I Spy…..

We spent the past week honing our skills of observation.  We used jewelry loupes to zoom in on cherry blossoms, fireweed, and blue bells. We used our understanding of ratio and proportion to create detailed enlargements of the blossoms. It was as if we were illustrating a science textbook. The challenge was to slow down and accurately record our observations verses simply sketching our impressions of what we saw. The outcomes were gorgeous! Next, we pretended we were spies from another planet on a mission to sneak away with information about the Earth’s oceans. Using paper folded between 2 antique shell buttons, we made miniature books full of miniature drawings of sea creatures from the intertidal zone. It’s not easy to capture the idea of an ocean in a few square centimeters!

In honour of Earth Day on April 22, we have been singing and writing love songs to our planet. I am continually humbled by the depth of care and commitment our children demonstrate toward  protecting sensitive environments and helping vulnerable creatures.


There are now so many beautiful craft projects taking shape here at school, that our classroom is starting to look like an art studio! Painted tiles, decoupage bowls, seed paper cards, unicorn horns, engraved stones, wooden roses, wooden jewelry, reuseable shopping bags…We can hardly wait to show off all our utilitarian creativity! Naturally, all these projects have been an authentic springboard into learning how to give clear directions and write instructions as well.

We are still collecting used, clean tank tops and T-Shirts to turn into shopping bags. The Craft Sale will be 2:30 to 3:10 on June 18th and 20th.

We have a few open spots in the Grade 4 to 7 range for September 2024. Interested parents are invited to email the teacher.

Reminders: April 22 is Professional Day. Intermediate Interim assignments are due April 25th.

Upcoming dates: Class photo day is Monday May 13. The Thur/Fri group is welcome to arrive for a group photo at 9:05 and leave right after their photo is taken. On May 2 the district will hold an Earthquake Drill at 2:00pm. This is a good opportunity for all families to refresh their emergency preparedness kits and review their reunification plans.

-By LBaker

Shining Light on the Eclipse

Thanks to technology we were able to safely watch Monday’s eclipse online multiple time and from multiple locations. Lots of interesting observations and knowledge were shared. We also heard about how some ancient cultures explained an eclipse. Six of our classmates witnessed the total eclipse with their own eyes! We’ve been enjoying hearing about their travel adventures and their impressions of this incredible and inspiring experience.

Back here on earth, we made some art to capture our impressions of the eclipse discussing how precious is our little blue marble in space. With the eclipse behind us we are now looking  ahead to Earth Day,  on April 22.  We’ve been learning songs about how we can care for the earth. We’ve also been learning about the intertidal zone and the oceans that cover much of our home planet.

The older students used “Quad of Thought” and other intriguing pre-writing strategies together with a couple of old poems by “Banjo Paterson” of Australia to learn some new vocabulary and expressive turns of phrase. Check out “Clancy of the Overflow” to experience some gorgeous imagery, and ponder the role of work.

Looking ahead to next year: The Primary cohort is now totally full. However, a small number of spots may come open for the grade 4 to 7 cohort for September 2024. If you know of folks who might be interested, please pass along my email address and encourage them get in touch as soon as possible.

Request for sewing materials: Each year we have a craft sale in June. We make crafts which we sell to help raise money for charity. This small act helps us feel empowered in the face of a big and complicated world. We raise money for people and animals in need. This year again we will share our proceeds equally between the BCSPCA, and the UNHCF. One of our crafts projects is for both groups to make reusable shopping bags from tank tops and T-shirts. All students will have the opportunity to use the sewing machine! Please send along some clean, used, tops in the next week or so. Thanks to those who have collected and donated egg cartons. We now have plenty for our project.

In other news: I recently came across a list of children’s books that teach critical thinking strategies to help determine is something is accurate, or possibly “Fake News” https://www.instagram.com/reel/C4bp5BBRTHf/?igsh=MWk4cDVmYXMyMjl6cQ==


Shining a Light on the Eclipse

The Solar Eclipse on April 8th provides some wonderful learning opportunities indeed. But there are hazards as well. Here in the classroom, we have discussed the importance of being very careful about how we may observe the eclipse. Although Vancouver is not in the path of the full eclipse, it will experience a noticeable 20% of the eclipse’s effect. Those of us who are at school on the 8th will watch the full eclipse, livestreamed from a zone of totality, on the big screen in the safety of our gym. Recess and Lunch times are being adjusted to keep students indoors or under adult supervision during the event. In this way, children won’t be tempted to try and watch the beginning/ending of the eclipse without proper protection. Regular Monday/Tuesday families: If you intend to keep your child home to watch the eclipse please let me know.   Students may challenge themselves to discover what stories and explanations ancient people may have had about eclipses. I hope you all enjoy this incredible celestial event in safety and wonder!

Time is speeding up!

This week we’ve enjoyed sharing our stories about what we got up to during Spring Break, had fun with challenging math games, music, and discussions about current events. We have begun studying marine mammals on the BC Coast. We learned that seals hunt by detecting motion with their whiskers, and that orcas communicate with sound, and hunt using echolocation.

We are hoping for the best for “kwiisahi?”(which means “Brave Little Hunter”), the baby orca trapped in a lagoon near Zeballos. We were interested to learn how marine scientists are trying to use recordings of kwiisahi?’s pod to entice it back out to sea.




A Solar Eclipse happening next Monday!  In BC, the time of maximum will be 11:30 am. Although most of us will be far away from the zone of totality, we can still enjoy the experience online. Here at school we will be watching a live broadcast of the event between 11:05 and 11:55am. I hope families will take this opportunity to extend their learning beyond the science of the eclipse to wonder and learn about what ancient and medieval cultures thought about an eclipse.




Back here on earth, I came across the site of a scientist who forages for edible plants in urban and natural settings. Check out Black Forager on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/reel/C4rNE3vuZNk/?igsh=MTJ5dzV3emFkZmU4Nw==

Sew useful! We are now collecting used, clean, tank tops. All students will have an opportunity to use a sewing machine as we upcycle them into reuseable shopping bags and book bags. Any size, child or adult, is fine. Patterns or pictures are great. Tops in solid pastel shades will likely be printed with ink. They will be sold at our charity fundraiser craft sale in June. Please send any collected tops to school during the week of April 15-19.

Important dates: The next Professional Day is April 22, so no in-person class that day.  Grade 4 to 7 students must submit their last Interim Submissions on or before noon on April 25 (a summary of work completed since the March 14 submission). Please recall that portfolios and Interim Submissions are mandatory elements to the program. These and other important dates are in the Parent Handbook, on the Blog calendar, and on the Important Date Checklist sent home before the Winter Break.

Summer Learning opportunities at the VSB. Elementary level registration opens April 24th. For more information: https://www.vsb.bc.ca/page/5211/summer-learning


by LBaker

Before you know it!

This last week before Spring Break is flying by.  Our math and social studies explorations included reading two books “One Well” and “If the World Were a Village.” These provided many insights into how privileged Canadians are when it comes to the percentage of the world’s resources, levels of income, and access to water compared to other parts of the world.

Categorizing and playing with vintage toys was another fun way to compare and contrast material objects and how life for kids has changed over the decades. A field trip to Lynn Valley provoked some deep conversations about where water comes from and where it goes along its cycle through the natural world. We also learned about creatures that do not have spines or bones.

Back in the classroom we enjoyed some peaceful cozy time with books and blankets and hot chocolate at “Camp Read”. While in this contemplative space learned a song about our good fortune to be living on mother earth. In the new term, we will begin writing songs. And soon the grade 4 to 7s will try our hand at making instruments to play them on. (More cookie tins please!) We rounded out the term getting our hands dirty sculpting bowls and beads from papier mâché for the charity fundraiser craft sale we will have in June.

Planning for next year is now well under way: The primary cohort (Kindergarten to grade 3) is full with a long waitlist. The Intermediate (Grade 4 to 7) group has very few spots left, and only at specific grade levels and criteria. So, if you know of families who may be interested, have them review the blog and then email me as soon as possible. I will be in touch after the break.

REMINDERS: Interim assignment #5 is due March 14th for students grade 4 to 7.  Please check the blog regularly for updates to the calendar. Spring Break goes from March 18 to April 1. Report cards go home this week….check those back packs or pick up the report from the blue tote in the hall if you were absent this week. Please sign and return the report envelope so I can reuse it for the third term report.

I recently came across an intriguing app called Radio.Garden.  It allows you to listen to radio stations all around the world in real time! It works through an interface similar to Google Earth. I thought this would be a fun way to hear music and voices in languages around the world. Google Radio.Garden to check it out!   https://radio.garden/visit/vancouver/Lc5d7EdP

Looking for things to do over Spring Break or the coming summer? Check out the Medicine Wheel Ceremony on March 24th at VanDusen Botanical Garden. They have several camps and family programs on offer as well. Lynn Valley Ecology Centre does too.

This will be my last blog post until after Spring Break. Happy Equinox! We return to in person learning on Tuesday April 2.

Spring Forward

Portfolios for term #2 have now wrapped up. There have been many wonderful “catch up conversations” as we settled back into in-person learning this week. The Primary group also enjoyed a field trip to Lynn Canyon. There we studied some of the invertebrates who live in the river and on the forest floor nearby.

Back in the classroom, we explored the concept of how small acts can lead to great change. One particularly evocative resource for our discussions was “One Hen” by Katie Smith Milway. It’s based on the life story of Kwabena Darko of Ghana, and the concept of Microlending. Check it out!

Spring Break is fast approaching. On the last day of classes before the break we will relax and hang out with books, games hot chocolate or peppermint tea at the fictional “Camp Read” on March 12 and March 15th.  Please bring a book and blanket (and a stuffie if you wish) to enjoy as we get cozy in the afternoon. We may even build a fort in which to hang out if there are enough blankets! Feel free to send snacks to share.

A request: Please collect and send cardboard egg cartons for a craft we will be doing right after Spring Break. We are still collecting cookie tins and hope to have enough to make instruments after Spring Break as well.

Please remember:  The Intermediate group meets at the Lynn Valley Ecology Centre at 9:45 on Thursday March 14.

Don’t forget to move your clocks forward to Daylight Savings Time this weekend.

For those families looking for science activities over the upcoming Spring Break: Lynn Valley Ecology Center has some fun family friendly programs. Check out how to register at https://ecologycentre.ca/

Portfolios Continue…..

Portfolios continued this week.  Absolutely love to see all the amazing learning activities happening in your homes. And I am thrilled to hear about the family friendships being forged as well! In-person learning re-commences on Monday, March 4. Keep in mind that on Tuesday, March 5th the Primary-aged group will meet at Lynn Valley Ecology Center at 9:45am for our guided programs. Monday, Tuesday parents: If you haven’t already done so, please email me with your intention to join us there or work from home.

We are still collecting metal boxes for the Intermediate instrument building activity. Please look around your homes for old cookie tins or chocolate tins. They do not need to be beautiful. They DO need a lid. Round tins are fine if they are wider than they are tall.

Our main school is having a Book Fair from 3:00 to 3:45 on Tuesday and Wednesday next week (March 5 & 6.) We are on a field trip on Tuesday, so will not be able to go to the sale, but all families are welcome to pop into the library between 3:00 and 3:45 either day.

I recently came across a site with science activities that may be of interest to some parents:   https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3iouw9vKUh/?igsh=MW9yNzF4cTF5OTk5eg==

Portfolios and Home Learning

We are deep into our portfolio presentations this week and next. There is so much to celebrate about the projects and progress our kids are experiencing while they work from home. I am continually delighted to learn about the hands-on engagement, philosophical musing, and deep conversations taking place in our community. I’ve loved hearing about science experiments, creative writing projects, video production, robotics creations, coding successes, art explorations, and breakthroughs in math and spelling skills. Even spectacular cooking mishaps inspire learning when the child brings a growth mindset and sense of humour! Thank you for all you do to foster curiosity and resilience!


By LBaker

Friendship & Family (Day)

Portfolio meetings begin tomorrow, so this blog post will be short and sweet!

Friendship and fostering positive supportive relationships were the theme for the last few days. We have been learning to offer support kindly and look for opportunities to show our helpers appreciation. Thank you to those who sent along ingredients for our Friendship Fruit Salads. One salad was quite full of oranges, and one was quite full of green grapes. BOTH were refreshing and delicious!

For the last two weeks, the older group has made papier mâché bowls and seed paper. We’ve also explored sculpting, carving, and engraving with a variety of materials with a variety of tools.

The younger groups have had some fun learning about Opera and performing our own Operas as well as illustrating several classic songs and poems.

Monday/Tuesday group please note we have a field trip to Lynn Valley Ecology Centre on our second day back after Portfolios (Tuesday, March 5th). We will meet at the Ecology Centre at 9:45, rain or shine! Bring a lunch. We will be exploring in boggy wet conditions so wear boots and gloves….maybe a change of socks too! As always for this type of activity, parents provide their own transportation and supervise their children. There is public transportation nearby and plenty of paid parking at the Centre. Please consider carpooling.

If your child is currently enrolled, and you have not already done so, please let me know if you intend for your child(ren) to continue in September. I would like to be able to offer any available space to those on our waitlist.

February 19 is Family Day, but it is also Louis Riel Day in Manitoba. I invite students and parents alike to take some time to learn about his impact on Canadian history.


By LBaker

Fantastic February!

Lately we have been deconstructing song lyrics to look for strong visual language. Lots of tuneful and creative fun with old Traditional Folk Tunes these days! The Kindergarteners had their hearing tested this week… So…no more excuses for any “Selective Listening!”

September 2024: We are victims of our own success and are already bursting at the seams for next year. There is an extensive waitlist of families hoping to join our program. If you have not already done so, please email by noon February 16th me to let me know if you intend to keep your child in the program in September 2024, or will be moving on to other choices.

Students in both groups have been practicing giving and receiving constructive criticism. This week, please watch for a Student Self-Assessment page coming home which is focused on this Core Competency. Please return it to school with your child as soon as possible (or email it back to me) at least 2 weekdays BEFORE your child’s next Portfolio Meeting. These pages form part of the report card file which will be coming home in the week of March 11.

Included here are some parent resources about Core Competencies and Reporting Student Learning:




One way we have been applying these skills is to partner up an older student with a younger student when we are doing group work. I am so impressed with the willingness and kindness your children demonstrate during these activities.

I am going to offer one bit of constructive criticism here myself. Recently I’ve overheard students from both cohorts mention to classmates that they rarely practice writing skills or basic math computation skills on the days they are learning from home. While meaningful learning happens in all sorts of interdisciplinary ways, I strongly encourage parents to remember that frequent reinforcement of basic skills is an important step to understanding. And, more importantly, it builds confidence and fluency, thus freeing up energy for creativity and expression. There are lots of great math and spelling games and downloadable math and sight-word flash cards out there that can help in this area. An easy way for the parents of the Primary students especially, is to look up “Dolch Word Lists” and “High Frequency Word Lists” by their grade level.

February is Black History Month. The Intermediates have begun a novel study about the experiences of a bi-racial student. The Primary students have begun learning some songs that celebrate respectful interdependence. Included here is a link to more Black History resources:  Black History Educational Package – Canada’s History (canadashistory.ca)

February also holds Family Day and Valentine’s Day. On the last day of classes before Portfolio Week (Fri Feb 9 & Tues Feb 13), we will be enjoying an afternoon of music, games and Friendship Fruit Salad in acknowledgement of the support of our families and other helpful relationships. Please send a container of washed and chopped up fruit to add to our happy concoction! Feel free to send along other seasonal treats as well.


by LBaker

February Fun!

How did it get to be FEBRUARY so quickly? And a Leap Year at that?! February is the month of Groundhogs, Valentines, Portfolios, and special school events. It is also Black History Month. And there is Pink Shirt Day, and Family Day. It’s a good thing it’s a leap year so we have an extra day to accomplish everything!

We will celebrate all these good things with an afternoon of games and music, and by sharing Friendship Fruit Salad, on the last day of classes before Portfolios start: Friday, February 9th and Tuesday, February 13th. On that day, please send along a small container of washed and chopped fruit to toss into the mix. We are sure to be surprised and delighted with whatever arrives! Feel free to send along some other seasonal treats for classmates if you wish.

The main school has 2pm dismissal days on February 7 & 8 next week, but we do not. Instead, we will have no in-person classes from February 15th to March 1st due to the second Portfolio meetings.

Movie Night is on Friday!  Come as a family to watch “Luca” in the school gym on Friday, February 2nd. Doors open at 6:00 pm and the movie starts at 6:30. Pizza and other goodies for sale. Floor seating! Bring your own blanket or cushion. Please see the Beaconsfield Banter newsletter you will have received from the school office for information about this, and Pink Shirt Day, etc.

September Intentions: If you haven’t already done so, please be in touch with me to let me know if it is your intension to have your child stay in our program in September. I have a very long waiting list, so this information is very helpful. Next year dates for the cohorts will be the same as this year: G K-3 on Mondays and Tuesdays and G4-7 on Thursdays and Fridays, with Wednesdays for online meetings, etc.



By L.Baker

Playing Catch-Up

Because last week’s blog post was missed due to the Snow Day in Metro Vancouver, I will lead here with some important dates and reminders before I catch up on our In-Person Learning from the past two weeks.

#1 Interim Submissions for our Intermediate students are due tomorrow; January 25th.

#2 We are now booking appointments for the second Portfolio conference. If you haven’t already done so, email the teacher directly with your 3 preferred days. Please also indicate if you      prefer a morning or afternoon appointment.

#3 Hold the Date: Class Photos will be on Monday May 13th. The Thursday/Friday group is invited to come to the school at 9:00 to have a class photo taken, and then leave right after the photo is taken.

#4 Currently collecting biscuit tins: The older students will soon be building “guitars” out of tin boxes. Please send along any tins you have on hand after the holidays. They can be square or rectangular or a circle. But they must be flat. They do not need to be fancy, (although that is nice) but they do need to have a lid.

#5 September 2024 enrollment: We are already starting to plan for next year! Students who are currently enrolled in the program, and younger siblings of students who are currently registered for September 2024 have priority. We are already almost full!  Please email the teacher before noon on January 31 to let us know if it is your intention to have your child remain in the program for next year.

This past week both groups have explored important elements of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Firstly, we have looked at the art of giving and receiving Constructive Criticism. Secondly, we have begun to look at what motivates us to learn, and how to become resilient when learning is challenging. We’ve used Art projects that take a long time to help us practice patience. Through Individual Writing Conferences, we have begun to respond to constructive criticism. Through responding to other students’ art projects and creative writing, we are learning how to offer feedback and suggestions in kind, respectful, and useful ways. I continue to be inspired and amazed by the insights and thoughtful observations these kids share with each other on a daily basis.

The oldest students may be interested to learn about a Writing Contest being offered by CBC radio. It is called “The First Page Contest” and it opens February 1st. You can find more information at CBC.ca or  https://www.cbc.ca/books/the-first-page-student-writing-challenge-is-back-in-2024-1.4269274

Internet safety: It’s just a fact of life these days that many elementary school aged children have iPads. I recently came across something on social media that may be of interest to parents who are considering giving an iPad to their child:  https://www.facebook.com/share/r/xe9aQvwucHTeK5yT/?mibextid=jaSYs6

Originally for January 17: Sometimes we struggle to learn a new skill, but with practice that skill can become second nature. I’ve noticed a shift over the last year or so in the way some students are struggling to form letters and numbers, and that some older students seem a bit foggy about sentence structure, and punctuation, such as quotation marks. I encourage all parents to take a close look at their child’s written work and offer frequent feedback and encouragement to do a bit more writing daily if you notice these gaps. We’ve been doing some worksheet activities on letter formation and grammar here at school just to help “prime the pump.”

We’ve been getting a “charge” out of science: It takes a lot of energy to be a kid, and also to run many of the items we use in day-to-day life. We are exploring Electricity: what it is, how we use it, where it comes from. The Intermediate students have been learning about what happens when a battery is charged, and building electric robotic devices. The Primary students are learning about different sources of energy, and how to stay safe around electricity.

Do you ever wonder where our electricity comes from? Or how it is generated? The BC Electric Powerhouse at Stave Falls offers tours to the public from March 1 onward. Adults $8, Children $7 (5 and under are free.) The powerhouse is located in the BEAUTIFUL Fraser Valley. It is located at 31338 Dewdney Trunk Road in Mission, B.C. Check out  Powerhouse at Stave Falls (bchydro.com) or call 604-462-1222 or email stavefalls@bchydro.com . If you decide to take a trip out there, consider a side trip to Stave Lake for a picnic, or drive the back roads looking for the dairies and nut groves with “Farm Gate” cheese, ice cream and hazel nuts!  Meanwhile, BCHydro offers lots of fun activities for students. Check out schools.bchydro.com.

We’ve also been playing lots of games to build our math skills. Are you interested in more family Math games? Check out @tabletopfamily on Instagram.

Full Steam Ahead!

What fun to see everyone so rested and excited to reconnect with classmates! Just as many grownups like to mingle and catch up in the staffroom with colleagues they haven’t seen in a while, we spent a bit of time on our first day back chatting and sharing our stories of our time off over Winter Break. Lots of laughter and smiles, then we buckled down to work! The Primaries have a goal to learn more about parts of speech, deepening our thinking, and adding details. We’ve started with Nouns and Adjectives. Soon we will move on to Verbs and Adverbs. We will also work toward improving the legibility of our work by focusing on proper pencil grip and letter formation (open web beside the thumb, pull vs push; curves and straight lines pulling to the left, etc.)  The Intermediates have a goal of deepening our critical thinking skills. We will encourage each other to push past “comprehending the main idea” and to look for connections to help develop our skills in analysis and synthesis. Exciting times are ahead!

Thurs/Fri group: Did you rise to the challenge? Just before the break I offered the Intermediate group an invitation to ‘front load’ several Social Emotional Learning concepts and Core Competencies that we will explore in this new term. If you were Intrinsically motivated (see what I did there?) and chose to do the activity, please bring it with you on your first day back.

It seems Winter may have finally arrived. With the falling temperatures Vancouver might even get some snow.  VSB Rarely closes school over snow. But if you are unsure that the school will be open, Please Do Not phone the school! Instead, check one of these sources: CBC (690 AM or 88.1 FM), CKNW (980 AM), CKWX (NEWS 1130 AM), BCTV (Global) (cable channel 11), CITY TV (cable channel 13)  Or check the VSB website for updates.

Looking ahead: Hold The Date for a Field Trip: Mon/Tues group hold Tuesday March 5th. Thur/Fri group hold Thursday March 14th.  Details to follow.


Parents looking for free resources and mini lessons about the quirks of English spelling and parts of speech might want to check out this site on “X” (formerly knows as Twitter):   @englishclasse_

Feather and Stone

As we wind down the year, we have ramped up Science! Both groups have been working with feathers and stones to learn about flight, how birds preen to mend their feathers, and that rocks move through a “cycle” just like water does… only much (MUCH) slower.

Our younger group was wondering what a Solstice is. We looked at how the earth goes around the sun in an elliptical orbit and not a circle as we sometime think. We observed that December 21 is known as the start of winter, and the longest night of the year. But when we deepened our exploration, we realized that December 21 is also the date that the daylight hours start getting longer again… so it’s it actually the beginning of the end of winter!

Words Matter: Some of the older students recently observed and remarked that the lyrics of popular songs can sometimes be a bit ‘questionable.’  I overheard someone say: “That singer needs to grow some boundaries!”  I took advantage of this very “teachable moment” to invite the class to listen to a range of popular seasonal songs and do a bit of informal “literary criticism.”  I used the CBC Radio’s Early Edition Christmas song contest list to conduct an informal poll. I wonder if you can guess their top 3 tunes. (The Vancouver Home Learner Poll results: #1 The Huron Carol by Tom Jackson; #2 River by Joni Mitchell; and #3 Song for A Winter’s Night by Gordon Lightfoot.)

Winter holds many festivals and celebrations. We have been learning fun and interesting elements about Kwanza, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Yalda, Los Posada’s, Christmas, Pancha Ganapati, and Solstice. We have noticed that most cultures practice making a special effort to gather with family and share special foods and rituals. And in this way, people have more in common than differences. Thank you to the parents that sent along some seasonal food and games.

Our primary group spent the day before the start of the holiday in our Pajamas! We enjoyed cozy hot chocolate and peppermint tea. Thank you, parents, for sending along  an abundance of tasty goodies! Basically, I had fun filling your children full of sugar and carbs and sending them home! The Intermediate group will do the same on Friday!

We return from the Winter Break in the week of January 8th.  I will close by wishing you a safe, healthy, happy time with family and friends. I look forward to hearing all about your holiday activities when I see you in the New Year!



-Ms. Baker

Letters, Oranges, Snails, and PJs!

Some folks say that letter writing is a lost art. This week our Intermediate Students refuted this claim by participating in The Great Canadian Mail Race. We received a letter from a student in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan addressed to “Any Grade 4-7 Student” at our school. A classmate volunteered to write back. Then, we all chose a town somewhere in Canada, tracked down the name of an elementary school in that community, and wrote a letter to “Any Grade 4-7 Student” in that school! We wrote to students from Nunavut to Newfoundland. The race is now on to see who will receive a response first!

How well do you really know an orange? The Primary students got to know oranges at a whole new level this week. We practiced Mindful Eating using all 5 senses to observe a mandarin orange before we even peeled it. We noticed tiny oil-filled dimples on the skin, star shapes where it attached to a branch, and slight changes in the colour of different parts of the fruit. We noticed crinkly sounds as we removed the skin. We found the segments cool and smooth. And there were teeny tiny ballons inside each bursting with flavours, both sweet and bitter. Some of us noticed that we had different sensations or tasted different flavours on different parts of our tongues. A fascinating AND delicious experience. Some of us thought we might try Mindful Eating with other foods as well.

The Intermediate students have begun learning how to engrave stones. Using dremels, safety goggles and gloves, we are creating designs on smooth stones from a nearby beach. Eventually, these little works of art will be available for sale as part of our annual charity fundraiser.

Mystery Box Plays:  Small groups were given a box with an odd assortment of puppets, and natural materials. In the course of one afternoon, we wrote and performed plays based on the content of the box. Lots of creative collaboration and silly (SILLY!) fun.

First term report cards have gone home. Those that were not picked up in person are available for parent pick up in the blue tote inside the front doors of the school.

Last call for Gastropods! Please send a clean container to take home a cute little aquatic snail. They come with a “Care and Feeding” page. The last day for pick up is Monday, December 18.

Pajama Party Day is next week on the last day before the Winter Break (December 19 and 22). Wear your PJs, bring a cozy blanket and some goodies to share, as we enjoy hot chocolate, peppermint tea, silly games and stories.

Grade 4 to 7 Interim reports are due tomorrow, December 14th. Please send with your child or submit digitally by Noon.

Looking for ideas to stay active and keep learning over the upcoming Winter Break?

Research your pet snail. Write a story from the point of view of your pet snail…what would they notice going on in your home through the glass of their new home?

Look for birds. Do you see different birds from other times of year? Choose one and research where it travels to and from through the seasons.

Choreograph a gymnastic routine for a snowflake. Why did you choose that particular music for your choreography? Let me know in January if you would like to perform your routine for your classmates.

If you have out-of-town visitors over the holiday, conduct an interview about what their life was like when they were your age. What are some differences? What are some similarities?

YOU Dance (Youth, Outreach and Understanding Dance) was launched in 2007 is a FREE program designed to inspire elementary students, foster a deeper connection to the arts, captivate and enrich imaginations and encourage them to explore the world through dance. YOU dance is The National Ballet of Canada’s signature Community Engagement initiative and reaches a growing range of students from various communities across Canada.



-by LBaker

Snails, anyone?

Student Holiday Craft Market: The main school Grade 6 & 7 classes are selling crafts and baking on Monday December 11th. The sale is a fundraiser for Covenant House, a charity that supports disenfranchised youth in our community. The sale will take place from 2-5 pm in the school Gym. We will go down to the gym to admire their handiwork a few minutes before our regular dismissal time. Feel free to send a small amount of money to school with your child on Monday. Or feel free to come on in to shop for yourself after dismissal time at 3:00pm.

Intermediate students: Dec 14 is the due date for the next Interim Submission. Please ensure you provide evidence of learning for all the areas outlined on the SLP.

Pajama day will be Dec 19 and 22. We will all kick back and relax with games and stories on our last day before the Winter Break. I will provide hot chocolate or peppermint tea. Feel free to send along some goodies to share at our pre-holiday PJ party!

Interested in having a little pet?  Those of you who have been reading this blog for a year or so may remember that my tropical aquarium at home contains a variety of freshwater snails. They are quite entertaining to watch; a super science project, or perhaps a springboard into creative writing about the life of a snail…. Lots of possibilities! Currently, I have an abundance of “Assassin Snails” that I am looking to rehome. These are quite different that the previous year’s snails. Assassin Snails have swirly brown stripes and are pointy. They eat cucumber. If you would like your child to bring home a few of these low maintenance, entertaining critters, please let me know this week. Then send your child to school with a clean glass jar that has several clean stones and a lid with 5-6 holes poked in the top. I will send home the critters next week. I will add seasoned water, and a one-page info sheet for ‘care and feeding’ (and humane disposal should that ever be necessary.)  All I ask in return is a commitment to never release them into the environment.

Check out the updated calendar on this blog. Ms. Bordon has got our program calendar up and working once more! Important dates will be posted as they arise.

A few parents have forwarded me some online resources they find helpful. Feel free to take a look!

Math Instruction:  Time4MathFacts  https://www.time4mathfacts.com/reflex/

Self-regulation for young children:   MrChazz   https://www.instagram.com/reel/CyyUtozut7S/?igshid=MTc4MmM1YmI2Ng==

Upcoming Fun & Holiday Ideas

*Intermediate Parents: reminder that their interim submission is due on December 14th. This can be sent digitally or in hard copy in a folder or binder. You need to address each section outlined on the SLP.

We are still collecting clean metal jar lids and corks for an activity coming in the next few weeks. Please send them to class as you have them.

With the holidays approaching, there are many seasonal and educational activities happening around town. Here are some suggestions….

Arts Umbrella: Upcoming Events – Arts Umbrella  They are also registering now for Spring Break programs.

Burnaby Village Museum:           School Programs | Burnaby Village Museum

Every Winter, the Museum grounds host “Heritage Christmas”, which is a free, beautiful, self-guided tour of the old village, with Christmas lights and displays. It’s a lovely outdoor walk on a clear and cold evening. Add a vintage carousel ride (for a fee) and make the night complete.

Beaty Biodiversity Museum (UBC):          https://beatymuseum.ubc.ca/learn/in-person-tours-and-programs/

Self-guided tours to “discover the interconnectedness of all life on Earth, and our role in preserving these delicate systems.” See a 26m long blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling of the atrium. Several times a day there is a film showing of how the skeleton was sourced, cleaned, and assembled.

VanDusen Botanical Gardens/Bloedel Conservatory:     

https://vandusengarden.org/explore/events-calendar-courses/ The Festival of Lights is always a lovely experience. Check if pre-registration is required.

https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bloedel-conservatory.aspx Queen Elizabeth Park is always a beautiful setting. The venue is warm and covered if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Pay parking in effect in the park.

Local Mountain Snowshoeing:

https://cypressmountain.com/lights-to-the-lodge or https://mtseymour.ca/winter/snowshoe

December Events across Metro Vancouver:


In A “Fine Feather”…

There is a taxidermied pheasant and heron at our school. This week we’ve had many conversations about the similarities and differences in their structure, habitat, and what they eat. We shared our prior knowledge and did a bit of research. Then we built our own birds with an entire pheasant worth of feathers. I was given the feathers by a former teacher friend who lives in Saskatchewan.

It’s delightful to see the students’ curiosity and wonder at the beauty of the shimmering iridescent blues and greens on the pheasant’s neck. And to notice and appreciate the symmetry of the brown and black feathers covering the body. And to be surprised by the smooth and fluffy texture of the down. I overheard many variations on the theme: wow nature is amazing!

We’ve been using some logic puzzles to reason our way through some new math. And working together to create our own games to teach math skills.

Sometimes new learning can also bring frustration. We have been delving into strategies for recognizing when we are experiencing a strong emotion, and how to handle our emotions if we become frustrated with an expectation or activity. We also reflected on the fact that we can feel proud of our efforts,  perseverance, and resilience even if we aren’t always successful.

Please be reminded that Friday, November 24th is a Professional Day.


By LBaker

Back in the Swing of Things…..

The first round of Portfolio Meetings have concluded and we returned to in-person learning. It’s been such fun to reconnect! The youngest students used their knowledge of science to write and produce one act plays… all in the space of one day! We have also been learning new math skills, including bar graphs and how to plot points on X or Y axis. Some new logic and reasoning strategies have stimulated much interesting conversation about perception and reality.

Please watch this space for updates about messy science and creative performances in the weeks ahead. Please remember that Friday, November 24 is a Pro-D Day, so no school for the intermediate cohort.


Looking for an engaging Social Studies resource for older students?  Check out @CraigBaird a Canadian Historian and documentarian. He can be found on the app formerly known as Twitter.



By LBaker

Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day is upon us. Prior to going off timetable for Portfolios both classes spent time discussing the importance of learning to solve problems in peaceful ways. We reflected on our privilege for being able to live in safety in Canada. The older students discussed how learning about history can help determine how adults behave later in life. Although we will not be in attendance on the day of the school Remembrance Day Assembly, we will be represented through our class’s contributions of art and poems. Please consider attending a community Remembrance Day event on Saturday, November 11.

Today, November 8, is Indigenous Veterans’ Day in Canada. Here is a link to an article about George McLean, an Indigenous Canadian Veteran of Vimy Ridge, and The Boer War. https://t.co/CpSoLzheno

Portfolio meetings are ongoing, and I continue to be amazed and inspired with the depth and rigor of work our students are doing at home. I am delighted to learn of the connections, get-togethers, and learning activities some families are organizing for each other as well. Such a unique learning community!

We return to in person learning on Tuesday, November 14.

A colleague forwarded a FREE multi language literacy resource. Check out https://storybookscanada.ca An introductory video can be found here: https://youtu.be/o0qiM7oeo3E

Here is a link to inspiring winners of a Canadian Student Video Contest. The theme was “Take Me Outside” https://t.co/9ZfCHFQ1Yk

Looking to boost your Upper Intermediate level student’s vocabulary? (Or your own!) Check out comedian Don Huely’s “Daily Word” segment. Entertaining and esoteric words offered with a pronunciation guide and a humorous example. Occasionally a bit cheeky, but never vulgar.


By L. Baker