Monthly Archives: May 2017

June June Junie June June

It is hard to believe that we are already headed into June and thinking about the end of the year. It seems like yesterday that I was applying for this job and meeting this lovely group of students. I have enjoyed this year so, so, so much AND it isn’t over yet! We still have a lot of very exciting things planned over the next 5 weeks.

Here is just a brief overview of what will be happening…so you are in the know!

-Maker Days: We are in the middle of making models of creative solutions to environmental problem (pictures of our progress below!), followed by choosing practical solutions that we can implement right way.

Pretty amazing 🙂 This is what the Ask Me question for this weekend was…to talk about the problem and the solution with our families!

We will also have a maker day for creating musical instruments for our sound unit and another maker day where we will build Lego cars with magnets attached to them. We will be ‘racing’ the cars using the forces that attract and repel! I love the maker culture we have created this year. I remember being the teacher who did a big maker project once a year because the kids loved it. Now I think…ummm the kids love it, so why would I only do it once a year?!?!? I thought of making  more as a celebration and a time to look forward to. Now I think of being a maker as a part of who we are as a class because it is who we are as people. It is not just a celebration of learning from the end of a unit but it is about celebrating the rich learning that happens along the way 🙂

-Field trip note (regarding our upcoming trip to Gimli!): Notes will be sent home on Monday! Please sign and return ASAP. I have two parent volunteers and that is likely all I’ll be able to take. If there are any other openings I’ll let you know!

-Family Life is going to start next week! Grade 3s will be looking at families and safety and the Grade 4s will be learning more about the changes that happen within the human body. They will be taught in two separate groups.

-We are well into division and will be wrapping that up and doing some fractions and decimal work soon. The Math groups we are doing with Room 122 have changed a little. We have split the kids into 3 different groups: The grade 3s are with me in 123. The grade 4s have been split into two groups. One group is with Helen in 122 and the other is with Ms Davies in the library.

In Room 123 (and I believe in 122) we have watched videos on Place Value from a site called MathAntics. We’ve found that the videos are very well done and explain concepts in an easy to follow kind of way. The grade 3s have also watched the place value video that introduces decimals. They LOVED it. We had such a rich discussion about decimals. Take a look if you are interested OR your child would like to watch the video again. My only caution is that this website is American, so we talked about some differences, for example the comma is used to separate numbers in the U.S. but in Canada we simply put a space between numbers (4,215 (U.S.) 4 215 (Canada)). We will be watching more throughout the next few weeks…so don’t watch them all at home this weekend 😉 (Unless you want to see them more than once!)

Math Antics

So far we have watched the top two videos under the Arithmetic tab (Place Value and Decimal Place Value). We are currently only watching the free videos and doing our own examples and answering questions the group has. I haven’t heard any feedback from other teachers about the lessons that are available through purchasing the subscription.

Buzz Math also remains a hit! Many of the students are coming in saying they are playing at home. Apparently there is also a free app if you’d rather use the i pad. If you need help or have any questions please let me know!

-FYI: I found this write up about Summer Learning Loss on the Winnipeg School Division website that I thought I would share with you. It gives a few ideas about what to do over the summer to “decrease the loss”. I think many people think about reading loss over the summer. This is a definite possibility, but reading isn’t the only thing to do this summer to keep on learning! It is important to practice math, writing and spelling skills too. Not to mention getting outside, doing hands on activities, making, asking questions, etc!!

-We are going to add the 30×30 at home calendar challenge in our Learning Logs and do a little write up about the experience. Please send in the completed challenge so we can get that done this week 😉

Have a great rest of your weekend. Looking forward to another week with… 2 more guest presenters, more time spent outdoors, more making, more learning!!

Until next time,



May it really be the long weekend?!

Hi Everyone!

Here are some Friday evening thoughts as we head into the long weekend!

Women In Science & Engineering: We had a great time with Alex from W.I.S.E. and her program on the Science of Music! She talked to us about sound waves and about the connection between sound and the States of Matter (ask your kids about the domino experiment-videos are below!). She also introduced us to gramophones…which we googled and was invented in 1877! Pretty amazing!

*The “Solid” domino fall was so quick that I missed it!




A World of Water: On Thursday afternoon we learned a lot about water, Lake Winnipeg, algae blooms and ways to fix our problems from Jay. He shared information and had us up and moving with some hands on learning!

Lake Winnipeg Foundation: Today (Friday) we heard from Ainslie who works at the Lake Winnipeg Foundation. She was very pleased with how much we know about algae blooms and thought we asked some great questions. Ainslie also talked to us about Zebra Mussels and how we need to be careful not to transport Zebra Mussels into our lakes. We are doing some writing about some of the environmental problems we’ve learned about and are trying to come up with creative solutions…then think of what kinds of problems our solutions have!

Upcoming Field Trip: On June 12, we are headed to Gimli for a field trip! During our time in Gimli we will be having different stations for the kids to go through. Our goal is to have the students take some water samples, do some sketching, make nature art with twigs/rocks we see on the ground, have some free play and do a walk around the community. We’ve been learning so much about Lake Winnipeg we would like to go and visit! This field trip will NOT be for swimming! The only time we will be going near the water is to possibly to take water samples where students will be supervised at all times. We are also asking that students bring a “litterless” lunch to follow our environmental mindset! Permission slips will be sent home soon 🙂

30×30: Our 30 for 30 challenge is still going strong! We just completed Day 19! Day 30 lands on Tuesday, June 6 (I believe). Maybe we should be spending the day outside to celebrate?! On that note…the last day of the at home 30×30 challenge is on Monday. I hope you have enjoyed your time outside and continue to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors! This also means that my own challenge (and the kids who have also made a bonus challenge) also ends on Monday. I am having a grande latte on Tuesday morning! Don’t worry…I’ll still be using my reusable cup!

Mental Math: We have continued to review Mental Math strategies. This week we covered lots of ground!

Using Arrays: Since we have just finished up multiplication arrays are pretty fresh in our minds. An arrangement of objects or pictures in columns and rows is called an array.

Example for Arrays

Skip Counting to Find a Product: We all know how to skip count…we’ve been doing it for years! Now it’s time to use skip counting to solve multiplication problems. For example: if we want to know what 5×5 and we don’t know this fact by instant recall we can count by 5s five times (5,10,15,20,25). Therefore 5×5=25!

Building on a Known Double: We are pretty comfortable with our doubles facts (and if we cannot recall these facts up to 20+20 then this is something to practice), now we need to relate doubles to halves! For example: if we know 10+10=20 then 20-10=10!

Using Doubles +/-1: Now we can use what we know about doubles and apply that to near doubles. Near doubles occur when the two addends only have a difference of one. For example: 8+9 (the difference between 8 and 9 is 1 :)) Now you have a choice…you can think of this question as a) 8+8+1 (16+1=17) (Doubles +1) OR b) 9+9-1 (18-1=17) (Doubles -1).

Using Doubles +/-2: This is very similar to the Doubles +/-1 strategy EXCEPT…you guessed it!!! The difference between the addends is two! For example: 15+17 (the difference between 15 and 17 is 2 :)) Now you have a choice…you can think of this question as a) 15+15+2 (30+2=32) (Doubles +2) OR b) 17=17-2 (34-2=32) (Doubles -2).

Using Addition to Subtract: This is when knowing about Fact Families comes in handy! Fact Families are 3 numbers that are related, just like the people in a family are related!! The 3 facts make a set of 4 number sentences 🙂 When you see 11-7=? you can switch that to an addition fact instead. Now this question can be changed to 7+?=11. It might be easier or quicker for you to solve this question by adding instead of subtracting.

Fact Family: Part +Part =Whole & Whole-Part=Part

In the first question the 11 is the whole, and the 7 and 4 are the parts

7+4=11 (part+part=whole)

4+7=11 (part+part=whole)

11-7=4 (whole-part=part)

11-4=7 (whole-part=part)

When we reviewed this strategy we also talked about the ‘unknown’ in a question. There is always an unknown, but the place of the unknown can change. We are used to having the unknown at the end of a question (the sum for addition, difference for subtraction, product for multiplication and quotient for division). However the unknown can be any part of the question. In the above example we changed the ‘unknown’ from being the difference (a part) in a subtraction question to a missing addend (a part) in an addition question.

*Once again…we are practising all these grade appropriate Mental Math strategies and students need to know then exist and how to use them and explain them BUT will have their ‘favourite’ strategies and develop their own strategies as well.

Division: This first week of division has gone fairly well! The students are understanding the concept of division as objects being shared into equal groups. They are also finding the relationship between multiplication and division and using the commutative property and fact families to demonstrate this relationship! If your child is needing more practice try giving them objects (chocolate chips, rocks, paperclips, etc.) and asking them to share equally into X groups then ask how many are in each set. For example: Give them 12 chocolate chips and ask them to share them into 4 groups. One at a time they will put one chocolate chip into each set. 1,2,3,4 then add a second chocolate chip into the first set, then second set, etc. until there are no more chocolate chips. At then end there should be 4 sets of chocolate chips and 3 chocolate chips in each set. *Remember to give them problems that do not have a remainder since we are not at that point yet!

Buzz Math: Today we tried out a new program called Buzz Math! This is an online program similar to Dream Box, but not affiliated with the School Division. Each student has a user name (first name and first two letters of their last name) and they have a password (which they know!). We got logged in and used Buzz Math for about 45 minutes today and it was a hit. You are welcome to use it at home too. Just log on the same way as we did at school. See me if you have questions about logging on. I am learning with the group, so we will see where this takes us!

Buzz Math Homepage

Ask Me…This weekend’s Ask Me question is to do an extra 30 minutes of outdoor fun and let me know what you were up to! I am heading to the lake so I am looking forward to this too! The forecast doesn’t look great, so it also might also be a good time to get some reading in! All students have next week’s tracking sheet in their folder 🙂 I’ve noticed that many students are not reading regularly and not bringing their home reading folders in regularly either. I know everyone is busy but reading is very important and a great daily habit to get into. I’m hoping for 25 completed reading folders and Ask Me questions on Tuesday morning!!!!

I found a list of reasons of why kids need books…take a peek if you have time 🙂

Why Do Kids Need Books?

Creativity: Earlier in the week I showed the class a video from youtube about the loss of creativity at school and at work. I had seen the short film on Twitter and it made me sad. Then it made me think. Then it reaffirmed what we are trying to create in our class. I thought I’d post the link on here in case any of the kids were talking about it and you wanted to see 🙂


Have a really great long weekend. I look forward to hearing everyone’s stories during our sharing time on Tuesday morning.

Until next time,


Hungry?? Want some Algae?!

Today we had a great time with our guest presenter. Maddy is a Scientist who has a passion for algae!!! She brought in some samples for us to see and compare to some slides she had in her presentation. Maddy even brought us some edible algae to try! 4/24 enjoyed our snack! I was  NOT one of them lol!

One very important thing we learned was that not all algae is bad…in fact algae is an important part of a balanced Eco system!

Tomorrow we have two more presentatons! What a great week for learning!!!!

Check out our Instagram account for more pictures and a video of our reaction to eating the algae!

(if you don’t have an Instagram account see Danielle for help signing up :))

Until next time!


Happy Mother’s Day :)

Let’s start this post off right!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the important ladies out there. These lucky kids have some fantastic role models, caregivers and supporters. Thank you for all that you do 🙂 I wasn’t able to see my own momma today, but living in different provinces for 15 years…we are kind of used to that. I’ll see her next weekend and shower her with her favourite things! I am also so lucky to have so many other important moms out there who are ready to give me a helping hand, some good advice or a little extra love when I need it. We are all so fortunate to have a community of strong female influences in our lives. I hope you all enjoyed your day…and the lovely cards your children made for you. A few of them let me snap some pictures for the blog!



I love the creativity and thought that has gone into these cards. The only criteria was to create a “card” with a personal message that reflects both you and your mom (or special lady you’d like to give a gift to). Amazing work!

Mental Math Strategies:

This past week we defined and practiced two more mental math strategies.

-Commutative Property for Addition: “The word “commutative” comes from “commute” or “move around”, so the Commutative Property is the one that refers to moving stuff around. For addition, the rule is “a + b = b + a”; in numbers, this means 2 + 3 = 3 + 2″

Commutative Property for Addition Video-youtube

We sometimes refer to these facts as “turn around facts”. This property also applies to multiplication (3×5=15 & 5×3=15)…but NOT for subtraction or division (in which cases you need to always start with the ‘whole’).

Basically… the order of the addends does not affect the sum.

Example: 75+25=100 and therefore 25+75=100

-Compatible Numbers: Compatible numbers are sometimes referred to as ‘friendly numbers’ or ‘nice numbers’. Some examples of common compatible numbers include 1 and 9; 40 and 60; 75 and 25 and 300 and 700.

This strategy for addition involves looking for pairs of numbers that combine to make a sum that will be easy to work with.



6+9+4+5+1=25 (6+4=10, 9+1=10, 5 more)





60 + 30 + 40 =

75 + 95 + 25 =








*We see these types of questions a lot in our Number Puzzle books!

Students should be able to recall compatible numbers for 10,20,50, 100 and basic fractions.

Example: Compatible Numbers to 10

Students should use what they know about number pairs to 10 to help them with 20, 50 & 100.

Example: If 3+7=10, then 13+7=20, 43+7=50 and 93+7=100

*Pairs that “end in 0” are the “easy ones”.

Example: 10+10=20, 10+40=50, 20+30=50 (and we already know about the commutative property a.k.a. turn around facts so 30+20=50 and 40+10=50), 10+90=100, 20+80=100, 30+70=100, 40+60=100, 50+50=100…

It is the ones without the ‘benchmarks’ that cause grief amongst many students.

Example: 19+31=50, 23+27=50, 38+12=50, etc. But if you take a minute to look at the questions you will see some patterns from all the way back at compatible numbers to 10.

19+31: any addend that ends in a 9 is looking for another added ending in 1. Then think that one more to the 19 is 20 and 1 less than 31 is 30 and now the question is 20+30 which is easier to manipulate in your mind! Does this sound familiar to a previous post about mental math strategies?!!!!

It will take some time to learn the compatible numbers to 50 & 100 for some kids…but that’s ok. Just practice a little each day.

Compatible Fraction Example:

Think of it as simple as this. I have half of a pizza what other fraction do I need in order to have a full pizza? 1/2. Two halves make a whole.

OR 1/4 of an hour has passed. How much of an hour is left? 3/4. One quarter (or fourth) and three quarters (or fourths) make a whole!


We started division this past week. Things we know so far… that we can use Fact Families to help us with basic facts (if 2×5=10 and 5×2=10 then 10/2=5 and 10/5=2). 3 numbers turned into 4 number sentences! To divide means to share equally. When physically sharing a group of objects into sets we do it one at a time. Example: If there are 12 cookies and 4 people who each want cookies, how many cookies do they each get? Start by either drawing 4 circles OR getting  something to represent the 4 people (these are the sets). Then share the cookies one at a time until you run out (either by drawing the cookies OR using something to represent the cookies). At the end each person will get 3 cookies. We can think of this as…

3+3+3+3=12 or 12-3-3-3-3=0 or 3×4=12 or 12/3=4 or 12/4=3!

One of our classroom stories helped us put some division into practice!

 (The Cookie Fiasco)

Let’s Talk Science

Earlier this week we had a volunteer from Let’s Talk Science come in to talk to us about what Science is and where we can find it and also do some Instant Challenges with us. So. Much. Fun! What a great program! Later on this week we will have W.I.S.E (Women in Science and Engineering) come to talk to us about Sound!

Ask Me…

This week’s Ask Me…question is all about homophones! We are noticing some mix ups in writing and in some Words Their Way groups and decided to have some fun learning homophones.

Homophone Video-You Tube

There, Their and They’re is what we started with…and this weekend’s homework was to think of and either draw or use them in a sentence to show the difference!

I can’t wait to see what we came up with. I’m thinking we can make a pretty fun display somehow!

What’s Up This Week?

-W.I.S.E presentation: Thursday a.m.

-Water Fun with our special guest!: Thursday p.m.

-Lake Winnipeg Foundation Presentation: Friday a.m.

-At least another 150 minutes outside!

P.S. Thank you so much for the kind words, treats and cards from Teacher Appreciation week. The Montrose Community knows how to make teachers feel loved!

Until Next Time!


May Days!

Happy Saturday Everyone!

Here is a little recap of what happened at school this week and what’s on the agenda for next week!

30 Day Challenge: Our 30×30 continues to be awesome! This week we did some read to self, spent time with our buddies, had outdoor gym with Mr. Strachan, had a sharing circle, spent loads of time playing after the Emperor’s New Clothes performances, listened to Harry Potter while eating birthday popsicles and did Yoga with Murray. On many days we spend more than 30 minutes outside…the nicer weather makes it being outdoors so enjoyable! This week we are hoping to get to some planting, we will go out with our buddies again and I’m sure Mr. Strachan will continue taking the kids out for pays. ed. too! I hope that you are enjoying the 30×30 at home too. I know a few students have also decided to extend their challenge at home by not playing video games or limiting T.V. I am so proud of everyone!!! My water/tea drinking is still going strong …I am missing my morning coffee though! There is still time to add in another mini challenge…any takers?!

All The Water In The World: Our art display is up and ready to be seen…so here it is!

Isn’t it beautiful?! It depicts the story of the water cycle along with the message that all the water in the world really is ALL the water in the world. We need to take care of it and not waste it or take it for granted. It is for us now and for the future. What are we going to do to make sure our clean water lasts forever?

The Emperor’s New Clothes: It was so great to see so many of you throughout the performances. I hope you enjoyed the show. Much love goes out to all who helped put the show together-from acting to singing to sets to dance to Yoga to makeup to sound to costumes to the small jobs that often go unnoticed AND of course to the kids! They put on quite an amazing show. Well done kiddos!

Math Groups: Now that Literacy Circles are over we are now doing Math Groups 3 x per cycle for an hour with Room 122. Right now the two classes are split into 3 groups. One with Helen, one with Ms Davies and one with myself! Our first focus is on reviewing and learning grade appropriate Mental Math strategies. The goal is to use mathematical language to describe our thinking and demonstrate many different ways to solve the same problem. So far we have reviewed 4 strategies…

  1. Estimate using 10 as a referent: First we need to know what it means to estimate (which many students weren’t sure of). To estimate is to make an educated guess. Not a wild guess, but one that makes sense. An estimate is the guess. One thing that is common is that students make an estimate, then change it after they’ve found the actual amount because they want to be ‘right’. Estimating is about trying to get as close as possible, but changing your estimate doesn’t make you ‘win’! Next we need to know what a referent means. A referent is an item that is used when estimating. It can be physical (like an actual object) or mental (a picture in your mind). So when estimating using 10 as a referent we can see what 10 looks like then compare the rest of the set and think about how many groups of ten we can see in the set. Using this strategy should help with estimation 🙂

Example: If you know that the second pile of bingo chips is 10, then how many could be in the first pile?

Example #2: This is a similar idea…but using 20 as a referent.

2. Taking one addend/subtrahend to the nearest 10: First we need to know what an addend and a subtrahend are. An addend is any number added to another. (addend+addend=sum) *There can be several addends in one number sentence. A subtrahend is the second number in the subtraction number sentence (minuend-subtrahend=difference). By taking an addend or subtrahend to the nearest 10 it makes it easier to do math problems using mental math. We would only use this strategy when the numbers in the problems are close to zero (such as 1,2,8,9). It wouldn’t make sense to use it with a number such as 24+35.

Above are a few examples of how to use this strategy 🙂

3. Using Compensation: This is reformulating a problem (whether it be addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) to one that can be done more easily (using the nearest decade)

In the example at the top we had to ‘take’ one from the 43 and ‘give’ it to the 59 to create a new problem of 42+60. In the example at the bottom we had to ‘give’ one to the 52 and ‘give’ one to the 29 to create a new problem of 53-30. This is very similar to taking one addend or subtrahend to the nearest 10.

4. Adding from left to right using the place value structure: When we do traditional algorithm we always ask students to add from ‘right to left’. This means adding the ones column first and then the tens column. However, in mental math we suggest the opposite! Add from left to right…meaning add the tens first, then the ones.

*Students are not required to use every strategy that they learn. They need to understand how to use the strategies and show that they can use them, but like all of us they will have their ‘favourite’ strategies. We are trying to expose the students to as many strategies as possible to allow them to see that there are many ways to solve problems. In class we have many conversations about how each of us solve problems and there are always a handful of different strategies that come up! It is so exciting to share our ideas and strategies!

Next week we will work on Commutative Property for Addition , Compatible Numbers, Using Arrays and Skip Counting for Multiplication Products 🙂

Wellness & Kindness: It was really lovely to make a compliment card for students in the class. There were so many positive messages shared amongst the class. The students shared about how they felt making a card for someone (excited, nervous because they wanted it to be special, proud, etc.) and how they felt when they received the card (excited, proud, appreciated, etc.). The kids actually suggested that we do this again because it felt so great. May 7-13 is Kindness week and May 10 is Conscious Kindness Day in Manitoba so let’s continue making people feel appreciated, valued, special as a result of being kind. What will you do?!

Ask Me…This week’s question is 3 parts: compliment cards, mental math & 30×30. Please talk about these activities and write or draw a response, make a poem or a song…do something to reflect your ideas or feelings!

*Students were given a new home reading sheet for Monday since there is no school 🙂


-No School on Monday.

-Please dress for the weather when we are outdoors as it gets warmer!

-June book orders are due on May 15.

-Run Club is on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:00 (run first, then eat). *The one exception to this is on May 9 (Tuesday). We are running on May 10 (Wednesday) due to our monthly staff meeting on Tuesday. Only students who have signed permission forms are allowed to join the run club. Murray only has a few volunteers for the Fit Run at Assiniboine Park. If you are able and interested in going to that even please let me know.

Have a great rest of your weekend. See everyone on Tuesday!

Until next time,