garage sale haul + internship pd event

On the weekend, I was out of town visiting a high school friend. It was an absolutely beautiful day outside AND there were a ton of local garage sales for us to hit up – WIN WIN! In true teacher fashion, I bought items entirely for future classroom use. Most of my finds were influenced by a recent PD event I attended through Sun West School Division (the school division in which I will be doing my internship).

I traveled to Rosetown (the location of the division office) to take part in an event for Kindergarten teachers that focused on “Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide,” which is a resource that supplements the curriculum for Early Childhood Educators. It focused a lot on the vision and principles of a quality early childhood education program and I am very excited to try out some of the ideas in the fall. We all had a chance to try our hand at creating an engaging ‘invitation for learning.’

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My invitation focused on objects and items that were round or circular. I thought this would tie in well with Medicine Wheels and other Indigenous elements – drums, sun, earth, moon, etc.

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This centre encourages students to explore the letters of the alphabet in a variety of mediums.

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An invitation to delve into shapes.

At the workshop, I had a chance to meet my cooperating teacher for the first time. She greeted me with an embrace as she said “I’m a hugger!” That was an instant moment of happiness and comfort. My coop teacher has been teaching Kindergarten for five years, and told me that she is hoping to try some new things next year – “We will learn together” as she put it. She was very informative and answered my jumble of questions eagerly. I am so excited to embark upon this awesome journey with such a bubbly and helpful cooperating teacher by my side.

At the workshop, I learned that it is important to have a quiet corner in your classroom for students to decompress and have alone time, if needed. This can also double as a reading corner. Inviting and comfortable furniture is a must to implement this kind of area in your classroom, which leads me to my first garage sale purchase: two wicker benches perfect for little bodies to curl up on. The drawers are a perfect hiding spot for inviting books. I also found two natural-toned pillows that could pair with benches as cushions, or be put in the carpet area for sitting.

These could also double as a centre area for activities  if plastic trays or blankets were placed on the top. The drawers could hold blocks, drawing materials, props for dress up, etc.

These could also double as a centre area for activities if plastic trays or blankets were placed on the top. The drawers could hold blocks, drawing materials, props for dress up, etc.

The small bench is perfect for one.

The small bench is perfect for one.

The larger bench of the two.

The larger bench of the two.

These could also be incorporated into a dramatic play centre such as an office, restaurant, or house if the right props were added.

These could also be incorporated into a dramatic play centre such as an office, restaurant, or house if the right props were added.

A comfy place to sit and read a favourite book with calming, natural colours.

A comfy place to sit and read a favourite book with calming, natural colours.

The other thing I learned at the workshop (which echoed many of the ideals I learned in my ECE courses at U of R) was that invitations require aesthetically pleasing and organized presentation. This means you need a lot of containers (to display, sort, organize, and store all of your items). So I stocked up on a variety of trays, containers, and organizers to inspire, encourage, and direct student exploration.

Baskets of differing sizes, colours, and shapes provide variety to satisfy many uses.

Baskets of differing sizes, colours, and shapes provide variety to satisfy many uses.

These beautifully filigreed silver boxes reminded me of delicate treasure chests. The smaller one can nest inside the large one to decrease storage space. These would be perfect to hold numerous kinds of materials.

These beautifully filigreed silver boxes reminded me of delicate treasure chests. The smaller one can nest inside the large one to decrease storage space. These would be perfect to hold numerous kinds of materials.

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I fell in love with these wooden fruit-shaped trays. They are all separated to inspire sorting and classifying - great for math tasks.

I fell in love with these wooden fruit-shaped trays. They are all separated to inspire sorting and classifying – great for math tasks.

Displaying interesting objects

Displaying interesting objects

Sort object by colour, size, shape, texture, etc. Or use to count as you move objects from one space to the other.

Sort object by colour, size, shape, texture, etc. Or use to count as you move objects from one space to the other.

This square glass tray was too cute to pass up - I love the design and colour. Perfect for sorting and displaying.

This square glass tray was too cute to pass up – I love the design and colour. Perfect for sorting and displaying.

I got a whole box full of these blue plastic containers. They came in a multitude of sizes and shapes. They all came with lids too, which is a bonus.

I got a whole box full of these blue plastic containers. They came in a multitude of sizes and shapes. They all came with lids too, which is a bonus.

Aside from providing storage, I thought students might also use these as building blocks!

Aside from providing storage, I thought students might also use these as building blocks!

Circular trays perfect for sorting, arranging, displaying, or organizing. Could also be used for liquids or solids such as grains of rice, beans, seeds, etc.

Circular trays perfect for sorting, arranging, displaying, or organizing. Could also be used for liquids or solids such as grains of rice, beans, seeds, etc.

I really loved these 4 square trays. The wood grain looking texture is very natural. Could serve so many purposes!

I really loved these 4 square trays. The wood grain looking texture is very natural. Could serve so many purposes!

I chose this oblong silver tray because of its reflective properties - perfect for exploring light and reflections. These three lady bug stones were just too cute to pass up.

I chose this oblong silver tray because of its reflective properties – perfect for exploring light and reflections. These three lady bug stones were just too cute to pass up.

This ice cube tray was free! They are perfect for sorting or counting. Here I showed how they could be used to distinguish hues and shades of the different colours.

This ice cube tray was free! They are perfect for sorting or counting. Here I showed how they could be used to distinguish hues and shades of the different colours.

What was your best garage sale or bargain find for your classroom? 

Until next time,

-KKF

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new book haul

Welcome to May, everyone! Hope the April showers are bringing some May flowers your way ūüôā

In order to tide myself over with excitement until I receive my internship package (telling me where I will be spending four months in the fall), I ordered a whole swack of books to supplement my ever-growing classroom library (which has begun to take over the spare room in my family’s basement.. haha).

First of all, I got a super deal on 45 non-fiction books in 9 sets of 5 on different topics. I was extra excited about this addition, as I don’t have many non-fiction titles in my classroom library already and these books all connect really well with curriculum units in Science! I can see myself getting a lot of use out of these in the future.

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Simple machines

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Animal adaptations

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Human body

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Weather

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Oceans and ocean life

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Types of animals

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Space and the solar system

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Different environments on Earth

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The Earth and rocks

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This next one is also very cute. It has illustrations and short descriptions of different yoga poses for each letter of the alphabet. I could see this being a fun way to incorporate brain breaks – you could do a different letter each day.

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Set of 10. Teaching phonics through fairy tales. Each book has a major sound focus (ex. ‘ee’) that is highlighted throughout the text. Classic tales are written in short, rhyming stanzas.

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The classic song from Sesame Street in book form. Also includes a CD with 3 songs! Such a steal.

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Awesome set of 6 that explains different plant parts. Has great pictures and simple text.

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And finally… This one really excited the grammar nerd in me. A whole set of books that explain the parts of speech in first person. Ex. “If you were quotation marks, you would work in partners, and go outside of the words that characters in the story are saying.” SUPER cute!

On top of all of this, I am headed to the Scholastic warehouse sale this week to hopefully pick up some more gems at rock bottom prices. Gotta love teacher bargain hunting!

Until next time, go out and grab a great book!

-KKF

first post of 2015 + book haul

Hello and happy 2015! I am excited to be back at the university for my sixth semester (which includes my 3 week block for pre-internship!).

To ease my disappointment that the holiday season, once again, flew past, I decided to use the bookstore gift cards I got for Christmas to buy some new treasures for my growing classroom library collection.

I highly recommend these gems to any teacher or parent. They all have great messages behind them.

1. “One” by Kathryn Otoshi

one otoshiOne of my classmates (@Cass_Hanley) showed me this wonderful book during a Health Education class, as it focuses on bullying. Written in very simple language, with vivid splashes of colour, this book is a great way to introduce students to a touchy and relevant topic.

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2. “Zoom” by Robert Munsch

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Robert Munsch is a classic author to include in any book collection for young kids. His comical characters and situations delight readers and make his books easy to listen to over and over. I particularly like this book because the main character is a fun-loving young girl (who just happens to use a wheelchair). She goes to the store to buy a new wheelchair and cannot find one that is fast enough for her liking. This book is a fun ride!

3. “The Dot” by Peter Reynolds

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I found this book last semester while searching for children’s books about self esteem. This cute little story really emphasizes the fact that we are all artists. The main character, Vashti, cannot draw anything in art class until her teacher encourages her to just “make a mark and see where it takes you.” I think that this book is a great reminder for teachers to truly value their student’s artwork.

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4. “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

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My instructor (@jmachnaik) showed me this awesome book in ECS 210 last year. I instantly fell in love with it. #1 because it is about penguins. #2 because it is a true story from the Central Park Zoo in New York. And #3 because it introduces kids to families with same sex parents. Roy and Silo are a penguin couple and do all the same things that other penguin couples do, but they have no egg to care for. Another penguin couple ends up having two eggs and cannot care for both, so the penguin caretaker gives one of the eggs to Roy and Silo to raise as their own. Such a heartwarming tale! Your insides will feel as fuzzy as little baby Tango looks.

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5. “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss

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I fell in love with this book while taking a class on Environmental Studies, and included it in the unit I created for the class. Dr. Seuss packs in his usual whimsical language and fantastical characters, along with a powerful message of preserving the natural beauty and resources that Mother Earth has given us. A must have for a classroom!

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6. “The Book with no Pictures” by B. J. Novak

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I learned of this quirky and unique book during my ERDG class. I have not tried it out on students myself, but I have a feeling that it will always result in non-stop laughter. The premise of the book is that it has no pictures, but that does not mean it is boring. Quite the opposite actually, as the reader ends up saying a multitude of silly things (because the reader MUST read all of the words that are written in a book). A very clever way to show students the power of the written word and to interest them in books without illustrations. A fairly new book, but I hope it becomes a classic.

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Children’s literature holds a special place in my heart because of the wonder and lightheartedness that it¬†sparks within us. It is so nice to see today’s authors including important social justice issues within their books’ pages.

What is your favourite piece of children’s literature?¬†

Until next time,

-KKF