Math on Mondays

I'm going to revamp an old series I ran a few years ago.  

Welcome to Math on Mondays.

I love, love, love teaching primary math.   It's so much fun and there are so many fun games you can play with the kids.  And the kids usually love these too.

Before I start with today's topic, I just wanted to give you a basic (very basic) overview of what the most important parts of the curriculum are here in BC.  They are very similar to the Common Core goals in the U.S.

About 5 or 6 years ago, our math curriculum changed dramatically here in BC.  Now the focus has changed from simply getting the correct answer, to explaining HOW you got the answer you did.

Things got really vocabulary heavy overnight.

You need to know the math vocabulary to explain your thinking clearly.   Well, I teach in an area of around 75%- 80% English as a Second Language learners.  We call them ELL here in Vancouver.

That means there needs to be a lot of time for the children to 'play' and use the language that they are learning.  We call it "Talking the Math"  or "Using Math Words".

Of course, GUIDED play is what I mean.

So today I thought I'd give you some steps that I use with my students to achieve guided play.  Because, really, by Grade 2, they should be able to use manipulatives as learning tools more than playthings.

So on to Today's Topic.


What is junk??? Well, you could actually call it Re-Using - remember the 3 R's of Recyling.??  Basically I use whatever I can save until I have enough to make a jar of 'Junk'.   I used to teach at an Inner City school where the parents did not have a lot of money to donate to the school and the PAC (PTA) did not really exists at all.  So what that meant is that I needed to get resourceful and collect whatever I could to make tubs of manipulatives.  You can also ask the parents to donate things from home.  I'll explain more about this later on in this post.

When I first introduce the junk to the class I usually sit them all in a big circle on the carpet, but my class is too big for my carpet this year, so I need to get them to work at their tables.  I give the children a few minutes to play with the junk they have.  Then I give them a task like make a pattern.  I leave it really open-ended at first.  Some kids just want to play, and if they don't do my task the first day, that's OK.  Every 5 minutes or less we rotate around to the next seat and use that Junk.

It takes about a week, but the kids really need to get that touchy-feely stuff out of their systems.  And after a while we can get down to learning some concepts with this junk.  Also, the best thing about this Junk is it's free.  And another great thing about it is that it is mostly objects that the kids see in their daily lives, so it helps them make connections between concepts and the world around them.

Here's a sampling of some of the "JUNK" in my classroom collection.


BOTTLE CAPS                                              






BEADS, BEADS, BEADS...           





Be imaginative, you can use all sorts of things.
There's around 20 different kinds of things in my Junk Jobs collection.

Next time I'll show you how I store these things.

GUIDED READING FREEBIE! and a linky party

Are you a new teacher?  Does planning Guided Reading completely overwhelm you?
I have the kit for you.  My Guided Reading Step-by-Step pack gives clear instructions on how to set up your Reading block and get the year off to a great start.There are Word Work Activities, and Planning Grids, Strategies cards, and Posters for instruction as well as for management.It's all here for your first month of school.

Just a quick reminder that TPT is have a ONE DAY ONLY back to school sale.
CLICK HERE to go check it out.

I have added a few new things to my store.  
First off is this great Guided Reading Freebie.
It's part of my larger GUIDED READING STEP-BY-STEP package below.

 to get the freebie

for Guided Reading Step by Step

I'm linking up with Miss Decarbo for Wordless Wednesday.
Check out the other great items on sale.


8 Questions Striking Teachers Need to Ask Themselves


Here's a set of questions I have been thinking about all summer long...

1.       Why am I on strike?  Why have I gone months without a paycheque with no end in sight?  I am married to a teacher, so we are doubly affected financially by this strike.  Let me tell you that Learning Conditions are so awful right now that someone has to stand up for the kids in schools these days.
2.       Why do so many people feel that they can criticize me and how I do my job?    I don’t go around criticizing other how other people do their jobs.   When was the last time they spent a day in a classroom?   ALL day, not 15 minutes at the start or end of the day dropping of their own kid at school.   Just because you had a bad experience when you were a know-it-all punk of a teenager, doesn't mean that all teachers are lazy and greedy, and mean.
3.       Why am I fighting for other people’s children?  Personally, I am fighting for my own children, who are supposed to be going into Grades Two and Three next month.  If that helps other people’s children then that’s great too.
4.       Do I deserve a raise which matches the cost of living increase?   I think so.   I DO deserve to maintain my standard of living.  Those 3 University Degrees of mine didn't just fall out of the sky.  I have 22 years of experience to share with children.  What the public doesn't seem to understand is that our current offer doesn't even reach the cost of living increase, and the Government still thinks our wage offer is too high.
5.       Where are the parents in all this?  I can’t truly believe that parents are shallow enough to want their children to go back to an inadequate system just to save on daycare costs, or to get these kids out of their hair at home.   I’d like to believe that most parents want the best for their children and do support the teachers and those that don’t are simply ignorant of the facts.  But maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe people are that shallow after all.
6.       Who are these people who believe the lies that the Government puts in the media?  Clearly they are the same people who voted these jokers back into office last election.  Those inaccurate statistics that were put on the front page of many free daily newspapers in June were simply wrong.  They were blatant lies, published on the front page for anyone to see, and then used in a key press conference by the Education Minister and broadcast on TV.
7.       What is the Government’s end game?  What do they really want from all this? Why are they appealing the teacher’s victories in court again, and again??   Here’s the question I just can’t seem to find an answer to.  What do they really want? I can really only see two answers to this question, and neither are good.  Either there truly is no money.  Which begs the question, where did the money go?  Has the government so grossly mismanaged their funds that they are desperately trying to cover it up by causing a smokescreen in the media?   What happened to our tax dollars?    OR do they have the more insidious motive of trying to destroy the public school system?  Maybe they really do want the wealthy to be better educated in the private system, and keep the lackeys in the troughs of the public system.   A poorly educated population is easier to control after all.
8.       Should I give up?  I know it seems like we should.  It can get really depressing if you follow the mainstream media machine.  But then I get on social media and read upbeat messages from other teachers, and parents, and I know that somehow, somewhere, our message is getting out there.  All we can do is keep it up, keep posting on social media, keep writing to the government, to Christy Clark, to Peter Fassbender, and to our local MLA’s and keep trying. It’s not just our children’s future, but it’s all of our futures here in BC that we are fighting for.

Contact info here for


Back to School Boost Sale

Just a little teaser for what's going on at TPT.
Click on the photo to check out my store.
I've been furriously preparing new items for this sale.



Back To School Word Work Activities


These Word Word Centers are perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade.  My favorite are the Build a Word Banners

These Word Word Centers are perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade.  My favorite are the Build a Word Banners.  They are especially perfect for back to school.  There's lots of information for vocabulary building.  And there's lots of fun, practical activities, and recording sheets.

These Word Word Centers are perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade.  My favorite are the Build a Word Banners          These Word Word Centers are perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade.  My favorite are the Build a Word Banners
CLICK HERE                      CLICK HERE    

These Word Word Centers are perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade.  My favorite are the Build a Word Banners          These Word Word Centers are perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade.  My favorite are the Build a Word Banners

And, I've gotten organized and put it all together in a neat little bundle!!!!

These Word Word Centers are perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade.  My favorite are the Build a Word Banners

These Word Word Centers are perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade.  My favorite are the Build a Word Banners


New Products in my Store

Here's some more great activities for the start of the year.
These worksheets are great for introducing initial sounds both for vowels and consonants.

for the package on consonants

 for the package on vowels


More Products in my Store


Just a little reminder - the sale starts tomorrow!!!

Here's a great little set of lessons for teaching color vocabulary. 
I've included worksheets with both spellings of color and colour.
This is a great booklet for the start of the year for Kindergarten, Grade One and Two.
Below are a few samples from the book!

to go check it out on TPT.


Back to School!!!!!!


This back to school craft and ELA lesson is so creative.  I can’t wait to try it with my second graders.

I've just added a super fun BACK TO SCHOOL activity.


or on the picture above to check out this adorable activity
Camera's are all the rage in the papercrafting world, so I thought I'd
design a tutorial to make a cute paper camera
like so.

My 6 year old daughter had no trouble assembling it with minimal help from me.
It's perfect for back to school.  Use this little camera to inspire your students to do the writing activity below which includes a sheet to brainstorm their ideas, and a good copy to draw a picture (that they pretend to take with their camera) and write down their summer memory.

If 3D is not your style, there are 2 simple camera craftivities.  One is a polaroid as below and the other is a more traditional type of camera.  You can jazz up the colors and let the kids get creative.

This back to school craft and ELA lesson is so creative.  I can’t wait to try it with my second graders.