, what they didn't teach me in Teacher's College?!!  I am in my fourth year of teaching and have taught every grade from Junior Kindergarten to Grade Eight.  Although I feel that my Teacher's College education was a valuable experience I feel there were certain things left out...

1. Do not purchase expensive clothes! 

 Joe Fresh is a wonderful choice! Not only will you save much needed time as you can pick great clothes up while shopping at your grocery store but you won't be devasted when a child accidently spills paint on your brand new white Lu Lu Lemon sweater... or cringe at the thought of your $100 Banana Republic pants being salt stained from yard duty responsiblities.  Although I certainly do love to shop for my back to school clothes  I save the bulk of my money for comfortable shoes; one pair of black and one brown.  The warmest, longest coat imaginable for those -25 winter recesses, and a large, yet fashionable book bag for those back and forth totes from home to school.   

2. You will have no life! 

Between grading, prep, reports, cutting, pasting,  laminating, emails, research and your mind constantly consumed by thoughts of the children- parents and new ideas you will be exhausted.  Remember to breathe, and make time for things you enjoy. 

3. Value Village can become your best friend! 

I was thankful to discover this gem early in my teaching career.  I could probably write a whole blog about  my many classroom treasures found at  the good old VV. 

Cultural-  Chinese Fans, African Masks, European Artifacts, Leather Native American Vest, Mexican Poncho, Indian Sari
Math- Easter Eggs for matching, Sea Shells for sorting,  Glass Hearts for counting. 
Books-  Variety of authors, affordable
Language- You can find all sorts of objects for phonetic matching. They also have a huge collection of puzzles, and games