2018 was a year for the books - and for the blog! Despite going back to work with a five-month-old baby, said baby turning one in August, AND planning a wedding (jk... wedding planning is not my strength and I totally hired a wedding planner haha) , I still managed to publish more blog posts than ever before in 2018. In January 2018, my aim was to survive heading back to work, and I didn't set any other goals for myself at the time. But, I do love me some accomplishments, so once I got my feet back under myself, I did set a few. Knowing full well I would likely fail (but not caring!) , in spring 2018, I set an ambitious goal of blogging every week from April-December. I am super proud to say I mostly stuck to that, only missing a week in July and a week in November - not too shabby! In fact, this is my 43rd blog post this year, smashing my previous record of 25, and more than doubling how many I posted last year (I blame the newborn for that slow year hehe) . Side not...
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  I remember when I FIRST discovered TPT. My boyfriend at the time had won a home lottery, and we were living in a million dollar mansion. (Turns out million dollar mansions aren't for me, but that's not the point!) I was halfway through my second year teaching, right before Christmas, and I was struggling so much for so many reasons - at school and in my personal life. I was the only maternelle teacher at my school, and I had no one to mentor me or help me figure out what I was doing. Then, I found out Pinterest (only used for adorable quotes and home décor up to this point) had teaching ideas, too. Then I found kindergarten teacher blogs. And then... TPT! I was magical and life-changing. It turned me into a better teacher and human and I started learning, creating, trying new things with my student...
Real talk! If you're a teacher, too, I'm sure that I don't have to tell you this... but, sometimes we have so much going on that we can't remember to cover #allofthethings. I blink and then it's March and I haven't even covered HALF of the things that I planned to cover by now! It can be so easy to be tempted to skip over or rush some of the simpler things that probably everyone knows anyway. Like syllables! My first year of teaching, I thought that syllables were easy and obvious and that I didn't need to spend much time on them. Of course, if you've read my other blog post about syllables , you already know that that was a mistake! When it came time for my students to read words in chunks and "fusionne" them together, they hadn't had enough practice with syllables, and we had to backtrack in order to continue moving forward. Now, there are a bunch of reasons why I LOVE teaching and practicing syllables with my stud...
You know it, I know it, we ALL know it. December = Christmas = crazy! You're tired, your students are wired, and elves on shelves are popping up all over the place (provided you can remember to move them around, of course) . Did I mention we are all  tired ?? In my blog post last week , I mentioned that you should try to give in and embrace the Christmas crazies throughout the month of December. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! In my classroom, we celebrate all month long! I try to choose activities to help us cover some of our outcomes, and I find when I incorporate some holiday spirit, my students stay pretty engaged. (Plus you can always *gently remind* them Santa is watching if they get off task, haha!) Read on for five of my favourite December activities I do year after year! ...
WELCOME TO DECEMBER! December is a wonderful month   (hello, Christmas) , but it can also be INSANE!  As in, scraping-children-from-the-ceiling-on-repeat insane. Between Christmas concerts, Christmas concert practices, special Christmas dinners, sleepy students due to community events, an abundance of SUGAR and chocolate, rogue elves on the shelves, and general excitement and anticipation, it is no wonder our students are bouncing off the walls. In my opinion, the best way to get through the December/Christmas crazies is just to embrace them, and accept that this month is probably going to be a bit more chaotic than the others. (Except maybe September, haha) In my classroom, I happily accept my students' joy and immense love of everything Christmas-y, and use it to keep their engagement as high as humanly possible.  We do Christmas literacy centres, we do Christmas math activities, we read about Christmas, we write about Christmas, and we SING about Christmas!  Le...
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases you make via links on this site, at no additional cost to you. Confession time:  My guided reading lessons used to be a HOT MESS. I knew how to use literacy centres to give the rest of my students meaningful time to independently practice the skills that I had previously taught. I had grouped my students more or less based on what they needed to learn. And I had a nice little table to bring them all to. A nice little table where we would all sit together and they would stare at me expectantly, waiting for me to teach them to read. "Umm, what?!"  thought first-year-teacher-Andrea. "How the heck do you teach someone to read??" Honestly, I never really learned that in university. And my practicums were all with students who already knew how to read  (grades two, three, and four) .  I had no idea how to  start  teaching som...
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases you make via links on this site, at no additional cost to you. I have always had a word wall in my classroom, ever since my very first year of teaching. That first year, my word wall was a tiny, dusty mess of too many words stuck up with thumbtacks, squeezed into not enough space on a bulletin board high up in the back corner of my room. Guess how often it was used? Yup - NEVER! Can you relate? I quickly realized that it wasn't worth the upkeep. What's the point of adding new words to a place my students would forget was even there? My students couldn't see the words, they couldn't reach the words, they couldn't use the words... I'm not even convinced they actually knew the words were even  there . Well, I am a problem solver, and I realized after that first year that my word wall situation was a problem I had to solve....
Bonjour! As I am sure you've noticed  (if you teach math en français) , math is a special kind of challenge in the second language classroom. In order for students to learn and understand the concepts that you are teaching, they need to have enough of a grasp of the language to know what you are talking about. Adding lots of visuals while you are teaching helps, of course, but it isn't always enough. It can be exhausting for our students to understand even basic instructions in their second language, leaving little energy left over to solve the actual problem you are asking, or follow the directions to a hands-on activity. Students might also feel too overwhelmed or intimidated to participate actively in their second language, and/or to ask questions when something is unclear. For these reasons, I think that it is really important to start focusing on math vocabulary and "math talk" en français, right from maternelle. Even if  la communication orale  isn...
Bonjour! I am popping in today to discuss *another* somewhat controversial topic. ;) (If you missed it, I wrote a potentially controversial post this past summer about whether it is better to teach a letter a week or a letter a day in maternelle.) I want to talk today about homework in the primary grades! Throughout my teaching career. I have heard lots of different opinions on homework in maternelle, and I have also had the chance to form some of my own, which I will share with you in this blog post. First of all, I want to discuss a little bit about whether or not I think homework is even necessary or appropriate, and if there is a place for it in maternelle. Then, I will explain what it should/should not look like to be most effective, what exactly I send home, and what are our homework "routines" that help things run smoothly. My hope is that by the end of this blog post, you will come away with some new thoughts and ideas around homework, and maybe some way...
Bonjour! Do you teach anchor words to your students when you are teaching them the alphabet? Anchor words are super important. But, it can be a challenge to find fun, engaging, and effective ways to teach them. In this blog post, I will share with you what exactly anchor words are, why they are important, give you some ideas to maximize the chances that your students will learn them, and share some of my favourite resources! You may already know what anchor words are and why they are important, but just in case... WHAT ARE ANCHOR WORDS? An anchor word is basically a special, easy-to-remember word that you teach to your students to help them remember each letter sound. Every letter should have its own anchor word, and every time you refer to that letter, you should use the same anchor word. Consistency is REALLY important! When you are always using the same anchor word for each letter, your students will be more likely to remember a word that begins with each let...
  Bonjour! If you've been reading my blog for awhile now, you likely know that I LOVE brag tags. (If you aren't sure exactly what brag tags are yet, check out  this post  or  this post  for more details! Or, scroll to the bottom of this post for info on how you can get a set of brag tags for FREE) In my first post about brag tags a couple of years ago, I wrote about how I use the ball and chain necklaces from Amazon to display my tags. But... Since that year, I have not been able to find the right size necklaces on Amazon!!! The only ones I have found are so tiny that they would pretty much have to be brag tag bracelets or rings. So, the past two years, I have just been displaying my brag tags on a bulletin board using shower rings. But, it's just not the same when my students can't get super excited about wearing their tags and showing them off. This year, I found a solution that I like even BETTER than the ball & chain necklaces! I actually plan...
Bonjour! I can't believe we are already into October. Crazy! We have been working on our interactive alphabet notebooks since the first full week of school. (If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, check out this blog post before you read any farther!) As I'm sure you can imagine, interactive notebooks can be (in my opinion) more challenging in maternelle than in other grades. Especially in September! However, things have been going really smoothly so far this year, so I thought I would pop in and offer a few tips & suggestions that might help in your classroom, too. It is my hope that, by reading this post, you will be better able to make the most out of your interactive notebooks, have the preparation go more smoothly/efficiently, and experience less mess overall! Here are my best interactive notebook tips for maternelle: 1. USE GLUE SPONGES Glue sponges are one of the BEST tools for maternelle! They are easy to make and result in sticky...
Bonjour! If you have been kicking around my blog for awhile, you know that I am a BIG fan of using math journals for spiral review. If you are brand new to the party, you can read more about why math journals are so great and how I fit them into my math block  here  and  here . I use math journals in two ways - as a spiral review activity during our whole group math block, and as "exit tickets" to cap off our small group math lessons. But, there are LOTS of other ways that you can use math journals, too! Here are six of my favourite ways to incorporate math journals into your daily routine: ...
Bonjour! Do you use brag tags in your classroom? I do! I love how I can use them to reward and reinforce sooo many amazing things my students do, from being great friends, to speaking French, to showing integrity, and persevering. (If you aren't sure exactly what brag tags are, check out this blog post before continuing on with this one!) Brag tags are hands down my FAVOURITE classroom management strategy so far. Buuuuuut, they have one major drawback. They take a lot of prep and can be pretty expensive to make! In my experience, a lot of teachers want to try brag tags, but feel discouraged by all of the printing and laminating that is involved. I print and prep mine over the summer, so that I am ready for the whole school year, but it can still be a pretty daunting task! Today, I will be sharing a few tips with you that will hopefully make your brag tag prep quicker, easier, and more cost-effective. TIP #1: INSTANT INK ...
Bonjour! Well, la rentrée has passed, and we are getting settled into our new routines. One thing that we started this past week is our math journal routine! I have written about math journals before, in this blog post , where I explain the top five reasons why I think every French primary teacher should give them a go. A few years ago, I would struggle with my students remembering what I had taught in previous math units. I would spend so much time creating fun, hands-on lessons, and my students would do really well and seem to have mastered whichever concept I was teaching at the time. But then, time would pass, and a few months later, it was as if I had never taught them about that topic at all! My students weren't retaining everything I was teaching them, because they were no longer using the information . Our brains are wired for this - they will drop information that it deems "unimportant", in order to make room for new information. ...
Bonjour! I don't know about you, but I have spent a bit more money than I wanted to on my classroom this back-to-school season. It's so hard to resist all of the cute stuff and quality resources! I figured that now would be a great time to share some FREE resources with you, to help get you through until that credit card is all paid off ;) Here are five of my favourite fall-themed French freebies! ...
Hi guys! As you may have seen on Instagram this week, I have been hard at work setting up my classroom. Things are finally starting to come together, and I am feeling like I will be pretty much ready for la rentrée  by Wednesday, when my new kiddos will arrive! I have been sharing pieces of my prep in my Instagram stories . I have gotten a lot of questions and comments about my new bathroom "passes", so I thought I would share them with you guys today. I found this idea on Pinterest when I was looking for bathroom pass ideas. I don't like giving real passes that my students have to take with them into the bathroom (ew haha), and they are not required at my school. Also, we are most often not working at our desks, so I don't find that the kind of pass where your students leave something at their desks to show that they are gone works well for us, either. The general rule of thumb is that one student can go to the boys' bathroom and one to the girls' ...
Bonjour! La rentrée is almost here, and teachers have been thinking about how to get started on the right foot. I have been getting tons of questions about what exactly I do with my students throughout the day to teach them the alphabet in the beginning of the year. If you read my post a couple weeks ago , you know that I teach my students one letter per day, NOT one letter per week. This doesn't leave much time to do a massive variety of activities for each letter, so our first 8 weeks of school are pretty much an alphabet bootcamp! In the beginning of the year, it is SO IMPORTANT to teach routines and procedures. You may want to jump in with outcomes right away, but let me tell you - in maternelle, that can be a HUGE waste of time. You might think that not teaching right away would be the waste of time... but when you have to reteach everything a month later because no one knew what was going on, you will probably realize that investing the time to run a tight ship in the...
Bonjour! If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may have already read my previous post about playing mainstream music in the classroom . If you have, you may want to skip this little intro and scroll right to the videos! :) If not, I just want to start my post by explaining why I think it's so important to play mainstream French music in your immersion and/or French first language classroom. It is of course  also important to play French nursery rhymes and children's songs if you teach in the primary grades, but I do truly feel that mainstream French music is an incredible way to expose your students to some French culture and help them feel proud that they speak French. As you probably already know, I teach kindergarten at a francophone school in a minority community in rural Nova Scotia. French is rarely spoken in our community, and (despite all of our encouragement to speak and live in French at home) , many students only experience French at school an...
Bonjour! I am here today to discuss kind of a controversial topic! I get asked all the time how I teach the alphabet to my students, so I thought that I would share with you my number one alphabet teaching tip today. But... It is not something that everyone agrees with, and many maternelle teachers do it differently. And that's okay! This blog is all about me sharing what works for me in my classroom - I absolutely do not think that I am an expert about what works for anybody else. I once heard a teacher blogger say to think about her like Walmart (or Target, if you're lucky enough to have one of those nearby), and you can think about me the same way. Stop by, browse around, and pick up one or two things to take with you on your way. You don't have to try evvvvvverything that I suggest, or ever feel badly if you do things in a different way. I don't judge other teachers - we are all just doing our best! And this blog post is all about what I have fou...
Bonjour! If you were here last week, when I wrote about 5 reasons you should try directed drawing this year , then you will remember that this week, I will be offering you some tips to help make sure directed drawing runs smoothly for you. We all know that maternelle can be hectic! Directed drawing is an amazing activity if it is done well, but it doesn't always give the best results if it isn't modelled correctly first. I have been doing directed drawing for years, so I figured sharing some of my best tips wouldn't hurt! 1. DO IT WHOLE GROUP FIRST Model, model, model ! I have a lot of people tell me that they use directed drawing in centres. I do think that could work, but I am going to offer you a different idea to try first. We might think that directed drawing is easy and obvious (I mean, the instructions are right there  at the top of the page!), but what is evident and easy for us is not evident and easy for someone who has never been taught. ...
Bonjour! Today I am popping in to talk about one of my FAVOURITE activities to get started with right away in maternelle - directed drawing! I start with directed drawing pretty much from the first full week of maternelle. I LOVE routine (and so do my students!) , and this is one of the first academic activities I start building into our day each year. I have another blog post coming next week with my best tips for directed drawing, but I wanted to take some time to first go over why I think you should give it a try in your classroom. There are many  benefits that come from directed drawing - it is not "fluff" or a filler activity. Here are my top five reasons why you should give directed drawing a go in your French primary classroom: 1. IT BUILDS CONFIDENCE Every single year that I do directed drawing, my students are AMAZED at what they can create when they try thoughtful, multi-step drawings. Almost every student ends up being much better at drawing than they...
Bonjour! Today, I am here to share with you what I believe to be the best-kept classroom decor secret  in elementary. So, we all have posters and référentiels on display in our classrooms, right? We use them for evvvvverything  in maternelle - colours, letters, numbers, sight words, routines and procedures, vocabulary, reading strategies, writing strategies, etc. etc! In just about every classroom, you can find store-bought posters, teacher-made posters, and student-made posters (yes - I believe there is a place for all three types) . We know that posters and référentiels are valuable - essential, even! BUT... we all have one little problem (or, at least we all do at my school). Lack. Of. Space!!! How many of you have strict fire marshals who don't allow more than 20% of the walls to be covered (and 20% of the walls are pretty much already covered by bulletin boards, white boards, and coat hooks)? I do! Plus, I love using my big white board as a word wall . So, I am...