Friday, November 29, 2013

This e-card pretty much sums it up! I have not had a Fall so full of illness in I don't know how long. First, a horrible head cold. Then the flu. And, now, strep throat. I think I'm due for some healthy days soon, don't you?

I suppose the only positive is that I'm down 7 pounds in about a week! Craaaaazy!!!! That'll happen when one lives on ginger ale and Popsicles! 

I have spent the better part of the last week sleeping. I couldn't even manage to stay awake long enough to watch a one hour tv show. Or read. Or go online. Or read. Or anything!

The flu symptoms finally pretty much left by yesterday but the fatigue just wouldn't give up. Then, today my doctor calls...strep throat. Yay me!

Now, two doses of penicillin later, I am starting to feel human again. I expect to be pretty much 100% by Monday and back at work raring to go! How I have missed being at work (when I was awake enough to miss anything that is!) and being with all of my lovelies. I was so happy to hear from both my support worker and colleagues that my guest teacher was really great. Knowing that everything was under control made it much easier to just go back to sleep and concentrate on getting well.

But I am sooooo looking forward to being back at work next week. Beyond just simply missing my days with the lovelies, I also just love the three weeks before the holidays. We spend time talking about family traditions, learning about winter festivals of light and just plain having a good time. Report cards are done (well, that is the idea, though they are due next week and I haven't even started!), vacation is coming and there is a general feeling of excitement in the air!  

I love teaching the grades I teach. It is still the age of wonder and I really don't think there is more of a season of wonder than the winter holidays (although I suppose the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny come a close second!) The belief in miracles that is Hanukkah. The story of Christmas. The magic of Santa Claus. It all comes together to create a time of year when teaching 5-7 year olds really is the best job on Earth! 


Ms. Hughes

Friday, November 22, 2013

Elements of Art: Line

This year I am loving that I am able to make my art program work again. Last year with the move and everything, I really didn't teach art the way I would have liked. But this year, that is all changing.

I am teaching both my class and Division 14 art this year. (Thank goodness for me, the other teacher does gym for both classes!)

We are starting with the elements of art. Each student has a duotang where we do a theory lesson. The plan is to do an art theory lesson followed by a "hands on" lesson where the students create a piece of art using what they have learned in art theory.

Our first art theory lesson was all about line. So we learned things like contour line is a fancy way of saying outline, there are different types of lines (straight, curved, thick, thin etc) and created examples to keep in our art theory book.

Then the next lesson was an art lesson called Lines in Motion. Students reviewed line and talked about what kinds of lines would show motion. They then took a printout of a bird's silhouette and created lines to make it look like it was in motion. I got the idea for this lesson from here and, must say, that I am very pleased with both the work that went into these creations and the finished result. (Note: there are still a couple of kids who are not finished. I purposely stuck to a 9X12 paper format so that the job wouldn't take as long. Good thing I didn't go bigger!!!!)

If you don't know by now, art is my favourite subject to teach. I love being creative and I really, really love watching children express themselves through means other than words and writing.

I love that in art you really can't do it "wrong" (as exemplified by the pictures above) and that each child can interpret the lesson in their own way. I love how they each take what they have learned and create something that is not only unique but uniquely them.

Happy creating!

Ms. Hughes

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fall is Here

Just wanted to share some of the beautiful leaf art that the kids did while I was away sick a couple of weeks ago. I found it hidden under a pile of papers on my teaching table when I got back and just had to hang it up. It is so colourful and vivid. It makes the windows look so seasonal.


Ms. Hughes

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No time to get bored when you have this board....

BORED quote

I am in love, love, love with this poster! I need one, no two (or maybe three) hanging in different places in our community. 

There is very little I dislike more than a student telling me they are bored. The majority of activities I give students are open ended so that they can challenge themselves. (Think of the doubles exercise where one student chose 20+20=40 even though that was not one of the simple doubles taught) They can always challenge themselves to do more, be more, show more in their work. So, no excuse for being "bored."

And, it is especially annoying when a student tells me there is "nothing to do" or that they are "bored" during centres when they have a gazillion choices to make and (on community centres days) four rooms of activites to choose from! Blocks, lego, marble run, drawing, sewing, k'nex, puzzles, math tubs, reading, writing, arts and crafts...the list goes on. How can anyone be bored amidst all of those choices? 

Some days I think it is not boredom so much as an inability to make choices on their own. So many of our kids spend so much of their time in planned, programmed schedules where they go from this activity to the next without choosing. Give them a choice and they don't know what to do. 

I love that this poster gives a very simple yet effective way to redirect students who use the B word. You can be sure you'll see this in my classroom very soon!

Ms. Hughes

Monday, November 18, 2013

Double Trouble

We've been learning addition strategies in math lately. 

Last week we learned about doubles. Knowing your doubles can really help when figuring out answers that are only 1 or 2 larger or smaller than the double.

For example, if I know that 5+5=10 then I can use that knowledge to figure out 5+6. I can say to myself that 6 is one larger than 5 so the answer is going to be one larger than double 5. If I wrote it out it would be something like saying 5+1=6 so 5+6 can also be written 5+5+1. Then in my head I can do 5+5 is 10 and add 1 to it. Voila! 11!

I found a great unit on addition strategies on TpT from Teacher's Clubhouse and it comes with a craft activity for each strategy. I don't plan to use them all but this one was a fun one to do. Check it out!

I put a bunch of them up on the small bulletin board. I love my classroom but, boy, do I wish I had more bulletin board space to display the class' work!

And, below, are a few that didn't make it up on the wall. 

I enjoyed this lesson because it involved so many different skills. We reviewed sets and talked about how you had to have equal sets in each part of the glasses. We chose doubles (only 2 students were allowed to pick the same double) and learned about using them as a mental math strategy. And, they had to follow directions in terms of adding the face and colouring in using crayons so it was a listening skills exercise as well.

Needless to say, there were 3 students who immediately started colouring with felt pens. If the day ever comes when each and every student carefully listens to and follows directions, I may just fall over in a faint!!!!

Happy adding!

Ms. Hughes

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Family Literacy...Dr. Seuss Style!

I have finally gotten around to starting my Family Literacy bags again. I used these ALL the time at my old school and haven't used them once since moving to this school (8 years ago!!!!)

I was inspired this summer when I found some Dr. Seuss pencils and erasers at Target and then found a Dr. Seuss backpack at the Goodwill. (I know, I know, I was in Florida on vacation! What can I say? You can take the teacher out of the school but you can never really take the school out of the teacher!!!!)

So, I put together the Dr. Seuss bag and started it with one of the students last week. He was soooo excited to take it home (I have to be honest here, I chose him first because I knew he loved Dr. Seuss!)

When it came back to school and before I sent it off again, I took some photos. Check it out!

The cost me a whopping 99 cents!!!!!
The contents...3 stories, a pencil, an eraser, a journal and a stuffie.

The Cat in the Hat stuffie up close. I've had it for years. I also have Thing 1 and Thing 2 that I can add later to spice the bag up a little for its second go around!

Here is the journal.
And the letter that is glued in the front explaining the bag.

And here are the two pages written by the first student to take it home. He did exactly what I was hoping he would do! And, I also love that his parents didn't help with the writing. This is grade 1 kid writing at its best. And I love his illustrations. Aren't they great?!?!

The class is so excited about these bags that I have promised to get more bags ready. I have the makings of a Paddington Bear bag, a Biscuit the dog bag, a Curious George bag and a Frog and Toad bag. Now to find all the bits to go with them and I'll be all set. Stay tuned!


Ms. Hughes

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It really does not seem that long ago that I sat in the staff room at work talking about pregnancy and then about preschool before moving on to issues of childhood. We talked about date nights and breast feeding and how we never got any sleep with a baby/toddler in the house.

I am only a few years older than some of the teachers who are new parents and, yet, I feel worlds away from them in many ways. Where they are talking about pregnancy and newborns, I find myself talking about elderly parents and caregiving. 

I suppose in some ways I am fortunate that I had my daughter young. Unlike some of my peers who are going to be dealing with young children and elderly parents at the same time, I have only had to deal with one or the other. (Not that I am not still dealing with parenting issues - 17 year olds can be very emotionally demanding!)

Today I am off to the hospital with my siblings to attend a meeting about my Mum. She has been going for assessment two days a week for three months. Today we find out what the complete diagnosis is (I know it is dementia but am unsure how far along the continuum she is) and suggestions for future care etc.

I don't often talk about my personal life on here. There are so many other exciting things to talk about that are going on in the classroom! But, every once in awhile, I think it is valuable to be reminded (and remind others) that while I spend the majority of my time planning, teaching and caring for other people's children, I do have things going on in my own life that occasionally take precedence. 

And, while parents of the students in my class are primarily concerned with how their child is doing (as they should be), I hope that they understand that in and amongst all of the lessons and teaching and everything, their children bring me joy and take me to my happy place. 

When I feel overwhelmed by my mother's decline in mental health, when I miss my father desperately or when my heart is breaking for my 17 year old (who has had her heart broken), I know that I can walk into my classroom and be filled instantly with joy and love and caring. I feel so blessed to have the job that I have. I know, I know, I've said that before but I really mean it. How many people go to work each day and get hugs and smiles and laughs? Not many, I would guess. 

And so, while I am not really looking forward to this morning's meeting at the hospital, I know that no matter what happens, I can walk into my class this afternoon and feel happy. Thank you for that, my lovelies!

Ms. Hughes

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Somewhere Today....

I wanted to post these for Remembrance Day, however, I forgot to take the photos!

One of my very favourite stories to read for Remembrance Day is called Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace.

 Product Details

We read the story and then thought of what someone in the world could be doing today to make this world a more peaceful place to live.

And, my personal favourite...

Then we did a craft with the entire community and I hung them up along with the writing. This idea came from another blog (wish I could remember which one! I was so sure I had pinned it!) Let me know if you know who needs the credit.

Aren't they striking? 

It was a very powerful lesson. One I find difficult to teach each year. It is so hard to understand the concept of "fighting for peace." 

I mean, I have trouble with the concept. How to make this concept understandable (without being totally frightening) to 6 & 7 year olds? 

It is a tough one but I really think that this year we did a good job of it. The community of students saw their teachers struggling to understand and explain a difficult concept. They saw their teachers shed a few tears talking about Remembrance Day. They understood the seriousness and importance of the day. 

And, as a result, they were amazing in the assembly. Quiet, respectful, serious, thoughtful. I was so proud of them. 

Ms. Hughes

WWR November 13

#quote #fail #learning
from here

Monday, November 11, 2013


Lighting of Olympic torch kicks off Remembrance Day Sunday in Vancouver

In remembrance of all who have fought to keep Canada safe and free. 

And to all who continue to help others in this world strive for freedom. 

Thank you.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Owls, Owls, Owls...(And a Merlin!)

We have been wrapping up our unit on owls this past week. First we had an in-school field trip from OWL Rehabilitation Society who came to teach us more about how we can help birds when they get hurt. OWL works exclusively with raptors and we got to learn some really interesting facts.

Then, we got to meet two of the rescued birds! These two had injuries that kept them from being rehabilitated into the wild. So, they have been glove trained to help spread the word about taking care of our wildlife.

First we met, Tyra. She is a Merlin (which is a kind of falcon). She had a broken wing when she was found and it didn't grow back properly. As a result, one wing is shorter than the other. Here she is with the OWL worker.

Then we met Alba, a barn owl, who also had a broken wing. She was hurt when she fell from the rafters of a barn all the way to floor. She is unable to fly more than a foot or so.

Meeting the two birds was really cool. But, it was really hard for the 50 kids to be as still and quiet as they needed to be in order to not frighten the birds. What can I say? It's not like I haven't mentioned the chattiness of my group before!

Our final owl activity (before the assessment quiz, that is!) was to dissect owl pellets. We did that today. It was at times very cool (and, at other times, not so much!). Students worked in partners to take apart the pellets (using rubber gloves and toothpicks) and try to figure out what kind of animal the owl had eaten. Some pellets had tons of bones while others not so much. I was amazed at how small the skulls found in the pellets were. And some of the bones were no more than a half a centimetre in length. Wow!

Anywho, here are a few photos. It was really hard to get up close pictures of the bones since they were so, so, so small. But you can see a pile of them on the plate. And one of the girls is holding a rodent skull in her hand. The last photo shows the bone guide we gave the students. Some got really into it and started to sort the bones onto the paper. It was really great to see a few partnerships so involved and interested in learning about the pellets. Scientists in the making!

And, that's all for me tonight. I'm still really tired (after being sick last week) and even though it is only 7:30 it is off to the bath and then bed for me!!!!


Ms. Hughes