Kenton Girls Carpool Karaoke EDU Edition – Episode 1: Project Based Learning

Here’s our first official episode of Carpool Karaoke EDU Edition – 5(ish) reasons why we love project-based learning!

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Kenton Girls Carpool Karaoke EDU Edition – Prequel

The Kenton Girls have started a new form of reflecting and sharing thanks to inspiration from our fellow Microsoft Expert Educator, Brian Aspinall.  Check out his post on Carpool Karaoke Education Edition!  Here’s our intro:

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A Polar Bear Project

Our latest collaborative project is well underway!  The grade 1s are looking forward to participating in the World Wildlife Fund Polar Bear Walk, which they have planned in partnership with the Oak Lake Community School Kindergarten class and a group of Brandon University Faculty of Education students. We hope that we can raise awareness about the problems polar bears are having due to global warming and we’d like to make a small donation to support the World Wildlife Fund’s work with polar bears.

About the Polar Bear Walk – quoted from

“Every year, polar bears in Hudson Bay walk up to 5,000 kilometres across the Arctic sea ice in the search for food and to raise their cubs. But the sea ice on which they depend is changing, and in some cases disappearing altogether. To help the polar bears that make their home on the ever shrinking expanse of sea ice, Sean Hutton founded the first Polar Bear Walk in 2013 when he was just seven years old! Join Sean in symbolically walking alongside the polar bear in our first-ever national Polar Bear Walk. Whether you walk 1km or 5km, you will double your impact for polar bears by raising awareness about rapid climate change and collecting toonies (which feature the iconic species) to combat the threats to their survival.”

About our Project-Based Learning

When we focus our classroom learning on a project such as this, it is called project-based learning. Students develop skills and knowledge that will help them meet their project goals. As an educator, I decide what curriculum connections can be made and which lessons to teach that will help students meet grade 1 goals while also working on their project.  Project-based learning is typically very engaging and exciting for students, plus students learn to be active citizens because they are making a difference with their project.

The project is a great example of the interdisciplinary learning that is possible with project-based learning. As part of this project, we have been doing lots of research on polar bears. We are reading books, watching videos and writing about what we’ve learned. We hope to publish a class book about polar bears soon! Since we are working on this project with another class, we are “taking notes” together using a tool called OneNote. We’ve also had the chance to hear from some guest speakers via video call. Mr. Andy McKiel shared stories and photos from his trip to visit the polar bears in Churchill, MB. An interpreter from the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody, Wyoming taught us all about animal adaptations.  Our science learning has focused on the needs and characteristics of living things, so that is also a great fit with this project. We are learning about what living things need to survive, how humans and other animals are the same and different and which life processes living things have in common. Polar bears have even become part of our art! We have created some cute polar bear crafts and we are learning to draw polar bears too. As we prepare for our walk, we are designing posters to carry with us with important messages to raise awareness.




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Our Pattern Pictures

This week, we connected with our partner classroom, the Oak Lake Community School Kindergarten class, via video call.  After a quick review of the student-generated guidelines for a great video call from last week, we focused on a patterning lesson.  The grade 1s in my class were able to explain what they know about patterns and they helped teach the Kindergartens about patterns.  I was pleased to hear my grade 1s explaining that “patterns repeat over and over” and the grade ones capably started patterns for the Kindergartens to extend.  We shared patterns orally and using actions, then asked the other class to extend the pattern.  Our classes agreed to use the non-verbal signal of a thumbs up to show if the pattern was extended correctly in the other classroom.

I issued a challenge to complete a follow up patterning activity after the call.  The challenge was to go on a “pattern hunt” to find and photograph patterns.  After a quick lesson on how to take a photograph on our class devices, students in my classroom worked in pairs or groups of 3 to find examples of patterns in our classroom.  Students found patterns in clothing, on backpacks and pencil cases and around the room.

Below is the Sway presentation our class created with the photographs from both classes.  We also included photos from our earlier work in creating patterns.  Students were excited to share this presentation with their families during the school open house!

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A Brand New Year in Our Connected Classrooms!

We had our first video call with Mrs. Obach’s Grade 1 class in Hamiota today. We had some difficulty with our video calling tools so we ended up alternating between Google Hangouts and Facebook video caller (our network settings kept blocking my video camera). Both are excellent options for collaboration…Facebook has fantastic video quality and Google Hangouts has the ability to share your screen with the other members of the call. Skype remains a favourite tool, but isn’t set up on my new computer.

Leah and I decided that it was important to connect early in the year and establish norms for video calls. The students worked together to generate a list. Mrs. Obach’s Grade 1s took responsibility for recording our ideas, and my kindergarten students added images to the list.

Take a look at our guidelines for a good video call!


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10 Yoga Poses for Back to School

As we head back to school, we are excited and energized for another great year of collaboration and learning.  Devon and I are both very passionate educators that believe strongly in doing our best for our students.  Sometimes the whirlwind of teaching, presenting, learning and “life” can leave us feeling pretty depleted. In the past, we often didn’t know how to recharge when we were feeling overwhelmed.  In recent years, we’ve come to recognize the importance of self-care and one way we’ve been looking after ourselves is by practising yoga.   Devon and I work together in many ways, so this year we decided to start off our collaboration by sharing a set of yoga poses for back to school.  Devon is a certified hatha yoga teacher, so she carefully selected this set of poses to help teachers foster some key characteristics that educators will need to be successful this school year.  If you decide to try the poses, we’d love to read your comments and see photos of your yoga poses on social media this fall!

2016 Back to School Yoga - Page 001.jpg

Download the PDF version here or the printer-friendly grayscale version here.

If you are unfamiliar with any of these poses, some of our favourite yoga resources for pose tutorials and online classes are:

Do You Yoga –

Bad Yogi Official Webpage –


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Making a Maker Faire…and a Yoga Festival Too: Part 1

If you are a regular reader of Kindergarten Diva, you’ll know that my kindergarten students love yoga. They’ve been passionate about it since I first started teaching them in December. In May, I discovered another thing that they really love, and that is making. After attending Riding the Wave in Gimli, my teaching partner Leah Obach and I were inspired to do more with maker space in our classrooms. Like most of our projects, it soon took on a life of its own with our young learners in the driver’s seat.

Leah and I introduced the concept of making one morning in our weekly Skype call, We discussed how everyone is a maker, and shared some of the things that Leah and I like to make. Boys and girls then shared with each other what they liked to make, and we made a promise to each other to try maker space that coming week and report back to each other the following Friday. This Skype accountability with our partner class is key in ensuring that we follow through with our plans!

We assembled materials with a visit to the Co-op for cardboard boxes and scoured the supply room and the recycling bins. For added inspiration, we viewed Caine’s Arcade on YouTube, which they absolutely loved. After a discussion of safety and scissor/stapler use, I let them loose. Take a look at the high levels of engagement, creativity, and problem-solving in this short video!

Very quickly, making became my young learners’ favourite thing to do. At Miniota School, our buses drop off half an hour before school starts. If I wasn’t in the room when my students arrived, I would find them already making, choosing to work on their creations instead of go outside and play or eat breakfast. It was impossible to contain their enthusiasm….or the mess that was taking over our classroom!

Here is what I learned about making with young children:

-safety comes first (for example, no stabbing into boxes with scissors when someone is inside the box!)

-provide long blocks of time a couple of times a week, as once they get started they don’t want to stop. And, I’d rather clean up a huge mess once or twice a week then a smaller mess on a daily basis.

-don’t place limits on what they can make

-don’t do it for them

-photograph their creations

-embrace the chaos and marvel at all the amazing learning happening!

-develop a system for organizing and storing supplies (one teacher I read about uses green dots for materials the students have free access to and a red dot for materials they need to ask to use)

Leah’s students were experiencing the same passion for making, and of course this turned into another collaborative project. Our boys and girls decided they wanted to host a maker faire where they could make things together, and teach other people about making. My students took the lead on this project, and we decided to host it in our school, as Mrs. Obach’s class took the lead and hosted the Code-a-thon. As both of our classes also love yoga. we made the decision to host our maker faire on International Day of Yoga so that we could have a yoga festival in the afternoon.

As always, we followed a project-based learning model–students taking the lead, collaborating and creating with technology, and involving multiple partners. As teachers, Leah and I helped the students to “uncover” more of the curricula, providing interdisciplinary lessons as needed to help the students move the project forward. Regular Skype calls allowed us to each take on different tasks, report back to each other, and make decisions about the maker faire and International Day of Yoga Festival.

We used shared writing to compose this letter to our principal:

Although we are young, we love yoga clothes. and we decided to ask Inner Fire and Lululemon if they would support our yoga festival. This was an excellent opportunity to talk about persuasive writing, and we developed a little presentation using Haiku Deck. Inner Fire was amazing, responding instantly and providing prizes and a free yoga tank for me! Wow!

Hello there Inner Fire! 

Our next job was to create invitations. We used Microsoft Publisher to make these simple cards, and also exported them as a PDF to email to faraway guests. QR codes on the back of the invitations provided links to movies and more information.

We made an extensive guest list and addressed and decorated the envelopes. We used tally marks to see how many stamps we would need to buy and how many could be hand-delivered.

As for every project a to do list guides us and acts as a plan.

With our Grade 1 friends, we brainstormed a list of materials that we wanted for making. We divided up the list, making decisions about who was responsible for getting the items. We also put out a plea on social media for donations. 

We collaboratively developed this schedule for the day and a list of healthy snacks. We decided to ask our parents to donate snacks, and they were wonderful to provide everything we needed. We asked Mr. Lewis (our principal) for a budget to buy ingredients to make punch. This led to some excellent math learning.

We walked to the Co-op and shopped for supplies.

We made playdough for one of our maker activities at the maker faire.

One of the activities I was most excited about was mapping the gym, as it brought in social studies, numeracy, and ELA outcomes in a very authentic way. We paced out the gym, counting our steps, then drew and labelled this map on the SMART Board. This map was later posted in the gym to help us set up. 

Developing a job chart was much anticipated by the boys and girls! They decided that the boys would act as greeters at the door and the girls would preside over the guest book and snack table.

We were also lucky enough to enlist the help of our Grades 7/8 class and Hamiota Collegiate student council (some of whom attend my yoga classes in Kenton) for our yoga festival.

And after a frantic last day of preparations, the gym was set up and we were as ready as we were ever going to be! Stay tuned for a second post about the actual event, and tips for running your own maker faire and yoga festival!

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