Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Artist in the School

Artist in the School

Last week we had a visit from an mime, Chris Sigurdson from the Artists in the School program.  We learned a lot about the art form of mime, such as
  • "Clicks" are when you stop your movement so the audience can understand what you are doing.
  • Gestures are hand signs that everyone knows what they mean.  
  • Facial expressions are important to a mime.  The eyebrows and mouth are probably the most important parts to know the emotion the mime is trying to show.
  • Eye contact helps you know if the audience is following your performance. 
  • Body language helps the audience understand the emotion too.
  • The most famous mime was Marcel Marceau.  He had white face paint, really black eye makeup and black and white striped clothes.
  • We practiced miming being in a box, turning a wheel, tug-a-war with a rope, lifting weights, and playing baseball.  One of the first mimes we performed was making a peanut butter sandwich.
  • We created the masks in the photo below that show a facial expression.  We think they look great!

Leave us a comment about what you like about mimes.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


 Who doesn't love a good mystery?  We are reading mysteries in Grade 2 and 3 currently.  Most of these students have fluent reading skills but many of them struggle to understand what they read.  This takes practice and when the reading is not yet fluent, that is more difficult to do.  The mystery genre gives a chance to work on not only saying the words they see, but thinking about the details as they read.  Looking for clues and judging the suspects is a fun and engaging way to work on comprehension skills.

Students were placed into 4 groups and they had a chance to choose their own group name.  Then they were given a copy of the same Cam Jansen  novel to read together in a Guided Reading Group.  My Grade 11 helper, Meghan and I take groups in turn to read together and discuss what is happening in the story.  Students are asked not to read ahead but to stay with the group so that everyone can make predictions together.

We are also still working on our cursive writing and have been learning some of the particular vocabulary words that go with the genre.  These two goals are combined in daily discussion and cursive practice for about 15 minutes.

I have been also reading some Dr. Quicksolve mini mysteries aloud to work on listening comprehension. You can find similar online activities here and here

There are several great mystery series at a beginning chpater book reading level that I encourage the students to be reading on their own.  Check out the links below for

and to those of my generation Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys!  Parents may want to find some of these series for summer reading.  Check out the local library.   They have a great selection of books for beginning chapter book readers!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Over lunch at the  inservice that I attended  last week,  talk turned to what our students were making at school for Mother's Day this year.  One of the teachers attending told us that her school has decided not to make crafts, cards or gifts for mothers this year and as a result have had several concerns expressed (on Facebook) about this decision. I found a recent news stories a school in Nova Scotia that had made the same decision, although perhaps for different reasons.

That got me thinking about my practice and over the years I have varied from simple cards to quite elaborate and costly crafts for my students to make for Mother's and Father's Days.  This time of the year, student fee funds are often becoming depleted and teachers sometimes pay for the materials from our own pockets.

 I really try to create a culture of appreciation and thankfulness in my classroom.  We try to clean up our own messes and say thank you to staff members and helpers for their part in our school.  That is the message that I am trying to convey with gifts at Mother's and Father's Day.  I do try to make sure the crafts are gender neutral and don't say "Happy Mother's Day" but instead Thank You or I Love you.  That way they can be given to anyone in a child's life who they would like to recognize whether or not a mother or father is a part of their life.  My husband grew up in a home without a mother and counts Mother's Day weeks as his worst memories of elementary school.  Teachers wanting to be kind suggested he make a craft for another female instead but that did not change his uncomfortableness with the activity.  It is a hard spot to be in for everyone.
It is the 100th Anniversary of Mother's Day this year and although society has changed in many ways, I hope that I can pass along the tradition of honouring the people who have made us who we are, not just on Mother's and Father's Day but all year long.

To my own Mom, thank you.  I would put a picture of you on my blog but I know how much you would dislike that! Happy Mother's Day!  Love, Sharon 

Thursday, 8 May 2014


We learned a new Math game called Mindreader!  To play, you need three people and a deck of cards.

Two of the people put a card on their forehead so they can't see it and the third person, who can see them both, says the sum of the two cards. You hear the sum and you can see your friend's number.  Can you tell what is on your card without looking?

Okay, when you say the number of the card on your head you are not really reading a mind but doing some Math!  Try it yourself!

Ancient Egyptian Unit and Art

The month of April in Grade 2 and 3 was dedicated to the study of the culture and life for Ancient Egyptians.  Our Social Studies Curriculum includes a unit of study of an ancient culture to compare and contrast it to our lives today.  We started the unit by collecting questions from the students for a "Wondering Wall".  Throughout the unit the students tried to answer the questions that they had been wondering about.
Our school library has lots of books on the topic that we were able to borrow and we also had some videos on loan from the Department of Education.  The internet also came in handy with some good websites that we could refer to.  Mr, Donn's Ancient Egypt and National Geographic Kids were two of our favorites.  We were also able to use Google Earth to see the pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt today.

Another resource that we used to learn about their life and culture was through Art.  The pictures above show the Egyptian paper dolls that we cut out and painted the bright jewel tone colours that we associate with Egyptian Art.  We also looked at the tomb paintings to model how artists of the time drew people from the side.  They wore exaggerated eye makeup and we tried to copy that on our people.  Some students replicated amulets and other jewelery as well.
Our tinfoil masks based on the one found in King Tut's tomb was our favourite project, some students said it was the best one we had done all year!

To make the project, we covered the lines on a photocopy of the mask with string.  Then we covered over that with tinfoil and rubbed it until we could see the string lines.  Using some Sharpie markers (thanks Mrs. Gillander), students coloured over the tinfoil and added detail.  We had them hanging on the main  bulletin board by the office and received lots of compliments on them!