Tag Archives: teaching

Upcoming Classes!

There are very few things I love in this life more than learning new things.  This is why I am always taking courses, always reading books, always have a list of things I want to learn more about.

But I am just as passionate about sharing what I have learned with others.  (This is perhaps why I chose teaching as a profession!)  I am the the teacher who is always running into the principal’s office and saying “Did you know that?”  or “I just learned.”  or, “Hey, research shows this, maybe we should try it!”  Luckily for me I work in a small supportive school and all of this is encouraged! :)

So it is really not too surprising that I have spent the last few months thinking about how I can share what I know about sewing with others.  I have had the pleasure of teaching my friend’s girls how to sew, have had a few friends over for some on-on-one sewing help, and last year I taught my entire Kindergarten/Grade One class how to sew.  But so far, there has been nothing formal.

Until now.  Isn’t it amazing when you start to think about something, and then everything seems to fall into place to make it happen?

My school was looking for some fun after school programs, so at the end of November I am running a three day class teaching students aged 5 – 10 how to sew their own stuffies.

And then someone I know bought this beautiful cottage on the water and has set it up as a retreat centre centred around creative craft classes and retreats!  It’s the perfect spot to relax and to learn something new.  And I am now their official sewing instructor!

I am offering two classes in the next two months, both centered around introducing or helping others with the fun and versatile art of sewing, and also with the goal of helping with holiday gift-giving.  If you live locally, and have been wanting to learn more about sewing, or just need someone to help you out with a project, I would love to see you there!

How about sewing some super-comfy flannel pajama pants?  Making flannel pajamas for my nephews for Christmas was one of my first sewing projects way back when and has now become a holiday tradition.

Or…how about a workshop?  An evening to get out of the house and work on those holiday projects away from curious eyes (and maybe get a little help along the way?)

 

For those of you who don’t live locally, but are just as eager to learn to sew or develop your skills, web-based classes (and maybe even Skype sessions!) are in the works.  Stay tuned! :)

Have you learned something new today?  Share it in the comments and we can all learn together!

 

 

Whatever Floats Your Boat

No matter how many times it happens, I am always amazed what a group of young children can come up with when left to their own devices.

Yesterday afternoon, we made boats.

Other than providing materials, and the direction to make a boat that floats (of course!) I left them to discover on their own.

And as they worked, they discussed the merits of different materials.

They talked about what a boat should look like.  They wondered if they made a boat a different size and shape if it would still float.

They debated whether a cardboard boat would remain afloat.

And rather than answering their questions, I asked a few of my own.  Like “If you think a cardboard boat would get too wet, what could you do to protect it?”

In the midst of all this boat-talk, there was also learning about working with materials.  Puzzling over how to get pieces to stick to one another, how to make holes in the middle of a box, how to balance one object on top of another, how to work with plasticine.

And as I guide them to learn and discover on their own, I know the learning runs much deeper than the things I simply tell them.

And then, with twelve brand new boats in hand, we headed outside to test the waters!

“It floats!”

“It floats!”

“It floats!”

“Shipwreck!!!!!”

“Hmm…what happens if I put water inside my boat……”

“Hey!  This yellow tape floats!”

And then the bowls of water became vessels for all sorts of floating things on the playground.  And then sand from the sandbox.  And lots of stirring with fingers and squishing and scooping of mud.  My young scientists were still at work discovering long after my job was done and the after school program began.

Taking it Further

  • Older children could test out materials and models before designing what they feel to be the “best” model
  • play an advanced game of “will it float?”  Go beyond the usual items.
  • Learn about different types of boats and build a boat for a specific purpose
  • Take water exploration in new directions.  Provide funnels and tubing and containers and see what they can come up with (I once did this with a small group of seven and eight-year-olds who spent several days designing elaborate water-moving machines.)
  • Have children find ways to make their boats move in the water (and maybe even have a boat race!)

Don’t you just love it when learning is so much fun?

What if you became a Pizza…

A few weeks ago, we explored this book in my classroom:

In this story, Pete is disappointed that he can’t go outside to play, so, to cheer him up, his Dad turns him into a pizza!  Not a real one, of course, but an imaginary pizza, complete with dough kneading, the addition of toppings (checkers!) and a trip to the oven (the sofa.)  This is a fun. light-hearted book that just begs to be acted out!

If I were reading this book to one or two small children, I would definitely follow it up with scooping them up and immediately turning them into pizzas (of the Pete variety.)  I must admit that I did consider doing some variation of this in my classroom, but with 13 youngsters all eager for a turn, I instead turned to activities we could all engage in at the same time.

Hello play dough!  (I apologise in advance for the photos.  Fluorescent lighting and my camera do not agree.  I am determined to learn how to get great photos despite the lighting – if anyone has any tips I’d love to hear them!)

Following all of the steps in the book, we turned our play dough into our own pizza.  We all took turns to knead the dough and roll it flat, and then everyone had the opportunity to make their own toppings to add to the pizza.  By the time we were ready to put it into the “oven” imaginations had taken hold and we were really cooking the pizza.  Some of the students commented on the amazing smell as it was baking, and others had grumbling tummies waiting for a bite.

When we removed it from the oven we had to figure out how to cut the pizza so that everyone could have a fair share (math is everywhere, isn’t it?) and then we all enjoyed describing the wonderful flavour of this best pizza in the world.  While we ate, several of the students contemplated opening up our own pizza store and selling our wares to the world (or at the very least to the principal!)

To follow this up we made and ate our own real pizzas using mini pitas, and we wrote a class book about our favourite pizzas.

 

"My pizza is very good. It was so good I ate it all."

 

More pizza fun could include:

  • create signs and menus for our very own (imaginary) pizza store
  •  plan a pizza party and invite a special guest (like the principal in my case!)
  • draw a number of pizzas and then cut them into pieces to serve different numbers of people (My Grade 3 students loved doing this when we were learning about fractions – I played it up with taking orders via telephone and having them create and cut the pizzas for the different orders…and then we really had fun with silly customers who wanted crazy combinations like 1/8 sardines, 3/8 strawberries and 1/2 stinky cheese)
  • making a cardboard pizza!
  • creating our own stories where we turn into our favourite foods!
  • Some of my students were disappointed that Pete didn’t turn into a real pizza.  This could be fun to explore – what would happen if we really did turn into a pizza???
  • Pizza tag – you are the pizza, and I want to eat you, yum! :)

Anyone else have fun pizza ideas to add?

Giants, Beanstalks, and a Brave Girl Named Kate

I am so excited to be writing my very first Creative Kids post!  I actually had an activity I did in my classroom last week that I wanted to write about, but had such a fun and amazing afternoon with my students yesterday that I can’t resist writing about that instead!

On Monday afternoons I do something in my classroom I call “Story Adventures.”  Usually this begins with the reading of a story, and then we get involved in all sorts of adventures inspired by what we just read.

Yesterday I read them the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.  Not just the ordinary tale, but the one found in this book:

One half of the book is the tale of Jack that we are all familiar with.  After reading the story we had a short discussion about Jack, and his actions, and how we felt about the giants.

I then read them the other half of the story; which is the same story, but told from the point of view of the giant’s wife.  In this version the giants are all very innocent and Jack is made out to be one very naughty (and greedy) boy indeed!

We then talked about whether their feelings about Jack or the giant had changed.

And then the fun began.  What I often do with a story like this is tell my students we are going to put on a play, and have them create all of the props/costumes necessary, and then spend some time acting it out, allowing different students time to try out different roles.

But I took a risk with this young group and decided to try something I have never considered doing with a class so young.  We decided to put Jack on trial.  (It was smooth sailing once I explained what a trial was!) :)

Students who sided with the giant sat on one side of our meeting mat, students who sided with Jack on the other, and one undecided student played the role of Jack.  I sat as judge so as to have some control over the proceedings.  Then we proceeded to debate.  Giants had their say, humans had their say, and Jack had a chance to defend himself.  And after a few minutes, my classroom was no longer full of 5 and 6-year-old boys and girls, but giants, offended at having been robbed, and humans, explaining their neediness, and for goodness sake Jack might have asked permission to take some of the giants things but the giants were too intent on wanting to eat him to notice!  Without any prompting or prodding from me (I only called for order when too many people were talking at once), the two parties came to the conclusion that they would share the stolen goods, and the giants would agree not to threaten to eat any more humans.  Without any formal teaching at all, my K/1 students have learned to debate, to persuade, to compromise, and to keep order in a large group discussion.  And they worked the judge right out of her job!  When I brought the drama to a close, the only thing I heard was : “Can we do it again?”

Because they enjoyed all of this so much, I decided to read them yet another version of the story today.

In this version the hero is a brave girl named Kate, who steals not for her own benefit, but to return the giants items to their rightful owners.  And when the story was finished, my students immediately started working out their own version of the drama, assigning roles and deciding who sided with who.   (Who needs the teacher anyway?) :)

If the interest lasts another day or two, here are a few other things we might do together:

  • build our own giant beanstalk, – we will have to decide how tall it should be (hello math!), and then the challenge will be deciding how to create a beanstalk out of the materials we have on hand – or we might build other giant things too – how big would a giant’s shirt be?  Or the food on his table?  (If I had a big enough oven, I would have loved to have created some giant food to share!)
  • plant bean seeds and watch them grow
  • go on an imaginary adventure where each child can climb the beanstalk and enter into their own magical worlds (and then write about it!)
  • create and tell our own story, replacing the giant beanstalk with another giant plant, and the giant’s castle with another magical place (Perhaps entitled….Our Class and the Humongous Apple Tree, or something of that nature)

Fee Fi Fo Fum, I see some kids having lots of fun! :)

What would you do with a giant beanstalk?

Creative Kids – that other part of my life

For the past ten years I have spent most of my days creating, imagining, reading, writing, and discovering with young children.  Each year the ages of those students has changed (my youngest class yet was made up of 3 year olds, and my oldest were 10), and no matter what the age I have loved the challenge of creating exciting and engaging learning opportunities for diverse groups of learners at different ages and stages.  I am especially passionate about involving the creative arts and using imagination and creativity as a tool to enrich learning and engage even the most reluctant learners.  I am most happy when surrounded by a group of kids up to our elbows in goo, exploring and experimenting with art materials, or deep on an imaginary adventure.  Even before I was an official teacher I spent time volunteering in classrooms and spent all summer at camps teaching and learning and being inspired by the creativity and imagination of young children.  Until this year most of my waking hours have been spent on planning, researching, implementing and refining a wide variety of learning experiences and lessons.

But I have rarely written about it. 

And something I am so passionate and excited about deserves to be written about.  After all, it is because of a wonderfully special Grade 1/2 class that custom creatures were born.  It is in a classroom that I made my first batch of homemade ice cream, and homemade butter.  My students have inspired me to read lots of great books.  And although my job is sometimes tough enough to bring me to tears, and has led to years of sleepless nights worrying over my young charges, it has also brought me moments of great joy.  And it is a huge part of who I am. 

 And so I have decided to share some of those special activities and learning moments here. (along with all of the usual cooking and sewing and gardening, of course!)  And although most of the ideas I share will have been done in my classroom, most of them can also be done anywhere – in your homes, at a community centre, with Grandma, or a baby-sitter, or a play-group.  For anywhere young children are gathered, there are opportunities for creativity, for art, for learning, for “magic” to happen!

I hope that this will be a fun addition to what I already post here, and that you will be inspired along with me to get creative with the young people in your own lives!   

 

Art Every Day – Day 13: A Week of Art, and I can’t do it all

It seems I was a bit ambitious when I decided that not only would I create art every day, but I would post it on this blog every day too!  In my head, I always imagine that I will have time enough for everything, but in the end the day is over, and there is always items on my to-do list left over.  This week, art happened, but blogging about it did not. 

I started to beat myself up over this, and then I remembered the reason I joined Art Every Day.  To make art.  To join in with others who think art and creativity are important.  To enjoy the process.

So that is what I am going to do.  Create art.  Every day.  And sometimes I will post it here, and sometimes I won’t.  And I will be ok with that.  This is supposed to be fun, right?

Here are a few of the projects I worked on this week:

Some of the rainbow fabrics I had fun playing with on Day 5 became a fun rainbow pencil roll.  (The pink fabric was chosen by a mom who wanted a roll for her pink-loving daughter.  Cute, isn’t it?)

More playing with fabric as I cut circles and squares of Christmas prints for more flowers.  I can’t wait to start sewing them together!

My students and I studied cave painting and then went outside and mixed up our own mud paint and created drawings on the playground pavement, with our hands!  What fun we had!

And I started working on a pattern for a sweater dinosaur.  My patterns aren’t much to look at, but here is what I drew for his friendly face.  (It will look much better when he comes to life, it always does!) 

Happy art making!

Harry Potter Robes and Other Magical Fun

I’ve had this Harry Potter inspired project on the back-burner for the last few months, but with the new (and last!) movie coming out very soon I knew now was the time to tackle it.

And so, may I present, straight from my sewing room Madam Malkin’s: Robes for All Occasions: Gryffindor school robes!

I used this tutorial on BurdaSyle and although I found them a bit of a challenge to put them together, I am pretty happy with the results.

I used broadcloth for its affordability, and found the Gryffindor crest on Etsy.

If you are thinking of making some yourself, definitely read through all of the comments on the tutorial, as they were really helpful in drafting and cutting out the pattern.  Next time (oh yes, there will be a next time, I still have at least one more to make!) despite the extra fabric it will take, I think I will line the whole front, and not just 4 inches as the pattern calls for.  This was the first time I have used seam tape and I wasn’t really happy with it. 

I can’t wait to hand these robes over to their owner tomorrow! 

Harry Potter Fun!

Your robes are on and you are ready for a magical adventure.  Here are some magical ideas I’ve collected from around the web.  (Most of these I used to create a magical day at Hogwarts for my students, but the kitchen creations would be appreciated by fans of all ages.)

1.  Find or make yourself an owl and send letters by “owl post” in invisible ink.  (I was lucky enough to find a beautiful snowy owl stuffy at a yard sale, but several years ago I made a pompom owl for my mother as part of  Harry Potter-themed birthday present, that, of course, had to arrive by owl post.)  Or write letters in regular ink, or with calligraphy pens,  on “scrolls” (receipt or adding-machine tape works great for this!)

2.  Spend a day taking classes at Hogwarts! 

  • Herbology: create magical plants of your own with art supplies, or use your imagination and spend some time in the garden planting and caring for “magical” plants. 
  • Potions: think cooking or science experiments (magic mud is a favourite), or write your own
  • Transfiguration: play a game of charades
  • Charms: create your own spells
  • and if you have enough people, don’t forget to play a game of Quidditch (I have played a modified version with as few as seven people)

3.  Cook up some favourite Hogwarts treats by following some fun recipes on Heather Bailey’s site: Chocolate Wands, Butterbeer and mini broomsticks, Cockroach Clusters, and of course you could always make chocolate frogs or pretend any jelly beans are of the “Bertie Botts Every Flavoured” variety.   

Enjoy!   And remember: “Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus”

How about an online sewing class?

I’ve been dreaming again.  Not the kind that you have at night (although I certainly have my fair share of those, too!) but the kind of dreams that make you think about all the exciting and wonderful things you could do.

This is nothing new to me, being somewhat of a “dreamer” by nature.  I would need several lifetimes to act on all the ideas for projects that run through my head on a daily basis.  Many of them come in and out and I never think of them again.

But sometimes I have an idea that seems to stick in my head long enough to start looking less like a dream, and more like a possibility.

After attending several online classes recently, I have been inspired to think about setting up an online sewing class.  I love sewing and I love sharing all that I have learned with others (I’m a teacher, after all!).   And with somewhat serendipitous timing, Crissy Heron, at Indie BizChicks.com, is offering a chance to win a spot in her course on how to teach an online class.   (Her site is full of great information on running a business!  If that’s your thing, be sure to check it out!)

So…I’m putting this idea out there, and we’ll see what happens!

What kind of crazy/awesome/exciting ideas are you pondering today?

 

Making Butter – Fun for Kids (and Grown-Ups Too!)

You might remember from last year that once a year my students get to choose their own topic of study for a month.  This year the winner was something they called “Ooshy, Gooshy, Take Home Science.”   So this month I have been up to my elbows in goo each day as we explore the messiest science experiments I can find, and at the end of the day there is always something ooshy or gooshy for them to take home with them. 

On one of our theme days I decided to teach the students about kitchen chemistry.  We had already learned about suspensions in a previous science experiment (a solution where solid molecules are suspended in a liquid) so making our own butter seemed like a good extension of this.

It was a hit!   (With the students and the grown-ups in the room.)  It was fun to make, and delicious spread on our home-made pizza dough  (we studied how leavening agents work) with a little garlic and cheese as homemade garlic fingers. 

You can make your own butter, too.  Here’s how:

Start with whipping cream and a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  (The bigger the jar, the harder work this is going to be so start small.)

Fill the jar 1/3 full of cream.

Now shake!

This takes a lot of shaking, and if there are kids doing it, a lot of “is it done yet?  Can we look at it?  If you stop to look, you will see that it is getting thicker, but it’s not butter yet.

Put some good shaking music on to renew the motivation to keep shaking!  In my classroom we enjoyed shaking around to “Philadelphia Chickens” from the Sandra Boynton CD of the same title.

Eventually it is going to get so thick that you feel like you can’t shake anymore.  Trust me, it can be done. 

On the outside the jar is all white.  On the inside you will find you’ve made whipping cream.  Yummy, but not the goal for the day.  Put the lid back on and shake some more. 

You will know your shaking is paying off when you start to see little bits of clear glass again.  Keep shaking.

As the cream turns into butter and buttermilk the sides of the jar will become clear again and you will be able to see the butter starting to gather.  Keep shaking until you have a nice clump of butter and some milky white liquid (the buttermilk)

Open the jar and pour off the buttermilk (you can save it for baking if you like.)  Rinse your butter with cold water and transfer to a serving dish.

You have just made your very own butter!  (and enjoyed a good arm workout, too!)  Enjoy!

An Apron for a Teacher

“Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!”  Ms. Frizzle of “Magic School Bus” fame likes to say.  Although I don’t own a bus with magical powers, and I try to stay away from themed outfits, Ms. Frizzle and I share a very similar educational philosophy – children learn better when they are right in the thick of things, experiencing and learning for themselves.

And so, my classroom can be a messy place. 

I have a huge white lab coat that I often wear that has been splattered with a rainbow of colours and decorated with rainbow coloured buttons (ok…so maybe sometimes Ms Frizzle and I dress in a similar fashion), but it can be hot to wear and I don’t always need full-body coverage. 

So when Abby of Sew much Ado asked me to test her Mommy and Mia Apron Pattern, I knew exactly what I was going to make the apron for.

And I already had the perfect fabric.

Meet my new teaching apron!

And the cute bow at the back.

The pattern was really easy to follow and I am super-happy with the finished product!  She has so many diagrams and explains everything so clearly that a seasoned sewer could probably whip one up in a few hours and a confident beginner could probably tackle it too.  The pattern also includes girls sizes so that matching aprons can be made for moms and daughters – too cute!

The pattern is currently available in PDF format on the Sew Much Ado web-site and will soon be available as a paper pattern.  Abby also created the wonderful Ruby Lou doll pattern which I made last year.   

Now I think I need to come up with something wonderfully messy to do when my students come back to school next Monday…..  :)

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