Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

I just finished the first full week of school with my new students. For me, there is lots of new. New students. New school. New grade combination (Grade 4 & 5). New community. New room. I teach and learn in The Land of New.

Nothing was perfect. But everything was about learning. Sometimes, I was absolutely the biggest learner in the room. Sometimes, I felt the beginning faith in my students that they are both learners and teachers here. I want them to always know this.

Today I celebrate that some wonderful happened. This classroom that I worked on for endless days in the summer feels like so much more with students in it. Together we are building community. It’s exhausting. But it’s fantastic.

And, there is no way I could be doing this alone. My family (parents, children, sister) helped me with set up all summer. My husband has helped me multiple days this week to hang art, affix labels and shift furniture around the room. My new school community has been supportive and willing to answer my endless questions. Things I have needed have been sourced. An iPad charger. A classroom carpet (thank goodness!). Blue markers for the white board.

I am constantly inspired by the PLN I continue to grow. You will see in this celebration that I have borrowed, emulated, utilized, shifted and considered the ideas and work of many incredible educators, authors, illustrators and artists in the work we did this week. I am always bursting with gratitude to be connected with so many creative and thoughtful individuals.

Now to celebrate!

We completed two pieces of art to celebrate International Dot Day. I wanted students to approach their work playfully and to embrace the feeling of no one way to make an art piece. I discovered the wonderful blog of artist Michele Guieu and was blown away by all that she does. After resurfacing from her blog (prepare to spend hours!), I had the inspiration for our Dot Day pieces.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

On one wall – our collective work! Can’t wait for students to walk into this on Monday morning.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

We are learning to think like scientists by waking up our brains to be observant, organized and full of questions. Thank you to Jess Keating and her Animals for Smart People videos. These videos are all under 3 minutes so we watch them twice and then talk about what we learned and the questions the information inspired.

Our first response web was completed together. Students will begin completing their own next week. We talked about jotting down new learning and connecting this to further questions.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of NewAll last year my students and I participated in #classroombookaday (Follow the link to the presentation that Jillian Heise and Angie Huesgen gave at nErdDcampMI 2016 for more information). Near the end of the year, I started choosing a collection of books around a theme. This year with an intermediate class, I decided to continue this and then have the students respond at the end of the week. What was their favourite book? What did they feel was the theme of the week? Which book best exemplified that theme?

We will be learning more about theme in the weeks to come, including how to think about supporting ideas from the text that confirm/illustrate the theme. What I love about this is the potential for students to be thinking and talking all week about how stories connect and what messages they include.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

In math, we began our week with representing numbers in interesting ways. While students built and created, I learned about their understanding of place value and ability to “count up” to prove to me that their structure/creature represented the number given.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

We have started Reading Workshop in full force. This group happily reads independently for 20-25 minutes and daily asks for more time to read. We have started to learn about genre through our picture book collection. This week we talked about fantasy stories, humour and books with rhyme and repetition. I have been trying to connect with each child to talk about books that are loved and what to read next. One important moment? When the child who told me he did not like to read and had no favourite books (on his reading survey) came to me on Friday and asked for my help in choosing a novel. The power of a reading community in a classroom full of books!

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

I finally finished covering exposed black board (non magnetic and marked up with tape marks) with book jacket covers. I call this book wall paper 🙂 The covers I selected are favourite titles of mine but I hope that they also convey a few things: we are readers here, we read fiction and nonfiction, stories are important, diversity is celebrated, we will be creative here, we will share laughter, we will learn together . . .

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

I celebrate turning out the lights on Friday afternoon (okay, early evening) to chairs up, art on the wall, student words in my head. Goodnight to my new classroom community.

Celebration: Week One in The Land of New

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Celebration: This and That

I am posting a little later than usual on this Saturday. I needed a walk in the beautiful fall sunshine and some time skating through the fallen leaves. There are colour explosions everywhere in my neighbourhood. Just gorgeous.

This week I want to celebrate some general things – like the beautiful fall we are experiencing, the support of good friends and the strength I take from my daily walk to work.

I also want to share a little bit of this and a little bit of that from my week in my classroom.

I honour the importance of play and all of the language, problem solving and creativity it inspires.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

I am thrilled that one child fell hard for Lunch Lady by Jarrett Krosoczka. He just hasn’t figured out how to read them all at once!

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

I particularly loved the comment from one child who looked at our recently read/book talked fiction shelf and said, “Wow. We have read a LOT of books.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

We finished our first novel of the year – Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon and the students drew some pictures and did some writing about it.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

I had the opportunity to go see Ben Hatke here in Vancouver and have started reading Little Robot to my class.

Little Robot Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

After I shared the first 25 or so pages of the book, the children did some robot drawings. One little listener was able to retell much of the first section after just that one read through. Impressive!
Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

The robots are all kinds of adorable.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

One child was away when we did our art and came in early one morning to work on his drawings.

Celebration: This and That There's a Book for That

I am happy to celebrate this, that and all of it.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Monsters, monsters everywhere

Monsters, monsters everywhere

Monsters have cast a certain magic over our classroom lately.

We’ve been reading about monsters.

Talking monster characteristics.

Designing monsters.

Sketching monsters.

Painting monsters.

Talking about monsters living with us. Because . . . hey, what if?

Stories to come. We are writing.

It all started with this book:

Leonardo Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

And then, we looked at a few more monster titles. Some monster images. Thank you Elise Gravel for some wonderful monster inspiration on your website! We made a gigantic chart about all of the monster features we noticed like: fangs, claws, blueberry bodies (you know squishy and round), humongous heads, extra eyes (and other body parts), horns and other strange features.

We drew monster designs.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

By the next week, we were ready to pick a particular monster and “grow him/her” into our monster piece.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Add some paint and some creative energy from your peers, and my, oh my, what happens . . .

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Some monsters are born!

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Boo! Are you scared? Just a bit? We won’t tell!

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Now that you are in the monster mood, you might want a book selection, or two to explore. Here are 18 of my favourite monsterish creature titles:

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Picture Books about Monsters

Monsters? Creatures? Is there a difference? I’m sure if we asked some of these characters, they would have an opinion.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Strange Creatures in Picture books

Picture books that feature monsters and other strange creatures:

Crankenstein written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Dan Santant

Love Monster by Rachel Bright

My Teacher is a Monster (No I am Not) by Peter Brown

Prickles vs. The Dust Bunnies (A Balloon Toons comic) by Daniel Cleary

The Gruffalo written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Raising Your Own Pet Monster by Elise Gravel 

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Wilfred written and illustrated by Ryan Higgins

The Monstore by Tara Lazar

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell

The Tale of Jack Frost by David Melling

The Book that Eats People is written by John Perry and illustrated by Mark Fearing.

Plantpet by Elise Primavera

Big Bad Bubble written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie by Joel Stewart

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Happy Picture Book Month!

pb month logo

Celebration: Children’s Art

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

celebrate link upThis week I had a visit from someone that spent a lot of time in my classroom last year. She walked into the class, paused and took in all of the wall space and displays.  “I just love all of the art in this classroom. It is always so amazing.” she commented. Yes, I thought, I think so too!

The art all over our walls and on display in the hallways speaks to our spirit, our creativity and our community. Making art together every week is a happy time. Time to talk, to problem solve, and to share. We often have three to four projects on display at once. Often a picture book has been an inspiration for these projects. I also regularly read a variety of art blogs for great ideas.

This week, I am sharing some final projects as well as some in process photos of art projects created in my classroom over the last 12 months or so. I celebrate the art my students produce! It is always a source of joy.

I hope it brings as much happiness to you as it does to us to be surrounded by colour and creativity everyday!

We did gorgeous cityscape pieces last spring using black construction paper, glue lines and vibrant chalk pastel. Our inspiration for these pieces was the book by Robert Neubecker‘s Wow! City! More about this project here.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

We were inspired by the “eyepatch” page in Calef Brown’s book Pirateria. Fabulous pirates guarded our hallway after everyone got to work on making some amazing pirate art. More about this project here.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

Mini Grey‘s The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be was part of the inspiration for some princess and pea inspired art. More about this project here.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

The book Ten Little Beasties by Ed Emberley was the inspiration for a project to make our own beasties. Lots of colour, lots of fun.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

What is Halloween without amazing witches? More about this project here.

Witches  Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

I have a thing for owls. Last year we did three projects about owls in art. This year, I just couldn’t resist sneaking one in. More about this project here.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

We are VERY fortunate to have Arts Umbrella come in and do a project with us almost every year. This year we did huge insect art. Stunning!

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

We finished up some gorgeous winter castles in January and added some writing to go with the final pieces on display. I love working really large with projects!

Winter castles  Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

For Valentines and Kindness week, my class made Love Robots. Programmed to love. What could be sweeter?

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

And sometimes art going on display is not a class project, but a body of work by one child. This is an in process photo for a project to be on display after our Spring Break. Thanks to the brilliant inspiration of Miriam, who shares these wonderful children with me, to bust out the gold spray paint!

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

May your week be filled with colour, creativity and joy!

Wise Eyes Watching

These beautiful owls are now perched up high on our our bulletin boards – wise eyes watching us:

 Wise Eyes Watching There's a Book for That

Inspired by this wonderful post on the art blog A Glimmer of Light, we created these gorgeous owls. Here is our process.

First, we drew with oil pastel directly onto black construction paper (no pencil marks first!) – thinking about the shapes of the body, eyes, wings, talons and added a fancy crown. Students then began colouring in the owls with oil pastels, creating patterns and textures.

 Wise Eyes Watching There's a Book for That

After about 20 minutes of work time, most children were at this stage: shapes drawn and quite a bit of colouring and design complete.

 Wise Eyes Watching There's a Book for That

On Day 2, we just had another short amount of work time so our goal was to finish adding colour to our owls and to outline important lines.

 Wise Eyes Watching There's a Book for That

On Day 3, we broke out the chalk pastels and added bright and beautiful backgrounds with swirls and stripes. Students were encouraged to not use more than 4 different colours.

 Wise Eyes Watching There's a Book for That

Many students helped with background colouring so that we could all complete our masterpieces to have them ready to post up in the room.

 Wise Eyes Watching There's a Book for That

Final step was to outline any lines that had blurred at the edges of the owls into the chalk pastel background and these stunning owls were ready!

 Wise Eyes Watching There's a Book for That

Some students even wrote a little bit to share about their process or about who their owl might be . . . . Check out our classroom blog Curiosity Racers to read about what was shared and to see some more images!

Fly Free

We love making art in our classroom. It seems always to be more powerful when it is a response to a book we have read. I don’t think it is hard to figure out why – books inspire us to think and feel and reflect and respond. Art is all about responding creatively to what we are thinking about. So the picture book/art connection is a powerful one.

There is a bit of a story to how my Grade 2/3s happened to create these pictures:

 Fly Free! There is a Book for That

It started with the wonderful book The Secret Message that author Mina Javaherbin sent to our class after we had made a connection with her when we reviewed her book Goal! This book, based on an ancient  Persian poem by Rumi, tells the story of a wealthy  merchant and his parrot. The beautiful bird sings of longing and dreams of freedom and yet, his only reward is a larger cage. When the merchant travels to India, the parrot asks him to tell his wild parrot friends of his captivity and how he misses flying in the forest. The birds manage to send a secret message back to their parrot friend in Persia, ensuring his route to freedom. This story inspired many questions and lots of discussion. Big themes of course involved freedom and the merchant’s right to keep a wild bird captive.

The Secret message

Students were not impressed by the larger cage that the merchant bought the parrot. They felt it didn’t come close to measuring up to the beautiful forest where wild birds flew free. This got me thinking about an art project I had pinned to my art boards on Pinterest. It was from the wonderful art blog Mrs. Picasso’s Art Room. This project also looked at birds and cages and questioned captivity. Inspired by this project, I decided to have the students draw their own bird cages that they could have birds perch upon. We also incorporated the message from Mina when she signed her book for us: Fly Free!

Students began by drawing an elaborate bird cage with black crayon and oil pastel. We thought about a door to the cage and making it stand out as firmly closed. Some students began with mock up sketches to think about shape and design.

 Fly Free! There's a Book for That

Finished cages were elaborate and beautiful. We talked about how we liked the idea of these cages for decoration but not for keeping a bird inside!

 Fly Free! There's a Book for That

We then made our birds after looking at many picture books and nonfiction books that featured parrots but also other exotic and beautiful birds with interesting colouring and decorative bills. A favourite was a book that celebrated being observant about the details of different birds: Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek. Simply gorgeous! The striped beak of this little puffin made its way onto many finished birds! We loved the layered colours and the loose lines that outlined this beautiful bird.

 Fly Free! There's a Book for That

Drawings started with crayon. Some looked very puffinesque (thanks Petr!)

 Fly Free! There's a Book for That

Other birds came in different shapes.

 Fly Free! There's a Book for That

Some students were very excited to make their birds multicoloured using layers of crayon and oil pastels.

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Two colours on the beaks were very popular

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Big theme? Pride!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

And smiles!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Students then cut out their birds and the signs they had made that expressed either: Freedom of Fly Free. They positioned them on the page so it was clear that the birds were perched outside the cages and voila – beautiful art projects with a message!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

Fly Free! There's a Book for That!

The great thing about this project? As we worked on it over multiple days, our discussions continued. As students worked, they talked about blending colours, interesting birds and what it means to be free. What could be better?

Thanks to Mina Javaherbin for such an important book!

Ahoy there Pirates!

Sometimes a page in a picture book just speaks out and begs to be emulated. This happened to our class when we turned to what we call the “eyepatch” page in Calef Brown’s book Pirateria. (Read student reviews of this book here)

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

There is a full page spread of various pirates sporting eyepatches in perfect pirate colours.   Colours such as: Briny Deep Green, Dreaded Red and Swashbuckled Huckleberry. And of course: Cannonball Black. Students wanted to look at it again and again. We decided it was the perfect inspiration for some of our own art in Calef Brown‘s style. We included the elements of his pirates that we loved: the striped shirts, stylish bandanas, whoop-de-doo noses and colourful faces. Below, read the step by step of how our pirates came to be.

Pirateria

First we did some sketching with black crayon, trying out various pirate styles.

Students then chose a favourite and began their large pirate face, using a black oil pastel. Don’t you just love these noses? We sent Calef Brown some pictures and told him how much we loved the noses. He explained their importance:

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

Then time to colour with oil pastels – just the eye patch, the hair, shirt,  bandana, and mouth. Some people couldn’t resist colouring in their nose!

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

On Day 2, we painted.

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

We used 2 colours – one for the face and one for the background.

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

Students then outlined with pastel again if necessary once the paint was dry. All pirates had a lot of style. This saucy fellow, according to the little artist who created him is a bit of a facke (fake)!

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a book for That

Some pirates were all about the nose!

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Others – it was lips not to be missed!

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Can you say moustache? How about three?

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Some pirates had lovely smiles.

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Some smiles need a little dental attention or the occasional toothbrush at least!

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!We had pirates who looked serious and wise.

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

And some who pondered life under a starlit sky.

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Now all of these pirate characters hang outside of our classroom. Come by and check them out but don’t get too close . . . They may make you walk the plank!