Flashlight by Lizi Boyd - an awesome wordless picture book

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd is a must have in your upper elementary classroom library! Here are some great ways that Alberta teachers can incorporate it into Science, Writing and Social Studies lessons.

Social Studies:

This is a beautiful book to use during your regions of Alberta unit! Students can infer which region of our province this book takes place in and can provide evidence.

If you teach grade 5, you could use this book when introducing the Rocky Mountain region of Canada.

English Language Learners:

Wordless picture books are an amazing resource for your English Language Learners! They generally love using them because there are no tricky words to decode and no hard vocabulary terms to decipher. They are simply able to use the words that they already know to describe the images! You could even have them write words for this book in their native tongue!


A very popular activity during reading workshop is to write the words of wordless picture books! I am all for this as it requires a huge amount of creative thinking and inferencing!


You could even use this book as an introduction to your light and shadows grade 4 science unit! It is the perfect provocation to get students questioning why we can see certain objects in the night. This leads beautifully to natural and man made sources of light (the flashlight and the moon). Plus it is a great opportunity to introduce the tricky vocabulary term “emit”.

If you would like to purchase this book, here is the link on Amazon! This is an affiliate link which means that Amazon throws a few pennies my way if you purchase through this link. This helps me to run my blog :)

I hope that you enjoy using this great book in your classroom!

best books for alberta teachers - flashlight wordless picture book

Using Picture Books to Introduce Students to Celebrations

One of my favourite aspects of Social Studies is introducing students to celebrations of various cultural groups. One of the BEST ways to introduce students to any concept, is through picture books!

This blog post contains affiliate links which means that amazon throws a few cents my way if you purchase the books below through my links. As always, I only recommend books and resources that I truly LOVE!

Here are some of my favourite picture books which introduce students to various cultural celebrations:

Lighting Our World: A Year of Celebrations provides you with a new celebration to show your students each month! For example, in January students will learn about the Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony. Then in October they will study Diwali. Each page is filled with great information and beautiful illustrations.

Celebrations Around the World: This is a great book for your English Language Learners! The text is simple to read and students are provided with scaffolds such as a glossary and pronunciation guides.

Canadian Celebrations: This is a great book to help students dive into celebrations which are uniquely Canadian. There are 5 different chapters, each one touching on a different celebration. The celebrations include: National Aboriginal Day, Thanksgiving, Canada Day, Calgary Stampede,  and Quebec Carnival.

If you are a Grade 4 Alberta teacher, all 3 of these books are suggested for use in my Social Studies Mini Unit - Examining Tourism and Recreation in Alberta. You can check out this engaging unit by clicking on the image below.

Have a sweet week!

Valentine's Day in the Upper Elementary Classroom!

Fun Valentine's Day Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom Digital Compliments Book

It's February... you know that that means! Valentine's Day! Here are some of my favourite activities that I hope you can use to celebrate in your upper elementary classroom!

With our big kids, it can be fun to focus on kindness throughout the week of Valentine's Day.

Fun Valentine's Day Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom

One way to do this it to spread Random Acts of Kindness!

Start by having students brainstorm all of the different things that they could do for people in the school that would be kind. Then they each pick one to write on their Random Act of Kindness Card. All of the cards go into a basket.  Click here to grab the FREE cards! Each morning, draw a Random Act of Kindness from their suggestions and students have until the end of the day to complete the challenge.

Here are some of suggestions that might help to get student ideas flowing:
    Fun Valentine's Day Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom
  • Make a Thank You card for the custodian
  • Ask someone new to play with you at recess
  • Say "good morning" or "hello" to every teacher today
Hopefully your students will end up suggesting that you do something nice for your buddy class or for some younger students. This is where my "Once I was a Heart" book comes in handy!
Head down to your buddy room with red construction paper, scissors, glue, photocopies and smiles :) 

Students can work with their buddies to help them create their "Once I was a Heart Books". The great part about these books is that once they have been assembled, students can continue to read them together for the rest of the year during buddy reading time!

Fun Valentine's Day Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom

Did you know that the movie Wonder comes out on DVD on February 13th 2018? It is a sign that we must watch it in our classrooms! The movie ties in perfectly with the idea of spreading kindness and your students will love comparing it to the book. I have created a set of critical thinking activities for students to complete both before and after watching the movie. This is a great way to incorporate some reading standards into your party! Best of all, it's only $2! Click on the image below to check out the resource. 

Wonder book and movie comparison activities! Perfect for teaching students 21st century literacy skills. Students will practice characterization, comparing and contrasting, predicting and more! Students will love watching the Wonder movie and comparing it to the original book by R.J. Palacio

After watching the movie, return to your classroom for some positive affirmations - Digital Style!

Your students will love creating digital compliment books! They will have a blast writing compliments for each other in their Google Slides Digital Books! Best of all, this product comes with a step-by-step teacher guide, perfect if you are new to using digital activities in your classroom! Click on the picture below to check it out!

Fun Valentine's Day Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom Digital Compliments Book

How will you spend Valentine's Day with your Upper Elementary Students?

Word Nerds - A Book Study

I am on a mission to learn more about vocabulary instruction so I picked "Word Nerds" by Overturf, Montgomery and Smith. If you are also reading this book, I would love for you to comment with your ideas and what you have learned!

Chapter 1:

The authors of this book start by explaining the difference between Tier 1, 2 and 3 words. 

Tier 1 Words: Words that students already know when they come to school (happy, play, desk).
Tier 2 Words: Words that students will likely encounter in their reading but don't know well (industrious, fortunate, absurd).
Tier 3 Words: Words that are domain specific (product, molecule).

The authors then go onto describe that Tier 1 words don't need to be taught at school as they are taught at home and Tier 3 words should be taught in content areas. That leaves us with teaching Tier 2 words during our vocabulary instruction. 

But this still begs the question...How do we teach these words?

Thankfully they start by listing some strategies that do and don't work. These weren't very surprising to me. 

1) Looking up words in the dictionary doesn't help! (Thank goodness because I find this to be a rather torturous process!)
2) Students can learn some words through the use of wide reading!
3) Students can learn new words through word play!

I am looking forward to having them fully describe the strategies that they use in more detail.

The final piece of this chapter discusses how students need a basic understanding of morphology. The authors suggest that students need to understand prefixes, suffixes, as well as greek and latin roots. 

Click HERE to check out a vocabulary lesson that you can use to reinforce the suffix "ed" with your upper elementary students or teach it to your primary students. 

Help your ell students and struggling learners understand the -ed suffix with this engaging mini lesson! Perfect for elementary classrooms! Uses the mentor text harry the dirty dog

Benefits of Interactive Read Aloud

Interactive Read Aloud time is an important component of Reading Workshop. It is an engaging and enjoyable period of time where all students gather to listen and learn from the same text. There are so many benefits to including Interactive Read Aloud into your already busy Language Arts Schedule. Here are some of the top benefits:
One of my favourite things to do during my reading block is to incorporate Science and Social Studies concepts. There are many amazing books out there that allow all students to reach grade level content in an enjoyable manner. For example, when introducing students to Residential Schools, reading Shi-shi-etko is one of my favourite activities. I love how this book allows students to develop empathy for others and a better understanding of a very complicated concept. In Science, my favourite series to use is from the Innovative Press. “How to Survive as a Shark” and “How to Survive as a Firefly” are both hilarious and very informative books. They are a hybrid between fiction and non fiction texts. Students enjoy the humor of the books and you will enjoy all of the scientific vocabulary and research skills that you can introduce!

Oftentimes English Language Learners are able to understand higher level texts than they can decode to access themselves. Interactive read aloud provides the perfect opportunity for those students to practice their higher level comprehension skills. By including turn and talk opportunities in your interactive read aloud, you provide ELL students with crucial oral language practice. Furthermore, if you read a book that incorporates Science or Social Studies concepts, it is a great way to frontload crucial vocabulary terms.

I love that after reading a text during read aloud time, I am able to reuse it for the rest of the yearduring small group instruction. Using mentor texts during reading strategy small groups is a super powerful teaching practice. However, in a 10 minute reading group, there is NOT time to read an entire mentor text. Therefore, once you have read a book during interactive read aloud time, it becomes the perfect text to incorporate into your strategy lessons. Students have already heard and interacted with the text and are therefore able to use it again, after only rereading one or two pages.

There are so many great reading strategies that students can practice during Interactive Read Aloud Time. You can think aloud to model skills like making connections and predicting. Students can turn and talk to practice inferring and identifying the main idea. The options are truly endless.

Are you interested in incorporating Interactive Read Aloud into your upper elementary classroom?Click on the pictures below to be taken to the interactive read aloud products in my TPT store. These lessons are very thorough and easy to follow. A great way to make your teacher life much easier!

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the benefits of interactive read aloud - an informational blog post for elementary and junior high teachers