Wednesday, April 13, 2022

3 Tips On Teaching Grade 1 Human Development and Sexual Health [Private Parts!]

If you're a Grade 1 teacher in Ontario you know that as soon as April rolls around, it's time to start thinking about teaching Human Development and Sexual Health (don't stress!)
If the title itself of this Healthy Living strand makes you a tad uncomfortable, don't worry you aren't alone. It's completely natural to feel a little anxious about teaching first graders how to identify body parts including genitalia but trust me, you've got this!  

Here are three helpful tips to boost your comfort level when it comes time to teach this important health unit.

Tip #1: To quote Destiny's Child, "Say My (private body part) Name"

Repeat after me: vagina, buttocks, vulva, penis, testicle, anus, nipples. Now look in a mirror quickly…are you blushing?  It’s OK!  Calling genitalia by their medical name (without mumbling, giggling or turning bright red) is the first step to successfully teaching this unit.  Just like you might do when rehearsing for a speech, try saying the words aloud in front of a mirror, while you are alone in your car, or under your breath while out on a walk.  You’ll soon get over the “uncomfortable” factor.  Remember, these are just body parts after all

Tip #2: Read All About It

To kick off the unit I recommend reading picture books that either: 1) talk about underwear 2)  show a partially naked body or 3) include a reference to a private part in them.  This allows your students to get their giggles out and also helps boost your comfort level.  Some of my favourites are No David! by David Shannon, The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch and Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds.

Tip #3: Remember How You Were Taught

Oh wait...we WEREN'T taught how to identify body parts using the correct terminologyAMIRIGHT!?    It’s important students know how to identify body parts and use the correct names, too so that they can get the help they need if they get hurt.  Our role is to empower children to help keep them safe from abuse and ensure they grow up into assertive and confident teenagers.  
I hope those 3 tips were helpful!  I'd love to hear any tips you have in the comments.

If you feel like you could use an entire unit on this topic with detailed lesson plans, activities, original songs (and a BONUS mini unit on The Five Senses!) then check this out.

Hey Grade 1 got this!   

PS Come over to Instagram to say hi and while you're there, check out this reel I made with even more picture book recommendations!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

12 Picture Books and FREE Resources for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30 has been synonymous with Orange Shirt Day and the concept of "Every Child Matters" since 2013.  More recently, the federal government officially proclaimed September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  It's a day that Canadians are encouraged to take time to have meaningful conversations about the effects of residential schools and their ongoing legacy.  On this day, we wear orange to show our support for survivors and the countless children who didn't return home.

If you are looking for ways to teach students about the history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, why not start with a picture book by an Indigenous author?  Picture books offer a window into the difficult topic of residential schools and help both students and teachers become comfortable with an uncomfortable topic that, quite frankly, most of us didn't learn about growing up.  Let's change that for future generations!  Here are 12 picture books (and a bonus title) to help you on your learning journey.  BONUS: I've linked lots of FREE resources (teacher guides, lesson plans, interviews...) for you to use with your students. 

Before we get started, here is a must watch video by Phyllis Webstad for all educators and Canadians.

Phyllis’s Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad
🧡ages 4-6
This book is an adaptation of Phyllis’s The Orange Shirt Story and ideal for our youngest students from Kindergarten to Grade One.  Phyllis’s Orange Shirt is based on the original story but has been shortened, simplified, has a rhyming scheme and gentler images.  Click here to see how CBC Kids explains Orange Shirt Day.  Click here for a FREE lesson study called Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable: Introducing the Topic of Residential Schools in Kindergarten.  For FREE Orange Shirt Day posters click here

The Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad
🧡ages 6+
This is the true story of Phyllis and her orange shirt.  When Phyllis Webstad turned six, she went to residential school for the first time. On her first day at school, she wore a shiny orange shirt that her Granny had bought for her, but when she got to the school, it was taken away from her and never returned.  For a FREE K-6 Teacher Guide click here.  For FREE Orange Shirt Day posters click here

🧡ages 6-12
In this award-winning book Spirit Bear is on his way home from a sacred ceremony when he meets Jake, a friendly dog, with a bag full of paper hearts attached to wood stakes. Jakes tells Spirit Bear that school children and residential school survivors will plant the hearts when a big report on residential schools called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC for short) is shared.  For FREE online access to the book and a learning guide click here

Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell 
🧡ages 4-8
This is the story of how a young Interior Salish child named Shi-shi-etko spends the last four days with her family before going to residential school for the first time.  For a week-long intergrated unit for Grades 1-3 based on this book click here.  For a FREE Teacher's Guide click here

Shin-chi's Canoe by Nicola Campbell
🧡ages 7+
Shin-chi's Canoe is the moving sequel to Shi-shi-etko.  It tells the story of siblings Shi-shi-etko and little brother, Shin-chi at residential school.  It is six year old Shin-chi's first time at residential school...he is constantly hungry and lonely and can't wait until the "salmon swim up the river" when he can return home.  For a week-long intergrated unit based on this book click here.  For a FREE lesson study on both books click here

As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden
🧡ages 10-13
Award winning As Long as the Rivers Flow is the story of my late Cree uncle Larry Loyie's last summer before entering residential school.  He wrote about his adventures with his family and caring for an abandoned baby owl (as well as watching his Kokom shoot a grizzly bear!)  For a FREE study guide click here.  Listen to my uncle Larry Loyie and my aunt Constance Brissenden be interviewed here by Rod Kurtz on CBC Radio about his memories of residential school and their book, Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors, A National History.

When We Were Alone by David Robertson
🧡ages 4-8
When We Were Alone is the conversation between a young child and her grandmother about residential school.  It is a story of connection, empowerment and strength.  For a FREE parent/teacher's guide to the book click here.  Watch this interview from TVOkids of David Robertson discussing the book as well as what reconciliation means.  

The Train by Jodie Callaghan 
🧡ages 6-9
This story centers around a conversation that Ashley and her Great-Uncle have about his time at residential school.  For FREE lessons and interactive activities from The Train click here.  

When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Olelaum Pokiak-Fenton
🧡ages 6-9
Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton When I Was Eight makes the bestselling Fatty Legs accessible to younger readers. It is the story of eight year old Olemaun during her time at residential school and her desire to learn how to read.  For FREE lesson plans based on When I was Eight click here

Not my Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Olelaum Pokiak-Fenton
🧡ages 6-9
Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Not my Girl is a sequel to the picture book When I Was Eight.  It's a poignant story of a determined young girl’s struggle to belong in her family after returning from residential school two years later.  For FREE lesson plans click here

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
🧡ages 6-9
Stolen Words tells the story of a relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughter.  It centers around the loss of the grandfather's Cree language as a direct result of being forced to attend residential school.  For a FREE teaching guide click here

Meet Tom Longboat by Elizabeth MacLeod (non-Indigenous author)
🧡ages 6-10
This is the story of legendary long distance runner Tom Longboat.  The book does an excellent job of retelling Tom Longboat's coming of age in the early 1900's from his time in residential school, as one of the world's most famous athletes and as a World War I dispatch runner.  For a FREE unit click here

Speaking our Truth by Monique Gray Smith
🧡ages 12-14
Last but not least, Speaking Our Truth was written to help young people understand the impact of residential schools.  Readers will learn about the lives of Survivors and how to put the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.  Watch this video of Monique Gray Smith discussing how to talk to kids about residential schools.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Picture Books and FREE resources about Terry Fox

In 1980, Terry Fox set out on the Marathon of Hope across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He said, “Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going.”  We should always #TryLikeTerry.

Here is a list of inspirational picture books about Terry Fox (and one pictorial biography) for you and your students to discover together❤️ Click on each title for more information.  Some titles even have FREE BONUS CONTENT for teachers (I've already linked them for you...just look for the 🔔 below!) and are available en français

Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale 
👟ages 4-8
🔔FREE 5 page Educators’ Guide at

Meet Terry Fox by Elizabeth MacLeod
👟ages 6-10
💙disponible en français

Terry Fox: A Story of Hope by Maxine Trottier
👟ages 7-12
💙 disponible en français

Terry Fox by Jennifer Sutoski
Terry by Douglas Coupland
👟pictorial biography

Terry Fox was a Canadian athlete, humanitarian and cancer research activist.  Check out for all things fundraising, incredible footage of Terry Fox and so much more!

Which one of these amazing books are you excited to check out?  Did I miss one of your favourite titles?  If so, please share in the comments.  

Thursday, July 11, 2019

5 Back to School Self-Care Tips for Teachers

A teacher's first day back to school is similar in a lot of ways to that of a wedding's guaranteed to go by in a blur, there will be tears, laughter, unexpected events, old friends and new faces, possibly gifts and, if you are lucky, a brief moment in your day to sit down and soak it all in.  Or at least go to the bathroom.  #teachertruth

We all know how crazy that first day back is which is why teachers need tips on how to take care of themselves, too.  Here are 5 back to school self-care tips every teacher needs to know.
Keep Your Commute Stress-Free 
You want your drive into work on your first day to be as straightforward as possible.  Leave extra early and fill up your gas tank the day before.  If you live far away from your school, this might be your first time driving there in a few days or weeks.  Be sure to check that there aren't any road closures or construction on your route that could delay you.

Stay Hydrated 
You'll need lots of fluids today so fill up that bubba with your favorite hot beverage before leaving home and carry a water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Download the Calm App  
There's a reason why Calm is the #1 app for sleep and's amazing.  But did you know it's FREE for teachers? Yep, that's right!  Under "The Calm Schools Initiative" the app is giving away FREE Mindfulness training tools to every teacher in the world!  That includes YOU!  Use it for yourself at home and for your students at school.  Mindfulness made easier!

Stock up on Throat Lozenges and Pain Relief
It's been a long time since you've had to get the attention of so many people and believe me, your throat is going to thank you for having some throat lozenges on hand for that first day back.  Pack up your go-to headache medicine too, just in case!

Pack a Fuss-Free Lunch
Time is going to be tight and you probably won't have the luxury of heating up last night's leftovers, let alone pop out for drive-thru.  Pack yourself easy to eat food and healthy snacks in a cooler bag that you can keep in your classroom to grab when you have a moment.
BONUS TIP: Bucket Filling
Doing a random act of kindness fills your bucket, so why not treat your teaching friends to a fun surprise?  A little thought goes a long way and I've yet to meet a teacher that doesn't love a new pen.  Buy a jumbo pack of Flair Pens the next time you see them on sale and give your staff a small token of appreciation.  You can grab this FREEBIE here.

What is your favorite self-care tip?  I'd love to know!  Please share it in the comment sections.

All the best on your first day back to school!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Top 5 Dollarama Finds Teacher Finds + Flair Pen FREEBIE

Dollarama is my go-to place for inexpensive cards, decorations and glitter.  It is the last place I would think of to purchase quality school supplies for my classroom...until now.  Check out the loot I found at my local store this August.  If you are lucky, yours might stock the same goodies!
  Here are my Top 5 Finds for Teachers that you can snag for $4 each or less, and a quick and easy back-to-school gift for your staff/teacher besties because #flairpensbringjoy ;-)
NUMBER 5: Ten Special Edition Sharpie Markers (bonus: 2 metallic ones)
COST: $4.00
I use these guys on planners, name tags, book bags, posters, folders, etc. Like the slogan says above the box, "YOU CAN DO ANYTHING WITH SHARPIE."  Teacher tip: if you want to remove Sharpie from a hard surface, use nail polish remover.
NUMBER 4: Chalkboard/Farmhouse Theme Magnetic Pencil Holder
COST: $2.50
I instantly fell in love with these and think they would be perfect to add to a chalk and/or white board.  Use them to store pencils, crayons, name tags, or white board markers where your students can (or can't!) reach them.
NUMBER 3: Googly Eyed Garbage Can Pencil Holders (with lids)
COST: $1.50
Are these the cutest things or what?  I love how they have attached lids as well.  I'm going to bring these out at the Guided Reading table and have one on hand stocked with supplies for any students that are going to work in the resource room or with a volunteer.
NUMBER 2: Emoji Erasers
COST: $1.25
Although you can't see them, there are poop erasers in this package, too. With a class full of boys this upcoming year, I'm guaranteed a few laughs as well as engagement when I pull these out.
NUMBER 1: Twelve Paper Mate Flair Pens
COST: $4.00
I spend an insane amount on Flair Pens each year at Target when I cross-border shop but now all I have to do is hop on over to Dollarama for these beauties.  They are the BEST pens EVER!  I grew up watching my Geography teaching Dad use them to mark and would often swipe them from his desk to use for myself.
Which got me thinking...if I love them so much then I bet my friends at school will as well.  And for less than $15, I can treat my entire staff to a Flair Pen as a back-to-school gift.  Every one loves finding a gift in their staff mailbox, right?
If you'd like to spread some joy and surprise your teacher BFFs, EAs, Admin or Support Staff at your school this September, grab this FREEBIE from my TPT store and get the special coloured paper out you've been saving for a special occassion.  Yep, we all do it ;-)

What's YOUR favourite Dollarama find?  I'd love to know.

Happy back-to-school time!