Abstract Art

Today, with the grade 4’s, we worked on abstract art. Actually, we worked on one of the art activities that Loriana had mentioned in a previous ‘Tuesday 12’. The students really enjoyed working on this activity. What is there not to like? Paint and brushes?! There is just something about it that students really enjoy. I think I had them at abstract –  for some, I think it is a relief when they know that their final picture does not HAVE to look like something.

However, for this particular activity, although the painting part is abstract and can be done in any which way, they were to draw an natural image (ex. a tree) and include it in their painting. Here is what we did step by step.

I gave students two different options so that they can individually choose which option works best for them as we all know that students have various strengths and weaknesses.

Option one allowed students the choice to draw the image on black construction paper, cut it out and then glue it on a piece of white paper. From here, students are to then take a paint brush and water colors and begin painting. They could choose to paint section by section, with each section have a specific color or they could start with one color, leading into another and then another, creating an overall interesting effect. Some students really liked this option.

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The second option gave students the choice to paint the white sheet of paper first, keeping with the same idea as in option one; however, in this option they do not have to paint within lines of an image. Rather they are painting a blank sheet of paper in it’s entirety. Once they have painted the white sheet, they can put this aside to dry and move on to creating their image on a sheet of black construction paper. After doing so, they will complete the same steps – cut it out and then glue it in their painting (which should be dry as they are using water colors). Most of the students chose this option.

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Regardless of the options the students chose, which again, was to help them complete this activity in a way in which they felt comfortable with, the final pieces turned out great! Although somewhat alike in many ways, each piece of artwork was different, interesting, creative and quite unique. From trees to flowers to clouds – they came out great!

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I have included quite a few examples just to show you how these abstract paintings turned out. You can definitely work with this activity in a number of ways. We chose to work with larger sheets of paper, but you can also work with smaller sheets. We chose to work with white and black, but you can also choose to work with different colors of construction paper; however, to create the effect as shown, go for the black construction paper. It stands out amazingly! You can work with specific colors of water paint, or allow them to use all and any. You can have them stick to creating trees, or allow them to create any image they like. Again, so many different ways to work with it!

Overall, it is a great activity to allow student’s creativity to roll! All you need is time and materials and ofcourse, prior knowledge and experience with abstract art, lines and water colors! Definitely a fun, interesting and simple activity!




First Nations and European Colonialism

Every time we find great resources, we feel that it is vital to share them with you.  Well, in preparing a lesson on the settlement of the North West Territories for Grade 8 History, we came across a video that provides a fantastic visual to deepen students’ understanding of how First Nations people were forced to adapt to the changes that were brought forth by European Settlement.  The video is a slide show presentation which demonstrates how the assimilation process imposed upon the First Nations people left a contentious mark on the history of North America.   Furthermore, the slide show is correlated with the song “Don’t Drink the Water” by Dave Matthews Band.  The lyrics help students critically analyze the historical context.

Just click on the links to find the video http://vimeo.com/20704763 and the lyrics.  We hope your lesson is much more powerful by using this presentation prepared by Sam Richards.

Please preview the slide show, as there are several images that are quite graphic in content.



Words to Live by Wednesdays: What you do today…

We are always trying to further encourage our students –  More and more so now, as we are nearing the end of the school year. It always seems as though it gets harder and harder at this time of year, to keep our students engaged and motivated. It is at this particular point in time, that we need to find ways to keep them interested and on task. There are many ways to do this. Anywhere from creating different and new ways to deliver a lesson, organizing interesting ways to complete assignments or presentations and sometimes, even through our words. Words are powerful and can definitely make a difference. We need to choose them wisely, especially at this time! For our older students, what we say means something…. it helps them think, reflect and act upon.

Today, we have created a poster that will help you do just that. Put it up in your class…and keep it up! Find more to put up! One thing I found that really helped with the intermediates, is having quote of the day! At this time of year, it is more important then ever to find the right ones!


Stay tunes for our ‘Words to Live by Wednesdays!’


The Tuesday 12: 12 Super Fun Play Day Activities Your Students Will Love!

12 play day activities

With the end of the year quickly approaching we are all wrapping up our lessons, getting our last round of reports prepared and then we have the great event of Play Day.  You are spent, but know that many of your students, if not all of them, are anticipating this fun, wild and crazy day. We all want the day to go off without a hitch but that needs planning, lots and lots of planning.  So here goes, we at TeachingRocks!  are here to help.  Today’s Tuesday 12 is a list of games that can be used to make your planning a little easier.  We wish you all the best on your day of fun.

Ping Pong Ball Blow
Set up two track with boards or use chalk to draw a track on pavement.  The width of the tracks could be at most 12” apart.  Decide the length of the track, this is at your discretion.  The task: you have 2 teams that will participate in the relay. Object is to move the ping pong ball using the breath from the straw to push it along the track staying within the guidelines.  Each team member must participate, they each must do the length of the track and back.  If the ball goes outside the guidelines, then the player must start over from beginning.  First team to have all team members complete task win.

M&M Vacuum Race
In this task you will need a table, plates, straws and M&Ms!  Put M&Ms in one plate and each team member needs to transfer 5 of them to the other plate using only a straw as a “vacuum”. First player to do so wins a point for their team.  Each team member takes a turn, team with most points wins.  Ensure the straw opening is smaller than the M&Ms to avoid choking hazards.

Ping Pong Jump Shake
This game is quite comical.  You will need 8 ping pong balls (4 of one colour & 4 of another) and an empty tissue boxes that can be strapped around the waist of the player (cut a slit on either side of the box and string through ribbon long enough for all sizes).  Fill the boxes with 4 ping pong balls each, and strap the box on the players waist but on the back.  When you say go, the players are to jump around and shake to get the balls to come out of the tissue box.  Each player has 30 seconds, and each team gets a point for each ball that is out of the box.  Each new player gets to start with 4 ping pong balls. The team with the most points wins!

Target Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe
If you have the material then create a 9×9 square board, where each box can fit a frisbee.  If not you can use chalk or tape to mark out the grid.  You will also require 10 frisbees (5 of one colour and 5 of another).  This game is the basic game of tic tac toe, but instead of placing their move into the square, players need to attempt to “frisbee throw” it into place.  Each team member throws the frisbee, first team to make three in a row wins! If throws go outside the grid, then that is that players turn.

Chicken Run
Each team assembles in a straight line. The first person in each line is given a rubber chicken. The chicken is then passed to each subsequent person in line using the over the head, under the legs pattern. The last person in each line is to run the who ken back to it’s roost at the front of the line. The first team to finish wins!

Frogs in the Pond
A small inflatable pool is placed in the centre of the two teams and filled with a few inches of water to simulate the pond.  Each team is given 20 frogs (plastic balls of one colour per team) and stands 10 m away from the pond. When the whistle blows, each team takes turns tossing the balls into the pond. The team with the most frogs in the pond wins!

Three-Legged Race
An oldie, but a goodie! Each team partners off it’s members. Each pair ties up a leg to one another and gets ready to race!

Hula Hoop Marathon
For this activity, each team needs a hula hoop.  When the music starts (choose a really fun and upbeat song), one person from each team begins to hula hoop.  The person who makes it the longest wins!

 Pizza Box Race

For this game, start with two teams of 10 students each. Each team needs 10 empty pizza boxes.  Two students from each team will run with the pizza box in their hands, to the finish line and stack them. They will do so one pizza box at a time for the first run and then two at a time, three, than four. The tricky part is (and here comes the collaboration from team members) is to make sure there are four hands on the box(es) at all times. Once students have carried over all 10 boxes to the finish line, the team will quickly choose two team members to bring back all 10 boxes at once, as fast as they can. The fastest team wins!

Parachute game

This is a fun one for all ages. Starting from the little ones and working your way up, changing it up each time with the type of rubber balls, to the size and number. Begin with one small rubber ball and see how long the team can keep it going. Gradually toss one more at a time and see how long they can do it for with each added ball. It really all depends on the team, age and group size. This is a fun game for all ages!

Sponge and Bucket Races

To start this game, you need buckets, sponges and yes indeed, water! If working with two teams, set up two empty buckets one ends and two buckets filled with water on the other end.  Students from each team must line up between a full bucket and an empty bucket. The first person in line is to place their sponge in the water, and pass it over their head to the next person. Each person is to continue to pass it over their heads until the last person in line gets it. The last person in line is to wring it out in the empty bucket, run as fast as they can to the front of the line and repeats the process again. After five minutes, whichever team has the most water in their bucket, wins!

Four Square

You have to play this game on a square, further divided into 4 smaller squares which are to be numbered 1-4. You can create this square using with chalk, tape or removable spray paint, depending on where you plan to create it.   One student is to stand in each of the four squares, with the highest ranked student in number one, lowest in
number four. Student in number 1 is to the bounce the ball among the players, bouncing once in the other
student’s square before that person catches it. countless additional rules to choose from. You can only play with 4 people at a time, abd you can choose when or how to rotate students so that all students have a chance to play. Set them up in teams to create more fun and have two from each team play together!

…And there you have it! A fantastic list of 12 fun activities your students will love not only on play day but any day! Let us know if you have tried any of these or if you do try any of them, what your experience with it is!

Check back with us next week for ‘The Tuesday 12’!


At school today, I came across a really great poster that I would definitely love to put up in my classroom. I thought I would share it with you as you might be interested just the same in either putting it up now or even for your classroom in September. Yet another thing to think about – new posters for your classroom.


 I think this is a great poster to help encourage your students to begin thinking about what they want to say, need to say and have to say out loud in class. If you follow this, I truly think it will help shape the dynamics of the classroom…the overall atmosphere. It helps students understand and realize whether or not they need to share everything and anything, as well as, it further guides them to narrow down what they share to things that are relevant, true, respectful, motivating, etc.

Try it out! It may take time at first, depending on the grade level but is definitely worth implementing. At the end of the day, we each do this on a daily basis or at least try to encourage our students to do. Why not create a poster to have it up in your class for your students to see and be reminded by each time they want to share something!!!

Let us know what you think! We’re always happy to hear feedback!


That time of year again!


Yes…It is that time of year again! The time where we all feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day to complete everything on the ‘to do list’. Some things get pushed aside so other things can make their way through and get done. Between marking, report cards, finishing up lessons, final assignments, followed by more marking, we really do not have enough time to think ahead! BUT, although you may not think so, many people do and have already started preparing for the new school year (like our one and only, Loriana). Between getting new thinsg for the classroom, to throwing things out, organzing, thinking of new ideas, new plans, new everything!


Today I was browsing through our products to see which direction to take for the new school year – what we can add, change, improve on, etc. and I came across the ‘Essential Teacher Binder’ that has pretty much everything you need! So here I am to give you a brief overview of what it is these great binder’s include (just to get you thinking…possibly to get you started!):

What is “Your Essential Teacher Binder”?

kitsClick on the image to direct you to our store on tpt

We’ve all heard of the famous “teacher binder” that contains everything that you need to run your class and lessons successfully!  It is essential to your teaching, but not everything fits into the three rings of a binder, so we added in a few resources for your classroom too!  We like to think of “Your Essential Teacher Binder” as a collection of teacher resources to help you organize both your teaching and your classroom.

All teachers have various ways of organizing their lessons, plans, and classrooms; however, we have grouped together a great set of resources to assist you in this endeavor!

So what’s included in this classroom kit?
– Desk nameplates (2/sheet) for both upper and lower grades
– Student hook/cubby nameplates (6/sheet) that can also be used to label bins etc
– Hall pass, office pass, and washroom pass
– Bookmarks (4/sheet) with “During Reading” suggestions
– Monthly student behavior log (2/sheet)
– “While You Were Absent” sheet for students
– Classroom job labels (30 different jobs to choose from!)
– Student of the Month an d Week (upper and lower grades)
– Student Birthday Postcards (2/sheet)
– Lesson plan monthly cover pages
– Classroom calendar monthly labels for both upper and lower grades
– Subject area cover pages for lesson and unit plans
– Substitute teacher feedback form
– Professional development log and Staff meeting record sheet
– Parent contact log (individual student)
– Month at a glance, Monthly plan at a glance, Week at a glance
– Individual student and whole class information sheet (5 students/sheet)
– End of the year classroom inventory
– Lesson plan and mark book cover page

We have tried to include as many printables that we could think of, but if you have any suggestions, please let us know and we’ll add them in!

These kits come in a variety of themes, including outer space, aliens, polka dots, swirls, monsters, apples and ocean!  But we also have a customization option available to suit your themes, colors and designs in your classroom.  View our Customizable Teacher Binder for further information.

Check out http://teachingrocks.ca for more ideas and resources!

These binders have been an absolute hit, with great feedback. People were getting them at the end of the school year last year, at the beginning of the school year and believe it or not, even through the school year (it never is too late to get organized).

Check it out!!!