Chapter Three of "We Can See" has begun!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

 Our "We Can See" Project continues with this exciting new chapter of learning! 

The slant this year is to harness the outdoors and to take our learning beyond the four walls of our classrooms! We encourage classes to go outside and look closely at their natural environment and take photos of their outdoor areas since they too are a canvas for learning. 

Do you have an outdoor classroom? 
Is there a forest nearby? 
Do you walk to a local pond? 
Can you see a lake from your yard? What can you see?

We invite you to meet with your class and share the ways you use the outdoors as a learning space! The opportunities are truly endless. We have a Google Drive Folder available for sharing and we will post some of our new books on this blog.

"Curiouser and Curiouser": Favourites for Classroom Beginnings

Thursday, October 1, 2015

September is always a month filled with new possibilities, new challenges, growing "to-do" lists, and excitement for what lies ahead with the onset of a new school year! That being said, the ladies of #4EverInspired decided to host another giveaway! This one in particular highlights the perspectives of each one of us when it comes to classroom set-up, inventory and our personal passions with hopes to inspire you as we make our way into October!

The nature of our lists are by no means exhaustive and are not meant to be perceived as a "must-have" guide to every classroom. Just as Alice fostered a intrinsic sense of wonderment and curiosity when stating "curiouser and curiouser" in Alice in Wonderland, we thought these classroom favourites would shed light on what each of us finds personally essential to our individual practices when designing and setting up a classroom.

#4EverInspired Reunites at Louise Kool & Galt

Sunday, August 23, 2015

With the onset of another school year quickly approaching and another summer almost behind us, I always find myself getting excited to plan my program and design my classroom environment after much dialogue and reflection! I like to look at each new school year as a blank canvas and thus, I often find myself making a handful of "wish lists" for a variety of new materials, opportunities, and ideas that I'd like to bring forth into my program in the Fall. 

When Joanne Babalis invited #4EverInspired to reunite and visit the amazing showroom at Louise Kool & Galt, I didn't waste anytime ensuring my busy summer schedule was free so I could attend!  Having browsed through their catalogue many times before, I knew this was going to be an exciting opportunity for all of us and we couldn't be more excited to share our discoveries with all of you!

Once we arrived, we were greeted by Cathy Elliot and Sonia Polak, two wonderful sales representatives that share a passion for creating classroom environments that ignite every learner's imagination, creativity, thinking and learning. 

They kindly lead us through their Showroom and highlighted a variety of different catalogue items from new furniture pieces and open-ended manipulatives to magnetic blocks and outdoor play materials. As we were tinkering and messing about, it was evident how versatile and engaging their materials were!

Here is a list of my top ten "Wish List" items for back to school (even though I could've easily shared over 100)! Each item title is linked directly to Louise Kool & Galt's website to provide you with more information: 
Item images are from

These wooden discs are the perfect natural material to bring learning outdoors! Not only are they incredibly versatile and cross-curricular (bug hunts, sorting, matching, counting, etc), but they would add much excitement to any outdoor learning environment!  

These natural building materials make a great addition to any building and construction area! They would also be great to take outdoors since they are light weight and come in an easy-to-carry cloth bag. 

Math is everywhere and I can only imagine the possibilities of bringing a simple material like these large wooden dominoes outdoors! 

This simple tool could excite many when exploring the natural learning environment around your school! While magnifying glasses are fun, this easy to use magnifying sheet makes it fun to look closely at a variety of different objects! 

I love the versatility and tactile experience of these wooden letters! From play-dough and pipe cleaners to using beads and even your finger, this would make learning the letters of the alphabet fun for all the senses!

This sand tray provides students with the wonderful opportunity to practice pre-handwriting skills, promote concentration and creativity! I love how it also has a built-in slot underneath the glass base where coloured paper and other materials can be inserted for added effect! 

These small but versatile building blocks could be added to any area of your classroom! From the light table to open exploration, they would be a wonderful add-on to any structure or design!

These incredibly sturdy trays can be used in a multitude of ways! From storing materials on a shelf to bringing them outside! They come in a round or square framework however, both have four sections allowing for a variety of materials to be on display. 

I actually won this professional resource during an outdoor education workshop this summer and couldn't put it down! I was so happy to see that it was available for others to purchase through Louise Kool & Galt since it truly explains how children benefit from learning and playing in outdoor environments. 

These outdoor learning materials would be an amazing addition to any outdoor learning environment when exploring water and different liquid materials! Problem-solving, experimentation and open-ended play are only some of the many opportunities that I can foresee when using these materials!

Not only did we get to see firsthand all of their incredible products, but it was also a wonderful opportunity to dialogue with the ladies of #4EverInspired once we left around how the materials at Louise Kool & Galt reflect the importance of creating strong foundations for student learning. 

Every corner of their showroom made visible their strong value and beliefs around creating spaces for child-centred, innovative learning experiences and we couldn't help but feel inspired! Don't forget to check out the other ladies of #4EverInspired to read about their top ten "Wish List" items by visiting their blogs:

For Vanessa's Top Ten list: "Too (Louise) Kool for School"
For Joanne's Top Ten list: "Royal Treatment at Louise Kool & Galt"
For Trista's Top Ten list: "Louise Kool for Back to School"

As a way of sharing our experience with all of you, Louise Kool & Galt generously donated four $50 gift certificates to give away with hopes of inspiring your classroom design and program planning for September! Be sure to check out our Instagram pages to read more about contest details and enter for your chance to win! 

Vanessa's Instagram: follow @evolvingeducator
Joanne's Instagram page: follow @joannebabalis
Trista's Instagram page: follow @kindiekorner
Jocelyn's Instagram page: follow @ourkindergartenjourney

A sincere thank you to Cathy, Sonia and Louise Kool & Galt for opening up your doors to #4EverInspired and giving us the wonderful opportunity to share your products with our readers! We truly can't wait to reveal the many exciting things in store for #4EverInspired this coming year!

Reflectively yours,
#4EverInspired xoxo

Planning in FDK: An Ongoing Reflection

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

With this year coming to a close, it's hard to believe that it'll mark my fourth year teaching Full Day Kindergarten! As much as the ending of a school year is busy, I often find myself setting time aside to reflect on the year under the lens of what worked really well in our program, what are some things I want to rethink for next year and what are elements of our program that I'd like to completely remove. This 3R's framework is one that is often used in the York Region District School Board and I find it to be a perfect anchor for reflective dialogue and conversation as an educator team. 

As part of my final assignment for my York University Kindergarten AQ course, I chose to reflect on my own kindergarten journey from the perspective of how I plan and program. Each new year brings a wave of excitement, possibilities and new challenges and I have to say how wonderful it was to see for myself just how far my practice has evolved and changed as I've grown as a teacher and life-long learner. 

"A Week in the Forest" ~ Inspiring Learning Outside

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"It's a good thing to learn about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it's a lot more fun." 
~ Richard Louv

This quote sums up beautifully the amazing experience and positive impact of the Ministry Pilot Project our class was fortunate enough to be a part of last week entitled "A Week in the Forest." This project was founded by Tanya Murray, an Outdoor Education Teacher and Specialist with Sibbald Point and Forest School Practitioner, with hopes that every child and educator alike could feel inspired to learn outside! Part 1 of the Pilot took place at Milliken Mills Public School in Markham and focused more on the urban school setting. Our school was Part 2 of the Pilot since our landscape was one that promoted a more rural environment and something we will now always call the "magical forest." 

Curious about Caterpillars

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Here is a snapshot of some of our documentation about our most recent and exciting inquiry! This is a very exciting time because next week we will begin a Ministry Pilot Project called "A Week in the Forest" which will allow us to embrace the outdoors in our learning and we are excited to bring this inquiry into this wonderful opportunity! Stay tuned for more posts to come!

Lights, Camera, Action: Extending our Movie Theatre Inquiry beyond the walls of our classroom!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

This blog post is long overdue but one that I'm excited to be sharing nonetheless! Our Movie Theatre Inquiry continues to be an engaging and exciting learning space in our classroom! Prior to our March Break, we had the incredible opportunity of visiting The Roxy Theatre; a historically restored movie theatre located in Uxbridge, Ontario.

Image from Google Images
The planning and purpose of this field trip was to support our students' understanding of what movie theatre's look like and what roles are needed, but also extend their learning beyond the surface to develop a deeper understanding around how they operate! Little did we know as an educator team, that the morning itself would be full of surprises!

Always Learning; Four-Ever Inspired

Monday, March 2, 2015

February is a month that celebrates family, love and friendship! Of all these things, I am extremely fortunate to have so many inspiring colleagues that are also wonderful friends. Within the realm of education, practices and pedagogy are constantly evolving and it is because of these friends that I continue to push my own thinking and learning, reflect, and take risks for myself, my program and with my students. Whether it be lunchtime conversations, after-school workshops or casual coffee dates, three friends in particular have allowed me to pave new roads in my journey which I couldn't be more excited about!

Trista Dutt, Joanne Babalis, Vanessa Bianchi, and myself are all teachers, bloggers and passionate risk-takers who have enjoyed connecting as colleagues but also as friends, through networks like #CTInquiry: Connected through inquiry: A curious community of learners, social media (twitter, blogs), and in person.    

“Four-ever Inspired” was created out of these unique, organic and inspiring conversations and connections that I've been fortunate enough to have created over the last four years of teaching within the York Region District School Board. To begin this exciting new chapter, the ladies of Fourever Inspired met at the Indigo Starbucks in Yorkdale Mall to brainstorm, collaborate and develop a plan for what we wanted our blogging community to be about...

A mosaic of creativity, learning and dreaming.

Each member of Fourever Inspired is colourful, creative, and dynamic in their own unique way. But...when together, the colours, creativity and passion that comes alive paints the most beautiful picture of collaborative learning.

-Vanessa Bianchi-
The Evolving Educator

Vanessa Bianchi is an educator for the York Region District School Board, who is currently serving as a Grade 5 Homeroom Teacher. Through various leadership opportunities, workshops, conferences and collaborative efforts with colleagues, she has gained an interest in building positive and collaborative climates within the school environment. This collaboration allows for the design of intriguing spaces for students and teachers to learn, as well as construct curricular expectations around student-interest and passions, allowing for a dynamic educational experience.

Vanessa Bianchi and I became quick friends while teaching at the same school for the past three years. She is an extremely passionate, dedicated and driven Junior/Intermediate teacher, and we discovered quickly that we had lots in common and shared philosophies when it came to teaching, friendship, love and life. Our journey together as educators and friends continues to grow as we bounce ideas off each other constantly, share the many celebrations going on in our classrooms, and seek outside learning opportunities to fuel our passions.

-Trista Dutt-
Kindie Korner

Trista Dutt has a degree in Early Childhood Education, as well as her Bachelor of Education in Primary/Junior divisions and Kindergarten Specialist. She is currently teaching FDK at Moraine Hills PS, where she is a K-2 Lead Teacher and Learning @ Schools Classroom. She is passionate about the early years and exploring the world of play- and inquiry-based learning.

Trista and I had the privilege of meeting each other four years ago when we both landed our permanent contract positions with the York Region District School Board. I think back then we already had inklings that we would be seeing each other lots in the future! We were fortunate to be involved in a collaborative Math Hub with our two schools at the time which led to some wonderful new learning as we began our kindergarten journeys. I was instantly drawn to how passionate and knowledgeable Trista was, how eager she was to take risks in her learning and try new things within her program. We soon came to realize that we had lots of mutual friends within the field and I feel very lucky to have her within my Professional Learning Network.

-Joanne Marie Babalis-
TransformEd: Transforming our Learning Environment into a Space of Possibilities

Joanne Marie Babalis is a Teacher-Librarian, Early Years/Inquiry Lead Teacher, PhD student, and Kindergarten Additional Qualification instructor at York University.  She is passionate about designing spaces that inspire inquiry-based learning and creative innovation for twenty-first century learners.  Her blog, "TransformEd: Transforming our Learning Environment into a Space of Possibilities" continues to reach educators throughout Canada and beyond. With each post, she hopes to make visible the power of inquiry, as well as the strong potential of all learners.

I was first introduced to the incredible work of Joanne Babalis by my old teaching partner, Heidi Theis who was an avid follower of her blog. After visiting Joanne's first Open House session, I witnessed firsthand the endless possibilities that classroom environments and the kindergarten curriculum can have on our youngest learners and how the practise of inquiry-based learning can have such a profound impact within the walls of our classrooms.

And so the journey begins...

We look forward to having you follow our journey!

Reflectively Yours,


“Four” more on the ladies of Fourever Inspired and the unique stories that brought them together, including those essential “work bag” items...

...visit Vanessa’s post, “Fourever Inspired: A Collaboration”:

...visit Trista's post, “The Start of Something Truly Inspirational”:

...visit Joanne’s post, “4Ever Friends”:

What's in my work bag?

Kate Spade Spiral Notebook, Michael Kors Glasses, iPad Air with iPad Air Smart Cover, MacBook Air, Learning in the Early Years (ETFOpley professional resource), Classroom Keys, Staedtler Coloured Pens, Sharpie Highlighter and Pen.

Enjoy the show! - Part 2

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Keeping the momentum of a socio-dramatic play area has been at the forefront of my thinking since the co-creation of our classroom airport two years ago (click "Airplane and Airport Inquiry" under "Categories" to read posts pertaining to this incredible inquiry). I often find that these learning spaces within the classroom change the most frequently as students' interests and experiences change quite rapidly from week to week, month to month.  

When looking at the high interest and level of engagement within our current dramatic play inquiry of our classroom's movie theatre, I couldn't help but wonder if it was an appropriate time to seek out a real-world excursion to support our students' interest in movie theatres. For me, field trips are an opportunity to take the learning outside the walls of our classroom, provide a real-world context and experience that students may not be exposed too previously. Furthermore, field trips provide students with the opportunities to verify their understandings and wonderings, and most importantly, drive their thinking and learning forward when back in the classroom. In my experiences and speaking from previous years, my old partner Heidi Theis and I used field trips at various points in our inquiries; 1) to meet the "experts" as a way of supporting our inquiry question and give us a new "spark" when back in the classroom to further explore or, 2) to act as a celebration of our learning and seeing firsthand what is was we've been learning about in action (e.g. visiting an airport and sitting in the cockpit). I feel both opportunities give students an authentic experience that is meaningful when purposefully planned and well thought-out.

Image from Google Images
To support "Room 109 Movies," we began discussing with students who has in fact been to a real-life movie theatre and who might not yet have had that experience. To me, this was a perfect entry point to see if an excursion would be meaningful for my students at this time and for the purpose of driving our students' interests further. I'm happy to announce that we have an exciting field trip booked with the Roxy Theatre in Uxbridge, Ontario whereby students will get a firsthand look into how a movie theatre operates, how popcorn is made, where they play the movies from (projection room) and the different roles movie theatres need in order to work. We will not be seeing a movie, but rather focusing on the inner workings of this type of entertainment our students and families enjoy with hopes that it will allow us to dive deeper into our role-playing, understanding and knowledge within the walls of our classroom.

Image from:
To share this exciting news with our class, I wanted to showcase images of the Roxy Theatre and that of a movie theatre our students might have more familiar with (e.g. a more commercialized and modern SilverCity) and see what they notice and perhaps draw some comparisons. The special thing about the Roxy Theatre, is that it has that "old-time flare" of what movies theatres used to look like and I anticipated students being quite shocked with its outside appearance. 

Here is what they had to say:

What do you see? What do you think this is?

A.O.: "A movie theatre!"
E.R.: "I agree with A.O. - it is a movie theatre because I know movie theatres look big like that."
C.M.: "I think it's a movie theatre too because I see pictures of movies."

What makes you think that? 

A.O.: "Because it looks like one!"
E.R.: "Movie theatres are big places."
C.M.: "Movie theatres always have pictures of movies outside."

What clues from the picture are you using to help you?

A.O.: "Because it has two movie posters there that you can watch on the outside."
C.L.: "There's a sign called "The Roxy" and I think  that's the name of the place." 
O.S.: "I see people lining up and coming in."
M.K.: "I see words on top and numbers."
E.E.: "I see lots of lights."
I.C.: "I see traffic lights and roads - maybe it's on a street?"

I wonder what the people are doing that are lining up?

A.O.: "I think they're going to buy tickets because you need tickets in order to go to the movies."

Lets check the next picture and hear what you're thinking. 
(Students were shown a more close-up image of the "ticket booth" from the Roxy Theatre)

Image from:

D.C.: "I see a radio inside there. I think it's for talking."
I.M.: "They had to go there to get inside to watch the movies."
E.E.: "I think that's where they get the tickets from because it has that radio thing."
C.L.: "It says 'TICKETS' so it has to be where they get the tickets from."
E.R.: "This reminds me of our ticket agents and our tickets in our movie theatre. Maybe this is where they go if someone forgets their ticket."

If we're thinking this is a movie theatre...what do we think this is? (Students were then shown a side-by-side image of the two movie theatres)

E.E.: "They're really different. They have different colours."
E.B.: "That blue one is small and the other one is really big. I've been there before and it's big inside."
A.O.: "That's the SilverCity in Newmarket - I've been there before too. I saw Big Hero Six there!"

After our discussion, I revealed that we will be visiting the Roxy Theatre and that it is a really old theatre but I've yet to disclose what we will see inside the theatre. It was obvious from their reactions that our students are VERY excited to be seeing firsthand how movie theatre's operate! 

Stay tuned!
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