Friday, February 26, 2016

Canadian Postcard Project

As part of a National postcard project, our school received almost 80 postcards from across Canada.  This is a wonderful way for students to learn about our great country.  Following is what we will send out next week along with a photo taken by a visitor to our colony.

Hi from Minnedosa, Manitoba.                                                                                     
Our school is located on the Odanah Hutterite Colony.  We are a k-12 school with 38 students and 5 teachers. We have 10 students in our k-2 class this year.
We love celebrations!  Some of the special days we celebrate each year are beginning in the fall with the Terry Fox Run.  We have it on a Sunday and our whole community participates.  We walk, jog, or bike the 8 km section around our colony.  Even younger children are part of this event.  They get to ride in strollers, bike carts, or on a tractor and trailer.  It is a fun way to get out and enjoy the last days of fall.  
The annual Christmas concert is a great get-together before the Christmas break.  Valentine’s Day is also eagerly anticipated and each class has their own party. In the spring we have a music concert to share the student’s accomplishments.  Our k-3 students have voice lessons, grade 4s piano lessons, and 4+ have piano, guitar, or flute, and also get voice lessons. 

Our school does not have a gym so our students spend a lot of time outdoors.  Phys. ed. class happens outside unless in extreme weather conditions.  There is a hockey rink right behind our school and skating and hockey are a big part of recess and Phys. Ed.  Other winter sports are skiing and snow-shoeing.  Soccer, hiking, biking, and baseball are some summer activities we like.   

Our community’s main income comes from grain farming and a metal fabricating shop.  The shop manufactures metal products like construction fencing and dumpsters. It also laser cuts metal parts and welds for other companies. 

The land around our colony is unique; we live in a wetland area that is covered by hundreds of sloughs.  We get to see all kinds of water fowl returning in the spring.                 


Odanah Colony is 4 km from the small town of Minnedosa.  Every winter the grades 4-12 students go skiing at Minnedosa Ski Valley and the grades k-8 go bowling at the Minnedosa Bowling Lanes before the spring break.  Minnedosa has a few small shops, a pharmacy, Co-op store, post office, library, and hospital.                

Winnipeg is the capital city of Manitoba.  It is home of the national museum, The Museum of Human Rights.  The museum’s purpose is among other things to educate the public on human rights and respect for others.  The museum is featured on our stamp.

All our students enjoy learning about the different communities in Canada.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cecropia Caterpillar

 Last September, as I was getting water from our rain barrel at the side of our house, I saw this huge (4-5") caterpillar crawling up the wall.  This was no ordinary caterpillar and definitely none I had seen before.  As a teacher I get to see and house many different kinds through the year. When a new one comes in, we research it and try to accommodate it to see it through its cycle.

This cecropia caterpillar, as research verified, is rarely seen in our area, and if it finishes its cycle, happens to be the largest moth in North America.  It had a beautiful rainbow of colours down its back.

Luckily I found this the Saturday before school begins - perfect for an intro activity.  Once I had it securely in a container I carried it to school.  Fortunately, on the way there I passed a group of my students who got to see this beauty.  I put it into a butterfly cage, along with a clover stalk.  I hoped to do some research later and see exactly what it needs.  Well... coming to school the next day, what I saw was not the caterpillar but a stunning cocoon, white and silky.  It had made use of the clover and spun its cocoon around it.  

What luck that the kids got to see it and I got pictures taken, as this thing didn't give us much time to observe itself.

Further research stated that the cocoon can be over-wintered in the vegetable compartment of a fridge which is what we did.  

A few weeks ago we brought it out and put it in a fish tank to observe.  I hardly hoped that the thing survived.

Yesterday evening as I sat at my desk with our classroom cat on my lap, she suddenly sat straight up, leapt down and quietly stalked to the shelf that housed the tank.  All alert, she stood and intently gazed at something.  I had to go and see what she noticed and there, fluttering around in the tank, was a magnificent moth!

The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough.
Rabindranath Tagore

This moth, once emerged, is almost at the end of its life.  It never even eats as an adult!  Its sole purpose is now to mate.  Then it dies.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Winter Art

Between stealing moments of watching the Olympic games in Russia we have actually been doing some work.  :)  I have tried to tie in the Social Studies with this very exciting period for sports enthusiasts.  Definitely and effortlessly we are getting the citizenship and pride of your country covered. 

Getting to see the symbols and anthem in action has also been a great experience.  Though not normally involved, I do like to see how Canada does on the world stage.  Very well, I would say!!

We are doing a mini-unit on Russia and I found this great art project on pinterest. We have been seeing these giant Matryoshkas (How Russian!) on the slopes in Russia. 
After painting a background, we traced, drew and brightly coloured the shapes; cut them out and pasted them to the background.  The kids really enjoyed drawing the designs and colouring them... and who's to say that a Matryoshka can't have horns?!

Now for a taste of traditional Russian Music and costume, here's some lively music...

I found this video along with other activities at this site.  Activity Village

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


We are sooooo SMART!  That was the main back-to-school lesson in my class this year. After meeting some friends who had done a UDL course this summer, I was intrigued with the Multiple Intelligence part of the course.  Not as if this was new to me, anyone going through teacher's training is introduced to Howard Gardner's work on this.

What I really liked was how student's were introduced to these smarts.  One of the activities I learned about and did was make a class brain.  Simple enough; every child made a play dough snake.  These were piled up to make the brain.  The crucial part was then to map the class strengths.  After compiling surveys and talking about and finding our own strengths, they were written on a flag and put on the brain.  The idea is that students not only recognize each others' strengths but they know where to go to for help in these areas.  :) 

What I really wished for with these lessons is to create a kinder and more understanding classroom environment; one where students recognize their own and other's strengths and also recognize that each of us needs help from others in different areas and that is OK.

These are our back-to-school portraits which I tied in with the lesson. Everyone did their drawing, water-colour painted it, and then made a list of things they were good at.  These were typed up and the students added them to their dried paintings. 
Interesting that it is your fastidious kids who really find it difficult coming up with things they are good at.

And a more recent portrait of us all!

Thanks to Elma at Schuel Stoff for inspiring me to do another post.  The intentions are always present, it is the actual work that is a bit difficult.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Butterfly Release

Our Painted Lady butterflies have graced us with their presence for five days now.  They started emerging from their chrysalises on Friday with some hatching on the weekend.  The butterflies lived on orange slices and did well at that. 

There was one struggling to come out on Monday.  That one fell to the floor of the cage and when it did come out, it never really uncrumbled its' wings. I could see that it was not going to make it.  Happily for the class, one kind girl asked for the 'crippled' butterfly to care for it at home.  She had it a day when it escaped - luckily - I thought.

So today we embarked to the apple orchard to release our remaining few.  How active they were in the cage!  It must have been the warmth of the sunshine.  Everybody got to hold them, with some butterflies escaping in the process.  We were able to observe them as they fluttered from flower to flower.  They stayed in the area and we could still track them as we left for the lunch bell was ringing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Australia Theme


School has been busy as ever.  I am looking forward to a bit of a break after Valentine's Day.  We have just finished off a social studies unit on Australia.  What a great country to study!  The uniqueness of it adds to the interest.  Being a continent, island, and country in itself was a great lesson to my students.  They have been introduced to these concepts and to all the facts that make for a very interesting study!
When putting together a unit study my first stop is always the school library.  Here are some of the books I found and used.

Story books 

 Books by Mem Fox -- One of my favourite authors and she's from Australia. 

Early chapter books and step-by-step drawing books.

Non-fiction books.

 and of course we made a book -- A is for Australia, an acrostic poem.

Uluru Rock came in central on this page of amazing animals by one of my first graders.

Paintings of the Coral Reef.  
We started with finger-painting a blue background. Then we added yellow paint to the top and red to the bottom and mixed them with the blue to make green and purple for the hues of the sea.  The students used their thumb print for the school of fish and added sea plants in yellow.  This was a nice activity that was successful for all students.

 Aborigine Dot Art
The Australian animal was drawn on black paper, cut out, and then decorated with different sized dots in metallic tempera paints.  We also made boomerangs, but some things make it home faster than others.  I never got a picture.

Animal Non-fiction stories.

You-tube is a great source of information.

Great Barrier Reef Video -- my students just love this one.  We are watching it a little at a time as we find a few minutes.

My students' all time favourite song!

...and my favourite Australian collection!

If you will be studying Australia, here is a link to my pinterest board.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Wonderland

I know this sounds cliched, but we really are living in a winter wonderland.  Our area has been seeing a lot of heavy fog lately.  Hoarfrost is formed on everything!

I caught these photos as the sun was setting coming home from school last week.  By the time I got inside the sun had disappeared.

My sister's backyard
The rays from the setting sun beakoned me to explore.  I will admit, I have not done alot of walking this winter.  Somehow, even though I think it isn't THAT cold, I find I just don't want to go out.  Not good!

Trees are weighed down with the frost.  Thankfully I got our cedar wrapped after the first big frost threatened to snap the fragile branches.


I finally got some window stars made.  Our tattered old star was discarded last year so I had no choice but to get creative.  I really like these five point stars.  I made two large and a small one for the string of lights.  They have a wonderful effect in the bay window and I almost like them more during the day when there is hardly light showing through the frosty paper.

School's out and I am so ready for a break... not quite for Christmas though.