Book Talk Thursday: 50 Below Zero

I love anything Robert Munsch. 50 Below Zero is the perfect book to read with your students on a cold winter’s day. The story revolves around a young boy, Jason, whose father sleepwalks. He finds him in all sorts of funny places, on top of the car, on top of the fridge. But now his father has walked right out the front door, and its 50 below zero! Jason must bundle up and head outside to find his father before he turns into an ice cube!

“So Jason put on three warm snowsuits, three warm parkas, six warm mittens, six warm socks and one pair of very warm boot sort of things called mukluks. Then he went out the front door and followed his father’s footprints”. 

Written in classic Munsch style and with great illustrations, this book is a fun addition to any discussion about winter, temperature, insulation, or how and why we feel cold.Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 12.36.59 PM

If you would like some fun writing prompts to go along with this book, or any other unit about winter or the cold, check out my ‘Cold Writing Prompts‘ freebie.

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Made It Monday: Take A Trip To Canada!

This week I’ve been working on some materials that help your students take a trip to Canada! Students use an anchor graphic organizer to learn about the basics of Canada (there is a cut and paste/sticker option too if your students like a more interactive component). They read passages about Ottawa, Halifax,  Iqaluit, and Drumheller, and some of the attractions and claims to fame in each place. They learn about the provinces and territories while colouring a natural resource map, and complete a fun poster assignment advertising Canada as a tourist destination.


This resource will be 20% off for the next 48 hours. You can find it here. I’d also like to give you a copy! Enter the giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Several other countries are in the works in the ‘Take A Trip’ series, so keep an eye out for them in the coming weeks.

“I Hate School”

  • Do not talk unless given permission to do so by an authority figure.
  • Do not ask questions in the middle of a lesson.
  • Do not figit, wiggle, sit cross legged, kneel, or lie on the floor while completing work.
  • Do not hum, tap your fingers, or use other concentration aids while completing work- it will distract others.
  • You will eat only at designated times, regardless of distraction or discomfort.
  • You will use the restroom only at designated times, regardless of distraction or discomfort.
  • You are not permitted to get up from your seat unless directed to do so by an authority figure.
  • Your worth is judged on how you perform on standardized tests
  • You will be segregated based on level of performance in a particular subject.
  • You will complete tasks as directed by an authority figure within a specified time frame. Failure to do so will mean an increase in work at home and a reduction of leisure time.
  • You will move progressively through content regardless of mastery or readiness.

Looking at a list like this its not difficult to understand why students hate school. The average day in a typical classroom sScreen Shot 2015-01-23 at 11.52.24 AMetting works against a child’s natural rythms. Instead of trusting themselves, their bodies, and their minds, they must become externally referenced within an institution that might work in opposition to the way they live and learn best.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that public education has been given the monumental task of educating a generation on a shoestring budget. I understand the challenges that teachers face Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 11.57.13 AMeveryday, with 30+ students, 6 IEP’s, 2 angry parents, and a bucket of standardized assessments to distribute. I understand that the majority of parents don’t have any other option when it comes to educating their kids. I know that on a whole the system tries.

And maybe it’s naive of me to want better, to want more. Maybe this is just how public education is, and I should just deal with it- …but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As you can probably tell from the name ‘Lifelong Learning’, I am passionate about fostering a love of learning, and I think creating a love and hunger for knowledge, discovery, and exploration is the highest purpose of education. But right now I think its failing. To put it simply, our educational environment does not facilitate a love of learning- and its making our kids hate school.

Great Reads

Psychology Today- “Why Don’t Students Like School?” Well, Duhhhh… 

Reader’s Digest- Is The American School System Damaging Our Kids?

Book Talk Thursday: Where The Sidewalk Ends

Poetry is often one of those things you either love, or love to hate. Personally I am a poetry enthusiast, but I understand that it is often perceived as an unapproachable form of literature. This sense of poetry as being ‘difficult’ is one that unfortunately carries over into teaching. Increasingly, poetry is a form of literature that is disappearing from children’s studies. Often because educators find it difficult to engage students.

For this week’s Book Talk Thursday I’m recommending Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein. This book is the perfect introduction to poetry for students. The poems are of an approachable length and format, with engaging and often whimsical content. Additionally, the drawings help to draw students interest.

Classroom Application: These poems are perfect for studying descriptive language and poetry as a form of literature in general.

Why I love it: Many of the poems in this book range from funny, whimsical, and inspiring.

Quote: One of my personal favourites poems in the book is ‘The Voice’- “no teacher, preacher, parent, friend/ Or wise man can decide/ What’s right for you- just listen to/ The voice that speaks inside”.

Looking for poetry materials to use with your students? Check out my poetry resources here. 

I’d love to hear about one of your favourite books to use in the classroom.

If you link up…
1. Add a link to your blog post in the Inlinkz at the bottom of this post.
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Rescuing Recess

There has been a recent debate about the role of recess in Florida schools as more administrators say that they are cutting back or eliminating recess entirely. The article and video can be viewed here.

“With Common Core standards increasingly taking hold across the country more school administrators are saying they simply don’t have enough time in the day, and that is leading to an increasing number of them putting an end to recess”.-NBC Today Show

Photo Source

Parents are fighting back- and rightfully so. In the structured system of institutional education, recess provides an absolutely necessary respite from structure and academics that children need to socialize, be physically active, play, and have fun. In fact, “The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons”(source).

School boards have replied to parental concerns by citing time and academic achievement, saying that “we will come to a place…where we have to admit that we really don’t have enough minutes in a day to get everything done that we would like to see accomplished for our children”. My response to this is to question the real reasons recess is being cut, and if these interests are truly for children and their physical and emotional health- or rather administrators and their personal concerns of finance, achievement, and competition.

The wider discussion this subject brings up is the importance of recognizing the underlying reasons for educational decision-making. We must continue to look at the motivations behind the way we educate, and be willing to recognize when politics, money, and ego are put before the wellbeing of children.

“Play is the highest form of research”-Albert Einstein

Great reads on this topic:

The Crucial Role of Recess in School- American Academy of Paediatrics 

Is Free Play Essential For Learning?  

Unstructured Free Play Important For Kids

Top 10 Books To Study In High School

This book list is a mix of those traditionally studied in school and some different but amazing alternative selections. The ‘difficulty’ of these books ranges, and as always individual students and where they are at personally will determine where these books fit best in their learning.

These books are the stories that make an impact, students question and explore a variety of topics, moral issues, questions about society, people, history, and life. They can be difficult to read: racism, family problems, war, gender… However they can be equally hopeful, uplifting, and inspiring. These books require ‘deep reading’ and will be re-read and discussed for years to come.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

2. 1984- George Orwell

3. The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood

4. The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseini

5. The Cellist Of Sarajevo- Steven Galloway

6. The Book Thief- Markus Zusak

7. The Naming- Allison Croggon

8. The Help- Kathryn Stockett

9. Surfacing- Margaret Atwood

10. The Glass Castle- Jeanette Walls

Print or pin the image below for a handy reference of the books in this post.


What’s The Story Behind The Logo?

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I’m linking up with some other great TpT sellers over at Art with Jenny K. who are talking about the stories behind their logos. We see these images all the time and I often wonder what the story is behind the pictures, images, and names others use.

When I first started out on TpT I didn’t have a logo. Once I realized the importance of having one I made a quick one that featured the little flags I use along the top of most of my products.

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As I began to expand my design knowledge and my store I realized I should have a blog. Out of the need for a place to express my ideas my first website was born. The image I used as the background was a beautiful shot of pencils that I then featured in my second logo. I liked the pencils because to me they represent the tool with which we can explore, learn, and create. Through a little piece of wood and graphite books can be written, ideas communicated, and the world changed. A bit cheesy, I know.

site logo

I was happy with this logo for quite a while until I realized that I wanted to move from Blogger to a self-hosted site. (Read more about the recent change here). I knew I wanted a whole new look, so I turned to Laine from A Little Peace Of Africa. It was a pleasure working with her, and she turned my ideas into a design I love. This brings me to my current logo, one that I absolutely love. The colors and images represent who I am and my ascetic, and adding my name has turned me from the faceless store name of ‘Lifelong Learning’ to a more personal connection with buyers.


Does your logo have a story? Check out some of the great stories below or leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Winter Sensory Bin

Winter provides one of the best sensory experiences for children to explore- playing outside in the snow! But with winter also comes snowstorms and colds. The perfect time to break out a winter sensory bin when you’re stuck inside. This bin focuses on a fun mix of tactile elements with the string, cotton balls, and rice, and fun additions such as snowflakes and snowman pieces. The rice or cotton balls can be lightly scented with a refreshing peppermint or germ-zapping spruce essential oil.

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Wan’t to learn more about sensory bins? You might like the following posts:

Sensory Play & Sensory Bins
Calming Sensory Bin
Autumn Sensory Bin

Book Talk Thursday: Snowballs

Winter is a time for playing outside: making snow angels, building a snowman- and then coming inside for a cup of hot chocolate and a great book. My first choice for a great winter read? Snowballs by Lois Ehlhert.

Age: 4+

Quote: “We’d been waiting for a really big snow, saving good stuff in a sac. Finally it was a perfect snowball day”.

Thoughts: I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this book. The beautiful collage textures and the fun characters revealed as a snowman family is formed is captivating. This is one of those books that can be pulled out year after year without getting tiring. This book is great for many ages and children will enjoy spotting the different materials the artist uses.

Application: The best part is that this book creates the perfect segue into a fun art project decorating your own snowmen with found objects. You can have students decorate their snowmen with obects they have collected, or magazine cutouts for a low-mess project. Incorporate literacy by having students describe their snowman, or by labeling the different objects they are made of. If you would like to do this activity I have a free template you can download here.

snowman craft

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