In the 1800s, the Canadian government felt that Indigenous people were uncivilized.  In an effort to assimilate them into European/Canadian culture, children were taken from their homes and brought to residential boarding schools run by different religious groups.  Many children were harmed by being separated from their families, being forbidden to speak their languages, malnutrition, and abuse of all kinds.  The last residential school closed in 1996.  Today, many Indigenous communities are still suffering from this horrific legacy. 

If you are introducing your elementary students to the history of residential schools in Canada, these read-alouds are perfect starting points.
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Shi-shi-etko
Author: Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrator: Kim LaFave
Shi-shi-etko is a little girl counting down the days until she has to go to a residential school.  She spends those days with her father, mother, and grandmother who each share words of wisdom.  Shi-shi-etko soaks up her surroundings to store as memories for when she is away.  This story is more of a poetic account with very rich descriptive language.



Shin-Chi's Canoe
Author: Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrator: Kim LaFave

Shin-chi's Canoe is the sequel to Shi-shi-etko.  In this story, Shi-shi-etko returns to a residential school with her little brother Shin-chi.  She tells him to remember his surroundings just like she did.  At school, they have English names and cannot speak to each other.  Months of skimpy meals, chores, church, school, and loneliness have Shin-chi longing for home.  He spends his time at the river with his toy canoe, anxiously waiting for the salmon to return.  When the salmon return, it signals the start of spring and time to go home.


When I Was Eight
Authors: Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard

When I Was Eight tells the story of Olemaun, an eight year old Inuit girl who in spite of her father's objections, wants to go to the "outsiders' school" so that she can learn to read like her older sister.  As soon as she arrives at the residential school, her hair was cut and she was given uncomfortable clothes.  Olemaun, her Inuit name, was changed to Margaret.  Instead of learning to read, she was given many chores and had to attend church.  After some time, she finally began her studies.  Not knowing how to speak English, she was ridiculed and punished for her misunderstandings.  Olemaun did her best not to break under the supervision of a cruel and harsh nun and in the end she learned to read!  The story is based on the experiences of one of the authors, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton.
 

Not My Girl
Authors: Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard

Not My Girl is the sequel to When I Was Eight.  In this follow-up, Olemaun returns home from her residential school and her mother declares, "Not my girl!"  Olemaun is now ten years old, her long hair was cut, and thin due to malnourishment and hard chores.  She learned a lot at school, had table manners, could say her prayers, and speak in both English and French.  But she could no longer speak her own language.  Her favourite foods were now unappetizing, she couldn't help around the house, and her best friend from school could not play with her anymore.  Olemaun feels like she isn't a part of the family and has to relearn her language and way of life.


When We Were Alone
Author: David A. Robertson
Illustrator: Julie Flett  
 In When We Were Alone, a little girl  notices things about her grandmother - her colourful clothes, long hair, how she speaks in Cree, and how she often spends time with her family.  Her grandmother explains how as a child in a residential school, many things were forbidden.  When they were alone, she and other children would try to keep their culture alive.  Now that she is older, she cherishes the customs that officials tried to erase.


Stolen Words
Author: Melanie Florence
Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard
In Stolen Words, a little girl asks her grandfather to say something in Cree, but he can't remember.  He says that he lost his words a long time ago; they were taken away.  He sadly recalls angry teachers that raised their voices and hands at the children.  Determined to help, the little girl gets an Introduction to Cree book to give him back the stolen words.



Residential schools are a sad reality of our nation's past, but their legacy have caused great harm to Indigenous communities.  Born and raised in Canada myself, I was unaware of this part of Canadian history.  I understand that it's a heavy and emotional topic and one that requires sensitivity; it cannot be ignored.  Educating our students, even younger ones is an important part of the truth and reconciliation process.


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You're probably here to find new activities to add to your symmetry unit, so let's begin!



Symmetry Provocation
Moment of Truth: I am an old soul.  An old fart.  I'm quite resistant to change so I haven't fully embraced the play and inquiry model.  For now I'm introducing bits and pieces to create more of a balance.

My first foray was a symmetry provocation.  Without explicitly defining symmetry, I put out a set of books which they flocked to.  Check out the books below!  The kids quickly picked up the concept and the center became a hit!


Symmetry provocations in first grade.  A great idea for symmetry centers!

If it's not clear, I put a thin layer of sand in a baking tin and added a small mirror.  I held up the mirror with one hand and made a design in the sand with the other.  The kids thought that it was the coolest thing looking at the reflection in the mirror!

 
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Pegs and Pegboards
I got a bucket of pegs and a set of pegboards from a clearance center when I first started teaching.  Like most teachers would, I had to buy it because it was a great deal!  The small pegs and pegboards (4x6 inches) came from a local dollar store.  I challenged my students to make symmetrical designs or pictures. 


Symmetry centers in first grade.  Fun with pegs and peg boards!

Pattern Blocks
I was excited to try some symmetry activities created by my friend Christina over at Hanging Around in Primary.  They completed a design to make it symmetrical and made their own symmetrical designs.  In the past I put out a tub of Lego and gave kids a straw to use as the line of symmetry. 

Symmetry centers in first grade.  Fun with pattern blocks.

Butterfly Art
In grade one (first grade), paint makes everything better!  These were super easy and quick - a few drops on one side of the butterfly, press down and voilĂ ! 



Math Journals
For their journal entries, I asked students to create both symmetrical and non-symmetrical designs and find the line of symmetry in letters of the alphabet. 



These pages are part of my resource: Open-Ended Math Questions - Geometry.



I hope that you found new ideas to try with your own kiddos! 
Looking for a way to organize your teaching units?  Today I'm sharing my new storage solution - Sterilite Boxes!


Many teachers use binders and that's how I initially stored units.  My issue with binders was dealing with holes punched through my master copies.   The alternative was using lots and lots of page protectors which became quite cumbersome.  Another problem was having my printables (e.g. posters, task cards, sorts) slide out of the binder.


So I ditched binders and went to file folders and hanging files for my filing cabinet.   It solved my hole-punch aversion issues!   It also neatly held my printables for each unit.  The only drawback was when the unit became too big and weighed down the folder - I would have to split it into smaller files.


Then I found these at Walmart: Sterilite Large Clip Boxes

Why do I love them? They are large enough to keep files of worksheets and printables and small enough to store stacks of them.  In this box I have 5 science units in storage pockets plus support materials for the units.  I started with 4 boxes and then kept going back for more! 

Use Sterilite boxes to store your teaching units - BrowniePoints

I now keep my materials for Language Arts in my filing cabinet.  There is so much more space and I can be pretty specific.  It's so much easier finding what I need!


If you'd like to try a similar storage method, you can grab an editable version of my labels {here}.

How do you organize your files?  What are the pros and cons?


Use Sterilite boxes to store your teaching units - BrowniePoints

I admit, at a point in my life I was a Pinterest addict.  Constantly checking my feed to see what was new and interesting.  Pinned lesson and classroom ideas that I would get to, one day.  Pinned more recipes than I ever could need, but they were sure nice to look at, right?!  And pinned so many exercises and tips and yet that waistline... I decided to take a little hiatus and just live!

Then I checked out a linky by Inspired Owl's Corner.  


It caused me to actually go back through my pins to find my favourites and do a little bit of cleaning.  I've been inspired to think about my teaching program, do a little cooking, and exercising once more!  Here are my 3 picks:


Call me anal, but I hate hole-punching my master worksheets and putting them in a binder.  I hate seeing the tell-tale holes after photocopying.  I don't like when the page is bent from lying awkwardly in the binder.  I've been using file folders in a filing cabinet, but some of my files have become too large to fit in a folder and they often slouch in the hanging folder.  And then I saw this pin:

Click on Image to View Original Pinterest Link
Pages neatly kept, easy to transport and store.  My search for these cases is on!



I've been trying to transition to veganism for awhile now.  I definitely feel better when I don't consume animal products, but the temptation is real!  I have a Pinterest board filled with vegan recipes that I thought would help with the transition.  These Spicy Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos are DELICIOUS!  So filling, nutritious, guilt-free, and I don't miss the beef or chicken!  To cut back on processed carbs, I used sprouted-grain tortillas.  I also tried collard green leaves, but it was a bit messy for me and I preferred a big fat burrito as opposed to mini wraps.

Click on Image to View Original Pinterest Link
 Great, now I'm hungry :(



I don't have kids, but I saw this pin once and pinned it for "one day."  My 9 year old niece is visiting from Texas for the month and staying with my mom.  While paying them a visit earlier this week, my niece got a paper cup leftover from her birthday party and got some juice.  Afterwards, she threw the cup in the garbage.  FIVE MINUTES LATER, she reached for another cup for yet another drink of juice because she was, "still thirsty."  It was then that I remembered this pin.

Click on Image to View Original Pinterest Link
I'm sure my mom would've appreciated this pin when we were kids!


So I think my hiatus is over.  I will check-in to Pinterest more responsibly!  You can find me {here}

I'm pretty late to this linky party, but check out some of the fave pins of other bloggers below.


First things things, I'm super indecisive so I have chosen not my favourite quote, but my favourite source of quotes.  Wait a minute, that would be the bible.  Okay, my favourite source of quotes outside of bible verses is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



I never tire of reading his I Have A Dream (1963) and I've Been To The Mountaintop (1968) speeches.

A month before the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I visited the MLK Jr memorial in Washington, D.C.  Several of his quotes are inscribed on stones leading to a monument in which his image is carved from a mountain.  I included some of my faves.

Don't mind my glow in the dark look :S







And of course, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

His writings remain relevant and inspiring today.

Thanks to Monica from I Heart Grade 3 for hosting this linky.
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