Texo Play

“Texo”, Latin for weave, twine together, plait, construct, build, is a toy that grows with children.

The flowers got the chance to play with the 65 piece set and were excited:

Texo Play

We eagerly explored the many different components of the set including solid wood planks, plastic molded connectors “stars”  and plastic rods.

Texo PlayRose began by building a tower.

Texo PlayWhile Daisy explored the connectors, which they named “stars”, fascinated with how they fitted together.

Texo PlayRose moved into stacking and size ordering with the wooden planks.

Texo PlayWhile Daisy joined the rods and connectors and decided how to incorporate the wooden planks.

She was hesitant to use the activity guide and wanted to freely construct.

Texo PlayAnd when you are not sure how to use your creation… wear it as a necklace!

Texo PlayRose created a forest of what was initially trees and became flowers. The bouquet was later given to me and my husband with “Happy Valentine’s Day” sentiments.

She was able to combine the parts but needed help to take them apart again.

Texo PlayWhile the girls play I tend to do something near by. If I watch too closely I am tempted to interfere, give unneeded opinions or direct play; yes I have control freak tendencies!

So I flicked through the activity guide while listening and watching their play. The guide explained the creator Lester Walker’s intention to provide a toy which grows in complexity as a child grows. As they gradually learn to play with the components in a more complex manner they are exploring concepts of architecture, design and engineering.

Basic construction is illustrated , moving onto simple builds and then more complex builds.

We thoroughly enjoyed playing with this construction set from Quality Classrooms.

Texo

How will you play with Texo?

Métis Children’s Books

Although November 16th is the official Louis Riel Day, in Manitoba February is the month for celebrating Métis culture. The third Monday in February is Family Day in some provinces. In Manitoba it is Louis Riel Day; a statutory holiday. This day also coincides with Festival du Voyageur.

Festival du Voyageur runs from February 14-23 this year and is a celebration of all things Métis. It is also the largest winter festival in Western Canada.

We have been attending for the last few years and enjoy the food, music and outdoor entertainment very much. Here we are last year:

festival 2013

I Love to Read Month is now in full swing in most schools. As many local schools also visit the festival, it is the perfect time to explore Métis books.

Thomas and the Metis Cart / Tumaas ekwa li Michif Sharey

Written by Bonnie Murray, Illustrated by Sheldon Dawson, Translated by Rita Flamand

Tumaas

Thomas needs to make a wheeled vehicle for his science class. His father helps him make a Red River Cart and learns about his Métis heritage as he builds and completes his project.

The text can be enjoyed purely for the story and illustrations. It can also be used as an introduction to a study on Métis history or an example of a science/project fair. Written in both English and Michif this book celebrates the Michif language, providing a wonderful learning opportunity for Michif speakers or those who want to lean the language.

A Name for a Métis

Written by Deborah L. Delaronde, Illustrated by Keiron Flamand

A-name-for-a-metis

The little boy wanted another name so he went in turn to each member of his family asking what his other name should be. On his travels he develops an interest in his mother’s language, Ojibway. This honouring leads to his grandfather giving him the name of Little Métis.

Exploring names and name origins is a great way to get to know classmates and this text would be the perfect introduction.  A glossary in the back of the book gives Ojibway translations used in the text.

Little Métis and the Métis Sash

Written by Deborah L. Delaronde, Illustrated by Keiron Flamand

Little-metis

Following the same structure as A Name for a Métis, this text has Little Métis travelling to each family member in search of boredom relief. The wind plays tricks on Little Métis and gets him into trouble but he learns a lesson and receives his Métis sash.

The moral of the story, that everyone has a job or role to play in their family is clearly explained, as is the Métis sash. The Saulteaux glossary gives an additional learning tool.

I loved Her

Written by Shezza Ansloos, Illustrated by Kimberly McKay-Fleming

I Loved Her

A Métis girl fondly recollects times spent with grandmother, from singing songs to baking.

This a beautiful text and a wonderful discussion opener for a student who has suffered a loss. It could also be used a framework for creative writing or story telling.

Unusual Friendships

Written by Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, Illustrated by Rebecca Belmore

Unusual Friendships

This text of Little White Paws and Little White Rat, explores Métis themes through a dancing adventure. Written completely in rhyming pattern, the story is entertaining and provides many opportunities for discussion.

This book may also inspire readers to learn the Red River Cat Dance (the Red River Jig)!

All of these book are available at Quality Classrooms. Just click on the book image for more information.

Playing with Heart Mosaics

Valentine’s Day is approaching fast and an activity that both girls could do at their level was needed.

Heart Mosaics

Heart mosaics fills this request well. They are made from sturdy card and have different colours on each side. With 6 shapes and 12 colours they are very versatile and a great price, at under $10.

Here are the supplies we used:

Heart Mosaic Supplies

I had some recycled card that was printed on one side. Rather than throw it away we used the blank side and mounted it on coloured card. I love the colour framing. Daisy used large postcard size card to make wonderful creations from the hearts:

Heart Mosaic CreationsThe guide she is using is included in the package and she was able to use it independently. Here are her valentines so far:

Heart Mosaic Creations

Rose on the other hand was happy to glue and stick. Then run around and give them to her stuffies.

Giving valentines

While Daisy enjoyed gradually building designs using the teaching guide, Rose was all about using a glue stick and mass producing!

Playing with Heart Mosaics

We will add a candy lollipop and sticker to the back and done!

Here are the Valentine’s Day cards we made two years ago:

Paint Printed Valentine’s Cards

 

Reading nooks

Finding a great place to curl up with a good book is rewarding. If it is cozy and feels like you can escape from the world, even better.

Have a look at these:

book nook examples

Taken from:

Inspiring classroom or home reading nooks need to have:

  • a quiet space
  • a comfortable seat (chair, beanbag, cushion)
  • book storage
  • good light

We decided to make a reading area in the living area. Daisy has always loved books but her reading has begun to develop in leaps and bounds recently and she enjoys independent reading now, as well as being read to.

We have a gown up space for reading; two comfy chairs, a footstool, good light and a place to put your coffee or tea and book. Often the kids join us with a request to read but we wanted to create a reading space just for them.

This corner area of the living room is a dead space:

Reading nookAlthough the chairs are suitable, their positioning blocks access to the toys. The red chair on the right is one of our reading chairs (they are rather old but much loved).

An extra bookshelf, allows more book space. Toys are moved to the other side of the fireplace, a light, chair and cushions are added:

Reading nookWe now have a dedicated spot for children’s reading.

In my classrooms I enjoyed setting up reading areas, making them inviting, comfortable spaces to curl up with a good book.

Here are some options from Quality Classrooms to add to your reading corner or nook:

Playhouse Hideaway Bookshelves

The Playhouse Hideaway Bookshelves.

Imagination Nook with Storage

Imagination Nook with Storage.

Sit & Store Reading Centre

Sit and Store Reading Centre.

Happy Reading!

 

Indoor Fun with Floor Markers

The weather here in Manitoba has been nasty. Today frostbite may occur on unprotected skin in as little as 2 minutes! School buses are not running it is so cold with the wind chill; below -40 all day.

The flowers went out to play in the snow yesterday and lasted all of 10 minutes, their Papa lasted 15 minutes! With the lack of established trees on our property, there is nowhere to hide from Old Man Winter.

Therefore we need indoor activities to use up excess energy. As a teacher in England, wet play was always dreaded. Not getting out to run around is an issue for many children and adults alike. Luckily we have lots of space in the basement and plenty of toys to play with.

The invitation:  Floor Markers

Indoor Fun with Floor Markers

The Floor Markers we used are:

They are very reasonably priced, durable and can be used in so may ways.

Daisy took charge and designed a path to follow.

This involved a little trial and error as spacing and order of markers were adjusted.

Trying out the path

The girls declared the activity to be completed on each marker with feet simply requiring feet, hands requiring hands and a bunny hop, and the polyspot markers required different things depending on the flower. Daisy jumped and turned a 360. Rose enjoyed a simple jump. You can see her catching air below.

Rose catches some air!

Turning a 360 and landing on the polyspot marker.

In action

Close to the finish line.

Nearing the end

And the tickle monster attacks at the finish.

And the tickle monster!

What do you do to use up some excess energy in winter?

Process Based Christmas Cards

Christmas card making can be hit or miss in our house. If we start it too late it is stressful and I understand why people buy cards. If we leave enough time and don’t have to work under pressure, it can be very enjoyable.

This year I decided to go with something both girls could do. The focus was on the initial step: making collage art. Supplies were limited to Christmas colours and included:

  • Scrap green paper (printed on one side)
  • watered down glue
  • glue brushes
  • tissue paper (red, green, gold, cream)
  • glitter glue (green and gold)

Instructions were minimal:

  1. use the brush to cover your sheet of paper in glue
  2. add tissue paper you like, varying colour
  3. add more glue to seal all your tissue paper
  4. add glitter glue

Sticking on tissue paper

Daisy began in a very organised manner, so we discussed how it would be great to see different colours on the trees. For this to happen she had to rip the tissue smaller and spread out her colours.

Crazy sticking

Rose seemed to love the randomness of the gluing where ever she wanted.

orgeous finished product

The finished works of art were beautiful and it felt almost a crime to cut them up!

Production line

The next evening we glued trees on cards. Rose had lots of help with this. She managed 3 or 4 herself.

Triangles on cards

With a star and truck added, our cards are almost complete.

A “be merry” stamp inside and a name will finish the task. Breaking this activity into smaller steps makes it fun and rewarding.

Be Merry!

Arctic Play with Bubber

Between working for Quality Classrooms and studying for my Masters in Education the blog posts have become fewer. The flowers; Daisy and Rose went into full time daycare for the first time last September. As a result, opportunities to schedule structured activities have slipped. I need a reminder… mama, stop and play!

Last night I set up an play invitation, using

The flowers were hopping up and down with excitement as I set up the tray, requesting to play.

Arctic-Play-with-BubberAnd they got straight into serious play!

Hands-in-bubber

Daisy made a den for the wolves and Rose’s animals began to fight and scold each other, the whale hit the rabbit with its tail.

A great conversation started on who ate who, and we were able to discuss how some animals are eaten by humans and people living in the Arctic often use the skin of the animals for clothing and shoes as well as other parts of the animal. I introduced the terms herbivore, carnivore and Inuit.

We also talked about how the animals are built to live in such a cold climate with warm fur, sometimes even on their feet.

Detail-on-figuresThe detail on the figures is wonderful. Here the people are making their way back to their igloo (scale doesn’t seem to be an issue when you are 3 and 6).

Snow-wonderlandThe wolves stuck together during play. Daisy declared they were mama and baby.

Wolf-denThe wolf den.

Hiding-bunnyCan you spot the bunny Rose put to sleep?

Putting-the-animals-to-sleeAs the play was winding up the girls put all the animals to sleep. For Daisy this meant laying them on their side. For Rose it involved covering them with Bubber.

And the light on the light table was turned out.

A much more relaxed mama was able to go put her flowers to bed and work on an assignment!