Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Notes, Cards, Pictures...

Is there anything more delightful than notes, cards or creative art work from students?  I'm sure each primary teacher receives oodles of them throughout their career.  High school teachers have my sympathy as they likely don't get gifts like this from their students.  Throughout the year I've received more than my fair share.  Some of it is in my portfolio, some tucked away in a drawer, some of it...


This year I've decided to devote the bulletin board above my desk to my students' contributions.  At the moment they cover about a square metre of my board.  Their messages, both in written (misspellings and all) and pictorial each give me a glimpse of the students artistic and written ability, their personalities, not to mention their thoughtfulness in spending time creating something for me. 

The latest master piece from my students was a joint effort from all of them: a 60 cm X 80 cm Christmas card, made by creating a collage using drafts and leftovers from previous art class as well as drawings made specifically for this project.  
They started working on this after we tidied up the school the day after our Christmas concert.  As I was busy with the last of clean up when I heard snippets of their conversation:
"Elma, you can't look, we're making a surprise for you!" 
 "I found this bit of tinsel form the angel garland, we can decorate the angels and the wise men with it."
"This tells the Christmas story, just like our concert did."

Has anyone ever received a more thoughtful Christmas card?!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stained Glass Angels for Sand Bags

In the spring of 2011 our young people spent quite a bit of time volunteering their time to help with flood relief.  Often they would just pile into a vehicle and cruise around our neighbourhood to see who needed help and pitch in.  One day some of our Diene drove around with Joe, our field boss,  They happened upon a small farm just five miles west of us.  You would think since Elm River has been in existence for almost 80 years we would know everyone in our area.  Well... perhaps we do know most of our neighbours, but sometimes we just don't know where they live.  That was the case in this incident.  When the girls and Joe walked up to the farm owners and asked if they needed assistance,  "Yes!  How did you know I need help?"  the lady exclaimed.  They proceeded to tell her that they didn't know, they were merely offering their services to anyone in the area.  Sonia, my sister, felt the lady looked familiar and the way she spoke also  gave her the impression that she knew our people.  As they piled sand bags alongside her, Sonia discovered that the "lady" was former Brennan School art teacher, Leta Owens.

Since that spring day two years ago I've spoken with Leta several times and at each visit she mentioned that she'd like to do something for our community to show her appreciation.  I kept assuring her that payment wasn't necessary, that our people were just pleased to help out.  Leta was not to be dissuaded.  During our last visit, Leta offered to do a workshop with our student, to teach them how to make stained glass angels.  Not only did she volunteer her time, but also all of the materials, equipment and supplies needed for the project! 

This past Wednesday she spent the day here at Brennan School.  All of our kindergarten to grade seven students had a session with her.  Some of the older students learned how to solder, others wrapped lead around individual pieces of glass, still others manned the grinder, to smoothed away rough edges.  Our youngest students pitched in by lovingly washing and polishing each angels as it was completed.  Together we created almost three dozen angels!

The following day my grades 1 & 3 class slipped each stained glass angel into a zip-lock bag together with an angel gift tag and suction cup for hanging it in a special window. As we packed the angels, my students discussed the colours of the angels, admiring them as they held they held them up to the light.
This then lead into a math class.  We sorted the angels according to their colours and graphed the results.

The data told us that:
  • Red was the most popular angel colour.
  • Light green was the least popular colour.
  • We have 2 each of light blue, dark purple, orange, dark green and purple angels.
  • We have fewer light blue angels than pink ones.
  • We have more dark blue angels than clear ones.
  • All the angels are beautiful!
On the last day of school we will bundle up and hand deliver an angel to each family on our colony.  A Christmas gift not only from the students and staff at Brennan School, but from our stained glass angel instructor, Leta Owens.

Transforming sand into glass is a long, intricate process that takes time, skill and technology.  Who knew that in the span of two years sand bags could turn into stained glass angels!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Nativity Scenes

My grades 1 & 3 class have enjoyed creating nativity scenes these past few weeks.  Both came to me via Pinterest.  The first one is a paper version...
These are a simple cut and paste activity...

This summer we've enjoyed various types of ice cream and families saved their popsicle sticks for us.   Mostly, we've used them for counting and place value.  But when I saw this idea, I decided to expand our horizons :) !  We decided to add googly eyes to make them "come alive."  Fortunately we also had Haagen-Dazs ice cream, as sticks from these icy treats were ideal for the people and the manger.

The link for this project is as follows:

While these took just a bit more creativity.

Tomorrow we'll add a few words to the roof and take them home.