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!

28 Feb 2015

Color Feelings Book Review

Hi Everyone!

Have you seen the ColorFeelings series?

This is a collection of books aimed at helping young children identify and talk about their feelings. 

Dr. Rona Miles writes in the forward WHY this is an important skill: "...children who are able to recognize and express feelings have a much easier time forming friendships, navigating social situations, and managing their emotions."

I'm pretty sure that all teachers of young children would agree with that!

Author: Esther Adler
Illustrator: Shrutkirti Kaushal
Publisher: Bright Awareness Publications, 2014

Here's what I like most

1. The books are simple, but to the point, with colourful and uncluttered illustrations. They have a "colouring book" feel to them but are great because they focus completely on the topic; there are no distractions.

2. Each book focuses on one emotion at a time and associates that emotion with a specific colour and a particular animal. These animals appear in each other's stories, which adds a lovely continuity.

3. Each book also follows the same format. It introduces the feeling, associates it with a colour, talks about how it makes the character's body feel and gives lots of possible examples for the cause of that emotion. The books wrap up with ideas for coping with that particular feeling.

4. Each book includes worksheets for further exploration. I'm not a worksheet kinda gal, but these are open-ended enough that I can see myself using them.

My Classroom Experience

I introduced the series to my class beginning with Happy. Before I showed them the book, we watched Pharrell Williams' video "Happy".

After reading the book we talked a lot about feeling happy and then the kids wrote a response in their books.  "I feel happy when ...."

I've now read Happy, Love, Anger and Sad to my class. When I pulled out Anger yesterday they actually cheered. And a couple of kids even asked, "Do we get to write our response?"

While I'm reading the book aloud, I often pause and ask them to turn and talk to their partners. They love doing that and I like how it gives everyone a chance to talk and share their thoughts without taking up a whole lot of time.

Extension Activities

If you'd like a closer look at the books you can find them at Bright Awareness Publications

They also have a link to all the worksheets in the back of the books (examples below):

Another great extension would be to read My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss and follow it up with this colourful art activity! Thank you to Mrs. Maynard's Art Room for this idea.

For some more ideas that would work especially well with pre-schoolers and kindies, check out Liz's collection of ideas from Liz's Early Learning Spot.

That's it! Hope you enjoyed this book review. You can also find them on Amazon.

Disclosure: Bright Awareness Publications gave me these books in exchange for a book review. The opinions are all mine.

Have a great day!

17 Feb 2015

Art in Our School

Do you ever just wander around your building and admire the bulletin boards?

That's what I did last week and was just blown away by some of the beautiful art I saw.

Have a look!

Art by primary students at Lakewood Elementary
The art above was all done by some primary classes. Believe or not, that pastel panda at the very top was drawn by a girl in Grade 1 !

Art by intermediate students at Lakewood Elementary

These were created by some intermediate students. 

I really like the bear and wolf. Old music was used for those.

And the perspective drawings at the bottom are very cool.

Ted Harrison style paintings by students at Lakewood Elementary

But these Ted Harrison-style paintings are my absolute favourites!  I have several Harrison prints in my home and I never get tired of the vibrant colours.

Sadly, Mr. Harrison died a month ago, here in Victoria.  He'll be missed but not forgotten.

12 Feb 2015

Lots of Valentine ideas!

Panda Art

About a week ago I participated in a favourite pins linky and shared a pin of a heart-shaped panda. Well yesterday I was at a meeting so I asked my TOC to try them out!

Paper panda head made from heart shapes mounted on red paper

Paper panda head made from heart shapes mounted on pink paper

Cute, eh?

We decided to free-form it. So she gave the kids their paper, showed them how to fold it, and then demonstrated how to cut half a heart shape.

We BOTH thought it would be pretty easy for most of them. NOT! When I spoke to her later she said it was extremely difficult and that they were cutting in all sorts of weird places, and that she had to help at least half the class with EVERY SINGLE heart.

Funny thing is, when I asked my class this morning if they found it a bit hard they ALL, very firmly, told me that no, it was simple.  Haha!

I think this would be easy for Grade 2 but definitely don't try it with Kindergarten unless you have a lot of tracers on hand.

Candy Math

This morning I brought in some conversation hearts. I didn't show them to the kids right away. Instead, we played a game of Twenty Questions.

I changed the rules up a bit and told them they had to ask me 20 "clue" questions about what I had before they could guess what it actually was.

Chart stand showing the 20 Questions game that I played with my Grade 1 class. We used conversation hearts.

After they asked the question, I answered with a "yes" or a "no" and then write the info on the chart paper (and NO, the candies weren't sitting there while we played :)).

I starred all the clues that were the most helpful and we went over those. After that the kids figured it out fairly quickly.

Next up! We estimated how many there were. The kids all went back to their desks and wrote out their estimates.

Then we counted them in groups of 10s.

After that, I asked them to draw their groups of 10s and 1s and label them.

Recording our estimation and counting information

I modelled it first on the white board.

BTW, the reason those cards are there is because they're from our word wall. I brought them over to the white board for this little exercise to remind the kids that they need to use the word wall when they're doing their own writing.

Finally, I had them figure out how many candies each child could have. We have 24 kids in our class, so I doubled the number of candies.  

We shared some answers and strategies and finally one little bright light figured out they could have two candies each!

Student copy of conversation heart estimation and counting

Valentine Spelling

As part of spelling today I thought it would be fun to make Valentine spelling Cootie Catchers!

I naively figured it would take us about 30 minutes to make them and practice a few rounds.


It took us about 70 minutes. Sheesh!  But the kids were excited and had fun so it was all worth it.

We made cootie catchers to practice our spelling words

We made Cootie Catchers to practice our spelling words

Under the number flaps are 8 different sight/spelling words that they chose from the word wall.

Hope you can use some of these ideas.

Happy Valentines Day!

6 Feb 2015

It's a Valentine Blog Hop!

Hi Everyone,

Eight more days until Valentines! Love, love, love it!

I'm joining up with some fellow bloggers to share some of the things I like to do in my class on Valentine's Day.

First up: the Valentine bags.

We usually make these bags in white (easier to find) but you can see how sweet the coloured bags look, too. I found these at Michaels.

If you click the pic you can grab the puppy template.

We usually make cards for our parents, too. We made these ones last year and I just love the little fan hearts the kids made. You can click either image for more details

Inside the card they were instructed to write "I love you because..." with three reasons.

Now of course, Valentine's would NOT be complete without some cute books to read. Here are some of my favourites:

This is a silly but sweet book about a hippo looking for her special Valentine.

I'm not that crazy about the Franklin books, but my kids love them.

Click on the image to read more about this perfectly perfect book!

This is a favourite. You really need to buy this book:)
You can view the entire book at StoryLine.

Here are some Valentine poems!

Click to grab these and more!

Click the pic to grab

And finally, here are a couple of freebies for you!

Just click the images and you can grab the button from my design blog.  I design custom blogs for blogger...just in case you're interested :).  The panda is free in my TpT shop.

Have fun checking out the other blogs for more GREAT ideas!

3 Feb 2015

February Pinterest Picks!

Hi Everyone!

I'm joining Pawsitively Teaching and Inspired Owl's Corner for a February Pinterest Pick. 

Hope you like my choices.

It was hard to narrow down my favourite February pins to just three. However, I knew I absolutely had to include this!

Is that not the cutest face you've ever seen?

I'm pretty sure we'll be making panda faces this year!

Click image for original pin

I thought these sun catchers were gorgeous. And the funny thing is I've never done a melted crayon activity in all my years of primary teaching. Hmmm....maybe this will be our next project!

Click image for original pin

Umm, yes please! Like many people I'm a huge smoothie fan and this one looks irresistible. One of the ingredients is white grape juice. Definitely making this!

Click image for original pin

Happy February!

31 Jan 2015

Valentine Paintings

Every time a new "holiday" rolls around it feels like my favourite.  Does that happen to you, too?

Valentine's Day is no exception.

I just love the pinks and reds and purples and blues and all the pretty, frilly activities that go along with it.

This year I ordered the Scholastic mailbox and cards. And guess what? They're not for my class; they're for me!

Hee hee hee! I can hardly wait.

Okay, okay, I'm giving the cards to my students OF COURSE! But the box and feather pen and mini stamp ... yeah, that's mine!

In preparation for this long-awaited day, my students made these pretty heart mosaics, or collages; I'm not sure what they are exactly. But they're pretty!

If you're interested in doing the same all I did was cut large paper into square shapes. I traced a heart in each quarter and photocopied.

Then the kids went to town with oil pastels (they drew their designs first) and then painted with tempera.  It would probably look even better painted with water colours for that crayon-resist effect!

25 Jan 2015

Musical Words

Do your kids love to get up and boogie around the classroom?


Then you're going to LOVE this fun activity for practicing sight words.

I found this on The Reading Corner and instantly knew I HAD to try it. Thank you, Renee!

Spelling Sight Words to Music

We did this activity three times last week and my class absolutely loved it.  So did I. It was just a fun, happy way to start our day.

Here's my version ... it's super easy!

You need:
1. White boards and pens (but mini chalkboards or paper would work just as well)
2. Some happy music
3. A word wall

1. Everyone stands at their table with an empty white board in front of them.
2. I put on the you-can't-help-but-dance-to-it music and the kids move and jive around the room.
3. I pause the CD player and everyone finds a whiteboard and prints the word wall word I call out.
4. REPEAT as often as you have time for!

When we're finished I have the kids go back to their own seats and we correct the boards together. If there are any mistakes then they need to fix them up before they can add a check mark.

Why I LOVE this activity:
1. It's fun (guess I already said that)
2. The kids are getting some exercise (we have a provincial mandate to get the kids up and moving at least 15 minutes a day... this is in addition to morning and lunch recess play time)
3. It teaches the kids to use the word wall
4. It's another way to practice spelling correctly
5. They get a double spelling-practice whammy with the "mark your own board" activity at the end

I hope you try it out!

18 Jan 2015

Valentine Papers & Freebie!

Hi everyone!

I have some new papers you might like.  If you click the image you'll be whisked away to my TpT shop.

Variety of digital valentine papers in pink, cream, aqua.

And here's a freebie for you. It's a 12x12 inch digital paper.

Paper with pink background and black hearts
To grab the freebie you'll need to join my newsletter. But don't worry, I WON'T bombard your inbox. Members will receive an email every two or three weeks with blogging tips, discounts and coupons. PLUS you receive a gift just for signing up. Hope you'll join the fun!

Yikes! I almost forgot. If you'd like a chance to win the set of papers, just leave a comment with your email and I'll pick a winner(s) tomorrow.
Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

UPDATE:  The winners are ......

Congrats to Renee and Beth Ann!