Grade ONEderful

August Pinterest Linky

I'm joining Pawsitively Teaching and Inspired Owl's Corner for another Pinterest Party Linky. It's pretty simple: Just post and share your favourite three August pins.

My pins this month are all activities I want to do with my outgoing class in September. I like to do fun and easy art projects because ... well, they're fun and easy:)

Isn't this first pin beautiful! I just LOVE those colours.  This comes from Growing a Jeweled Rose and is a very easy recipe using shaving cream. My class is going to adore this art lesson.

ice cold freezie paint recipe from pinterest originally from Growing a Jeweled Rose
Click to visit my pin

My second pin is from Crafty Morning. I love the texture of the leaves. And it's so easy to get with the scrub brush. This would be a great art project to do by pulling the kids over to a small group table during free play.

fall tree using scrub brush for beautiful texture originally from Crafty Morning
Click to view my pin

My third pin is from The Reading Corner. Renee has tons of great stuff on her blog, most of which is totally free. I really love all her math games, too.

I thought her Warm Hands Cool Air art was quite unique. It looks fairly easy for little ones to do, although I think I'd probably give them a photocopy of a hand shape and then let them draw their own circles. I always find that the younger kids want to trace their fingers too closely to their skin so they end up with these funny skinny hands.

Warm Hands Cool Air art project originally from The Reading Corner
Click to view my pin

Visit Barbara Leyne's profile on Pinterest.

Beautiful Blogger Template Sale

I'm participating in the August 3-4th TpT sale. Everything, including my blog templates, are 28% off, starting tomorrow. And that includes free installation!!

Just remember to use this code at checkout: BTS15

Have you seen the templates yet?

I have 6 now. And I'm very happy to customize some fonts and colours. You'll get more info if you click on the images. Plus you can see a live demo.

Premade Blogger Design by Barbara Leyne Apple themed in aqua red purple green

Premade Blogger Design by Barbara Leyne Chocolate, Pink, Mint, Gold

Premade Blogger Design by Barbara Leyne Hearts, Pink, Green, Orange, Blue

Premade Blogger Design by Barbara Leyne Stripes, Bright Blue, Hot Pink, Lime Green

Premade Blogger Design by Barbara Leyne Pink and Gray Chevrons, Deep Purple

Premade Blogger Design by Barbara Leyne Simple, Elegant, Pretty, Purple, Gray, White

And don't forget to sign up for my Monthly newsletter (click below). For August you have the chance to win a $10 gift certificate to either TpT or Amazon! Plus, there's a 50% discount at my Etsy store, a BIG clipart freebie, and some very handy blogging tips. But the giveaway, discount and freebie only last for a week. So get right on it:)

Take care!

Perfect Picture Book Review: Dogfish

Dogfish by Gillian Shields A book review by Grade ONEderful

I was given this delightful book as an end-of-year gift by one of my sweet students. I really enjoyed reading it and hopefully you do, too!

Dogfish by Gillian Shields

Illustrated by Dan Taylor

Antheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008

Opening Lines:  

Everyone has a dog ... except me.


Dogfish is a charming story about a little boy who desperately wants a dog. But mom doesn't understand his desire because why would he need a dog when he has a perfectly good goldfish? 

The first half of the book, as you would expect, is full of reasons why the boy SHOULD have a dog, and counter-arguments by mom. 

But here's where it gets interesting ... the boy realizes mom is standing her ground, so he figures he might as well make the best of the situation and he decides to start teaching his goldfish dog tricks. It's a lot of work, but eventually they succeed and he quickly learns to appreciate his goldfish (there are many many advantages, after all, to having a fish over a dog :)) But more importantly, the goldfish is now loved and feeling "utterly, totally" blissful. Can I hear an "Awww"?

Why I Like This Book:

Besides the cute illustrations there are a couple of reasons why I think this book is a very worthwhile read. I LOVE that mom doesn't give into the boy's demands. She stands her ground and says to her young son, "Well, if you can't have what you want, you could try to want what you have."

Isn't that the most perfect thing to say? 

And happily, the boy takes mom's message to heart and learns to appreciate the pet he already has. He gives his little fish tons of attention and the fish, of course, blossoms with all this love.

I think this is an important message, not just for kids, but for everyone! Learn to love and appreciate what you already have. Learn to be grateful.

Follow-Up Activities:

1. Grand Conversation: Take the time to talk to the kids about the author's big message (which, by the way, is very obvious, but not in-your-face). I love having these big circle conversations ... the kids usually surprise me with their depth of understanding.

2. Write: I think it would be fun and worthwhile to ask the kids to think of something (a toy or a pet) and list all the reasons why they're grateful for that toy or pet. Or better yet, start a gratitude journal! They could write in it once a week.

3. Learn How to Draw a Goldfish: I have to say, I've seen some of the strangest fish drawings in my career as a Grade 1 teacher. Click on the pic below for an easy tutorial.

Learn How to Draw Goldfish

4. Fish Weaving: Here's a fun art project for K's and 1's from Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists (just click the pic for directions).

Fish Weave: Art lesson for Grade 1

5. Be Inspired Mama has some lovely tips for teaching kids gratitude. One idea she mentions is a gratitude tree. That would be easy and fun to set up in the classroom. Here's a beautiful tree from Simply Vintage Girl (click the pic).

The Thankful Tree. This would be great to have in the classroom.

Three years ago I posted a link to a photo essay of children's bedrooms from around the world. It clearly shows the disparity in wealth AND values. This could be another good starting point for a gratitude discussion.

Blogger Tutorial: Backing Up Your Blog

If you've put years, or even months or weeks of hard work into your blog, then you're going to want to back it up. You know ....  just in case! There could be a server failure, maybe you accidentally delete your blog, or perhaps you've been falsely reported for violating Blogger's terms of service and you're shut down. It happens.

If you have a Blogger blog, then follow along. It's super simple.

1. Go to your dashboard.  See the little wrench on the bottom left? That's your "Settings". Click on it.

2. When you click on "Settings" it will open a fly-down menu. Click on "Other".

3. Now you'll be looking at this image. Just click on "Export blog".

4.  This pops up next. All you have to do is click "Download Blog".

5. After you click "Download Blog" you'll be given the option of where you'd like to save your blog copy.  You can save it to your desk top, hard drive, wherever you like. I usually change the title so it's a little more specific. For example, I'd add GO or GradeONEderful to the beginning because I have several blogs. Be sure to keep ".xml". 

If anything happens to your blog you now have a copy of your posts. To upload them you just repeat the first two steps. In step 3 be sure to click on "Import Blog", then upload the copy you've saved.

Don't forget to download a new copy every couple of months or so.

Hope this is helpful to someone. Have a great day!

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Water Colour Social Icons

I spent yesterday painting some hearts with my new watercolour paints and then figuring out how to scan and digitalize them!

THAT was an experience:)

And when I was all finished I "found myself" with some new social icons.

There are 8 different colours to choose from. All the icons are 50 px wide which is the perfect size (I think) for putting in your blog side bar.

But I know that lots of people who buy my icons also use them in their teacher product pages.

If you're thinking of adding new icons to your blog but aren't sure how to do it, I have an easy tutorial at BL Designs.

Thanks for reading! And before you go, I have a few FREE icons for you. These ones are black and white squares ... very fashionable.

First Nations Mural

I took photos of these breathtaking native murals on a recent walk through downtown Victoria (my home town). 

They're part of a 250-metre long panel of First Nations murals that were erected in a celebratory countdown to the completion of an 11-year-old undertaking to clean up the very toxic land and seabed of Rock Bay.

The murals, running along Pembroke and Government Street, are a reminder to keep our land clean and healthy. They were painted by 16 members of a First Nations youth group and were based on the designs of  Butch Dick and Darlene Gait.

They are absolutely stunning and bring a much-needed beauty to a less-than-pristine area of our city.



Fun Free No-Prep Grade 1 Spelling

Hi Everyone!

One of the lessons I teach every single day is spelling. Although I don't call it spelling; I call it Word Work.

There are lots of different things we do involving our word wall, but whatever it is, I like to keep it as fun and engaging as I can.

Here's a small sampling from last year.

Rainbow words, shaving cream, graffiti spelling and more

Rainbow Spelling (top left)

This is my version of rainbow spelling. I give the kids a blank piece of letter-size paper and we fold it into 8 sections. That alone is a worthy skill to practice. Ask any Grade 1 teacher! :)

Then I dictate phonics words we've been working on. In this case it was short vowels we were practicing. What made this fun? The felt pens of course! There's nothing earth-shaking here, but if you haven't tried this, you'd be surprised at how much the kids loved writing each word in a different colour.

Shaving Cream Spelling (top right)

This is an oldie but goodie and it's especially fun to do when the desks are grubby. I don't do this one too often 'cause it DOES take a little time for the clean up but it's always a huge hit!

Mix It Up (bottom left)

When we're doing simple dictations from the Word Wall, I like to mix up the materials as much as I can. Here we're using white boards. But sometimes we use notebooks, sometimes fancy spelling paper, sometimes mini chalkboards. I've also used ripped brown paper bags, post-it notes, large foam shapes, wrapping paper, paint, play-doh ... pretty much anything that's a little out of the ordinary!

Graffiti Spelling (bottom right)

This is always a huge hit. I spread a huge piece of paper onto some grouped desks (or a large table) and 6 to 8 kids practice spelling wall words they're having difficulties with. I leave it up to them to choose. The challenge is to make each word look colourful and funky.

Spelling graffiti is a huge hit!

You Might Also Like (and those links lead to freebies):
  1. Tic tac toe spelling. We use spelling words instead of x's and o'x to write in the squares.
  2. Word Wall Bingo which is always a huge hit!

What fun stuff do you like to do during Word Work (or Spelling)?

Canada Day Deely Bobbers!

When I wrote about my Free Canadian Symbols Unit, I promised I'd share Part 2 ~ our Canada Day Deely Bobbers.

So here they are!

Step One

I gave the kids maple leaf templates which they cut out. We ended up gluing white ones onto red construction paper and then recutting. I thought they needed the extra weight, but it turns out I was wrong.

Step Two

Add lots of glitter to the leaves.

Step Three

This is where I had to more or less take over. We needed to wrap half a red pipe cleaner around a pencil. It was important that it was wrapped fairly tightly.

Making Canada Day Deely Bobbers |

Step Four

This took a lot of trial and error, but we discovered that the leaves and pipe cleaners stayed upright if I attached the pipe cleaner to the plastic hairband right at the point where the pipe cleaner curls. Does that make sense?

Step Five

Once the pipe cleaners were in place I taped on the very glittery maple leaves.

Making Canada Day Deely Bobbers |

Step Six

Place deely bobbers on your head!

Making Canada Day Deely Bobbers |

The kids looked super cute wearing them, though I did have to bribe some of the boys with cake to get them to wear theirs. Haha! But it was the last day of school so they were all very good sports and agreed to wear them out the door.

So that was my last look at them before the holidays ... their sweet heads with their little leaves bobbing around :)

Free Canadian Symbols Mini Unit

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I've taught a Canada unit in June. In Grade 1, learning about Canada means learning the name of our country, being able to find it on a map, and becoming familiar with the symbols.

It's the last unit I teach because it leads right into Canada Day.

But this year we were still on strike in September and didn't resume teaching until the 22nd. 

Soooo....that meant I ran out of time to teach my Canada unit! And I LOVE this unit. It's just a lot of fun making our booklets and crafts and creating a large Canada anthem mural.

So I decided to cram it in the last week of school. I knew there was no time to teach my usual unit, so I improvised and came up with my "Canadian Symbols Bags".

The Bags

As you can see I gave the kids white bags and a map of Canada. They coloured our province, glued it onto the bag and decorated. The bags are key because they held all the fun Canadian symbols crafts we made.

White lunch bags decorated with Canadian flags and a map are used to store our Canadian symbols crafts.

Our Stick Puppets

I was worried that these easy-peasy little puppets would be boring for the kids, but they actually liked making them. They were super simple, but I think that's what they needed those last few hectic, HOT days.

Grade Ones coloured paper RCMP characters and glued them to craft sticks for a stick puppet.

The Beaver, Oh the Beaver

Haha, I couldn't resist! That's a lyric from "Canada in My Pocket" by Michael Mitchell (though I just realized I forgot to play it this year! That's shameful, now that I think about it). 

In any case, these little beavers were the absolute highlight of our micro unit. I can't believe how much fun the kids had hunting for just the right pinecone.

BUT, they were a little bit tricky to put together. Especially their tails. We used paper, as you can see, but next time I might try felt. Despite some difficulties, it kept them quietly and happily busy for a good hour:)

Grade 1s used pinecones to make a beaver as part of our Canadian symbols unit.

The Great White North

Inuksuit is plural for inukshuk.  These are man-made stone landmarks found in the Arctic region of Canada. Inuksuk (or inukshuk) means "in the likeness of a human" or "you are on the right path". Usually we make our inuksuit out of pebbles, but this year we sponge painted them because it was faster, and then I didn't have to worry about them falling apart later.

Grade 1 students used sponges to paint these colourful inuksuit for Canada Day.

The Canada Goose

As you can see, this little guy is made mostly from hearts. And no, my students didn't cut them out. A few of them can fold and cut a heart shape but I just didn't have the time to pull small groups and oversee the heart cutting (although that WAS my initial plan). 

Instead, I cut them all out during one of my preps. It was remarkably fast (maybe 20 minutes) because I tripled and quadrupled the paper. And I'm glad I did it that way because I know a few of my sweeties would have been in tears ... not to mention the mountains of wasted paper that would have resulted.

When we glued them together I had a model up on the white board so that everyone had a visual while they listened to my directions.

Most of the geese (like this beauty below) ended up looking pretty great, but there were a few wonky ones as well :)

Grade 1 students used paper hearts to create a Canada goose for our Canadian symbols unit.

Our last craft (and my favourite) was our Canada Day deely bobbers (or boppers, depending on your preference).  But I'm saving those for my next post, which will also include a little tutorial, 'cause they were a bit tricky, too. However, they were SO cute and are totally worth doing!

And in case you're wondering, we also spent a lot of time reading some great Canadian themed books, watching a few videos and discussing the meaning of the symbols. You can find all of that, plus a themed book right here.

Are you a Canadian blogger? I'd love for you to link up your best unit in the comments.

See you next time!