Skip Counting Your Way Through Art

08 October 2021

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween
These Skip-Counting Spiderwebs are one of my best Halloween tricks (tips?) to keep your students focused and busy on Halloween day.  Seriously.  Let's face it - the excitement in the room makes it hard to settle, so it's not the time to start a brand new concept.  A few years ago I started to do this activity in the morning on Halloween, and we get in a great skip-counting practice and create an awesome art project with lines, shape, and repetition.  It's calming and mindful, and will take around an hour to complete.  Put on some low spooky music in the background, and your students will be engaged, working, QUIET, and learning.  

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween

Integrating math and art isn't scary on Halloween.  To start these spirographs, you need a circle divided into an even number of numbers (make a dot and write the number) around the ouside (1-18, 1-24, 1 - 30, etc.)  The higher your number of dots, the more intricate the pattern.

You have to use a ruler for this activity - if the lines aren't straight, it won't look right.  Also, I would usually get students to work first in pencil in art activities, but not on this one.  They will be drawing so many lines, they will have no desire to trace back over every line when they are done.  We use extra fine tip sharpie markers, but any extra fine pen tip will work.

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween

Starting at 1, skip count by 1 (dot to dot style), around the whole circle.  When you get back to the top (dot 30), start over, but this time skip count by 2s (join every second dot to dot).  Continue in this pattern, skip counting all the way around the circle (until you get back to the starting dot for every time around the circle).  

You can skip count all the way up to the twelves times table, or even further for a challenge.  Cut out around the circle (cutting off the numbers) when complete and glue your spiderweb down on some contrasting paper.

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween

To add a little extra Halloween flair to our spiderwebs, you can buy some spiders at the dollar store, or make them with pipe cleaners and googly eyes, and glue the legs down so that they are crawling across the webs.  These make an awesome Halloween display of learning!

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween

This art project isn't limited to Halloween though - brighten up your webs by using a different color for each skip count around the circle for a bright and beautiful spirograph!  Or start with an oval instead of a circle and create a gorgeous Easter Egg!!!  (I'm going to try this one next!)   Students can even color inside the little shapes made within the spirograph.

Click on any of the pictures in this post to take a peek at this Skip-Counting Halloween art lesson in my TpT Store.

Collaborative Resources as Important Discussion Starters

05 October 2021

With disrupted school years a few years in a row now, I noticed a few important conversations we needed to have much earlier than previous years.  These conversations have focused on being kind, showing our positive character, social media use, and using mindfulness.  Each of these resources or ideas gets your students reflecting on their opinions, feelings, or self-awareness of different attributes and once completed, are the perfect starting points for initiating whole group discussions.  Because students have already reflected on, tried, or talked about the activity, their discussions have been much richer and deeper ... and rewarding.

Runde's Room

My students have spent too much time online - for school AND social media.  I've been trying to reduce or balance the amount of technology my students are using in the classroom at the moment - instead choosing to complete more activities together, through discussions or with good old paper and pencil.  They are also talking about social media WAY more than they used to before.  What they saw, or did, or posted, or watched, or liked ... or whatever.  This Stick-It-Together Collaborative Activity for Social Media will help me start those important social media and internet safety lessons with students ... and will get them sharing their opinions and feelings in small groups, and in writing.  There are over 30 different social media reflection questions (on pros and cons of social media and different apps).  Each student will answer the question on a sticky note independently at first, then groups of 4 students will "stick" their answers together to build their best possible collaborative answer.  When groups are done, allow them some time to share their answers with the whole class - the perfect way to start an important conversation and let students share or defend their opinions.

Some days, thankfully not too many, I also have wondered if my students have completely forgotten ALL their positive character traits, and what makes them the fabulous students they are.  We have gone back to discussing exactly what the positive character traits look like, and how they can show how they are demonstrating them.  This Building Character Stick-It-Together Resource is another way you can have your students working collaboratively to reinforce their good character skills, and brainstorm ways to demonstrate these skills around the classroom and school.

As we have been discussing how important is to BE KIND ALWAYS, I also introduced some kindness rewards into the class.  I purchased some vinyl laptop stickers on Amazon, and added them into my pocket chart for some "Kind Sticks" rewards.  We have a daily kindness challenge posted on the board every morning, and when students complete the challenge, they initial the board.  Right before our last recess, I ask students to share what kind act they did, and how it made them feel.  Sometimes I post individual challenges like, "Do a favour for 3 classmates today", and sometimes it will be a whole class challenge, "Do something well as a class to earn a compliment from a different staff member (not me)".  They are loving these stickers, and are using them to cover their notebooks, folders, binders, and water bottles.

And lastly, I'm not sure if it's just my class, but the ENERGY these kids returned to school with is amazing.  I am exhausted!  They seem like they can just keep going and going and going.  Our energy is usually quite high after we come in for recess or after lunch, and it's taking a bit to settle after transitions.  I knew I wanted to start some mindfulness activities in the classroom, so I created a Cursive (and Printing) Writing Practice Mindfulness Activity (because multi-tasking is my life ... even during mindful moments).  The resource also contains all the same sheets for regular printing practice as well). These pages will give your students explanations for mindfulness as well as many short mindfulness tips and activities they can try in the classroom and outside of it.  With so many of our students needing a little extra mental health self-care, using mindfulness is a wonderful way to reduce anxiety, stress, and learn to self-regulate better.

Truth and Reconciliation Week in the Classroom

03 October 2021


This week was Truth and Reconciliation Week in Canada.  Although officially recognized over one week, these are conversations and teachings that should happen throughout the school year, not just one week, or one day.  Reconciliation is about building relationships and respect, and that just cannot be reduced to a week.

I wanted to share some of the activities, readings, and discussions I had with my Grade 5/6 class this year, mainly inspired by this resource, Every Child Matters.  After reading the book Trudy's Rock Story, and discussing how Trudy uses rocks to relieve her anger and release her feelings, we decided that making our own Resilience Rocks could help us process some of our feelings about Canada's history, mainly anger and confusion, and by placing them back on the Earth, we could release some of the feelings and remember to act.

Tuesday we started painting our rocks orange while I read the story, I am Not a Number.  (We used acrylic paint - I would suggest spray paint - we had to do many many coats of acrylic paint, and them still seal them).  We also watch a video from residential school survivor, Lillian Elias, and then used orange sticky notes to send her a message.

Wednesday we sealed the rocks with an outdoor mod podge.  We did this BEFORE they wrote on them, otherwise the sharpie marker would pull the paint off when we wrote.  We read the story, When I was Eight, and wrote some more reflections on sticky notes.

Thursday was Truth and Reconciliation Day and Orange Shirt Day.  For art in the morning, we looked at beautiful examples of Indigenous Art and Artists - current and past.  We worked on Canada Goose Drawings, inspired by Benjamin Chee Chee.  We chose the Canada Goose because we liked how they inspired flight - and they may have to move or leave for a bit, but they always come back, stronger. I let the students use their laptops to look at different images while they drew their own.  These turned out stunningly.  Even mine - and I usually struggle with a stick figure.

We had been talking about what message we wanted to share on Orange Shirt Day on our Resilience Rocks, and had brainstormed a long list over the week.  Some students wanted to apologize, others wanted to send a word of support or strength, and some just wanted to share their beliefs that every child really does matter.  We knew we would placing the rocks around our school yard and school community and we wanted to choose something that would inspire continuing to spread this message - that every child matters and why we need to understand why.

In the afternoon we took a 2.15 km walk (for the 215 children found in Kamloops) and placed our Resilience Rocks around the school community.  As we walked in our orange shirts, we were careful to spread them out around our route so we could share our messages with our small community.  I told my students that if they were able, it would be nice to bring their grown-ups to where they placed their rocks earlier, and tell them about our learning and their reflections from the week.

Our last day was spent working on the writing reflection, "If I was given a $1000 budget to plan an Orange Shirt Day event at my school, this is what I would do."

Again, this was our week of Truth and Reconciliation activities in the classroom, but our conversations won't end at the end of the week.  This acknowledgement and promise to learn the truth will continue throughout our whole year of curriculum.

If you are looking to add more indigenous-themed books and authors to your classroom, HERE is a good place to get started.

How were some ways you observed Truth and Reconciliation week at your school?

New School Year and Dusting Off the Blog

26 September 2021

 Hello.  Remember me?  I've been wanting to get back into blogging for a while now, but I guess it doesn't magically happen unless I actually write a post.

So, if I'm dusting off this blog, I should start at the beginning of the year with my back to school room tour.  

I started my 21st year of teaching in a straight 6 with 19 students ... a dream too good to be true ... and it was.  Two weeks later, I was reorganized into a 5/6 split with 25 students.  

I am still at the same wonderful school, but my classroom was newly constructed last year.  A bright, beautiful new space, but it still has all the nooks and crannies and slanted walls that make it just the perfect amount of quirky and fun.

Last year I started a cactus theme in my classroom because, truth be told, I was a little prickly about returning face to face in the middle of the pandemic.  I kept the cacti this year, and added in a few more plant pieces ... and plan on continuing to add throughout the year.  As you walk into my classroom, I have a few reminders and favourite quotes to start to set the tone.  All the plant stickers in the classroom are vinyl wall stickers I found on Amazon.

Our Wonder Calendar, a class photo from when the students were in JK/SK, and a real spider plant.  The hanging file folder now has Monday - Friday files, and that is where I place our extra handouts from the week for absent students.

On the wall are little sticky hexagon corkboards.  Perfect for quick notes, posting exit slips, or photos.  These were on Amazon, as well.

This side of my room has our World Map (again, a vinyl wall sticker from Amazon), my math bulletin board, and my science and math cubbies.  The labelled coloured drawers under the World Map contain all our community supplies in the classroom.

This is my beautiful reading shelf.  I keep some of my favourite small sets on novels on here, and my go-to picture book mentor texts, and a bit more inspiration because this book shelf just makes me happy.

The little cacti that line the window are artificial (but the other plants are real).  My students decorated the pots and will get to bring them home at the end of the year.  (I also have a crush on Einstein).

This is the front of my classroom.  Three big whiteboards.  The left one is used mainly for inclass work and notes.  The middle one is for the projector.  And the right one is used for our daily agenda, homework, and any other important daily notes and reminders.  

Underneath all the whiteboards is my classroom library.  I personally don't love the shelves on the floor like this because the students have to do a weird sit/shuffle thing to peruse the titles, but it works.  My books are mainly set up by genre (one genre per shelf), with a couple full shelves dedicated to one author.

This wall is our interactive writing and art portfolio.  Each student has their own spot, and all of their published writing and completed art pieces line this wall.  Each time a student finishes a new piece, it is pinned on top of the older pieces, creating a portfolio students can go through to see their growth.  At the end of the year, I bind all these pieces into a little book for them to take home.  (This pic was from when I only had 19 students, there are now 25 proud spots on the board.)  Below that space are more bookshelves for more of my classroom library.  (And I think I'm going to need even more room).

And lastly, at the very back of my classroom is the cutest little writing desk.  Our chromebooks sit back there, so this is the perfect quiet space for my students to use voice to text tech, or work on something quietly for a bit.  We have some more community supplies back there, as well.  The "wallpaper" on the wall is yet another vinyl wall sticker, and I purchased some matching stools.

For the finishing touch, on the first day of school, we made my Back to School Cactus Craftivity.  These line the top of my high bulletin board at the front of the room and will stay here all year - because I love them, and the bulletin board is too high to change frequently.  haha.

I love my little home away from home - it's bright, has neutral colours, plants to clean the air, and is just a happy place to be.  Building an environment my students feel comfortable and at-home in is my first step every year to start to build our caring classroom community.

Below you can find some of the resources I used in my classroom set-up that are available in my TpT store.  Click on any of them to take a closer look:

Interactive Math Mat Warm-Ups for Upper Grades

17 August 2020
Runde's Room:  Interactive Math Mats for Upper Grades
I started using math mats as a quick warm-up activity last year for metric conversions.  It was a HUGE hit for all of us in the class.  The amount of visualizing and processing that happened in a short amount of time was amazing, and my students loved the interactive nature of it.  I loved that it gave me a quick comprehension check, and I could easily take note of which students needed a little extra reinforcement, and which concepts could benefit from more teaching.

Runde's Room:  Interactive Math Mat Warm-Ups
I shared this math warm-up idea on my Instagram account in March last year.  I made up a "Which is Greater" and "Which is Less" page and then wrote down a variety of measurements on little flashcards I cut up.  I also gave each student a little card with A on one side and B on the other.  For a quick warm-up (or review at the end of the lesson), I projected the math mat under my document camera.  I had all the measurement cards shuffled together in a pile.  Randomly flip two cards, saying, "Which is Greater - A or B?"  Give a little wait time and then have students hold up their cards at the same time with the correct letter facing out so you can see (if they hold up their cards in front of their chest and not in the air, it helps to not "sway" other answers in the class).  
We used this warm-up at the beginning of every class during our measurement unit with great success ... and then ... COVID.  lol.  So ... when I started to plan for this year (returning face to face in September ... have a wee bit of nervous energy to burn), I knew I wanted to create a set of math mats for place value, as well.

Runde's Room:  Interactive Math Mat Warm-Up Activities

These new Interactive Math Mat Resources can be used as math warm-ups or reviews, with a small group in a guided math lesson, or as a math station.  In these resources, I have included 6 different math mats to compare and order quantities, A/B and True/False answer cards for the students, and a huge quantity of number cards already prepped for you.  Just print and cut.  (I store these cards in a plastic baggie and use a binder clip to clip the bag to the math mats, which I laminate).  I have also included entrance and exit slips for all of the concepts covered in the resources so you can track students' progress at the beginning at end of the unit or mini-unit.

These math mat resources also come in a digital/printable combo version, if you're returning virtually this fall.  The digital resource contains a variety of math mats and interactive number cards so students can drag the cards over to complete the inequality statements.

Runde's Room:  Digital Math Mat Activities

You can take a peek at my newest Math Mat Resources HERE, or click on the pictures of the individual resources below.

Runde's Room:  Place Value Interactive Math Mats
The Place Value Math Mat Resource contains a set of number cards for decimals and whole numbers (from the thousandths to the millions).  Both sets contain a variety of numbers in standard, written, and expanded form.  

Runde's Room:  Metric Conversion Interactive Math Mats
The Metric Units Math Mat Resource contains three sets of quantity cards - for length, capacity and mass.  Metric prefixes include:  mm, cm, dm, m, km, mg, g, kg, mL, L, and kL.  
The Fraction Math Mat Resource contains mats for two different fraction skills:  Comparing Fractions and Operations with Fractions.  Fraction cards are in picture, number, and word form.