Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Monday 30 March 2020

Monday Math Games: Card Games

I have decided to post some math games each Monday for the next little bit. It is easy to google "Math Games" and come up with hundreds of ideas. I encourage you to do so!

Today, I wanted to look at some card math games since most people likely have a deck of cards at home. (FYI, you can ask your local casino for decks of cards [once this self isolation and social distancing ends] which they give for free to educators - in Vegas I asked and got 5 decks from one lady!)

Playing card suit - Wikipedia


Crazy Sevens (Fan Tan)
  • one deck of cards including face cards
  • 2+ players (4-6 ideal)
  • concepts: sorting by suit, counting up, counting down
  • How to play
Counting On
  •  one deck of cards, remove face cards (J, Q, K, A, Jokers)
  •  1-2 dice 
  • 2+ players
  •  concepts: counting on from any number besides 1
  • How to Play
Builder's Paradise
  •  one deck of cards, remove face cards
  •  1+ player
  • concepts: counting, sequencing, sorting
  • How to Play


Addition War
  •  one or more decks of cards
  • 2+ players
  • K-secondary school
  • concepts: addition, greater than/less than, adding and other skills in variations
  • How to Play including some awesome variations to this old fave game
  •  one deck of cards, face cards removed, except Ace (which = 1 in this game)
  • 1+ players
  •  concepts: addition and "making ten"
  • How to play
Once Through the Deck
  • one deck with face cards removed
  • 1+ player

  • concepts: basic addition, multiplication
  • How to play

Place Value

Place Value Mat

Place Value (with rounding)
  • one deck of cards with tens and face cards removed, use ACE as zero
  • 2+ players
  •  concepts: place value, rounding
  • How to play

Many more Math CARD Games here:

A great collection of fun math card games! These are easy, and in most cases all you need is a deck of cards!

Sunday 29 March 2020

Sunday SEL Reads: SEL, Creativity, Mindset and Perseverance

Figured I would post some SEL books to read and enjoy every Sunday.... Here is the first batch...

Theme: SEL, Creativity, Growth Mindset and Perseverance

The OK Book – by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This book is about being OK at different things and that being OK can make you great. From a Growth Mindset perspective, students can take an inventory of what they are ok at and what they can become great at. it is a cute story about not having to be perfect at everything.

Image result for the dot

The Dot – by Peter Reynolds

A great story about a student who is hesitant to draw but finds confidence and creativity and uses growth mindset to go for it. There was a cool lesson plan with this book I posted a few years ago here

Image result for ish peter reynolds

Ish – by Peter Reynolds

Ramon is passionate about drawing but stops after his older brother teases him about not knowing what he’s drawing. His little sister helps him realize each drawing is an “ish” of something – there is nothing perfect and everything is a work in progress. This book promotes growth mindset and goes nicely with “The Dot” in freeing creativity.

Beautiful Oops! – by Barney Saltzberg

This book has pop-ups and flaps to explore the idea of making mistakes “as an opportunity to make something beautiful” A fun and engaging book.

Image result for girl who never made mistakes

The Girl who never made mistakes – by Mark Pett & Gary Rubinstein

Beatrice never makes any mistakes – until she does! This is a book about being able to laugh and enjoy the inevitable mistakes we make in life. It reminds kids to make mistakes and try new things without worrying about being perfect.

Thursday 26 March 2020

Tips for those of you getting ready to try #homeschooling

While we wait to see what the rest of this school year will look like, I have some ideas and tips for parents home with their kids. As long as schools are closed due to COVID-19, learning will look and feel different for everyone. We don't yet know the full extent of what it will look like but it seems safe to assume you and the kids will be doing some learning from home. Here are some tips from me:

1. Your kids are not your students
If you are a teacher, don't think teaching your kids will be easy. I have a 20 year old and a 17 year old at home and they don't listen to my tutoring, training, educating, ideas, or suggestions even though they KNOW I am a teacher! It is a different dynamic, so recognize that and don't push too hard. I do find incentives work. Also, turning off their wi-fi until they do something they are told (works for chores too fyi!) If you are not a teacher, well, don't think it is because you don't know what is going on that it is hard - it is hard for everyone anyways!

2. Mental Health is more important than academics right now. 
The world is full of uncertainty right now. It is a lot to manage emotionally for adults, I can't imagine how kids are handling it all. So, chunk your learning, be compassionate, understanding, empathetic and prioritize family time and doing things that bring joy. Regular breaks, hugs, and choices will help.

3. Schedules 
If you are working from home keep a schedule and routine for you and the kids. Don't try to multi-task your personal, professional and now "teacher" roles. It will not be beneficial for anyone. Try, for example, an hour of reading for the kids while you are doing work. Break time for everyone, healthy snacks or talk time. Remember you can't do it all and everyone is experiencing big changes so don't be too hard on yourself.

4. Academics: Reading
What matters most? Well I mentioned mental health and I still stand by that, but as far as academics, reading is absolutely the best thing to do every single day. After, kids can write or draw or talk about what is happening. The characters, the plot, the setting, the problem or conflict and how it is resolved. Just the act of reading then being able to share what they read is a great skill to develop at any age. Reading  and retelling along with Writing will help keep their minds fresh. 

5. Academics: Writing
in a journal is a great ideas to keep them writing but also for their mental health to be able to share not just what is happening but how they feel about it. Further, it is something to keep for the future to review. This is an unprecedented time and and their journals will be worth looking back on when this all ends and even sharing with their kids one day.

6. Academics: Math
Okay... besides worksheets, which may or may not go over well with your child, there are so many ways to practice math in real life. Baking, for example, measuring ingredients out is a great idea. What about going through a grocery flyer or website and making a grocery list and costing it out? Add it up. Older kids can include taxes too. Plan a vacation for when this is all over and cost out flights, hotels, activities. Younger kids can draw, cut or chalk shapes. There are tons of ways to practice math without worksheets. And don't even get me started on math GAMES! Dice, cards, so many fun options. Literally, google math games, or math card games and you will be impressed at the options!

7. Work Space
Finally, if they have specific activities or work to do for their teachers, set up a space to do it in that has no distractions and is comfortable and quiet for them to focus. Check in - offer support - don't do it for them - focus on positive praise - have breaks - and keep a schedule. It is different than school. You are not their teacher. Their friends are not there. The space is not their classroom. Be flexible. Communicate with the teacher. 

I will look to post more specific activities and such in upcoming days for those who are interested.

Good Luck!!!

Self Regulation Tools

Self-regulation is a critical skill for people of all ages. It is the ability that helps us to control our behaviors to make good decisions for the long-term, rather than just doing what we want in the moment. It’s also the skill that allows us to manage our emotions when we’re feeling angry, disappointed, or worried. These can be difficult for adults, but are significantly more challenging for children and young adults, whose brains are still growing and developing.

Over the next few Thursdays, I will share some self regulation tools and activities that you may enjoy trying out. Some tools can be expensive, so talk to your principal about budget. Others you can find or make on your own (yay!) 

Foot Rollers

Purpose: *Great for active sitting *Helps to relieve excess energy, stress, and anxiety
How it is used: *placed on floor under a chair so the child can put their feet on it
Where and when: *anytime the children are sitting on a chair and need to be moving

fidget toy
Fidget Tools

Purpose: *Great for hand movement *Helps relieve energy and keep focus *Helps release stress, anxiety *minimize hyperactive movements
How it is used: *hold, fiddle, move and play
Where and when" *Anytime children are fidgety or need something to calm them

Chair Bouncy Bands

Purpose: *Great for active sitting *Helps to relieve excess energy, stress, and anxiety
How it is used: *placed on a chair so the child can put their feet on it
Where and when: *anytime the children are sitting on a chair and need to be moving

Image result for tangles


Purpose: *fidget tool *focus and relaxation *tactile
How it is used: *children twist these to make new shapes *can be used with one hand or two
Where and when: *classroom at any time as needed by the child

Here are some more resources: https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/sensory-tools-school

Next week I will share some more on deep pressure sensory tools that can benefit some kids.

Get Outdoors: Resource List

We see a lot of outdoor play in K, but exploring and embracing nature is valuable at all levels. Here are some resources and ideas for integrating outdoor play and experiential learning in your class… it is also good information for home time and the importance to get outside.

In our current state of self isolation and quarantine, unless you are symptomatic (in which case stay safely inside as to not infect others) you can and should still get outside, while maintaining the 2 meter social distancing. Fresh air and outdoors is good for mental health.

Great infographic describing the benefits of spending time in nature: https://hopefamilyresources.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/infographic-of-the-day-benefits-of-nature/
The Institute for Outdoor Learning has a number of resources:
Here's a quick read on the benefits of Place-Based learning: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/the-value-of-place-based-education/

And, when you can't get outside.... bring some of the benefits of outside - inside....
How Plants Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

Love this idea to bring an “outdoorsy” feel inside the classroom.

Now don't forget cool out door games too:

https://www.headspace.com/covid-19  - has some free and extra offers right now during the COVID-19 situation

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Enjoy Spring Break, enjoy your family

To my teacher and parent friends,

Try to enjoy Spring Break and wait for information from your local union and district on next steps. There is so much uncertainty and fear and anxiety with what is happening, we need to be the calm for our kids. We also don't want to be forcing kids back into some kind of make shift educational regimen too soon. Await instruction from the decision makers and take time to enjoy time as a family together.

BCTF President Teri Mooring said it well:

Image may contain: possible text that says '"There is no expectation that teachers are working on plans for returning to work. There will be time provided for collaborative planning upon your return from the break. There will be no rush." -Teri Mooring'

Welcome Back

It has been FOUR years since my last post. A lot has changed in my life personally and professionally but more importantly, a lot has changed in our world over the last few weeks.

As colleagues past and present along with family and friends start reaching out to me for resources and ideas and just to chat about what this new world looks like, it made me think about starting up this blog again with some resources for learning.

So while I have been spending my days over the past few weeks compiling old resources and reviewing new resources, links and websites, I thought I would restart the blog - for a bit - to have a home to post the stuff I am exploring and sharing.

So, welcome back. I don't know how long I will keep this up but I thought it was a good time to revisit and share.

Stay well. Check back soon.