Makerspaces Going Mainstream in Libraries

Many of us have been reading about Makerspaces over the last couple of years as an emerging trend in libraries and school spaces. No longer is it a fringe, underground trend, but it is becoming mainstream..


Agreed!  Makerspaces are the new hot topic in libraries/learning commons and we are right on it!

Book Club Bonanza!

Welcome to a new school year full of literacy excitement!

Starting this October 2014/15  we have 5 book clubs, and potentially more!  Many of the books in these book clubs are in the physical commons or Overdrive E library.  Please contact a librarian to help you find your resources!

Grade 4/5 will be run by  Book club moderator April Mcleod.

This is going to be an exciting year in our Grade 4/5 Book Club.  Last year we had a fantastic response, and we had lots of fun blogging, reading and connecting about great books.  This year will be more of the same as there is an awesome list of books we are going to read and share our thoughts about.  Students will be getting their feet wet in blogging and learning a variety of ways to share about the books we are reading as they do oral presentations, moderate book club meetings, blog, complete a novel in the box presentation, and much, much more. Hope all of you amazing readers in grade 4 & 5 will join us for a great ride of reading this school year!  Looking forward to meeting all of you on October 31st when we will get started with our first novel and play some fun games!  See you soon!

Date:Grade 4/5 Book club will meet for the following dates:
October 31st   Get to know meeting and assign first book
November 21st   Learn about Blogging and oral presentations on “Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH”
December 12th   Present Novel in a Box assignment with the novel “The Giver”
January 30th   “The Roman, the Twelve & the King”
February 27th  “The Hobbit”
March 27th   “Call of the Wild”
April 24th   “Bridge of Terabithia” and Vote on Final Novel
May 22  Year End Wrap up

Books will be assigned starting October 31st with an awesome book called Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH.  We will be reading some classics, an amazing Christian fiction book about the Epic 7 and award winning novels

Link to sign up:

Grade 6/8 Book club will be run by Book club moderator Kari Bell.

Camp description:
Hi, my name is Kari Bell and I will be running a Virtual book club this year that will encourage students to read each day. We will meet every six weeks, via an online forum to discuss the chosen book. The students will also have an opportunity to share their ideas on a blog.

We will meet online at 1:00 Pacific Standard Time (2:00 Mountain time).  Link will be sent to registrants.

Oct 1: Camp X by Eric Walters
Nov 19: Dear Canada:Pieces of the Past.  The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz
January 7: The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer
Feb 25: Enigma by Eric Walters

Book one:  Camp X by Eric Walters (Camp X is the first book in the series. Enigma the most recent book is a Red Cedar nominee)

-We will discuss the importance of a plot line and cover literary terms such as: plot, exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution, protagonist and antagonist.
-Bible integration: discussion on loyalty.
-Blog choice: Back cover of a book jacket describing just enough of the plot to get a reader interested but not enough to give the story away.

Book two: Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past.  The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz (Red Cedar Nominee)

Bible integration: Discussion about the Holocaust and courage.

Link to register!
Reading Buddies K-3 with Pippa

Students in Kindergarten to Gr.3 and their reading buddies are encouraged to come and join Pippa Davies HCS teacher librarian share the joys of reading picture books, and inquiry based learning.  Pippa will incorporate picture books, puppets and early primary research databases (Pebble Go) to get your younger students reading, listening, learning nursery rhymes and writing their first research project based on learning outcomes in these years. Sessions will be run on  Blackboard classroom on a twice a month basis in the morning. The sessions will run for about half an hour to 40 minutes.  Set up will be the first ten minutes and then half an hour of reading time, songs and puppets.
Grab your coffee and your kids and come and read with Pippa.

 Books read will include favourites like Old Macdonald, Five Little Kittens, Promise is a Promise, Salmon Forest, and authors like Robert Munsch, Eric Carle and Jan Brett as well as some Bible favourites.

Picture books read will include Canadian, American and British fiction and non fiction.
Puppets/rhymes and songs will also be shared.

When: Wednesdays at 11:30am PT
Oct. 8, 29th, Nov. 12th, 26th, Dec 3rd. Jan. 7th and 21st, Feb. 4 and 18th.
Virtual Book Club with Kathy Kanda: Grades 8/9/10.

Join a virtual book club for Middle School students! Our first book choice is Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen which will be discussed at our first meeting on October 20 at 1pm. Afterwards, students will vote on the club’s next book pick and then meet back 6 weeks later to discuss in skype or Google Hangouts. Members will be encouraged to interact about the book in between meetings via a private club blogging site and students will have the opportunity to win prizes at each meeting. Meetings are Oct 27, Dec 15, Jan 12, Feb 2, March 16th

Link to register for the grade 8-10 Book club.

Virtual Book club Chocolate Lily and Kate Greenway Picture Book Critique and Blogging:  Grades 4-9. With Pippa Davies, Jessie Davis (campus) and NDG School in the UK.

Details to follow in January.  This club will be in the spring.

 This information will be stored under Literacy Centre -> Student book clubs!

Bless you in all your literacy endeavours!


#Makered in the Learning Commons!

Themes come and go, and this year is no different in the learning commons at Heritage Blended Commons.  Stepping into maker spaces and all things #makered has been another pivotal moment for  advocacy in the learning commons, and completes part of our vision statement for the year 2014/15.

The learning commons is purchasing  Makey Makey kits, a Lego Mindstorm classroom set ( for 24 students), and Knex Kits along with a 3 d printer with the Mini Makerbot as a potential front runner!

Our campus learning commons champion Jessie starts our first Makered club this week, and 20 excited campus students will work with Makey Makey, and Knex kits to discover Motion and Aeronautics outcomes.  They will also learn how to make a video based on their innovative findings!  As a virtual media specialist I so want to be a fly on the wall!!

So why makered and why learning commons?  The whole vision behind a learning commons is the creation of a welcoming space which encourages all literacies, and fosters relationship.  Makered allows for digital, science, and computer literacy, not to mention hands on learning in the learning commons.  Students will work in teams building collaborative working relationships.  During the process we hope they will take risks, and learn to become inventors, as they coach each other in the learning process.  Every teacher wants to empower their students and we hope this will bring new passions, leadership, discipleship and excitement around science and technology.

During the last two years we have fostered the creation of a virtual commons, using Ning as a playground for building, and in doing so created a philosophy behind the experiential building centre. We host competitions and share our students artistic, writing, and musical gifts.  Now we hope to further this into the physical realm with hands on learning.

The learning commons vision has never looked more exciting!

If you have not discovered the upside of all things #makered you might want to read the following articles:

What’s the Maker Movement?

The Makey Makey Might Change the Game.

Seven Hands on Projects That use 3D Printers.

The Making of Makerspaces

 Makerspace Playbook School Edition

 Manufacturing Makerspaces

 Why Your Library May Soon Have Laser-Cutters and 3D Printers

Or watch this intriguing video!

We are thankful for a new invitation to bring students into relationship via multiple literacies in the learning commons!  Now more than ever a learning commons is a place to play, read and build!

Blessings via the learning commons team :)


K-3 Online Resources You May Want to Explore

If you are looking for some great resources for your K-3 aged children we would like to highlight a few for you:

1.  We have a wide variety of Bible resources available on Overdrive. Many of them would be perfect for your K-3 student.

2.  We have an amazing collection of Picture Books available in Overdrive with a wide variety of titles and subjects.

3.  We now have Overdrive Unit Studies with Language Arts, Math, Science, Music and Art for you to use with your K-1 students. These are in Open PDF format and can be printed. We have added: Ocean, The Circus, Color My World, Life on a Pond, Pirates and Harvest.

4.  Reading Rainbow is available on Discovery Education and we have some matching books available in L4U and Overdrive. Here is a list of episodes and matching books.

5. We have a variety of literature studies available for your student. You can explore the author studies, book units as well as literature studies including fairy tales, folk tales etc. You can also find a variety of reading lists with links on this page, including a Canadian Picture Book list.

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6.  If you have yet to login to Pebble Go! and take a look at all it has to offer, I encourage you to do it very soon. Pebble Go! has great readers for Science and Social Studies that are visual, easy to follow and will encourage your student to want to read more!

7.  We have a wide variety of Math Resources in Overdrive including living math books for you to explore math literacy with your student.

8.  We continue to add more Resource Kits to our collection – both digital and physical. Here are the K-1, Grade 2 and Grade 3 Kits.
9.  We have many Writing Resources for your K-3 student from Handwriting to Report Writing we have many options. For K-1 you can look here. For 2-3 you can look here.

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10.  Discovery Education has a wide range of videos for your K-3 student (look under more in series to find all the videos from that series) including: Math Monsters, A First Look – Science Videos, The Number Crew, Holiday Facts and Fun, Art Tango, Rabbit Ears, When I Grow Up, The Story of Read-Alee-Deed-Alee, Discovering Language Arts, Primary Music Appreciation and many, many more.

Lois Lenski – Author Highlight


Lois Lenski was born October 14th, 1893. She has written many books including those highlighted below. On a personal note, Indian Captive was one of my all time favourite read alouds! This book, based on the true story of Mary Jemison who was captured and raised by the Seneca people, in my view was very balanced, informative and engaging. It was one of those books that my children begged for more chapters and I was very happy to oblige, as I myself wanted to know what would happen next! It is perfect for your Grade 4 student and the study of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (as the Seneca were part of the greater Iroquois Nation).

Indian Captive
Indian Captive

Mary Jemison has been captured by a Shawnee war party! How will she survive? When twelve-year-old Mary Jemison and her family are captured by Shawnee raiders, she’s sure they’ll all be killed. Instead, Mary is separated from her siblings and traded to two Seneca sisters, who adopt her and make her one of their own. Mary misses her home, but the tribe is kind to her. She learns to plant crops, make clay pots, and sew moccasins, just as the other members do. Slowly, Mary realizes that the Indians are not the monsters she believed them to be. When Mary is given the chance to return to her world, will she want to leave the tribe that has become her family?   This Newbery Honor book is based on the true story of Mary Jemison, the pioneer known as the “White Woman of the Genesee.”   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Lois Lenski including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s estate.

Strawberry Girl
Strawberry Girl

How can Birdie’s family grow strawberries when the neighbors let their cows into the berry fields? Birdie and her family are trying to build a farm in Florida. But it’s not easy with the heat, droughts, and cold snaps—and neighbors that don’t believe in fences. But Birdie won’t give up on her dream of strawberries, and her family won’t let those Slaters drive them from their home!   This Newberry Medal–winning novel presents a realistic picture of life on the Florida frontier.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Lois Lenski including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s estate.

Judy's Journey
Judy’s Journey

Judy lives in a tent with her family. Will they ever be able to afford a farm with a real house? Ten-year-old Judy and her family are migrants, moving from farm to farm with each new season. Starting in Alabama, they travel to Florida and up the East Coast all the way to New Jersey, always looking for steady work. Every time Judy feels as if they’re beginning to put down roots, they have to move on. It’s hard for her to catch up in school; it’s hard to make and keep friends. Judy likes the people she meets along the way, but she longs for a real home. Will her family ever have a farm of their own?   Judy’s Journey is a realistic depiction of the life of migrant farm workers in the mid-1900s.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Lois Lenski including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s estate.

Texas Tomboy
Texas Tomboy

The entire ranch is thirsty—will the rains ever come? Tomboy Charlie loves the ranch and the outdoors, especially now that she has a horse of her own and can ride like a true cowboy. She doesn’t understand why her mother keeps after her to help out in the house, too. But ranch life is hard, especially when there’s a drought. There isn’t enough water for the crops or cattle, and horrible dust storms sweep away the soil. If it doesn’t rain soon, her family could lose everything. Charlie must learn that on a ranch, everyone’s job is important if they are to survive—and that a good cowboy always obeys orders.   This classic story depicts Texas ranch life during the droughts of the early twentieth century, as one girl tries to find her place in the world.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Lois Lenski including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s estate.

Reviews from Overdrive

The MaKey MaKey might change the game – eClassroom News | eClassroom News


The Makey Makey is about to make things truly #makered, no pun intended.  Join in the maker revolution and find out how your students can learn to be an inventor.

October 2014: Literacies for the digital age: Visual literacy – DEN Blog Network

The wonderful Kathy Shrock October 2014: Literacies for the age: Visual literacy – DEN Blog Network


Using Discovery Streaming to get the most visual literacy happening in your school.

Digital Paint Programs

This useful list of digital paint programs was shared by Creativity Express as alternatives to using their online program.

“In order for us to recommend a digital paint program it needed to meet three basic rules.

  • First, the software has to be kid-friendly. This means that the child can learn to use the program either because it is simply laid out, or because there are good tutorials. This should be fun for the kids, not a burden for the parents to trouble-shoot.
  • Second, the software should be free to download, or low-cost. Though free sound great, it has its downsides. Generally software is free because it has ads in it, and with kids involved that’s not always okay.
  • Hence my third rule: any advertising must be child-appropriate.

There are a good number of digital paint programs that meet these criteria, so let’s get started!

Firealpaca – This kid-friendly art program is available for free download on both Macs and PCs. A relatively new program, it does contain advertisements. However they claim to be art-related, and only placed ion the introductory screen, along with any relevant update information or user tips. The program has layer capabilities and many different brush settings.

Copic – Another free program compatible with Macs and PCs, Copic has a user-friendly interface that incorporates Copic’s color system as well as different brush settings. Kids will love the easy look of the program, and should be able to pick it up quickly.

MyPaint – Available for PC and Linux operating systems; MyPaint has a range of functions similar to Adobe Photoshop including pressure-sensitive capabilities for use with drawing tablets. In addition to basic layering features, MyPaint has many different brush settings. Kids can even create their own brushes, allowing them to be really creative with this program!

Artrage – This program is very kid-friendly and simplistic, and is our choice for digital art software. It’s available for both Windows and Mac operating systems for $49.90. Supporting all levels of artists, ArtRage is designed to be like a virtual painting space, increasing authenticity and making the experience for kids more fun and realistic.

Sumopaint – Users can draw online or download a more comprehensive version of this easy-to-use program; it has both PC and Mac compatibility. Its tools for drawing are virtually unlimited, allowing kids to have an expanded choice for their artwork.

Artweaver – Suitable for beginners, Artweaver is a freeware program that is available for Windows computers. On this program, kids can even draw from a photograph scanned into the computer – draw on paper first, then paint on Artweaver!

SpeedyPainter – SpeedyPainter has a simple and intuitive design, and is suitable for children to use. It is downloadable for free for Windows users. It includes basic features, as well as a brush library and separate viewfinder to allow kids to really see what they’re drawing.

SmoothDraw – This program has many different brushes that can be used, as well as a simplistic interface; it’s available for free download for Windows operating systems. Children will love the ease of use in this program, and will be able to use it with little basic knowledge of tools in art programs.

Qaquarelle – Part of the Sourcefogre portfolio of software, Qaquarelle supports tablet functions and has a simple design that children will find easy-to-use. It’s an open-source software that has a free download.

Last but not least, a clever drawing tool.

DrawPile – Although not specifically a digital paint program, DrawPile is a freeware program that allows multiple users to share the same online drawing board. Kids can have fun creating with their friends wherever they may be.”

Natalie and Pippa recommend Paper 53 for an easy iPad app to use with ease and style!  However there is a small cost!



Do Pumpkins Float or Sink? | Wonderopolis


Science question of the day.  Video and summary of the science behind flotation.

Teaching Canada’s History Kayak Fall 2014

Subscribe to get your first free copy of Kayak magazine and teach your students Canadian History!


This is a great way to teach Canadian History to your youngsters!


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