16 Apr 2015

Cleanest Room in Years!

Hi Everyone,

I hope your spring is beautiful and warm wherever you are.  I'm in Victoria, Canada. It's bright and sunny here but still pretty chilly!

This is a real quick post today to fill you in on how I'm managing the tools of the trade.

Both ideas came from Ceilidh, one of many wonderful colleagues. 

Brilliant Idea #1

These clear trays from Ikea are absolutely perfect for holding the kids' supplies. The compartments are just the right size for glue, crayons, pencils, erasers and felt pens.

I have the desks in three pods of eight, so each pod gets two tubs of supplies. It works really well and there's no more "I can't find my red crayon" or "My pencil needs sharpening." There are always extra pencils and I make sure that the supplies are more or less evenly distributed amongst the tubs each morning.

There's no room for the scissors, which in my mind is a good thing. Ever have those kids who start cutting their hair or clothes?

No more! We keep our scissors in a separate box. They have easy access but they only use them when needed. No more fiddling with scissors in their desks.

I don't remember the exact price, but I do remember they were very affordable. I'm thinking I paid about $30 (Canadian) for 8 tubs (I got extra).  I definitely recommend these Ikea tubs.

Brilliant Idea #2

You know how their desks just fill up with garbage? Okay, not everyone, but they do tend to get very messy. By the end of a week or two you have old Kleenex, apple cores, crayon shavings, all sorts of yuck.

I no longer have that problem. We simply turned our desks around and butted the open ends together. The children no longer have access to the inside of their desks.

I wasn't sure how well this would work, but it's been amazing. No more squabbles about lost or misplaced supplies and I've had the cleanest room in years.

Hope this helps someone.


Need a new blog design? Come visit me at Barbara Leyne Designs.

8 Apr 2015

Smashing Eggs Experiment

We've been learning about eggs and have done a couple of experiments.

Today's was the most exciting because I goofed and broken eggs were everywhere!!  You should have heard the screaming. Hee hee.

First we talked about how fragile eggs are.

Then we predicted how many small white boards 3 eggs could support before breaking.

The kids' predictions ranged from two to 50.

eggs and caps supporting white boards

After some trial and error, we finally got everything set up. Those are glue caps. We needed to use them because we had several tries where the eggs were supported with play dough. But that didn't work because the boards just kept sliding off. 

The kids were VERY surprised to see that the eggs could support all the white boards AND all the bigger heavier chalkboards we have!  So was I.

eggs and caps supporting white boards experiment showing how strong eggs are

So we kept going and started adding our Dr. Seuss books. The eggs STILL didn't break, so we put on two bins of exercise books (I forgot to take a picture of that).

The second bin of books sat proudly on top of the pile for about 5 seconds and then CRASH!  It all came down.

Now sadly, I don't have a picture of the broken egg mess. Sorry. But I had one of my students taking the last pic and he was so focussed on trying to capture the actual fall that he (and I) forgot to take a picture of the raw egg that was strewn ALL across the carpet.

Yes, I'm a bit of an idiot:)  We had boards and paper towel protecting the carpet but it didn't even occur to me that the eggs would go flying off to the side as they broke.

Hence, the screams! Lots of fun in Grade 1 today.

Here's a short video that shows how it should be done properly. I think we had more fun though.

4 Apr 2015

Easter Colour

Hi everyone!

This is clearly not a teaching post but I just LOVE making up colour palettes, so I thought I'd share this one with you.

Photograph of a pink and cream tulip Last week I was at Starbucks for our weekly family tea.

It was chilly and drizzling but I managed to take a pic of these beautiful pink and cream tulips.

P.S. If you're looking for a new blog design I'd love to help you out. I have tons of experience and a huge portfolio. You can find me at BarbaraLeyne.com


29 Mar 2015

Easter Poem Freebie

Here's my Easter poem for next week. 

I didn't write this poem and don't know who the original author is.

There's a colour version and two black and white versions, one with the missing rhyming words for your students to fill in.

Poem about the Easter Rabbit suitable for first grade. Freebie includes a colour version, a black and white version and a version with blank spaces for printing the rhyming words.

Click the image to grab.

28 Mar 2015

"Move to Learn" Book Review

Title: Move to Learn
Authors: Joye Newman, Miriam P. Feinberg
Publisher: Gryphon House, 2015

Perfect for Early Child Educators

My first thought when leafing through this book was, "Wow! I wish I'd had this when my own kids were preschoolers!"

Most teachers and parents know how important movement is for healthy physical development, but how many of us know that it's absolutely necessary for "optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, AND social development"?  (p.7) 

That's right. Movement is essential for healthy development in all areas of a child's growth. In fact, "...movement lays the framework upon which all future skills are built" (p.7) 

ALL future skills! I think that's pretty amazing. And it's why it's so important for teachers and parents to get their kids moving in purposeful ways.

This 136-page book is truly a wealth of information. It is PACKED with practical and easy ideas for getting young kids moving and learning. The best part is, the activities can be implemented quickly with very little preparation. When prep is required, most of the materials are easy enough to find around the house.

Kids dancing and playing around. This is a book review of Move to Learn by Grade ONEderful.

The Set-Up

There are six compact, easy-to-read chapters. 
  1. Language and Literacy
  2. Mathematics
  3. Science
  4. Social Studies
  5. Creative Representation
  6. Social Skills
Within each chapter are several specific activities for integrating movement into the curriculum. The activities are geared toward developing sensory, visual, perceptual, fine and gross motor skills in fun, engaging ways.

Here's page from the Language and Literacy section to give you an idea of how the book looks.

This is an example lesson from Move to Learn. It describes how you can add movement to a reading of the story, The Peddler and His Caps. This is part of a book review by Grade ONEderful.com

What's also cool are all the suggestions for incorporating movement into every day activities, e.g., "If you're wearing blue, twirl to the line."

We did that last week and the kids LOVED it! I had them take turns dancing, bunny hopping, twirling, walking backwards and taking giant steps.

Most of the ideas are for preschool but are very applicable to kindergarten and can be ADAPTED for grade one.

Here's one I recently adapted:

We're learning to count by twos.

I had the kids take turns and come up front. I wrote a number on the back of the chart stand (only the selected child could see it). 

He then "punched out" two fingers up to the designated number without saying anything. The other kids had to watch closely, count by twos in their heads and figure out his target number.

Kids playing a classroom game to practice counting by twos. This idea was adapted from the book Move to Learn. This is a book review by Grade ONEderful.

It was a HUGE hit!

Here's another way we include movement in our daily counting.

Granted, this particular activity didn't require a LOT of movement, but it was still a fun way to get the kids up and thinking.

If you're a parent of young kids or you teach pre-school or kindergarten THIS book is for you!

You can find more information about Move to Learn right here.

I'd love to hear how YOU get your class up and moving. I'm always on the lookout for more great ideas:)

Disclosure: I received this book from Gryphon House in exchange for an impartial book review.

22 Mar 2015

An Easter Poem Freebie

Here's the sweet poem we'll be learning next week.

Click the image to grab.

If you like the eggs, you can find them here.

Almost forgot to mention ... there's a black/white version as well.


12 Mar 2015

All in a Rainforest Day: Review & Giveaway

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest book review.

Title: All in a Rainforest Day

Author: Ellen B. Senisi

Photographs:  Thomas Marent

Publisher: EdTechLens, 2014

Theme: Non-fiction, Rainforest, Animals

Suitable: Ages 4 and up

Opening Lines: "Morning sunshine wakes up rainforests around the world. Beams of light touch the tops of the tree canopy. Up in the canopy, baby animals wake to a bright new day."

Synopsis: This beautiful 31-page book, geared towards the young reader, takes a close-up look at the plant and animal life in a tropical rainforest. It is one component of the Rainforest Journey curriculum package published by EdTechLens.

Why I Loved It

1. The photos are extremely appealing with large, bright, clear pics on colourful backdrops.

2. The text on each page is minimal but factual AND lyrical.

3. There are many close-up photos with an emphasis on baby animals.

4. It takes the reader on a lovely journey from early morning 'til dusk. The orangutan photos (especially the sleeping baby) drew many oohs and ahs from my class of six-year-olds.

5. It's a great introduction to an animal or rainforest unit.


1. EdTechLens has lots of free sample lesson plans.

2. They also have some cool media samples, including sounds of the rainforest.

3. Deep Space Sparkle is my favourite go-to art site and they didn't disappoint. Check out these super rainforest art projects!

You can click the images to go to the art lessons. Both of these are geared towards older students, but that never stops me! I often try lessons like this with my Grade One class.

In case you're interested, EdTechLens is looking for teachers to pilot their program!

For more great books, be sure to visit Susanna at Perfect Picture Book Friday. 
I'm on my iPad and can't figure out how to make a hot link, so you'll have to copy paste this:


Okay, now for the giveaway!

You could win your own copy of All in a Rainforest Day.

It's easy to enter. Follow me on Pinterest or Twitter, and follow EdTechLens on Facebook or Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4 Mar 2015

Free, Easy Doubles Facts Math Game

We played a fun game in math today. It was to practice our doubles facts.

The beauty of it is that the kids made the WHOLE thing!

Yup, other than cutting paper I did VERY little.

You'll have to ignore my goofy image. I was playing around with my new Comic Book app and couldn't resist putting in that puff of cloud which has absolutely nothing to do with anything:)


10 pieces of construction paper for each student (cut into smallish pieces)


game pieces (we just used our little dinosaurs)

bingo chips for keeping score


1. Print the doubles facts on the board

2. Instruct the kids to print each double fact on their cards with the answer on the BACK

3. Kids break into pairs

4. Each pair has their own set of doubles fact cards, one die, a handful of counters

5. Instruct the kiddos to place their cards in a circle (or actually any other shape they like, doesn't really matter) as long as they're placed with the number sentence up, answer down.

6. Counters go in the middle

7. First child rolls the die and moves that many places. He/she reads the doubles fact and solves. Then they turn over the card to see if they got the right answer.

8. Right answer? Take one counter.  Wrong answer? Leave those counters alone (hee hee).

9. Next player takes their turn.

10. Just keep playing, going around in circles and collecting counters.

11. Player with the most counters is, of course, the winner. Mind you, I never give them time to figure out who the winner is 'cause you know how that goes:)

Afterwards we took some time and discussed the strategies they used to solve the facts.

Barbara Leyne Designs

BTW, if you like blinkies, then feel free to grab this little guy.  Just click on the image and it will take you to my post where I have the code you can copy.

1 Mar 2015

Blog Design Giveaway!!

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted you to know that I'm having a blog design giveaway at Barbara Leyne Designs.  

I used to be Ruby Slippers Blog Designs, but recently changed my name and platform.

I haven't had a design giveaway for a long time, so if you're thinking of changing up your look then now's the time.

It's super easy to enter. Just click the image here or the link above and you're good to go!

Thanks for stopping by!