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Stop by the library to check out our latest acquisitions, praying mantis nymphs. Bring a container – I am giving them away!


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Mme. Bronwen and I ran a Makerspace experience for her grades 4 & 5 French Immersion students this year. After two sessions with recycle bin materials, we switched to Tinker Toys, building blocks, PlusPlus and other prefabricated, commercially available materials. Engagement was high and it was a great sandbox for developing social skills necessary for effective group work (not always easy).

These makerspace experiences were inspired in part by our Professional Book Club selection, Invent to Learn, an introduction to the maker movement in educational settings.

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When you walk in the doors of Strathcona School Library, one of the first things you see is the new Discovery Table. Here students can investigate and explore natural objects with their hands, eyes, and noses. They can use the magnifying glasses and read bits of related books I’ve left there. The Discovery Table is inspired by our wonderful Kindergarten teacher and winner of the 2014 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellency, Colleen Sturrock’s classroom. Full of wonderful natural objects, beautifully displayed and arranged to invite children to explore, play, learn and tell stories, Mrs. Sturrock’s classroom is engaging and inspiring place. Tucked to one side of the classroom, is a sand table. Its not just any sand table, though, this one also contains fascinating natural objects such as fresh water drift wood form Pitt Lake, shells, rocks, and pine cones. When I saw this sand table, my heart leapt, and my imagination  soared.

How could I incorporate this into my school library without creating a giant headache for myself? Borrowing some shells, pine cones, and pieces of wood from Mrs. Sturrock, I arranged these objects on a low, natural wood table my mom gave me. A few books and a couple of magnifying glasses completed the table. I was surprised by how interested the children were. Gathering around in small groups of two to five, they explored the objects, picking them up, peering closely, and smelling them. they compare information in the books with the objects on the table.



As interested waned, I replaced the natural objects with some simple puzzles and building materials. Kids were thrilled. Changing the materials every so often seems to work well. My colleague Annie gave me some evergreen branches with needles and cones that she used for a writing and math provocation inspired by the Reggio method (see book below). I am inspired by the provocations Annie and Colleen use that invite and inspire children to inquire and express.

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What’s next? I plan to read the book above, learn from my colleagues, and try Story Workshop with some intermediate students. I am grateful to work with such amazing colleagues.

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Image result for gord downie secret path

Beautifully illustrated, large format graphic novel by The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie, is the true story of Chanie Wenjack, a young Aboriginal boy who escapes Indian Residential School to return home, with tragic results.

See the animated film here.

For adults and older students, read Joseph Boyden’s Wenjack.

Image result for joseph boyden wenjack

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In my grade 6 & 7 RTI group we have been investigating and exploring Makerspace ideas and materials. Here are some books that inspired us:

Invent to Learn is a great educator resource, that includes not only practical ideas but also the pedagogy.

The best, most inspiring book for parents, teachers, and students. Great ideas in here from cardboard structures to e-textiles to LED sculptures.


Duct tape projects! Start with the wallet. It’s not as easy as it seems. Duct tape is available at Michaels in funky patterns, look for their online coupons.

Such a fabulous book!

A little more than the maker movement, the Unbored book series is more of a way of life, a mindset, a bit old school hip.

The kids loved this book. It may be the title.

Another great resource.

All except Invent to Learn are available at the Vancouver Public Library.

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Recommended by Carrie Gelson, here are a few beautiful, teary picture books about death.

Missing Mommy is a poignant tale of a young child grieving.

When Mommy dies, a little boy worries that he will forget her smell and the sound of her voice.

Buckley misses his Papa immensely, so he crafts little boats and sends them out to sea with a note. Buckley knows that if the boats don’t return, his Papa has received them. When Buckley makes an unexpected discovery, he begins to accept that Papa may not be coming back.

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Complete Book List

I’m New Here is a simple text about three kids trying to adapt to their new school and homes.

In French and English, Where in the World, is a more sophisticated text for older students.


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Raise awareness about censorship and intellectual freedom in our country by learning about banned and challenged books. Freedom to Read Week is an important annual event.

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I love Melanie Watt books and I am thrilled about her latest, Bug in a Vacuum, that is not only not funny, but looks at the five stages of grief.

With his distinct illustration and writing styles, Todd Parr is another favourite children’s author. In fact, I purchase all his books for the library, because they are simple, poignant, and relevant. In particular, I like his family book and the one about adoption, because they show diverse families and highlight a commonality in all families: love.

In The Goodbye Book, a little fish loses his companion and through this scenario, the readers explores the various feelings and  experiences people have when they lose someone they love.

This book is a lovely and sad story. A dandelion and a bird become friends and share their life stories. After a windstorm, the dandelion and her seed pods are gone, and so the bird holds onto her memories, sharing them with some very familiar little dandelions who appear in the field.

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