Reframing Vacations: Can Learning Only Happen At School?

The other day, I was out for brunch with a fellow teacher, and we spoke about holiday times. She discussed her pet peeve with children going on long vacations during the school year and missing time at school. I understood. This used to be a big concern of mine, until my teaching partner, Paula, helped me reframe vacations. 

I don’t even think that Paula realized that she helped me see things differently, but she did. I still remember when this happened last year. A mom mentioned to me that her daughter would be away for 10 school days because of an upcoming family trip. She wondered what her child would be missing. When I started to tell Paula about this, she said to me, “But just think about what [Name] will be getting! She’ll be going to museums, visiting tourist areas, meeting new people, and being exposed to a different culture.” This is why our students have such rich prior knowledge and such a huge vocabulary: look at their incredible life experiences! 

I always used to see the negative points of missing school. 

  • How will children learn if they’re not with us?
  • Imagine how much content they’re going to miss.
  • How will they be prepared for the upcoming test or assignment? (This was definitely a big concern of mine when I taught older students.)

Now though, I’m starting to consider the positive side of these vacations. I just finished reading a book called, Marvelous Minilessons For Teaching Beginning Writing, K-3. At the beginning of the book, the author links oral language and writing skills, and discusses the importance of a strong vocabulary. As much as educators can introduce children to new terms and reinforce new vocabulary, many children learn and retain these terms through their diverse life experiences. These experiences often happen outside of the classroom. 

I wonder if instead of questioning the value in these trips, we have to work with parents to get the most learning out of these trips. Some parents will do this naturally. The mom that took her daughter away last year definitely did. But I’ve taught at schools before where children would go away for weeks at a time, but didn’t always have these language-rich trip experiences. Is there a way to change this? Maybe.

  • What if we gave parents question prompts to elicit discussions?
  • What if we spoke to parents about the importance of developing new vocabulary, and then modelling how to do so? Learning vocabulary in any language is important for kids.
  • What if we provided parents with a list of possible experiences for their trips (e.g., going on a walk in the community, visiting buildings in the community, looking at houses in the neighbourhood, etc.)?

And if children really need to be present for part of a lesson, maybe there’s a way to use technology to make this happen. I remember when I taught Grade 6, and a student was away for the start of a new unit in math. Not only did she use FaceTime to join the lesson, but she stayed on afterwards to work with a group on the assignment. A vacation didn’t stop her! I’m thinking that now with our daily class blog posts and home extension activities, even students that aren’t at school can learn along with us. I think of what this one mom sent us this year when her daughter was at home sick. We provided her with some feedback, and she emailed us with an updated post.

Being away doesn’t have to stop learning from happening!

Yes, ideally students have good attendance at school and only going on vacations during the holiday times. But I also realize that just because schools are closed doesn’t mean that parents are off work, and for any number of reasons, children may need to be away during school time. So I think that we have a choice here: we can focus on what children lose due to their absence, or we can look at what they might gain. My thinking is that the stronger the home/school connection, the better the chance that educators, parents, and children can work together to get the most from this away time. How do you strengthen this connection and facilitate (or support) learning during vacation times? I wish that I spoke up when my acquaintance voiced her concern, but I am speaking up now. The more that I think about this topic, the more that I wonder, can learning only happen at school? Maybe it’s time to think about the valuable learning that occurs beyond the four walls of our school buildings.


How do we move from observing to doing?

A few weeks ago, we had a very special day in our class. We invited all of our families in for a Family Art Afternoon. While a couple of parents couldn’t come, the majority made it in for this special day. We also had a volunteer, some consultants, an ECE student, and us there to support those students that didn’t have parents with them. And as my teaching partner, Paula, and I reflected on this experience, we could not have been happier with the results. Maybe the most incredible thing about this afternoon is that it wasn’t a show for parents, but instead, an opportunity to engage in play together. 

Paula and I had a lot of discussions in lead up to this day. We wanted it to be different than our Art Gallery from last year. While there have been some overlapping interests, the children have not taken this learning in the same direction. We’ve studied a few artists together — including Vincent Van Gogh, Aelita Andre, and Jackson Pollock — and while we knew children would want to show parents the collaborative pieces that we’ve done in response to their artwork, we’ve also studied art in some new ways.

  • We’ve studied art and design: having a closer look at clothing and art.

The details in these mannequins are incredible. Imagine the #finemotorskills and measurement at play. They decided to use them for storytelling today, and even created a bride, groom, flower girl, and wedding audience. Amazing! They chose to sign the aisle using cursive writing, and even discussed the letters and sounds in the names. Writing a closed sign finished things off. Addison listened for the sounds in the word, and we worked on the CL blend together. I really wanted to try and insert some writing here, but the measurement and creating was so incredible, it was hard to know how to do this and not take over their play. I think that I’ll read the book, RIBBON RESCUE tomorrow, and add this text to this space. What might that lead to? SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #ctinquiry #art

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  • We’ve studied art and architecture: looking at the connection between building and art.

I wish that I documented more of what happened in Boat City today. What I love about this is that E. went back and read his work from yesterday, and made a decision about the placement of today’s fish based on what he did yesterday. He also built a “generator” this afternoon, and sounded out the word all on his own. He even got a second label for the R at the end. Wow!! E. was far more confident in segmenting and blending sounds today. ❤️❤️❤️ More students got into labelling today based on what E. did. Milla’s rescue boat “mveeol”: I wonder if she went mobile instead. Love how she sorted it with the safety boat. She thought they should be together. It’s great when reading authentically happens through play. ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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  • We’ve studied First Nations artwork: exploring how art can be used to tell a story. 

Our discussions about art stem from the creations of the artwork. It’s also through this artwork that we make links to language and math: a key component of the Kindergarten Program Document. We really wanted parents to experience the play that results in these rich learning opportunities for kids. With this in mind, we looked at this Art Afternoon differently than we may have in the past: we discussed materials that we could leave out around the room, and then we made the few hours all about kids and adults playing together. We decided to give all visiting parents a copy of this GoogleDoc, so that they could use the information in it to see the connection between the play and the learning. We also thought that it might provide some question prompts that parents could use when playing with their child. And then we spent the afternoon doing what we do all day long: observing, conversing, and documenting learning.

That should be “use of digraphs for treasure.” Oops!

Looking back on this day, I continue to think about the power of the parent/educator/child connections. We often speak about the importance of relationships, and you could see these in action during this afternoon. The Kindergarten Program Document is unique, as it really does emphasize the important role that parents play in education. Reflecting on our Family Art Afternoon, I can’t help but wonder about the benefit of these kinds of days for students of all ages. 

  • What if we didn’t just invite parents in to “see” classrooms (e.g., at Open House), but instead, to “experience” them?
  • What might this look like?
  • How might we make it happen? 

There’s something beautiful about parents and children playing, learning, and communicating together, and I continue to wonder how we could extend these experiences beyond a single day and a single grade. Imagine


Thinking Self-Reg In Lead-Up To March Break

The more that I learn about self-regulation, the more that I consider it when viewing classroom practice and my personal life. But on some days — harder days — it’s often Self-Reg that I think about first. Yesterday was one of those days.

It was the last day of school before March Break, and while we haven’t been counting down to this day, students have been speaking about March Break all week. Some children are going away on vacation. Others have day trips planned. A few students are even going to a March Break Camp. The usual, predictable school routine is going to change for a week, and while most students are thrilled to have a week at home with their parents, the uncertainty of what to expect is also causing some stress. 

  • It’s why our children seem louder this week.
  • It’s why tears are far more frequent.
  • And it’s why playthough still wonderful, also seems different. 

My teaching partner, Paula, and I spoke a lot about Self-Reg as we planned for this week, but also for our time back at school. 

  • We spoke about the need for different sensory options, which seem really calming for many children.
  • We discussed our children that are likely to struggle the most after having a week at home, and looked at play options that might appeal to them the most. What do they need?
  • We talked about our children that have had an extra long March Break (being away for part of this week as well). How will they adjust to coming back? What might make things better?
  • We also spoke about ourselves. We know that there’s a transition after having some time off, and our children are likely to need us even more when we return to school. How will we respond to this need? What are some play options that make us feel calm, and how will our own calmness impact on kids?

I keep on thinking back to one of my favourite quotes by Stuart Shanker.

It was this quote that ran through my mind when I made two different decisions yesterday. The first decision happened during Second Nutrition Break Duty. One class of primary students had a special day yesterday, and while they were all a bit excited about this day, one child in particular was really struggling with this excitement. When I was outside, I connected with him, and just during our brief conversation, I could tell that he was very up-regulated. He kept jumping, spinning, running, and talking incredibly quickly. I had him help me with a job outside that seemed to calm him down a bit, but going back inside and getting closer to the excitement at the end of the day, dysregulated him again. A few minutes into the eating portion of the break, an EA approached me. She said that the child poked another student with part of a game that he brought in, and he was now hiding in the classroom. Oh no! I walked to the door of the classroom, and I saw a group of students gathered around this child, who was hidden under the table. Many kids were talking to him, and others were telling him to, “Get out!” While everybody had the best of intentions, none of these approaches were helping him calm down.

This is when I made a decision. The duty teacher is supposed to stay in the hallway, so that kids can always find us quickly. And while I know the importance of this rule, I also knew that I couldn’t approach this child from the hallway, so I decided to go into the classroom. As soon as I went in, I asked all of the children to go and sit down, and then I got down low near the child on the floor. I knew that I needed to make it back out in the hallway fast, so I had a little stress of my own, but I tried to bring my voice way down — to just above a whisper. I put my hand near this child’s hand, and I asked him if he wanted to come and walk with me to tell him what happened. I assured him that I wasn’t mad, and I just wanted to listen. Thankfully that did it. He grabbed my hand, and we walked out in the hallway together. I listened. He explained why he got mad. He explained why he poked. He even thought about the importance of apologizing for what he did. I suggested a card or a letter to the other child, and we talked through what he might write. Then we walked back to class. The discussion was quick, but the impact was big! 

I realized later how easy it would be to view this behaviour as misbehaviour. He poked another child … but there was a reason behind his actions, and his dysregulation over the exciting day and the anticipated end-of-day activities, made it a challenge to think before acting. I’m so grateful that I thought about Shanker’s quote, and I realized that my ability to remain calm, mattered. And it was this very thought that impacted on my next decision of the day. 

With a prep right after the Second Nutrition Break, I only had one period left with the students. Part of this period is for packing up and getting ready for home. Thanks to our Canadian winter, most of our students are still wearing snow pants. For a few children, getting dressed at the end of the day is a challenge. It takes forever! And then Paula and I feel the stress of having to dismiss the other students — whether it be to their parents or to the bus driver — and our stress just makes the dressing procedure last longer. While Paula’s song of, “Who’s going to be ready? Nobody knows but me!,” compounds some of this stress, on a day when children have even more to bring home, I wondered if the song was going to be enough. So we made a decision: when the children came back from phys-ed/music, we got a couple of our slowest dressers to put on their snow pants and boots. They already packed their bag, and putting on a coat, hat, and mittens, doesn’t take too long. We thought that by chunking the dressing time and giving a longer time to get organized, we might all feel calmer … and we did! Everyone got out on time, and our cubby area remained fairly organized as well. A win/win! Once again, it was considering Self-Reg that made the difference in our actions and the impact on kids. 

We now have a week off of school, and I wonder when Self-Reg might matter at home during this holiday time. As parents, how does self-regulation impact on the decisions you make and the actions of your children? And as educators, when you get ready to go back to school, does self-regulation play into your planning? I think it’s important to share these Self-Reg conversations, as I wonder how many of us have had similar experiences, and what we might be able to do differently.


40 … What does it mean to me?

This week I turn 40. Forty. How is that even possible?! It doesn’t seem that old, and at the same time, it does. Recently, we received an email with a copy of the Board’s seniority list. This was a good reminder for me that on my 40th birthday, I will have been teaching 17 years with the Board. Where will my first group of students be now?

I still remember my first year of teaching. I was initially hired part-time (every afternoon) to teach Grade 1 math, science, social studies, art, music, and health. Then when schools re-organized at the end of September, I received another part-time job at a different school teaching Kindergarten. I spent my lunch hours driving from one school to the next one. I never felt as though I was organized. I had a really challenging morning and afternoon class, and the multiple teachers for the morning class, didn’t help.

That year, I seriously considered leaving teaching … and teaching was all I ever wanted to do. But I felt totally overwhelmed.

  • There was always paper everywhere! Maybe it was that year of teaching that caused me to fear paper. 🙂 I could never seem to get to the bottom of the piles. My desk — the first and only year that I had one — was always buried in worksheets. Maybe it’s images of that desk that make me despise worksheets now. 🙂
  • I was never well-planned. I tried to be … but I was planning for so much. Student needs at both schools exceeded the supports in place, and I didn’t know how to meet curriculum expectations and address individual needs. Could I modify expectations? How much without an IEP in place? I just wasn’t sure.
  • I rarely connected with staff. Since I spent most lunch hours in my car, and time before and after school in my classrooms, there was never really time to socialize with others. I taught at schools with other teachers in the same grade team, but I chose to be an island. Maybe I didn’t want to admit I needed help. Maybe I didn’t know how to ask for it. But I didn’t … and I know that my students would have benefitted more if I did.
  • I didn’t really get to know the kids. I knew their names. I knew the problems I was having with them. But I didn’t know THEM. Self-regulation wasn’t discussed at that time, and behaviour was just seen as misbehaviour. It was either their fault, or my fault, or a combination of both, but there was never a thought that there might be something else at play. I still remember many names from that first year, but I wish I remembered — AND KNEW — the children.

My Grade 1’s would be 23 this year. I started teaching at 23. One day, I could be on the same staff as one of them. My first Kindergarteners are very close to that. I wonder if I gave any of these kids what they needed to succeed. I apologize profusely if I didn’t, and wish I could go back and change things now. I learned a lot from that first year of teaching though.

  • I learned about the importance of organization.
  • I learned that paper isn’t the only way for children to show what they know.
  • I learned that love has to come first. Connect with the kids. Show them that you truly care about them … even on the hard days and even with the most challenging of kids.
  • I learned that we don’t need to work alone. It’s okay to ask for help, and when we work together, we end up learning a lot more from each other.
  • I learned that change is good. At times it can seem overwhelming, even when we’re the ones that make the decision to change. But in the end, I’ve learned something from each one of my changes, and every grade that I’ve taught. I don’t regret any of them.
  • And I learned about the importance of persevering. That first year was hard. I was ready to give up, but I didn’t … and I’m so glad about that! I couldn’t love teaching more than I do, and I’m happy to spend my 40th birthday in the classroom with a wonderful group of children and an amazing teaching partner (even if it is my no prep, duty day 🙂 ). So for my many students those 17 years ago, thank you for teaching me all that you did. I’m spending my 40th birthday thinking fondly about all of you, and wishing that I knew back then what I know now.

What do you wish you knew in your first year? How might it have changed things for you and your kids? The past may be out of our hands, but we can look forward with our new knowledge and a modified outlook. This is what I choose to think about as my 40th birthday quickly approaches.


The 31 Flavours Dilemma Continued

Yesterday was a PA Day in our Board, and all day long, we were engaged in professional development sessions around reading, math, and well-being. During one of the afternoon sessions, we watched a favourite TED Talk of mine. Among other things, Ramsey Mussallam’s Talk always makes me remember the importance of reflection, even when reflecting can be a challenge.

Yesterday, it was Ramsey’s Talk that inspired my teaching partner, Paula, and I to do some more quiet reflection of our own. 

We really believe in the power of regular reflection, and we often spend at least an hour after school each day reflecting on our day. This includes,

  • discussing our observations around individual students.
  • looking back at documentation from the day, and talking about possible next steps.
  • looking critically at play opportunities we provided, and what changes we could make to interest other (or more) students, to extend learning, or to meet needs that we did not meet on that day. 

We’ve worked hard at creating an environment where we feel comfortable talking freely with each other, asking questions, and suggesting changes. It was this very kind of conversation that happened yesterday.

I’m not sure how the topic came up, but we spoke about the recent increased interest that students seem to have over eating right after our meeting time each morning. Why? We went back and forth with possibilities.

  • Could it be because we’re starting our indoor learning time a little later than before? Not really. Sometimes we’re actually in earlier because of the weather.
  • Could it be because less children are taking snacks outside with them? Maybe … although many do grab them especially if we stay in our outdoor classroom space for a little while before heading out to the forest. We could encourage more children to bring a snack out with them. Could it be more than this though?
  • Could it be because of the morning meeting time? I was initially quick to dismiss this idea. We’ve always discussed a lot during this morning meeting time. It really is the one big time that we come together as a full class each day. Lately, children have demonstrated a variety of interests, so our meeting time includes elements of all of these interests. Could it be too much?

This made me think about one of Eva Thompson‘s recent blog posts that Doug Peterson highlighted in his post from yesterday. In this post, Eva makes a connection between the “31 flavours of ice cream,” and the multitude of information/options that she presented to students at onceWas it just too much? Maybe we’re also having our own 31 flavours dilemma.

While we want to get children thinking about the different play options around the room and various ways to extend their learning from the day before, there’s only so much that a child can take in at one time. Are our Kindergarten students sitting through this meeting time and wondering, where should I go first? What could I do? We wondered if having so many possibilities laid out in front of them became overwhelming. Is sitting to eat less about “eating,” and more about sitting back, processing options, and deciding what to do first? Could this be a sitting version of wandering? 

We thought that we would test out this theory by scaling back our meeting time on Monday. Instead of introducing students to everything in the room, we’d pick one or two big ideas to discuss as a class, and then let the children uncover the other areas on their own. If some children are having a problem deciding where to go first, we could always pull up the images on an iPad to share just with them, or sit down with a small group and brainstorm options together. Choice is good, but do the “31 flavours” need to be shared over many sittings? 

As we were having this conversation yesterday, I asked Paula if she noticed students wandering more than usual. I haven’t, but I’m usually on my lunch (or duty) when the play begins, so she would see this more than me. She said, “Maybe at first.” I wonder if the multitude of choices are making children do what I liked doing at Baskin Robbins: taking a little sample of everything before settling on a “favourite flavour.” 

  • Sampling is good.
  • Trying new things is important.
  • But maybe the sample size needs to be reduced.

If we also focused more on “big ideas” instead of specific activities, would children see more of the links between the various areas of the room, even if they weren’t explicitly discussed? I think about our “boat problem” from a couple of weeks ago. A group of students built a boat out of blocks, and decided that they wanted to make “Boat City.” We helped them create a space for this city, and they gathered materials to make the city. But after a couple of days, the building was complete and nobody touched the boats again. We got the children to clean up the blocks, and then we added in a blue sheet for the water. We found some video clips and images to inspire boat creations, and once again, children decided to build Boat City. After a few more days though, the same thing happened as before: the city was complete, and the blocks weren’t touched again. Both Paula and I thought that the students were demonstrating an interest in boats, but was their interest really in building/creating? 

I wish that I documented more of what happened in Boat City today. What I love about this is that E. went back and read his work from yesterday, and made a decision about the placement of today’s fish based on what he did yesterday. He also built a “generator” this afternoon, and sounded out the word all on his own. He even got a second label for the R at the end. Wow!! E. was far more confident in segmenting and blending sounds today. ❤️❤️❤️ More students got into labelling today based on what E. did. Milla’s rescue boat “mveeol”: I wonder if she went mobile instead. Love how she sorted it with the safety boat. She thought they should be together. It’s great when reading authentically happens through play. ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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If we look around the classroom, we really can see this building/creating interest emerge everywhere. It’s why students spent weeks building an enormous zoo, but have never really played in it. 

Yesterday, we tried to inspire the creation of a zoo for all of the pool noodle animals. This turned into more of a drawing of a zoo, so we thought that if we changed some materials and put the pool noodle animals closer to the board, it might help. Today we did that. Tommy brought in some pictures of zoo cages, and initially children used the paper towel and toilet paper rolls to create them. It was great to hear the counting as part of these creations. They tried to tape them together, but they kept falling over. Then they thought that the two logs could be joined together to form a tree. It stood up on its own, but fell over when taped. At this point, I went over to the board, and suggested maybe starting with the background (the grass, water, etc.). Students drew a quick path and started painting. Brayden came over at this point, and thought that the toilet paper and paper towel rolls could be trees. He also painted one of the logs, initially as a water fall, and then as the entrance to the zoo. He remembered seeing cylinders in the shed, and thought that based on Tommy’s picture, they might work better for the cages “because they’re thinner.” He asked me if we could go and get them. See the next post for more. SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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The cylinders belonged to Mrs. Raymond, so Brayden wrote her a note asking if we could borrow them. (Now, in the end, I guess that borrow really meant use, but nothing here is permanent, so they can go back again.) She said, “Yes,” so Brayden went to collect them from the shed. In the meantime, children worked on painting the grass, trees, and the entrance to the zoo. Then Tommy thought that we could make the cage in the picture he brought. He counted the number of bars we needed, but did we have enough room? This led to an opportunity to estimate. Students started to think that the bars should be painted. They thought black initially, but then decided on a few different colours. Brayden shared thinking around the importance of camouflage, and started to talk about the different possible animals for each colour. Look to the next post for more. SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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Brayden then started working on painting more of the cylinders and affixing them to the board. The cylinders are heavy and white glue takes a while to stick. Children really needed to persevere and problem solve to get the cylinders standing up. Tommy thought about the giraffe cages and the need for them “to be taller because giraffes are so tall.” Brayden thought that they could double up on the cylinders. He glued two together and had them lie flat. He hopes they’ll stick. Carly realized that more glue helped. She inspired others to do the same. Then Brayden thought he needed more cylinders, but how many more? This required some estimation and math thinking. It turns out that he wanted more than I thought he might need, as he had plans for some off of this board as well. Look at the next post to see how the zoo ended today. SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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Students continued to create the cages for the zoo. B. really problem solved by adding additional glue to make the bars stand up. When some fell over, T. and L. went over this afternoon to fix them. They were taken by the book GOODNIGHT GORILLA, and sat down to read it together first. They used both the pictures and letter-sounds to read the words, and actually figured out some unfamiliar words together. Then they held the bars down (with the glue on them) to make them stand up. B. then got concerned that we had all of these cages, but no space for the animals to roam. He asked for another board for grass. We got him one, and W. helped him paint it. Then B. thought that he could cut out some grass from paper to make it “stick out.” This is what he did. At the end of the day today, we looked at what was done, and Miss Barletta thought about bringing in some natural materials (eg, leaves) to add for tomorrow. We also put out some rocks. We really want to work on adding some signs tomorrow too. Can then work on segmenting sounds in words to write the labels. SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #ctinquiry #iteachk

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This morning, a couple of students cut down the flowers I brought in, but then left this space. I asked Brayden if there was something we could do in the zoo. Initially he said, “They should have come up with a plan before cutting everything,” but then he did. He worked with Carys to add bars to the top of the cages, and even attach natural elements to them. Carys thought they needed a sensor to tell when they need to add food for the animals. Then Brayden told me we needed another board for the water. Love his thinking around salt water versus fresh water. Tomorrow he has plans to create fish. We’d also like to add some signs. We wonder if adding a writing table space closer to this creative space might lead to more sign writing. We’ll see tomorrow! ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #art

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The creation of the zoo continued today. Carys realized that she could use tape for the horizontal bars. Then students started to think about taping the top of the cages. But what about for the giraffes? They’re too tall. This led to a closer look on how to sort the animals, and how much space they all needed. Wyatt also considered the benefits of camouflage and re-painted some of the bars. We also made some more signs for the zoo. Wyatt used GOODNIGHT GORILLA to find the word “giraffes,” even correcting himself when he made a mistake. As students plan and organize more of the zoo, we need to consider layout. What else still needs to be made? What other signs might help us out? We’re going to continue to extend this zoo space tomorrow. SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry

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It’s why children have created numerous clothes and designer labels for dolls, stuffed animals, and mannequins — and even made the start of an ironing board mannequin — but never actually made a store.

A. had to do some #problemsolving today, as she worked on getting the mannequin’s clothes off. She then created some new clothes for her “ballerina queen.” She labelled her work. I showed her how to use syllables to break down “ballerina,” and she wrote down the sounds she heard in each part of the word. Then we learned about the QU sound for “queen,” and she wrote the rest. Read back what she wrote. Need to give more independent practice time on the syllable approach for inventive spelling. @paulacrockett also worked with B. to attach one of the mannequin heads today. Now we have the start of an ironing board mannequin. The arms are looking kind of bare. We have some ideas for tomorrow (may link with patterning and counting), but we’ll see what the kids think in the morning. ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #teachersofinstagram #iteachk #ctinquiry #art

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The details in these mannequins are incredible. Imagine the #finemotorskills and measurement at play. They decided to use them for storytelling today, and even created a bride, groom, flower girl, and wedding audience. Amazing! They chose to sign the aisle using cursive writing, and even discussed the letters and sounds in the names. Writing a closed sign finished things off. Addison listened for the sounds in the word, and we worked on the CL blend together. I really wanted to try and insert some writing here, but the measurement and creating was so incredible, it was hard to know how to do this and not take over their play. I think that I’ll read the book, RIBBON RESCUE tomorrow, and add this text to this space. What might that lead to? SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #ctinquiry #art

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And it’s why students have made the CN Tower too many times to count, but have never actually done anything in Toronto once its made.

I wonder then if this is another part of the 31 flavours dilemma. Could we be hearing interests, but could the actual interests vary from what the children are telling us? Maybe their interests are deeper than what they’re sharing. So maybe, even after we do what they ask, they’ll walk away because we haven’t gotten it quite right. It’s kind of like giving them chocolate ice cream when really what they want is Rocky Road. Both have chocolate components, but one has some additional elements as well. 

Sometimes teaching is about knowing just what flavour (or flavours) to provide, and then digging into the freezer for some more when those won’t do. Or maybe, for a small group, it’s about offering a special selection of flavours to meet their dietary needs or make their palates happy. Yes, I know that I’ve really pushed the ice cream connection here, but I can’t help myself. As Paula and I figured out yesterday, 31 flavours may be too much, but how many are just enough? It may take some trial and error to figure that out. How do you decide? I hope that when we get it right, we can reward ourselves with a few scoops of ice cream. 🙂