Coming in Fall 2018 : 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?!

Charlie and the Choclate 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



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


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

Project-Based Homeschooling parent resources = some summer reading!

Student resources are slowly beginning to be returned this month and as a librarian, I can’t tell you how fun this part is!  I’m getting to see a lot more of what the TLA library has that has simply been in homes all year.  A couple books have come back today that I wanted to highlight here.  These ones are for parents!

Who hasn’t heard the buzz words : “project-based learning” and “problem-based learning” around schooling these days?  It’s part of the core of our Innovations program at TLA and the new BC Ed Plan encourages it!

If you’re asking, “What IS this project-based learning?”, here’s a great book that we have in library and can be checked out for a 3 week loan in the summer: Project-Based Homeschooling – Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

 Read all about it on their Project-Based Homeschooling website.

Another teacher/parent resource that we have on our shelves is Problems As Possibilities : Problem-Based Learning for K – 16 Education.

If you have other great resources for parents on this topic, please comment to share with us!

New Book Series : Early Canadian Life

We are excited to introduce a new series of books to the TLA library which will be ready to be checked out for the 2016/17 school year: Early Canadian Life.  This social studies book series could also be a great addition to reading novels about pioneers such as Little House on the Prarie or Sarah, Plain and Tall.



As described by Valerie Nielsen in CM Magazine:

     “With pioneer life ensconced as a topic in the early years’ social studies curriculum, it is not surprising to find the Weigl Educational Publishing firm coming up with a series of information picture books on life in early Canada. Each of the glossy hardcover books in the series is 24 pages long and examines the differences between life today and life in pioneer days. The text is made up of short, easy to read paragraphs interspersed with photographs (most from the National Archives) captions and small nuggets of information encapsulated in a “Did you know?” frame in every chapter.

     Each book begins with an introduction which is designed to give children a sense of how different (and indeed, how difficult) it was for the early settlers in Canada.

     Following the introduction, each book is made up of nine chapters plus a glossary and index on the last page. Words defined in the glossary appear in bold text throughout the volume. Chapters are short (just a double page spread), and many contain a vivid first-hand account of life in earlier times.

     Each book in the series concludes by presenting a “Then and Now” Venn diagram which helps readers compare and contrast past and present aspects of the topic being discussed. Students are invited to copy the diagram and see if they can come up with other similarities and differences between present day and pioneer times.

     The “Early Canadian Life” series…are likely to catch and hold the interests of contemporary youngsters. These books should prove a useful resource for primary teachers and a valuable addition to [learning about] pioneer life for seven to ten year olds.”

Teaching with the Dear Canada series and I Am Canada series

If you have a child in grades four – seven, you have likely heard of the Dear Canada series (which I highly recommend for SS/LA).  These books are historical fiction, written in diary format by a main character during a specific historic event or time period.  Some titles that we have in the TLA library include:

dear canada 2 dear canada 3 dear canada 4 dear canada

…just to name a few!  But did you know that Scholastic has created multiple teaching resources called Teaching With Dear Canada ?  These are non-consumable resources that you can order through your Home teacher from the TLA library.  We have volumes 1 – 4 and each of them focus on 4 Dear Canada novels.  They give a timeline of Canadian history, story summaries, lists of thought-provoking discussion questions and engaging extension activity ideas.


Dear Canada also has a brother series called, I Am Canada (also highly recommended).  The main characters are boys and aimed at ages 9 – 12.

So far, we just have 2 titles in our library but I hope to be adding more in the coming year.

i am canada 2 i am canada

Scholastic has posted discussion guides for each I Am Canada book on their site.   Watch a video about this new series of books here on the Scholastic website.

Incorporating language arts and social studies by reading historical fiction is a great way to pique a child’s interest in history in a way that they can begin to understand what it might have been like during those periods of time.  I hope that you and your child will have a chance to check out some of these titles in the coming the school year.

ITTT Boards in the library: check them out!

We are slowly but surely increasing the number of consumable resources that we have in stock as samples for teachers and parents to check out in person.  Who doesn’t love flipping through the pages of a workbook or opening the box of a board game in person instead of purchasing online based on the cover and a written description!?

A TLA Learning Support Services (formally known as Special Needs) teacher  suggested we have a couple of these Independent Tactile Teaching Tools (or ITTT) Boards in the library for parents and teachers to see in person.   What are they?



According to their website,, “ITTT Boards promote independent learning through literacy and numeracy activities. Learners are given the opportunity to practice and advance these skills daily with the use of our calendar board and activity board. Once the target learning goal is introduced (i.e. ordering numbers), ITTT Boards allow learners to review their tasks and work at their own pace without more assistance from the teacher.  For most students, adding the extra sense of touch to an activity helps with focus and the overall learning process.  The task of putting pencil to paper is removed and replaced by manipulatives and motion. The repetitive nature of the activities encourages independence.Independence is key to helping a student gain confidence in a task or activity. ”

An ITTT Board set would be ordered as a consumable because of the self-assembly of the pieces upon arrival plus so many little pieces to keep track of.  For $45, a parent could get both the activity and calendar sets which includes one Calendar Board, one Activity Board, Numbers Tiles 0 – 100, Alphabet Tiles A – Z, Months (12), Day Numbers (31), Days of the Week (7), and Calendar Activity Tiles.  If only one set interests you, it’s $25 for one set. gives lots of ideas for activities here.  

But here’s the best part – we have TWO at the library as samples so that you can check it out in person when you stop by.  LSS teachers – if you want to borrow one to take with you to a meeting with one of your families, let me know!  I will get it into your hands so you can share an ITTT Board with students and families who would benefit from this tactile resource.

EPIC! Online Access to 10,000 books

I discovered the EPIC! app this spring and if you have not yet tried it out, you must!   This is a library at your fingertips full of familiar books like Berenstein Bears or Fancy Nancy, PLUS, books about every possible topic that you can imagine.   Imagine that you are teaching your child about weather and you have a site that you can search “weather” and awesome books like these pop up:

weather weather4 weather3 weather2

Books for ALL ages!  And these are only four of over a hundred that you can add to your child’s learning!

These books open on your screen and you or your child can flip through the pages.  Some have the green “Read To Me” label at the bottom of the book which means that your child can listen to the book on their own.  Otherwise, you would need to read them aloud to your child from the screen.

A book like this Science Explorer: Weather one for ages 11 – 13 looks like this inside:

weather 5

I downloaded the app for my iPad and iPhone but it can also be used on any computer.  I am still looking into pricing but currently it comes with a 30 Day Free Trial then costs $4.99/mo.  In my opinion, worth every penny!

What a wealth of knowledge to add to your program!