Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Stockings

Each student in our class decorated a Christmas stocking that was hung in our classroom. Anyone who wishes to can bring a little something to secretly put in them and we will open them the last morning of school, December 19.

If you choose to participate, you can send whatever you’d like, but some ideas of things for the stockings include:

· Holiday stickers

· Mini oranges

· Small candies (Kisses, candy canes, individually wrapped)

·  Pencils or erasers

· Small toys or other treat bag-type goodies (need not be all the same)

· Handmade decorations, cards or messages

We have 21 students in our class and I will have a stocking hung too so that makes 22.  It will be a fun way to celebrate the season at a relatively low cost!

The Littles

Did you ever read any of The Littles books?  They have been around for years but I hadn't read one for a long time.  Recently Mrs. Grieg was cleaning out her book shelf and offered some of her books from the series to our room.  The class thought we should read it and reluctantly, I agreed.  I had recalled not really enjoying the books but we got started.

I had intended to only read a chapter but the story kept making us want to read just one more chapter! In the end, I finished reading the whole book aloud in only two days!  It was a big hit, especially when The Littles made friends with the cat at the end!

I feel that reading aloud to Grade 2 and 3 students is so important!  It models fluent reading and I stop to discuss the book frequently and we talk about what we think will happen next or what we think something means or why someone did something.  This shows the students there is so much more to reading than saying the words on the page!  You have to think while you read to understand what the author is saying with the words.

The school library has many books in this series and some of the students plan to take one home next Friday when they choose their book.  Thanks Mrs. Grieg !


In the fall, our class received an email from Lindsey Gullett with the chance to name the mascot for the Virden Oil Caps Hockey team and thought we'd give it a try.  First we brainstormed for ideas and filled a whole chart paper with everything we could think of.  Then we took a day to think about it and each wrote our choice on a secret ballot.  When they were counted up, Digger was the most popular choice so we submitted that as our entry.

We had forget on all about the contest when on December 1st, we got an email from Lindsey, marketing manager for the team to say our name had been chosen!  We were invited to the game on Saturday, December 6 and we're going to meet Digger and have pizza too! 

It was also Teddy Bear Toss night so when the Oil Caps scored their first goal, stuffed animals of all colour and sizes went flying onto the ice to be donated to charities for Christmas hampers.

Not everyone was able to attend but we look forward to having Digger come to our school someday for a visit.

Great teamwork, Grade 2-3 class!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Vowel Sounds Spelling

We've taken a break from working on No Excuse Words in Spelling, but there is still "No Excuse" to spell those words that we studied incorrectly!

Our currently focus has been on special vowel pairs that have the same phonetic spelling in many words but often you need to choose between two possibilities.  The first group of words are spelled using OI or OY.  There were several YouTube videos to help think about the words but the one posted below was our favorite:

We also used a website during out Daily Five time at Work on Words called Sandcastle Spelling.   The British accent of the clam can be a little confusing sometimes but the kids enjoyed the challenge!

We will continue this practice until Christmas break, including ou/ow, oo/ew/ue and "Super E" will make a special appearance.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

All About Bats!

We were fortunate to have a visit from Jon from Oak Hammock March this week.  His topic on this visit was Creatures of the Night - Bats!
He told us about the many types of bats.  We had heard of vampire bats before and had some of the myths dispelled that we had heard about them.  We had never heard of the tiny Bumblebee Bat or the Flying Fox Bat.
Jon told us about the five types of bats that can be found in Manitoba.
He even showed us a skeleton of one.  The tiny bones amazed us!
This brown bat had been taxidermied and it gave us the opportunity to see one close up.  So many kids thought it looked like a mouse, with wings!
Jon also showed us a bat house and explained how the opening at the bottom helps them feel comfortable enough to roost there during the day so they are ready to go hunting at night.

He saved the best for last when he showed us how to play a game called Bat - Moth.  It is a lot like Marco Polo.  The bat was blindfolded and had to say "Bat".  The moth would reply "Moth" and would try to avoid being tagged.  It is like the adaptation that bats have called echolocation that helps them find their prey in the dark.

All in all, we learned to appreciate bats and especially when he showed us how many mosquitoes each bat east every day!  Thanks to the West Souris River Conservation District for once again sponsoring this educational experience for Reston School.

The Fiftieth Day of School!

Wow!  Can you believe that today (November 20) was the fiftieth day of school this year?  To celebrate the occasion, Room 21 participated in a number of activities all day around the theme of "50".
Using a stamp pad and stamps, students thought about all the ways to make 50 cents with coins.
Students created necklaces with 50 Froot Loops in a pattern.  Later, they got to learn about subtraction first hand - by eating  them!

On this sheet, students had to imagine their life when they are 50 years old - in the years 2056 or 2057! 

This writing activity had the kids think about what they would like 50 of and if that would cause any problems!

They also were challenged to make a list of 50 food, people they knew, 3 letter words, or animals.  This had them work on thinking in categories to help with their list.  For food, they could name breakfast foods, then fruits, then green food to help them come up with a complete list.  They found that 50 takes a lot of thinking!

Other paper activities had them working with a 50 chart to see patterns and number sequence.

And finally, our new Smartboard was one station where the kids could try out the new pens and new way to erase.  Ask your child about it!
I hope that the day halfway to Hundred Day was a day of fun and learning in the Grade Two-Three class!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The New Smartboard is Here!

I have been using a Smartboard with my students since September 2006.  Our first model was one on wheels that we rolled from room to room in the Elementary School and took turns using it.  It was exciting technology!
Within a few years, we had wall mounted versions in each classroom and they moved with us when we moved to the new Reston School in 2011.

Above is the last picture of the  Smartboard we have been using in Room 21 until now. It required a projector , pictured below that shone the image from the laptop onto the Smartboard.

As with any technology, upgrades are always being made and we decided it was time to start replacing the Smartboards.  Our room was chosen to be the first in the division to get a Smartboard 6065 interactive flat panel!

The maintenance department had to take down the bulletin board and move it over to make room as it is longer than the old one was.  They were finished installing it by lunchtime and now we need to wait for Nick, our tech, to hook it up.

The new Smartboard doesn't have a projector because it is more like a big screen TV with touch capability.  It has dual touch ability along with shadow-free and optimal viewing from any angle.  I am sure it will be a whole new learning curve but one we are excited to take on!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Design Process - Boat Building

As part of our first Science unit on States of Matter, we discussed the concepts of floating and sinking.  Each child was given the task to build a boat from a tub of supplied materials. The rubric below was introduced so students would know what they were expected to do and could check back with it as they were working.

Before they could dig in and start building, a yellow sheet like the examples below needed to be completed to show their plan.  Many of the students changed their original plan as they went, a move that is encouraged if the plan is not working like you thought it would.

After two days of building and testing, it was time to prove that their boats were built using at least four different  materials, were colourful and could hold 20 pennies without sinking.  

Everyone was successful and so to take it one step further, we used the weights from the Science lab to see how many grams each boat could hold.   Ask your child how much weight his/her boat could hold.  What an exciting way to end the unit!

Report Card Time

First term is now complete and students will take their report cards home on Monday, November 17.  This is our third year using the Manitoba Provincial Report Card and I hope parents feel informed about their child's progress after reading them.

My students also use Portfolio binders to show their work to their families every month.  We include pieces from daily work that show best work as well as some that show something we were learning.  Assessments like Spelling tests and Math Fact checkups are also included.  This past month, students were asked to set goals for themselves with their parents' help.  Specific goals like : to get faster with my doubles facts in Math, to read for 10 minutes every night and to write a full page in my T.W.A.S. journal every week were great ideas that some members of the class had.  We will revisit these goals periodically to see if they have met them and are needing a new challenge or if they need help to meet their goal.

The Grade Three students will also find their Manitoba Grade Three Assessment in Literacy and Numeracy in with their report.  More information about this Assessment can be found here.

I look forward to meeting with all parents on Wednesday, November 19 at the appointment times that you will find in the report envelopes.  Please be sure to read over the report and make a list of any questions or concerns that you or your child may have before our conference.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Snowmen at Night - Art Lesson on Perspective

When someone asks how lesson planning has changed over my year of teaching, the answer is easy - The Internet!  I have shelves full of lesson ideas, art projects, and class activities but they are really just collecting dust now.  When I need an idea, I just Google what I am looking for and many possibilities and on my computer in seconds.  Pinterest is one site I really like because it is visual, just pictures of the ideas and you can get more details if you want by clicking on the picture.

Last week, I was looking for an idea to work on Perspective in Art class.  With the excitement in the air about when we will have snow that stays, I looked for a lesson that combined the two ideas.  I love the book Snowmen at Night and the illustrations fit perfectly for this lesson.

We hope you enjoy a peek at our classroom and some closeups of some of the Art.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Power of Nine!

Following the success of our first two Math Strategies - Rainbow Numbers (that make 10) and Doubles/Near Doubles, our next focus will be on numbers added to nine and when 9 is taken away from a number.  This is a cute video that helps explain the strategy:

Here is another one by Classroom Professor that helps explain the strategy to parents.

For those who have these facts memorized, the next step will be mentally adding a 2 or 3 digit number with 9 like 45 + 9 and 9 + 123.

Don't forget to turn around the practice and subtract too.  15 - 9,  13 - 9 as well as 13 - 4 and 17 - 8.  We call it "The Power of Nine" and make a muscle to show the power that number has!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!

It certainly makes Elementary teachers (and parents) happy when Halloween falls on a Friday!  The day can be a fun break from the ordinary and we don't have to come to school tomorrow with everyone tired or on a sugar high!  On October 31, the Grade 2-3's rotated through 5 stations to practice skills in a fun Halloween theme way.
Miss Martin, our Grade 11 student assistant, led the group in a game of Halloween word Bingo. The bingo "chips" were spider rings and other spooky things.

Mrs. Perreault led her group in some Math games using spooky dice.  In one game, called Spider, the object was to get the number 8 by adding and subtracting after rolling the dice.

I led a problem solving station where students read the clues on the Smartboard to decide how many ghosts and how many pumpkins were in their haunted house.  The picture below is the solution using bean counters for the following problem:
The number of pumpkins in your house is double three. 
 The ghosts and pumpkins in your house add up to 10 altogether.

 The IPads were used at the next station.  There were QR Codes that students could scan with the Ipad that would take them to Halloween books on videos on YouTube.

Another choice when at the IPads was to use the Cookie Doodle App to create a Halloween themed cookie.  Students could even eat the cookie, virtually of course!

 Another creating station was where students could make a card for someone to wish them a Happy Halloween. 

The day ended with treats and a party as well as visiting the haunted houses set up by Grades 7 - 12.  What a fun and memorable day at Reston School! 

Thursday, 16 October 2014


Parents of Grade 2-3 class, did you hear about dinosaurs coming to life in our classroom last week?  These photos don't come close to showing the IPad app we used to bring the pictures that you can see on the table to life!  It is another example of Augmented Reality, like in our Dot Day activity. 

Our theme topic for the next few weeks will be dinosaurs and this was a great way to get everyone excited and Ready to Learn!  Our Literacy Time will focus on reading, writing and researching about these prehistoric creatures.  The content or knowing how to say the names or facts about them is not my goal here but many skills including using phonetic clues to sound out the names and reading fact books have a purpose when there is a topic a child is interested in learning more about.
I believe when children see a purpose for reading and writing, they are much more motivated to work at their level and break through to the next one!

States of Matter

This week we have been learning about the three states of matter - solid, liquid and gas.  Here is a video that I showed the class to give you a refresher:

We will be investigating the properties of solids and liquids in future experiments so be prepared for your child to want to try them out at home too!  Evaporation, condensation, freezing and melting are all words we will use to talk about when matter changes from one state to another.  We will also find out about dissolving floating, sinking and buoyancy during this Science unit.

Here is a link to the curricular outcomes for this Science topic:

Here is another link from the My Child in School website about Science :

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

No Excuse Words

You might have heard about our "No Excuse Words". Four words per week are added to a cumulative list that we practice the spelling of daily. Therefore there will be "no excuse" to spell them wrong! One part of the day where we focus on them is “Working with Words” in Daily Five. These are words that students need to be able to spell without sounding them out, usually they don't follow traditional spelling sounds and rules. We think of tricks together like - Big Elephants Could Always Use Some Exercise - to help spell "because".
Each week we will introduce 4 new words that the students need to try their best to master and I will do a checkup each Fridays to see how they are coming. These words will be written in the agendas on Mondays so you will be able to work on them at home too.

Here are some fun ways to practice No Excuse Words at home:

1. Rainbow Words- Write your words and trace over them in 3 different colors.

2. Ransom Words- Cut letters out of newspaper, magazines, or write them out on paper and cut them, then glue them together to build your words.

3. Hidden Words- Write your words and find hidden words in your words. Ex. that – hat – at

4. Shaving Cream Words- Write your words out in shaving cream.

5. Tracing Words- Trace your words in sand, on felt, in the carpet, using your finger.

6. Word Hunt- Search for your words in books/texts or around the house. Write your words as you find them.

7. Font-abulous- Type your words in 3 different fonts on the computer.

8. Chalk Talk- Write your words in chalk. You can do this activity with a dry erase board and marker too.

9. 3 Way Words- Write your words three ways, really big, really small, and in your best handwriting.

10. Trace & Spell- Have someone write your words neatly. Trace the words spelling out each letter in the word.

11. Pretest- Take a pretest. Check over each of your words. Write any incorrect words 3 times each.

12. ABC Order- Write your words in abc/alphabetical order 3 times.

13. Cheer & Spell- Cheer the spelling of your word.

14. Body Letters- Spell each of your words while making each letter with your body

15. Travel Spelling- Spell your words out loud in the car, while riding your bike, or while taking a walk

16. Sing & Spell- Sing a song or chant your spelling words. Ex. Peo-ple, peo-ple

17. Magnetic Letters- If you have magnetic letters, use them to build your words.

Week One words - October, they, when, because

Week Two words- could, would, some, said

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

O Canada!

Our first Social Studies topic is Canada.  My objectives during this unit will involve having students become more familiar with this great country of ours.  Students will be able to name some symbols of Canada, provinces and capital cities.  Complete mastery of being able to memorize these places is not a reasonable goal for every member of our Grade 2 and 3 class but some students may be ready for that and enjoy the challenge!

Below is a video that sings about some Canadian symbols that can be found on Canadian coins.  It's another catchy tune so be prepared to hum it for a while afterwards!

We have also spent some time learning the words to O Canada in English ( some of us may have been singing the wrong ones all theses years in the morning) and next will be learning the words in French!

Part of this unit will involve studying interesting and unusual place names in Canada and the origin of those names. Please take some time to discuss with your child about places that you’ve visited or where family live and try to find how that place was named. If your child writes down what you find out, s/he will be ready for our class discussion, likely next week.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Doubles, Doubles!

Doubles, Doubles, I can add doubles!
It's no trouble for me to add doubles!

Have you heard your child singing this song by chance?  (Mrs. Perreault said it was stuck in her head all day after hearing it in Math class this morning!)  Below are the links to the videos on YouTube:

The Math facts that we call The Doubles are the next set we focus on after mastering the Rainbow Numbers.  Knowing the answer in 1 or 2 seconds will help speed up computations but will also help with learning the "Near Doubles" facts like 7 + 6 and 8 + 9.  When practicing with your child, don't forget to turn them around to connect with the subtraction facts like 16 - 8 and 12 - 6. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Zuma Rockers and More

We have two special student chairs that you may have heard about if you have a child in my class.  They are called Zuma Rockers.  Many classrooms use them to help kids improve their work habits in the classroom. Our school division’s occupational therapist, Rob Thiessen says that the chairs:

“provide the exercise that the body needs throughout the day and promotes increased muscle tone, The linear movement also helps to calm the nervous system just like spinning excites it. The smooth rhythmic movements work to promote a predictable and calming sensation. “

I am on the way to giving each student two days to try them at their spot at the table and then I'll ask what they think of them. More information can be found at the following website:

We also are currently trying out a Desk Cycle.  There is lots of information online about their benefits in the classroom.  Here is an article describing improved learning using it.

Ms. Hurton has also found a source to let us try out a Hokki Stool. If you follow the eBrandon forums, there was a recent discussion on there about Hokki Stools.   Link here to read it.  It will be interesting to try it out in our classroom!