Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Eric Carle

Eric Carle is truly inspiring and a staple in many kindergarten classrooms. Brown Bear, Brown Bear is one of Fred’s favourite books at the moment. Rose also loves that fact that she can read (recite) it with no effort.

Earlier in the week we stuck paper and coloured Black Sheep. Yes, the art opportunities are limited but the two boys I am working with are learning what to do with glue sticks and paper cut outs!

Black sheep,, black sheep

For Goldfish the following day, I had prepared the cut outs so the boys were to assemble the fish. This gave us opportunities to talk about the body, tail, fins, and eye.

Using a glue stick

The scales were added with oil pastels, with great big movements by Fred who is 19 months and with more care and a steady hand by his friend who is 2 years and 2 months.

Adding colour

Rose and Daisy enjoy supervising, although they may have been better with their own creations to avoid the temptation to add to the boys work. Daisy insisted she write “To: Mommy” as per a request!

Goldfish, Goldfish, what do you see?

Fred did have help to stick, his contribution was to push the paper into place with one finger!

This assembling and sticking and adding colour is as much for the boys as it is for me to build their crafting skills. Understanding not to eat the glue stick is a skill!

We will be continuing our work on Brown Bear, Brown Bear and will then move on to other Eric Carle books.

His books have been popular for the flowers too. For Rose’s third birthday a Hungry Caterpillar theme was requested. We had a Hungry Caterpillar cake, ate hungry caterpillars favourite food, smashed a butterfly pinata and took home caterpillar treats!

See more Eric Carle inspiration on our Pinterest board here and happy crafting!

Light Cube Reading Light!

The Light Cube is a wonderfully versatile light source. It can be used in many different ways including as a light table. Here it is shown as a light inside a reading fort.

Interested in learning more about the light cube? Check it out here:


light box cube reading house

Welcome back to 2015! We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break. We are excited to kick off the New Year with a feature post on our Educational Light Cube! Here’s a cool idea: use it as a soft glowing lamp for your classroom reading fort!

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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


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


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


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.

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!


Learning to Read with Aboriginal Books

Learning to read is a challenging and exciting time. Having books that a child can identify with and understand makes a difference when encouraging a ‘love’ to read.

A child’s classroom is a safe heaven for them to feel confident to explore, make mistakes, learn and grow. Having resources that relate to their heritage help them to feel at home and welcome.

I have taught in various countries working with students with many different ethnicity but the common theme in my classroom was to teach and provide resources for my students.


When reading an article today “Closing the achievement gap for Toronto’s aboriginal students” I admired the efforts of Toronto District School Board TDSB to engage their aboriginal students. Isn’t that our responsibility as teachers; to engage all of our students?

After an alarming report admonishing TDSB on failing aboriginal students and a successful pilot project, TDSB are making positive changes to engage their students.

Changes they have made include:

  • idnetifying First Nations, Inuit or Metis students in order to refer them to the board’s expanding Aboriginal Education Centre
  • sensitivity training for staff
  • expanding the Aboriginal Education Centre
  • feasibility study on how to fix or completely overhaul a small First Nations alternative school
  • new alternative Native Learning Centre is expected to open this fall
  • TDSB superintendents have been given a presentation about the achievement gap

At the Bala Avenue Community School Ojibwa classes, drumming clubs, native murals and smart learn-to-read books with native themes shipped in from British Columbia are provided.

Of course the learn-to-read books caught my attention. I am the book selector for Quality Classrooms and always looking for quality books to offer our customers. These books described with enthusiasm by Principal Lisa Beischlagwe, Quality Classrooms currently sells.

Specifically designed to teach reading skills to Canadian children. these books explore Aboriginal and Northern Canadian themes with humour and illustrations that reflect contemporary daily experiences. Developed by experienced educators in early education (Frontier School Division), these books are designed to be used as a systematic reading series in progression from simple to difficult or simply as reading reinforcement. The colourful and warm illustrations portray happy and exciting lifestyles.

Another set of beginning readers Quality Classrooms currently offers are the Northern Learning To Read Series.

Perfect for emerging readers, these level 1 and 2 beginner books use simple language and beautiful illustrations.

“The gap in aboriginal content in the curriculum is bad not just for aboriginal students but for every Canadian.” Having resources that children can relate to, helps them to feel our respect for them.

“The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Story telling with Fairies

We are all a little fairy mad here; stories, movies, toys, gardens, pinatas and parties.

Daisy enjoys playing with her fairies and I noticed her telling stories and acting them out. I asked if she would like to make a book to tell one of her stories. The response was one of excitement.

We sat down and discussed the story she would like to tell. I mapped it using a graphic organizer so we had a set story to follow.

Yes, this does seem very organized for a simple story but I wanted to be able to read the story again and again and not cringe. Daisy tends to tell a story one way and then forget what happened and change it for the next retelling. This is a wonderful way to improve and develop story telling skills but in this case we wanted a strong story with a problem to work with.

I helped her identify the characters, setting, problems, event and solution. I used a great Flip Chart which comes with a teacher’s photocopiable book. I have used it when tutoring a grade 7 student and have found it very useful for learning how to structure and plan writing.

We used our plan to tell the story. I wrote the story and photographed…

… while Daisy acted it out with her fairies and various other toys and props we found.

Here the fairies are chilling by the pool. The story was simple but it had a problem to be solved.

This allowed us to finish with a satisfying ending. This picture in particular made Daisy very proud.

The fairies were trapped in the building. Big people had left a bowl of beans out for the fairies but didn’t realize they were trapping the fairies behind the gates. The hummingbird took a message to the fairies chilling by the pool who came back and rescued the trapped fairies. They did this by sprinkling fairy dust on the bowl of beans. Daisy loved the realistic flying bowl of beans (I cropped her hand out of the picture).

The story (Daisy’s story, in her words), photos and a little photo shoot in a fairy costume were made into a beautiful book.

Daisy was very proud to receive her own book ‘Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Dust Rescue” for her birthday. It has been well read and shared already.

Sounds Like Reading Series

“You cannot write for children. They’re much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.”

Maurice Sendak, 1928 – 2012

I was saddened to hear of Maurice Sendak’s passing. I love “Where the Wild Things Are” and so does my oldest. The youngest has yet to want to sit and listen to the whole book but begins to enjoy snippets between play moments. I love the darkness and playfulness of this book.

I have been reading little readers with Daisy as she begins to enjoys some independence as a reader. However some of these books quite simply bore me to tears. I have been searching for something a little bit more entertaining. The Sounds Like Reading Series is something that I hoped would fit the bill. It is always a risk as a teacher and book selector, that something I might find funny, flops with the children. The first book in this series was a hit with Daisy.

The Sounds Like Reading Series uses rhyme, repetition, phonics and illustration to help children learn to read. The first book in the series is called ; The Bug in the Jug wants a Hug.

The first page has an explanation of the book for educators and parents. It describes how the sentences gradually become more challenging and the reader is asked to find “discovery words” that sound alike, by a cute little mouse.

Daisy loved meeting the challenges this wee mouse set for her.

Each double page has three rhyming words on the left side with corresponding pictures. These pictures are then used in the sentence on the opposite page.

Our Process:

  • I read each rhyming word to Daisy, splitting the onset and rime “r” “id” and then reading the whole word “rid”.
  • I read the sentence while finger pointing under each word
  • Then we discussed the picture, laughed and pointed out other words or information not mentioned in the sentence.
  • Daisy then read the sentence while I finger pointed. She was able to read the bold rhyming words but was often hesitant with the non bold words. Some of these are sight words and difficult to “sound out”. When this happened I said the word and we carried on. At this point we are not actively learning sight words, simply reading them as they come up. The emphasis is on enjoying the book and reading rather than learning each word. Sight words is something we will tackle at a later date.
  • We will be hopping over to Sounds Like Reading to play on their website. They have games, topics and teacher’s tools available for free play to support the books.

We both really enjoyed this book and Daisy was eager to share reading expertise with her Papa. As a teacher I could see these as ideal home readers. Parents are likely to enjoy reading them as much as the students!

The eight books are available at Quality Classrooms for CA$58.75 and if you order before May 15th, 2012 you qualify for 15% off; we are 15 years old this year!