Remembrance Day Books

I have written about my favourite books that I have used over the years that I have found to be helpful when teaching children about Remembrance Day.

It is not an easy topic to teach, but it is very important to learn our history and how others have sacrificed for us and our country.

Please note there are affiliate links in this post. No pressure for sales, this is only included for your convenience. If you click on the image it will take you to Amazon and any purchases help me maintain my blog.

A Poppy is to Remember

By: Heather Patterson & Ron Lightburn
This book explains the history behind the poppy. It uses simple wording and talks about past and present wars as well as peacekeeping missions that Canada has been and currently are involved in.

A Bear in War

By: Stephanie Innes & Harry Endrulat
Based upon true events, this book will soon be a Canadian classic. Told from the perspective of Teddy. Teddy is sent overseas by a daughter to her dad. who is a medic during World War I. The story is about the bears' journey through war and how it comes back alone to Canada. It is a great story to teach students about why we honour veterans for their service.

The Land of Many Colors

By: the Klonoth County YMCA Family Preschool
This book teaches children about conflict through people who are portrayed by different colors of the rainbow. Each color thinks their color is the best and there is a theme of teasing due to these differences. A war breaks out and one small voice makes big difference. Children learn that what they do matters and that they can make a difference.

What Does Peace Feel Like?

By: Vladimir Radunsky
This book was created as a compilation of many different children's idea of what peace means to them in relation to their five senses. Young children and older children will easily understand how everyone thinks differently and yet can relate to the same feeling.

This is a great writing prompt for any age.

Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion

By: Jane Barclay
Learning about war can be difficult for young children. This book uses animals and child friendly language which children can relate to in order to explain the different aspects of war. Topics do not go in depth but allow conversations to be started and directed by the adults reading the story.

Peas on Earth

By: Todd H. Doodler
This book uses play on words that will entertain children and adults alike. Not only does it go into topics of peace, relationships, and friendship but it also discusses how we need to take care of the environment.

The Peace Book

By: Todd Parr
This is a basic introduction to peace and what it means to get along with others from all around the world.

Hero Mom

By: Melinda Hardin
This is a patriotic story about how a little American girl shares how her mom is a hero. She isn't a superhero, but she is amazing!

Hero Dad

By: Melinda Hardin
This is another patriotic story about how a little American boy shares how his dad is a hero! In kid-friendly language, it explains life in the military from a child's perspective.

I hope you find a helpful book looking at this collection of stories.

Check this out!

Want some free learning materials for your class? If you order before Halloween, Canadian Veteran Affairs will send you resources for Kindergarten to Grade 8 students. They are guaranteed to arrive before November 11th if ordered on time. Click here to go straight to their website!


Halloween Spider Art

I love when children can express themselves using the creative arts.

My colleague in the classroom next to mine shared their preparation for Halloween and were more than happy to let me take photos of their amazing creations and share them with you!

These spiders are super easy to make and are a great fine motor activity!

 First, grab a black pom pom and twist half of a pipe cleaner around it.

Then, twist a second half pipe cleaner around it so it looks like the photo below.

Finally, twist two more around the pom pom. Twist and bend them to look like creepy legs!

The students had a lot of fun creating a wide variety of different looking spiders!

They really enjoyed hiding them all around the room - especially in and around their jack o'lanterns!


Individual Word Walls for Primary Students

When I started teaching, word walls were the "go to" standard of a primary and junior classroom.

More recently, I have noticed that they are becoming a thing of the past.

More and more teachers are realizing that students need individualized content and what one child needs, others do not. As a result, I have seen personal dictionaries become the standard in primary and junior grades, especially in discussion groups with teachers in large Facebook groups..

In kindergarten, my colleagues have very different views about this.

That is okay.

Classes should not all be the same. Nor should they ever be.

How we meet our students' needs will vary based on their individual needs!

Some teachers love co-creating word walls with their students and their students become very adept at using them.

I've had word walls that mainly the older students will reference but have come to realize, for me, that it is a big piece of real estate in my classroom that not all students can reference. As a result, this past year I started to use personal word walls. We would use it during guided reading and during our small group writing activities.

The images above give examples of beginning words that I would automatically include for new readers or beginning readers. I purposefully include the alphabet with lower case letters because that is what we write with most of the time and many children often have a hard time transitioning from upper to lower case letters.

How do I use them?

Each word wall is glued onto card stock for durability for two years. On the back, I include personalized words for each child like family members or pet names.

New Words:
I start with around 10 basic words all students should be able to read at first. Then, I write all new words on each students word walls as they are introduced during guided reading. Also, if I notice that they can read or write a word that is not included on the chart I will add it.

Guided Reading:
At the beginning of guided reading, students read all the words on their word wall as a refresher. This helps them become very acquainted with where words are and helps to boost their instant recall.

Small Group Writing:
When students are writing they are encouraged to get their word wall. I always teach writing in small focused groups so that I can focus on each students learning as we are learning.

I often will prompt students with a question and prompts similar to the following:

"What do you want to write about today using the words you know on your word wall?
You can write about anything you want!
You could write, 'I see mom.' or 'I like the beach.' or 'I like to play soccer.' or 'I love my dad.'
What do you want to write about today?"

FYI: I point to the words on their word wall as I give suggestions to model using the word wall.

I may give a variety of suggestions like the ones listed above and children do find this helpful as a first prompt but ultimately I find that children always have their own ideas. It is very rare that I find they copy an example that I have prompted them with.

Check this out:
If you're interested in implementing something similar you can click the image below to check out the templates that I use. There are more options included in this than I describe in this blog post.


Editable Back to School Mailbag Labels

I cannot believe that it is already time to prep for the new year again!

It's to set up our classrooms and get everything ready for the new students and parents who are new to the school routine and how we each organize our own classroom.

Let's be real. Communication with parents needs to happen ALL. THE. TIME. in Kindergarten and primary grades!

As a result, one of the very first things I tackle each year is my communication mailbags. Students send them home nightly with any mail that needs to go home and return them the next day. I'll be honest, I like a uniform look so I make the bags up myself and it allows parents to read our expectations instantly, as a reminder, if required.

I always ensure that students names are on the bag so that they are easy to identify if they get lost.

Parents appreciate that they know I've got everything ready for them and I love the organized look!

Teacher Tip: 
Ensure you have these ready for your first parent meeting so you can go over expectations in person. Parents truly appreciate this personalized communication.

Happy back to school!


Why It's Not Okay to Let Kids Say "It's Okay!"

Teachers of young children often spend a lot of time in September teaching simple social skills so that a classroom can run smoothly throughout the rest of the school year.

Social skills are the hardest skills of all for this age group as they are so egocentric.

It is the basis for friendship, the ability to play with others and the ability to be able to control and express feelings and emotions.

When solving problems independently, I have often found that kids do usually learn to say sorry quickly. Unfortunately, often the "go to" response after this is, "It's okay!" and then the children walk away from each other.

This bothers me deeply as children know it isn't okay that someone hurt them or their feelings. When a child hears this, after doing something wrong, I have found they often easily dismiss their error and the problem reoccurs frequently. Remember, the last thing they have heard is that "it's okay" to do that, even though they admitted to their actions and said they were sorry.

We explicitly teach our children to say, "I forgive you. Please don't do that again!"

Developing this language with young children validates that a wrongdoing occurred and that we can forgive others.

It does not dismiss the issue or make it bigger than it needs to be.

If we ever hear someone respond to a social problem with, "it's okay," I instantly stop their conversation with, "Well, actually no. It is not okay that they did that. But, we can forgive them for doing it and ask them not to do it again!"

We have found that children are more willing to own up to their mistakes when they know they will be forgiven for their actions and, in the end, this leads to fewer behavior problems.

Providing this safe environment where students talk about mistakes and forgiveness is essential for developing ownership for behavior, long lasting friendships, and self-regulation skills!


Beginner Writing Continuum

Communicating with three or four educators in the classroom can be tricky.

This past year, I used picture images to group my guided reading groups. I've decided to implement learning goals and success criteria for writing in the exact same way.

Students will print their own names on sticky notes and we will get them to identify where they are on the continuum after we have collected several diagnostic assessment pieces.

We will be dividing the different groups amongst our teaching team and this will be supported by our planning teacher who will be focusing on writing this year as well.

I love that we will be able to use this to guide and separate our groups which we will be working with. Documenting children's progress in small groups will simply be a photo taken throughout the year to show growth!

I am excited to have this visual posted in our classroom as it will represent student understanding of what they can achieve and will help with keeping expectations and communication consistent for all teachers without having to have any formal meetings.

I have included the above continuum in the product shown below as a bonus. Click on the image to check it out!


Our "Debug" Tool to Support Self-Regulation

Young children need easy ways to remember how to solve social problems.

We often make a fun reference to this and describe it to children that others may be "bugging" them and this helps them regulate their emotions when they are upset with their peers.

When we do this, we can discuss bugs and our feelings around them. They may bother us, but in reality, we live with them and to a certain degree need to get used to them!

Our problems with others are the same!

Students need to be able to feel safe learning how to solve problems and guided through how to do it. These strategies have been very effective with our students.

When someone is bugging you we can:
* Ignore
         We can ignore things that are not true or other people's problems.
* Talk Friendly
         Always talk in a kind manner, assuming others will listen!
* Talk Firmly
        To show we mean what we say we speak firmly but still with kind words.
* Move Away
        If our words do not work we can choose something else to do or someone else to play with.
* Get Adult Help
        When the other strategies don't work, or if someone is hurt we can always seek help from an adult!

I hope you find these strategies to be helpful with your students!

I use a visual prompt for the non-readers in the calming corner area of our classroom. After we have pre-taught and repeatedly modeled the different strategies, students will independently go to use the poster to help them remember how to solve problems.

The following poster gives picture cues that children can easily understand and help them solve their problems independently. If you want to check it out, it can be purchased by clicking on the following image below.


Walking Wednesday: Whole School Activity

Kids need exercise and walking is a great way to get it.
Families who walk to school help build relationships within their community as families get to know each other.

Exploring the outdoors, being in and around nature, helps ground kids and them supports their appreciation for the world around them.

A few years ago our staff put out a challenge to our community to make it a goal to walk to school every Wednesday. It was a pretty easy adjustment for our community as we already had done this during Earth Week to support our learning of taking care of the environment.

The community bought into this weekly activity and all the students enjoyed participating in it. This is a perfect year-round activity for eco-schools.

Older students wrote announcements to encourage student participation, younger grades graphed who came to school by walking, driving or on the bus

Class awards were given to the class with the most points per division and celebrated all student participation by collecting points for each child who participated (our school collects color house points to help build school spirit).

If you want to start something like this at your school it is pretty easy to do! If you click on the image above to find premade activities, templates, and awards for your whole school to use!


Patterning Videos on YouTube

Learning how to pattern at a young age is surprisingly easy for many children. 

I often use patterning songs as attention grabbers for whole group learning. Sometimes it is good to throw in a fun video for fun. Here are a few that I've found useful in the past! I hope you find these useful for supporting your students learning!

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