Posted in Cooking with the Kiddies, Uncategorized

Social Distancing in the Kitchen

In our normal life I don’t cook much, it’s not that I don’t like to cook, or am not very good at it, it’s just that I’m never home long enough to cook. A few years ago we starting using meal kit delivery.  We did Chef’s Plate for about a year but the kids found their meals a bit too adventurous.  We switched the Hello Fresh and have been getting their meal kits for a few years now.  With these meal kits I know that we are at least eating a well balanced meal at least 3 times a week.  Whoever is home first makes it and everyone eats when then can, rarely together.

Since school’s have been closed dinner time has changed dramatically in our house.  We have sat down to dinner, the 5 of us, almost every night for 2 weeks now.  I can’t remember the last time that happened.  I have kept up our Hello Fresh deliveries, mostly because that way I know whatever happens with food availability in the next couple weeks/months we ‘should’ have 3 well balanced meals a day.  The others days of the week I have started to cook again, and I am having fun with it.  I am trying to get through the many items that have been stocked in my pantry and freezer over the past year.  We are trying to support local.  Today we got fresh bread order from The Good Bread Company, and picked up a drive through market order from Heritage Lane Produce.  Earlier in the week we received a Dover Rocks Box, with cheese, bread and sweets from small shops in Port Dover. I dare to say that we are eating now better than ever (Eileen is becoming a bit of a cheese snob).

The other great thing is that there are so many chefs doing online cooking demonstrations for free, as many people now have more time on their hands.  There are many out there but the one I have been following is from another local business, Ritzy Cakes.   Michael Reitz is #chefisolation and he is posting video on the Ritzy Cakes Facebook page.  You can watch them live or look through their page for past videos.  Last weekend I made the crepes and tonight I made the Pasta Carbonara.  They were both awesome and devoured by my entire family.  On Saturday morning I’m going to tackle the Eggs Benny.  I love trying these new things, and it is a great way to keep busy and motivated.  The next time I need a cake for a birthday or other event I’m definitely calling Ritzy Cakes! (for some reason I can’t upload a photo of my crepes but here is the pasta)


Posted in Home Activites

Counting at Home

I been trying to think of fun suggestions for parents to do with Kindergarten aged kids at home.  We work on a model of Play-Based learning while continuing to strive for academic excellence.  At the same time, I feel time might be better spent focusing on a few basic concepts rather than trying to teach new material. By this time of year we have been working ALOT on counting.  We start right in September and focus on counting concepts throughout the year.  We are checking in with students all the time to see how they are learning and developing and make guide groups in class to work with students at their individual levels.

When going through my Twitter feed I came across the perfect activity/challenge to do at home with Kindergarten aged children while schools are closed.

Counting Collections – Click on the hyperlink and watch this video.  I am trying to find another way to share it and will post as soon as I am able.  The video outlines the many, many skills children develop as they count collections of things, in and around their home.  I encourage you to try this with your children.  Have them count collections of their favourite things.  Let them explore how numbers work.

One of the professional resources I have been exploring is called ‘How Children Learn Number Concepts’ by Kathy Richardson.  It is amazing the number of skills children are learning just by counting objects:

  • Counts one item for each number.
  • Keeps track of an unorganized pile.
  • Notices when recounting results in a different number.
  • Spontaneously checks by recounting to see if the result is the same.
  • Knows “how many” after counting.
  • Counts out a particular quantity.
  • Estimates while counting.

These are just some of the things your child’s teacher is working with them on while they are counting.

Try out the challenge.  If you share on social media remember to tag @UCLAMathProject as it is their challenge but also tag me @KEMmommy so I can see your amazing work.  Also feel free to email me photos or videos if you would like me to post them (or just to share privately.)



Posted in science

Exploring Space!

One of the projects Eileen’s teacher sent home was a start to their unit on space.  She had a little booklet to fill out on on different components in the solar system.  I was hoping to expand on this work, and maybe spark a new interest.  I have taught science a few times at different ends of the spectrum.  In teacher’s college I taught the entire space unit to a Grade 9 Academic Science class.  A few years later we did a large space inquiry in my Kindergarten class.  Hence – I have a number of great space resources at a wide variety of levels.  I gave her my box to explore and she pulled out a series of books by Thomas K. Adamson through Capstone Press.


The reading level of these books is easy but they are full of great facts!  When needed she searched the internet to add more details.

We have been watching more movies and TV while on social distancing so I thought it would be great to check out some great documentaries on space.  We started by getting a 30 day preview to BBC Earth through our Prime subscription.   Our first goal was to get through the series, “Wonders of the Solar System.”  Yesterday we watched the first episode, “Empire of the Sun.”

Continue reading “Exploring Space!”

Posted in Uncategorized

No trouble keeping busy – yet

Surprisingly, yesterday ended up being a very busy day.  It was St. Patrick’s Day, so we had stocked up on appropriate groceries to have our St. Patrick’s Day feast.


Earlier in the day we decided it was time to tackle some ‘school’ tasks.  Eileen’s teacher has sent home a fair bit if work, and most of it looks fun.  Michael’s did not, which is OK, but we are using some other things to keep him working.  One of the sites Eileen’s teacher recommended was the Scholastic Magazines.  Many of the teachers in our school use them in their classes.  I found the Grade 3-5 link for Michael and love the way it is set up.  For each day they have 3 articles, with follow up activities listed.  In our house that means choice – he needs to pick one of the three to complete.  These are very easy to use and there is even a text-to-speech feature that your child can use to listen to the article.

The afternoon was spent preparing for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  Kaitlyn and I had previously come up with a menu but Eileen decided, last minute, that we NEEDED green cupcakes.  They could have used more green food colouring but I think they turned out OK, and she was happy.

Posted in Uncategorized

Taking it Day by Day

Today we ventured out of the house, but don’t worry we practiced social distancing.  We live just outside a moderately sized town but I headed into the smaller town that is also very near.  I wanted to stock up a few things while supporting a few of my favourite small businesses.  My first stop was to a caterer friend who makes freezer meals, so I could stock up my Grandmother’s freezer.  Next I hit the cheese shop, gluten free bakery and finally the chocolate store to get a hot chocolate (that I may not be able to get for a while).


After we got home Eileen really wanted to go for a bike ride. Right now I am VERY grateful we live in the country.  I could not imagine still living in our small condo in the city as we go through all of this!  It won’t be easy but we have LOTS to be thankful for!



Posted in Uncategorized

Taking up a Hobby

It is officially Day 2 but it is the first day that we really have done much.  Dance was still on yesterday and things were still really sinking in.  We now have our groceries and are starting to adjust to this new reality.  We are not in a complete shut down but are practice social distancing.  Yesterday Eileen was cleaning out her closet and found a knitting loom.  She unravelled it last night and decided it would be a good time to restart.  Kaitlyn then decided that she would like to knit as well.  Luckily we had another loom.


My first lesson, follow the lead of your kids.  It will amaze you what they decide they want to do.  If you want to try looming you can get a kit on Amazon and they will deliver right to your door (no need to venture out).

I’m still looking for something to inspire my 9 year old to get off technology, I’ll let you know how that goes.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Reason to Return to Blogging

I have not been onto my blog for a VERY long time.  My kids are now older, the world has changed a bit and we are a very busy family.  Usually we are never home, running between hockey arenas and dance studios.  My eldest is now 14, middle 11 and my son 9. Life is very different.  Professionally I am still in my Kindergarten class but I have done a lot of PD and my outlook on early education has continued to evolve.

And then everything started to change ….

Back in January my girls and I went to see ‘Come from Away’ in Toronto.  It is an amazing musical but the conversations we started to have have become some much more relevant in the last 3 days.  The song ‘I Am Here’ touched me more than any other in the entire musical.  Throughout history big events happen that are so relevant that everyone remembers where they were when it happened.  I remember being at our local arena with my Dad, listening the the radio, when the first Iraq War started.  I remember sitting in history class learning of the fall of the Berlin wall.  And I knew exactly what my answer was when my girls asked, “Where were you on September 11th?”  (For anyone interested, I had been married exactly 1 month, living in a condo in Mississauga, and I watched the events unfold on TV until I had to drive and pick up my husband from the subway station after his building was evacuated.)

The new question – where were you when the realization of COVID-19 hit.  We knew something was happening but had not really grasped how significant until …

March 13th – During the day I received an email saying our dance studio was having and emergency parent meeting at 7:00 that evening.  After I dropped the girls off just before 4:00 at the studio I headed home to do a quick workout and on the way heard that schools would be closed for the 2 weeks after March Break.  Short to day I didn’t get my workout in (first day in 73 days I missed).  I watched the news until I had to go to the meeting at 7:00.  We are a competitive dance team and had a meeting about how competitions would be affected.  In the days since then we have heard about travel advisories, social distancing, and toilet paper shortages.  There has since been balance in our house as we have heeded all the warnings but then the last family member who was still holding out (my husband) finally acknowledged something when he suggested we cancel brunch this morning.  We were planning on supporting a small local restaurant for brunch but the last warning that everyone returning from travel quarantine themselves was the thing that hit home for him (2 other partners at his firm were just returning from vacation).  There are things about this outbreak I will remember but March 13th will definitely be one of them.

So  … I thought I would use this opportunity to start up my blog.  I have lots of plans for these 3 weeks (or however long we are off).  I will share what my children are doing, professional reading and learning, and possibly other things that come along.

Posted in Uncategorized

Effective Planning in Mathematics

Part of being an educator is always continuing to be a learner.  This fall I decided to focus on my mathematics instruction in my Kindergarten room and start working towards by Mathematics specialist.  The first course on this path is P/J Mathematics Part 1 which I am currently taking online through ETFO.

As part of the first module I have created a series of blog posts on Effective Planning in Mathematics.  I chose to do this from a Kindergarten perspective.  There are four posts in this series:

Big Ideas in Mathematics

Thoughtful and Clear Planning

Daily, Unit and Long Range Plans

Cross-curricular Planning

I would love to hear perspectives of others.  Please post comments and links in the comment section.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cross-curricular planning

Meaningful integration deepens children’s understanding of the skills and concepts in each of the subjects that are involved.  Through meaningful integration, children can be encouraged to generate new connections and to explained their existing understanding.  Integration also helps children see how the knowledge and skills developed in one area can be relevant to other areas.

The Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program Draft Version 2010-2011 page 17

Throughout this series of blog posts I have talked about how slight changes sometimes need to be made in thinking and planning in order for these structures to be used in Kindergarten.  When it comes to cross-curriculuar planning this is an area that Kindergarten often leads the way!  We integrate everything.  Rarely is anything ever taught in isolation.  To give you an idea of how this looks let me explain some of the things that took place in the past couple of weeks in our classroom.  Since the focus of these posts is mathematics I will start with our math unit on sorting.  We read a number of books to introduce us to sorting:  A Lost Button  chapter in Frog and Toad are FriendsThe Button Box, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, and Sort it Out!  Lots of manipulative were put out in our Loose Parts Centre including big box of buttons.  When students started describing things by colours we started to study the primary colours in the visual arts centre and combine colours to create secondary colours (we also learned these words and added them to our word wall).  In our music lessons we were describing famous pieces of music by tempo – fast and slow, which connected to our movement in PE.  We had some local newspapers delivered and while learning about what a newspaper is (Media Literacy) we cut out picture of pumpkins and faces and sorted them.  Finally in science we cut open those pumpkins and sorted different types of pumpkin seeds, squash seeds and sunflower seeds.  Every different subject in our class was integrated making it more meaningful and engaging for our students!

Posted in Uncategorized

Day, unit and long-range plans in Kindergarten Mathematics Teaching

One of more difficult aspects in the move to the Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program is the change in planning.  In the former program teachers use to select themes to base their year around and planned the entire year out.  Long Range Plans were done in a similar way to older grades.  In the new program the students are the leaders.  We follow their lead in their play and inquiry and it is our role as educators to guide them while making sure we are addressing the curriculum expectations.

The team should use inquiry-based learning to build on children’s spontaneous desire for exploration and to gradually guide them to become more focused and systematic in their observations and investigations.  pg. 15

Planning is still very important in Kindergarten, however built into the planning there needs to be flexibility.  The students are the leaders and often the best learning takes place when they are following their own questions and inquiries.

Long-range planning is helpful, especially for new teachers, to understand the ultimate goals for the end of the school year.  What knowledge and skills are students expected to know going forth into grade 1?  What knowledge and skills in the Kindergarten program need to be developed before other skills?  For example before estimating quantities students need to understand that quantity is greater when counting forward and less when counting backwards.

Note: In Kindergarten students are not coming from a previous grade so they come with a wide variety of background knowledge.  Teachers should be very aware of this when planning.

In some school boards a math alignment may be provide to aid with long range planning (Grand Erie Math Alignment).  This can be very helpful in seeing progression through the year and also through the grades.  In saying this flexibility is key and sometimes changes need to be made – this is OK.  Last fall we had a variety of different apples out at an exploration centre.  We didn’t expect students to start comparing the different weights of the apples.  We took this opportunity to delve into a unit on weight.  We normally would teach weight later in the spring but this was what the children were interested in so we got out the balances and scales and had a great engaging study of the measurement of weight.

Unit Planning in Kindergarten is important, but again flexibility is important.  It is very important throughout a unit to have a solid understanding of the curriculum and the Big Ideas.  An understanding of what knowledge needs to be covered is important, however, to ensure your math program is the most engaging for students it is important for teachers to be flexible in instructional tasks.  One example is the unit in our class we recently finished on sorting.  Much of our unit was planned around sorting buttons.  Part way through our unit our students showed an interest in the pumpkins growing in our community.  We continued our unit on sorting however instead of buttons we started sorting different types of seeds, including pumpkin seeds of course.  We were still developing the same skills of sorting and describing attributes however the specific tasks changed.

In planning daily math lessons it is important to use a variety of structures, teaching strategies and groupings.  Traditional lessons including teacher demonstrations and rote learning still have a role in math lessons.  Every day in our Kindergarten class we add a new number to our hundreds chart.  Through this 5 minute routine we are learning how to print our numbers, counting, and patterns in numbers.  Only by lots of practice do students learn number order and how to print and recognize numbers.

When developing more complex mathematical ideas structures such as three-part lessons help students create their own understanding.  A traditional 3-part lessons includes the following parts:

  1. Getting Started (10-15 minutes): Whole class lesson to introduce idea and problem.
  2. Working on It (30-40 minutes): Students actively engaged in a task
  3. Reflecting and Connecting (10-15 minutes): Students share ideas and understandings

In a Kindergarten classroom 3 part lessons can be valuable but they do need to be modified slightly.  With our youngest learners they are very limited in how long they are able to stay engaged in a task.  A large group / whole class lesson can be used to introduce a problem.  The largest change would be in the working on it section.  Sometimes students are given a small problem that can be solved in 10 minutes. Other times a problem is explored during exploration/play time as students choose to visit the centre.  There are even times that a problem is explored over a number of days.  The important part is that students are engaged in working through the problem.  As they are working on it, educators are documenting student work, observations and conversations.  This all is brought together in the reflection and connecting stage.  This can take place at the end of the same block of learning, at the end of the day or at the end of a number of exploration blocks.

In conclusion, effective and purposeful mathematics planning is very important in Kindergarten teaching but it always needs to be flexible and adaptable to student developmental needs and interests.