Grade ONEderful

7 Fun Summer Reads

My blog friends, Miss Trayer, from Not Just Child's Play, and Tammy, from Forever in First, have been sharing the books they've been reading and I always get some great ideas from them.

Seeing as how I have 4 MORE TEACHING DAYS until my summer break AND my goal is to read 20 books this summer, I thought I'd share some of my most recent reads, too.

A beautiful book about the quirky and loveable Don Tillman and his quest to find the perfect wife. I LOVED this book!

The sequel to The Rosie Project: I don't want to say too much in case you haven't read the first one, but it was just as delightful. 

This was a sweet and charming book about an autistic girl, Rose, who's obsessed with homonyms. So when her dad gives her a dog she names her Rain (reign, rein). The story really begins when Rain goes missing after a storm and Rose is determined to find her.
I didn't love this book, but I was very glad to have read it. The ending was a bit tough, but it was still the perfect ending.

This was a GREAT thriller! My husband and good friend also read it and they loved it as much as I did.

Confession time: I'm addicted to urban fantasy. These books by Anne Bishop are the 2nd and 3rd in "The Others" series. The Others are ancient earth forms who grudgingly let humans live in controlled settlements. The stories revolve around Simon (a wolf who shifts to human form) and Meg (a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet). Sounds weird, I know, but the plot is great and very suspenseful.

I finished this book two days ago and really enjoyed it. It's narrated by 17-year-old Greg. His world is radically changed when his mother forces him to befriend the girl next door who's just been diagnosed with leukemia. Sounds dreary, but trust me, it isn't. It's pretty raw and in-your-face funny.

Happy reading!

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Father's Day Cards

We made our last minute Father's Day cards today and I think they turned out pretty well.

I went to Michael's and bought some corrugated cardboard cards and matching envelopes (30 for $8). Yes! They were on sale.

I have a heart punch and a scalloped circle punch, too. So we used those for the shapes which were cut from scrapbook paper.
Father's Day Cards

Father's Day Cards

Day cards made by kids. Materials: brown note cards, heart punch, scallop punch, scrap paper. Super easy!

Everyone in the class was easily able to make these. The only tricky part for a few of them was making sure the card opened the right way. Very very careful listening was required -- ha!

Happy "almost" weekend!

5 more teaching days for me :)

The MAGIC begins when you click above!

Butterfly Art & Clipart Freebies

Hi Everyone!

We've been learning about butterflies and even had the opportunity to keep some caterpillars and watch them change into chrysalises and emerge. 

After we released them we decided to make our own tie-dyed butterflies from coffee filters. If you haven't done this before it's super simple. You need white, round filters and you get the kids to colour them with water based felts. They can just scribble or draw a pretty design. It doesn't really matter.

Once you have lots of colour on them you spray them with water.

I'm so lucky! I have a back door that opens directly outside. So when the kids finished colouring their filters they'd just scoot outside and get to work with the spraying. I was so proud of how responsible and careful they were:)

Once the filters were wet they needed to dry.

Now this was very exciting because it happened to be a windy day and they were flying everywhere. Haha. I realized afterwards that we didn't really need to lay them out to dry, because they drip-dried pretty quickly as the kids were holding them.

Everyone made two each. The next step was to scrunch them up and tie pipe cleaners around them. This was pretty tricky for my ones so I had to do it for most of them.

Aren't they pretty?

The next day we went outside and placed them in a tree. We'd been looking at pictures of butterfly trees in Mexico and we wanted to replicate those images:)

We learned about butterflies last year, too, and I have some more great pics and activities.

Now for the freebie!

I used to post on BL Designs and offer clipart freebies, but now I'm doing that on Grade ONEderful instead.

If you'd like these butterflies you'll need to join my newsletter in order to get access to the freebies.

These guys are about 6 inches wide.

I made them on Illustrator and then added the dots and pastel effect in Photoshop. The edges look a little pixelated here but they'll be sharp and crisp when you grab them.

Hope you like them!

Before you go don't forget the GIVEAWAY I'm having with Ellen at Create in the Chaos. We're giving away clipart, a printable paper craft pack and a $10 Amazon card.

You can find it HERE. It's on until next Friday. Good luck!

The MAGIC begins when you click above!

Craft Pack & Clipart GIVEAWAY!

Hi Everyone!

Guess what? I've teamed up with my new blog friend, Ellen Russell, from Create in the Chaos to bring you this fun little giveaway!! You could win a paper craft pack, clipart and a $10 Amazon gift certificate!

Ellen blogs about life and adventures with her two little guys .... which brings back happy memories for me (I have two very grown-up boys:)).

Just recently Ellen put together this cool printable craft pack. I tried it out with my class of six and seven year olds and it was a BIG hit.

I combined two of the paper crafts (the castle and the rocket) with our geometry unit. The kids loved both those projects and I loved that it was an opportunity to build upon their 2D and 3D knowledge.

I also let them choose a variety of different crafts to use on their own during centre time. They picked the dragon, the bookmarks, the spy wristbands and the robot dice. Actually, they wanted a lot more, but it's the end of the year and I'm madly trying to finish up a couple of units, so I had to limit them.

A couple of the activities were a bit hard (the gluing parts) for a couple of kids, but others had no problems. So they combined forces and completed ALL activities without my help.

Do I recommend this printable craft pack?

Oh yes!

Grade 1 teachers I think you'll really love it! It's perfect as a supplement to other lessons (as I did with Geometry) or during centre time when the kids can happily colour, cut and paste all on their own and be VERY successful.

If you'd like a chance to win Ellen's Craft Pack AND two clipart sets of your choice from my Etsy shop AND a $10 Amazon gift certificate, then just sign up for both our newsletters and YOU could be the lucky winner!

When you sign up for Ellen's newsletter you'll also receive a robot finger puppet craft.

And when you sign up for mine you'll receive a set of colourful digital labels and a link to my exclusive freebies (I have about 10 right now, but they're steadily growing).

Don't forget to fill out the form below to enter. And good luck:)

The MAGIC begins when you click above!

Easy Freebie No-Prep Addition Game

Hi Friends!

I wanted to share an activity we did in math a little while ago.

I call it the Smartie game (although you can use other candies, or non-edible counters, if you prefer).

We played it to practice addition to 12, but it could easily be adapted to addition to 20 if you have 10-dice.

The beauty of this game though, is that there's NO prep or photocopying. Well, okay, you have to buy the candies if that's what you're using ... but nothing else.

AND, it gives you a quick insight into the kids' ability to sequentially and evenly space numbers on a number line.

Step 1

Give the kids a piece of 8 1/2 by 11 paper cut lengthwise. They turn it sideways (as shown below) and draw a straight line with a ruler.

Step 2

Print the number 2 on the left end of the line and the number 12 on the right.  Eyeball the centre of the line and print the 7.

Step 3

Here's the tricky part (but ever so revealing): Print the remaining numbers between the 2 and 7 and the 7 and 12. I modelled this on the board for the kids, but many of them still found it challenging. 

But don't feel like you need to have them fix it up ... it's not that important to the actual game.

Smartie Math Game Board by

Step 4

Kids break into pairs and every child is given 11 of their own Smarties. Players take turns rolling two dice, adding the numbers, then placing a Smartie on the corresponding sum. If it already has a Smartie then they miss a turn.

The winner, of course, is the first person to cover all 11 numbers on their game board. And YES! They eat them when they're finished.

Easy no-prep addition game for Grade 1 by

Easy no-prep addition game for Grade 1 by

I should mention, I always stress to the kids that they "count on" when they're playing this. They know it's most efficient (if they don't already know the answer) to say the name of the largest number and then count on from there. 

I think this simple and fun game is GREAT practice and very worthwhile!

I hope this was helpful! We're going to play it again on Thursday with our 10 dice.

Looking for some more number line ideas? Check out these games.

The MAGIC begins when you click above!

Book Review: Jack's Beanstalk Stinks!

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday!

It's been a little while since I've linked up with Susanna and the gang, but when a child brought this book to class today, I just knew I had to share it with you.

Book Information


Trust Me, Jack's Beanstalk Stinks!

Author / Illustrator:

Eric Braun / Cristian Bernardini


Picture Window Books, 2011


Kindergarten to Grade 3


Fractured fairytale / Humour 


This is a funny look at the classic tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, from the giant's point of view. The giant tries very hard to garner some sympathy with his sore knees, his constant hunger and the pesky humans that keep annoying him. But hey! He EATS people and he admits it. Still, Jack DOES seem like a sneaky, mean little character. You'll have to read the book and decide for yourself.

Opening Lines:

People think it's easy being a giant. You get to be rotten, grumpy, and loud. You're big and tough. You have gobs of treasure. And nobody--nobody--tells you to behave.

Why I Like It:

I'm a sucker for fractured fairytales. I've read so many classics over the years that I start to get a bit tired of the goody goody heroes and heroines. And really! as the girls in my class like to say, why are the princesses always marrying guys they barely know? Yes, I digress, but my point is, it's always fun - and a good idea - to think about differing points of view.

As an added bonus, I think the illustrations are gorgeous. They're big, bold and colourful. Just what I like in a read-aloud picture book.


Grand Conversations ~ Immediately after reading the book, we all sat in a big circle and talked about whether or not we believed the giant. Did we feel sorry for him or was he just trying to trick us? What I love about these discussions is the kids are basically in control of them. They don't put up their hands, they just speak out when there's a space in the conversation. They were very polite today, until the conversation veered into vegetarianism and whether or not the giant is mean because he needs to maintain a healthy, balanced diet by eating kids. Hee hee. Yes, I'm a vegetarian, but I swear, I had NOTHING to do with that part of the conversation.

Writing Response ~ The kids drew a picture of the giant and wrote their opinion based on our previous discussion.

Art Activity ~ We painted these perspective drawings of the giant last week. You can find the directions right here.

Please be sure to visit Susanna's blog for more perfect picture book reviews!

The MAGIC begins when you click above!

Geometry in Grade One!

I LOVE teaching geometry. There are so many fun activities you can do with Grade Ones. And they don't even realize they're doing math. It's all just fun and games!

Here's what we've been up to.

These monster shapes were SO much fun to make. I got the idea from Em at Curious Firsties and only changed it up a little bit.

It's essentially a listening exercise combined with 2D and 3D shape identification, all rolled into a cute craft.


  1. coloured cardstock
  2. large circle tracers
  3. pre-cut rectangular legs
  4. Hershey Kisses
  5. pom poms
  6. mini marshmallows
  7. sponges pre-cut into cubes

  1. Trace a large circle on your coloured paper and cut out
  2. Put your name on the back
  3. Draw a half circle on the bottom of the large circle
  4. Outline the half circle in black
  5. Glue a cone in the middle of the large circle
  6. Trace 3 circles using your glue stick as a tracer and cut out
  7. Walk around the room and trade your little circles for other colours so they do not match your big circle
  8. Glue the 3 circles above the cone
  9. Glue a sphere on each little circle
  10. Glue the cylinders in the half circle
  11. Glue the long rectangles on the back of the large circle, underneath the half circle
  12. Glue the cubes onto the bottom of the long rectangles
And voila! The cutest little shape monsters. My kids LOVED them!

Building cubes, rectangular prisms, and pyramids using toothpicks and mini marshmallows is an oldie but a goldie.  

I love how some of the kids took their 3D shapes and combined them into these glorious structures!

These 3D castles were also extremely popular and bonus ... they fit in nicely with our fairytale unit.

I can't share the template for these just yet as they were part of a package that I'm testing out for Ellen from Create in the Chaos. But as soon as I get the go-ahead I'll update this post and give you the direct link to her product.

It's a really cool set of fun, crafty, easy printables for primary kids.

That's it for now!

Do you have a favourite geometry lesson? I'd love to hear about it.

Here are some more geometry activities I've pinned.

Follow Barbara Leyne's board Math ~ Geometry on Pinterest.

The MAGIC begins when you click above!

Jack and the Beanstalk Paintings and Plants

Good Morning!

I hope you're all enjoying this beautiful long weekend.

Last week my class painted these gorgeous Giants!

Hard to believe these were done by Grade 1 students, but they were, thanks to a fabulous tutorial by look, love, create, which she originally found in Usborne Art Ideas: Big Book of Things to Draw.

We've been doing a Fairytale unit and by the time we did these paintings we already had two Jack and the Beanstalk stories and a short video under our belts, so the kids were primed and easily caught on to the idea of perspective drawings.

When I first read Holly's directions I thought okay, this is going to be super easy.

But I have to admit it was a little tough for my students. Actually, most of them were fine, but there were at least five kids out of 24 who needed a lot of help with the drawing. So probably it's more suited to Grades 2 and 3. But having said that, if you pulled small groups for the drawing portion, you could probably even do this with Kindergarten.

Warning!  In order to do this properly you need to use a ruler to draw three long pencil guide lines. This was probably the hardest part for my Ones, and I had to do that for most of them.

But once we got the lines in place most of the kids rose to the challenge. Once the drawings were complete they traced all their lines with Sharpies and then painted with water colours. That part, of course, everyone LOVED and needed no help with!

Of course, once we completed our paintings we HAD to grow our own beanstalks!

You've probably seen these on Pinterest already ... they seem to be everywhere ... so we just had to do them, too. The kids love their little castles sitting in the clouds and are very excited to watch their beans grow.

We also wrote some extremely cute Jack and the Beanstalk stories. Watch for the next post!

And thank you, Holly, for the art idea and directions.

MAY Pick 3 Pinterest Party and Linky

Good Morning!

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

My first pick is a measurement activity from Tammy at Forever in First. ROY G BIV measuring is simple, fun and gives the kids lots of practice measuring with rulers. We'll be doing this in the next couple of weeks.

Click to view the pin

Pick #2 is tracing and colouring with playdough. I think my kids will get a big kick out of this, especially those little ones who still struggle with their colouring. This will be a fun break for them, yet it still works on fine motor skills.

Click to view the pin

My last pick are these beautiful castles from Deep Space Sparkle. I love absolutely everything Patty comes up with and these are no exception. We're currently doing a fairytale unit so this little project will fit in perfectly.

Click to view the pin

Thanks for stopping by!

Visit Barbara Leyne Designs's profile on Pinterest.