Coming in Fall 2017 : Little Bits drop-in times at the library

I’m very excited to be planning a number of new drop-in events that will be happening throughout the year at the Library Commons here at Hawhorne!

One regular drop-in time will be for gr.3 – 9 students to use Little Bits.  Imagine a set of electronics as easy to play with as Legos. Have you seen these amazing electronic building blocks!?

Image result for little bits

“TED Fellow Ayah Bdeir introduces littleBits, a set of simple, interchangeable blocks that make programming as simple and important a part of creativity as snapping blocks together.” :

See them in action:

We will be having drop in times a couple times a month for students to come in and work with these Little Bits blocks to invent and learn more about how circuits work.  Who’s excited?!

Childhood Regained by Jodie Renner


We have a new anthology of short stories in the library just in time for planning for the 2017/18 school year!

According to Jodie Renner’s website, “CHILDHOOD REGAINED – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers, SCHOOL EDITION is a perfect ready-made resource for
your unit on world issues and global awareness. The package has all you’ll need – stories, comprehension questions and answers, student activities, factual information, glossary, related ministry expectations, and more. This collection of compelling stories about child labourers in South Asia makes an excellent additional resource for Grades 4 to 10 Social Studies programs, to complete expectations revolving around human rights and global issues that need our attention.

These eye-opening but hopeful stories and a poem bring to life some of the situations faced by millions of young children working long hours with little or no pay in factories, mines, quarries, and commercial farms in Asia.

These captivating fictional stories have been researched and written by talented authors around the world and organized and edited by a former middle-grade teacher and teacher-librarian. Told through the voices of Asian child workers in various situations, they are the perfect medium to engage your students and help them gain awareness of the situations of many of their peers across the globe.”

In the TLA library, we have the main book with ALL the stories but we also have the Student Edition for grades 4 – 6 and the Student Edition for grades 6 – 8 where the stories are seperated into grade-appropriate interest levels.  We also have the Canadian Teacher’s Guide to loan.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Here’s a great unit to keep kids’ interest as we start seeing more signs of spring that make it hard to concentrate!


More specifically : Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This unit is not your basic read and answer compehension questions.  There are lots of ways to delve a little deeper into the novel and complete some unique assignments along the way.  This unit has the potential to be a combination of Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.  These subject areas are listed separately in the unit, however, planning ahead to determine which projects and activities work best together is recommended.  You could easily study candy and chocolate all day for a couple weeks at least!  Yum!

Check it out here.

Ask your Home teacher to request some of these additional resources from the TLA library after checking out the unit study link above!

Rookie Read-About Science: Beans to Chocolate From Cocoa Bean to Chocolate  Make It: Chocolate (library bound)Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 40th Anniversary EditionWho Was Milton Hershey?Candy Experiments



February Scholastic Orders

The deadline for Scholastic orders from February AND March flyers (when they come out) is Friday, February 24.

Here are some links and suggestions for the February flyer :

Grade 6 & 7

Story of the My Life Biography Pack : 5 biographies for $10 !  Here are four of them:

Byrd & Igloo: An Arctic Adventure by Samantha Seiple (October 01,2013)I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition)This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs

Grade 4 & 5

Favourite Authors Value Pack : 5 for $10  – These are some of my favourite authors!  Gary Paulsen, Avi, Kate DiCamillo, etc.  Looks like a great pack of books!

This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing DinosaursCatch You Later, TraitorListen, SlowlyRaymie Nightingale Save Me a Seat

Grade 2 & 3

Check out the Mystery Money Cash Register for $14.99. Often families want to borrow money resources but unfortunately, plastic coins are now a consumable item.  This is a really inexpensive option to purchase through this month’s Scholastic flyer.

Kindergarten & Grade 1

If You Give… Pack – $9.99 // This is a classic series that started with “If You Give A Mouse a Muffin” by Laura Numeroff.  She’s written many books in this series.  There are absolutely tons of fun activities to go with these Laura Numerof books.  Here’s a link to my favourite site – Teachers Pay Teachers – lots of freebies there.

If You Take a Mouse to SchoolIf You Give a Pig a Pancake If You Give a Moose a Muffin

Animation, movies, and computer resources: we have it all!

We’ve recently had a number of awesome resources returned to the library  and what better place to show them than here on the blog!?  If you’re interested in borrowing any of these, please let your Home teacher know and I will set them aside for you!


The Animator’s Survival Kit : A Manual of Methods, Principles, and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion, and Internet Animators by Richard Williams

animator's survival kit

Stop Motion Animation : How to Make and Share Creative Videos by Melvyn Ternan

stop motion

Learning Blender : A Hands-on Guide to Creating 3D Animated Characters by Oliver Villar

learner blender

(also another book to borrow from us about Blender – Game Development with Blender by Dalai Felinto )


Movie Making Course // 2nd edition Expanded and Updated for the Digital Generation by Ted Jones

movie making


3 Adobe “Classroom in a Book” official training workbooks :

adobe photoshop adobe plash adobe pro

  1. Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 edition
  2. Adobe Flash Professional CC 2014 edition
  3. Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014 edition

Canadian History Through Comic-Style Books

japanese internmentthefamousfivethelastspikeinthecprtheoctobercrisis


Here’s a new spin on Canadian history!  These defining moments in Canadian history are explored through comic-book style illustrations and story.  I LOVE these books for their engaging spin on specific events in our history and as described in this review, “Although the format of these books lends itself toward high interest-low vocabulary students, the material is presented in a manner that can lend itself to stimulating higher level discussions and debate.”.

Check out a sample of the books here.

Genre Spotlight : Biography

My son is now seven years old and if you were to ask him what types of books he likes, he’d be quick to say that he likes “true stories” aka. biographies.  Yes, there are lots of children’s picture books in the biography genre and we’ve learned about all kinds of interesting people in history through this medium.  It’s great to expose kids to many different literature genres at a young age – you never know what they will be interested in!

I loved focusing on one genre a month when I was a classroom teacher so I thought I could bring some of my genre-teaching enthusiasm to the the Library Commons blog for a couple weeks.  This week, I want to share some library’s resources for teaching about biographies.

One way to incorporate biographies into home learning is to find the biography of a person who has been prominent in studying the same topic your child might be studying in science or art.  What a great cross-curriculuar opportunity!

For example, is your child interested in inventing things or are you teaching about sound & light? We have a new Thomas Edison Biography Book Kit in the TLA library right now including a book with 21 Edison invention-related activities (request the kit for a month loan by emailing your Home teacher). Kit includes 1 picture book, 2 DVDs, 2 easy-reader books, 1 novel, and 1 activity books with 21 projects.

    Thomas Edison Interactive DVDEdison : The Wizard of Light    

At an additional cost of $1.60, you could purchase and print a copy of this Thomas Edison foldable activity for grades 1 – 3.

We have lots of biographies on the shelf at a variety of different reading levels.  Here are just a few:


Wondering if we have the biography that you’re looking for?  Search our library system here.

Historica Canada has created a huge series of biography videos that are about 45 minutes long and can be found on their website : .  We also carry a series of books called The Canadians which feature the following Canadians: Gabriel Dumont, Tom Longboat, Wilfried Laurier, John A. MacDonald, Lester B. Pearson, Laura Secord, Emily Carr, Crowfoot, and Alexander Graham Bell.


Now you’ve chosen to focus on biographies, what now?  Here are a few ideas that I found online that you could use with any biography:

Create a lapbook with this unit for $2.40 from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Research a person in history and write your own biography for them!  Scholastic’s Writer’s Workshop on Biography

Keep track of all the biographies you read by filling in a Biography Report free from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Read a biography and create a graphic novel of this person’s life using some of these free comic templates from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Compare and contrast TWO biographies of the same person using these graphic organizers for $4.00 at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Add some visual arts to your project and create a biography bottle!

Image result for biography bottle

Learning about Residential Schools through memoir : Two new novels in the library

“On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology to former residential school students on behalf of all Canadians. His statement recognized that the primary purpose of the schools had been to remove children from their homes and families in order to assimilate them into the dominant culture. Such a policy, he said, was wrong, and had no place in this country.” pg.2 of They Came For The Children – The Truth & Reconciliation Commission Of Canada

Because this is a piece of Canadian history, it is an important subject to learn more about. I have realized, through reading this article by The Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada, that there is so much about residential schools that I had not yet learned. As a parent and teacher, I highly recommend reading the article afore mentioned which can be found here but for students, an excellent way to approach this subject is through memoir.

Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton is the true story of Margaret Pokiak’s experience in a residential school in the 1940s. Margaret was eager to learn to read and chose to leave her village in the high Arctic in order to do so. “At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls — all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school.” (exerpt from this review) Fatty Legs is a short chapter book and complemented by many archival photographs which makes Margaret’s experience and time period more tangible to the reader. Many reviews of the novel can be found here.

Fatty Legs was published in 2010 and since then, many teachers have used it as a novel study for grades six and seven. If you search “Fatty Legs novel study”, lots of ideas and documents can be found. I discovered a webinar with the authors that was very interesting to listen to here. Additionally, on this website, there’s a part two portion of the webinar where a teacher talks about how she’s used Fatty Legs in the classroom. This would be easily adapted for teaching at home.

If you decide to read Fatty Legs, I’d recommend also reading A Stranger At Home. This is the sequel to Fatty Legs in which Margaret returns to her home on Banks Island two years later. Excited to return home and with no plans to go back to her school, Margaret is expecting a great welcome but instead, her mother greets her by shouting, “Not my girl!” upon seeing Margaret. She has lost her name, her language, and even her taste for her native foods. Through relearning her family’s customs and heritage, Margaret discovers what it means to be true to herself and to the ways of her people. Again, this is another story highlighted with archival photographs and artwork that paint a picture in the reader’s mind.

As highlighted in the October TLA Newsletter and my previous blog post, these novels would be a great addition to Righting Canada’s Wrongs : Residential Schools.

Righting Canada’s Wrongs : new series of books in the library

NEW to our library, the Righting Canada’s Wrongs series is a new hardcover book series that focuses on discrimination and justice in Canadian history.  Titles include Residential Schools, The Japanese Internment, and The Chinese Head Tax.  These books are based on events in Canadian history where governments “have acknowledged and apologized for racist actions and policies”. The books are written at a grade 4 – 6 reading level but will interest students in older grades as well – likely, even parents!   They combine historical information with documents, photos, and first-person accounts which make them very engaging.

The publisher has a fantastic website where you can check out the titles available, watch videos related to each book, and download a free user guide pdf!