third semester eye openers

I can’t think of a better reason to stay up than to do a blog post! Here are some of the interesting tidbits that have happened in the past few weeks…

1. My Field Experiences/Practicums This Semester

I have had two sessions at Balfour Collegiate working with ESL students and have really enjoyed it! One big realization I had was a result of talking with the cooperating teacher (that is so graciously letting 30 pre-service teachers into his classroom this semester), who was in the Elementary program, like me, when he was in university. He told my two other classmates and I that you can end up getting offered a Grade 11 Chemistry job right out of university, and you take it! I always find it interesting when teachers end up in different grades and subject areas than they were trained for. While I think it is beneficial in some situations to have the flexibility of a BEd. giving you the certification to teach any grade, I also feel that I would feel uncomfortable, unconfident, and totally out of my element in a high school. I suppose sometimes that is the best way to get your foot in the door and try something new and challenging, though!

However, volunteering in a mixed Grade 9-12 ESL class has really opened my mind to the possibility of ending up working with high school students at some point in my career. I feel that if I did, by some chance, end up in a high school, I would like to teach ESL students because, like Elementary, the teacher for the tutorial sessions works with all subjects, not one specialized area.

Another thing that I’ve been pondering lately… Why are there so many different acronyms for students who speak English as an additional language? ESL, EAL, ELL, oh my! Can’t they just pick one to use? haha

2. I am part of the Ambassador program at the U of R and I just got an e-mail from the head of the Ambassador program yesterday asking if I wanted to have a Campus For All Ambassador buddy. I was so excited and honoured to be given this opportunity! As an Education student, we are always ecstatic to get the chance to work with others and add these wonderful experiences to our resume. We keep hearing that all resumes and portfolios look the same, so it is really the additional experiences you have that will make you stand out and get you a job. There are hundreds of Ambassadors at the U of R, so I was tickled pink that the coordinator thought of me as a candidate! I’m sure I will have more to tell you about this once I get to meet my buddy and do some events with him!

If you want to learn more about the Campus For All program at the U of R, check their page out here!

3. I never posted some pictures of activities I did during my final tutoring session, so here you go:


This is a reading board game I whipped up! It turned out really well and I’d love to use it again someday (sorry the image is so small. The spaces read: “Pick up a new word,” “Use your word in a sentence,” “Move ahead 3 spaces,” “Say a word that rhymes with yours,” “Read 2 new words,” “Spell your word,” “Move back 2 spaces,” “Act out your word,” “Make a new word using letters from yours,” “How many syllables in your word?,” and “How many vowels in your word?”). The only thing I would change is maybe making corresponding piles of word cards to pick from for certain spaces, because not all of the word cards I made could be easily used for all of the space tasks. For example, some of the words were very short, so you couldn’t arrange their letters to make other words; or some of the words were abstract terms that couldn’t be acted out.


This is a fun little drawing activity that I linked to the online resource Bembo’s Zoo (check it out – I LOVE it!). It is a fun way to incorporate language into art.

4. Today in my ECE (Early Childhood Education) class, the instructor was teaching us the Waldorf ECE approach by actually treating the students like we were Kindergarteners, and I absolutely LOVED it! Some students were hesitant and embarrassed to sing the songs and perform the actions, but I thought it was a nice change of pace from the normal university class. This just affirmed for me how overjoyed I am to be heading towards a career that will let me sing songs and dance and fingerpaint and tell stories every single day! I truly am blessed! My work with the ESL students has opened up my eyes to the possibility of working with teenage students, and now my ECE class has me considering all the awesome aspects of working with Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students as well. Don’t get me wrong, Grade 1 will probably always have my heart, but I am finding, more and more every day, that it isn’t about the age of the students to me, it is simply the act of teaching and fostering a love of learning that draws me to this field. It’s a nice epiphany to have and it makes it easy for me to say that I can enjoy any Grade that I may teach in the future.

This semester is shaping up to be a very busy (but wonderful!) one, so I am sure I will have more things to share soon! I hope whoever and wherever you are, you have a splendid day!

give me 5’s

It’s amazing how many little activity ideas I come up with when I’m in the shower. Is this anyone else’s place for thinking? Anyways, this is what my shampoo rinse routine gave me today:

Learning to count to 100 by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 10’s is an important math skill that is worked on early in elementary school. I thought up a fun way to help kids learn their ‘counting by 5’s’ and it is called Give Me 5’s!

The common expression “give me 5” refers to a high five, and I thought this would be a fun activity to incorporate into a math lesson on counting.

I picture this activity with a big hundreds chart at the front of the room and maybe even some smaller ones for the students. Basically, the gist of it is giving a high five every time you say a multiple of five. It would go like this:

5 *high five* 10 *high five* 15 *high five* 20 *high five* and so on and so forth.

You could mix this up in a lot of ways. After you have explained the activity to the students, you could practice with them sitting in their desks facing you. They will all count out loud with you and give an air high five to you as you say the multiples. After they get the hang of it, you can get them to go into partners or small groups and do different combinations. For example:

1. Count to ___ using your right hand/left hand only.

2. Count to ___ using both hands.

3. Count to ___ using alternating hands.

4. Count to ___ using your feet!

5. Make up your own body part to count with.

6. Clap your own hands once and then your partner’s for each alternating multiple of 5.

7. Stamp your feet, jump, spin, etc, for each multiple!

(There are so many variations you could use with this activity. It’s always nice when you can get kids moving during math!)

You could also mix it up by having slips of paper they could draw that had differing values they had to count to (15, 40, 75, etc.) so they weren’t counting all way to 100 every time. This also helps them find different multiples.

Another more advanced idea (that is a bit of a bridge into multiplication) is having one partner count up by fives and the other count how many high fives it took to get to a certain multiple. For 20, one partner would could 5, 10, 15, 20 and the other would count 1, 2, 3, 4 high fives to get to 20! You could get them to draw different numbers and record how many high fives it took them to get to that number each time.

Have fun and high five for having fun in math class! 🙂

the “mine” monster

 I can recall multiple incidents when I was volunteering in Elementary school classrooms in my Grade 11 and 12 years when a student would come up to me, claiming that another classmate had taken something of theirs and wouldn’t give it back because “it was theirs.”

This is an age old problem for young children. It happened when I was that age, it clearly still happens today and, unless some technology comes around that tags your personal items to you genetically, it will happen in the future. It is also difficult to address because you can’t accuse either child of lying.

I have come up with a way to solve this dilemma through PREVENTION, so that rather than having to deal with it, you can hopefully discourage it from happening altogether. It is called the “mine” monster.

I imagine the introduction of this concept to the kids to go something like this…

“Has anyone here ever heard of the mine monster? No? Well, let me tell you, he is a sneaky little creature that likes to take children’s belonging and call them his own. And once he steals something from you, you will probably never get it back.

Has anyone heard the word “envy” or “jealousy” before? Do you know what it means? Yes, you’re right, it is when someone wants things that other people have. That is what the mine monster has – jealousy. He takes your things and then squeals “IT’S MINE!” (in a silly voice) and he runs away to his hiding place and you can never get your stolen item back! He is very sneaky, so you have to watch out for him!

Did you know that people can become mine monsters sometimes? Yes, it’s true. When we see someone else has a sparkly pencil or a brand new ball cap that we like, we may want to take it from them so we can have it. But that is NOT right. That is jealousy. And we can’t take other people’s things and call it our own. Because we don’t want to be a mine monster, do we? No, of course not!

So how can we stop the mine monster? First, we can make sure that our name is on our things, so everyone knows who it belongs to. Second, if we like something that someone has, like a special box of markers or a toy, we can’t take it from them, but we can ask them nicely if they would let us try it if they are not using it. That is called sharing, and it makes the mine monster VERY mad because he hates sharing, because it is a nice thing to do.

If we do these things, we can stop the mine monster from striking in our classroom! So does anyone remember what the first rule is? Yes, it’s PUT YOUR NAME ON EVERYTHING. And what about the second rule? You’re right, it is to share and ask first before taking something from someone else!”

I just thought this was a cute little idea that you could do with your class to prevent kids from taking things that aren’t theirs. Maybe you could even ask the class if they wanted to see what the mine monster looked like and have a little sock puppet or something you could put on your hand and go around the classroom saying “I’m on a hunt, what will I find? A _____________ (ex. red pencil case, box of crayons, etc, etc, etc.) that is mine!” (and take something from a student’s desk in the mine monster’s “mouth!” That would be sure to get your point across).

Let’s all fight the mine monster together!

brain breaks, busy bodies

Lately, I have heard lots of buzz about brain breaks. They not only get kids moving and engaged, but also give their heads a moment of rest from school work.

Just some ideas:

1) Get up and do a dance with specific moves. Ex. the Cha-Cha slide (the video below has awesome actions in time with the song!) or something simple like the Hokey Pokey.

2) Seasonal-themed ideas.

Children jump from side to side and imitate a skier doing a slalom motion.
Children build an imaginary snowman.
Children sit in a line on the floor and pretend they are on a toboggan.

Children crouch low and are seeds, ‘water’ them and they can grow slowly and spread their ‘petals’ (arms) out.


Children can spin around like leaves falling like trees (be careful not to hit anything, you need proficient space)

3) Using everyday, classroom materials
Jump over a ruler without touching it
Balance a pencil/marker/pen on your nose

Have a binder filled with ideas that you can pull out anytime you have a wiggly class! Five or ten minutes is great to get them back on track – and have fun!

last days of school alphabet countdown

During my Grade 11 and 12 years, I volunteered in two Grade 1 classrooms in my hometown. They did something at the end of the school year that I would really like to adapt into my future classroom someday: the last 26 days of school were a alphabet countdown!

For example, when there were 26 school days left in the year, that day would be ‘A’ themed. This continued on until the last day of school, which was ‘Z’.

Activities that followed the letter theme didn’t have to be incorporated throughout the entire day, it could be as simple as one activity done that day that used that letter. On ‘E’ day, the teachers handed out booklets that the students made which were about elephants.

I think this idea would be a fun way to end off the year and incorporate all the letters of the alphabet! 🙂

Some ideas for themed days that I have:

A- apple, archeologist, art
B- beach, book
C- circle, colours, Canada
D- dinosaur,
E- electricity (science experiments with static?)
F- flowers,
G- garden, globe
H- hello (learn to say hello in different languages)
I- ice cream (take the kids out for a treat, make your own ice cream), instruments
J- jive, jump rope
K- kangaroo, kayak
M- music, movie
N- numbers
O- octopus
P- pyjamas, painting
Q- quiet, quick, quilt (maybe all decorate a square of paper and make a class quilt)
R- rainbow
S- swimming, surfing,
T- toys (popular toys in different countries)
U- ukelele
W- weird words (give them a word and have them make up a definition)
X- xylophone (maybe use it to get the students’ attention when switching activities)

Please comment with any ideas you have!