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  • Writer's pictureThe Mischievous Librarian

(Original Post: October 23, 2019)

I am so excited to have weekly scheduled collaboration time with Division 2 and 4 this year. We kicked off the year with inquiring about plant needs in the Amazon Jungle. (The Intermediate pod is named the "Amazon Pod" this year due to the school-wide jungle theme.)

So far, we have explored carnivorous plants and lianas. Students have demonstrated learning through art and writing.

  • Writer's pictureThe Mischievous Librarian

(Original Post: March 30, 2020)

Even though the Grade 4/5 collaboration unit looked different from other years, the students’ learning was just a powerful as when the unit was more traditional in execution.

Dramatic Review of Explorers Knowledge

We divided the two classes into group of five students and each group created a country. The countries made flags and chose rulers or governments. (Each country took a “family photo” which the students thought was hilarious!)

Next, the countries chose explorers to cross the “great ocean” in search of animal pelts. I made a channel across the gym lined on both sides with benches and gym mats. The explorers worked in pairs to ride scooters along the ocean channel. When they reached the other side of the ocean, they searched for stuffed animals (pelts) and brought them back across the ocean to their rulers and/or governments.

​We ended the activity with a class discussion that encouraged students to make connections between their previous knowledge of explorers and the dramatic play we just experienced.

Introducing Main Players

Before we delved into the human side of the fur trade, we spent time learning more about the beaver.

Here are some fabulous video links about beavers and their importance during the fur trade:

We used fashion to introduce each fur trade player. We examined images of clothing from museum archives and Youtube videos to draw the outfits worn by each character in our fur trade journals (i.e., Metis (men and women), voyageurs, European businessmen, settlers).

I highly recommend watching at least the first Metis woman's story (0:00 - 3:45) of the following video to get a glimpse into the Aboriginal matriarchal side of the fur trade:

Pictionary Time

The classes was divided into two teams and played Pictionary to learn about the item that were traded.

Trading Posts

We began a look at the trading posts by searching for images online and making comparisons between various posts.

The students formed new groups and were tasked with creating a trading post diorama complete with a map and key. This took three classes and a lot of glue gun sticks! The library furniture was cleared so that students could work with their materials on the floor.

Students used their newly acquired "maker" skills from the Plant Adaptations unit to work safely with glue guns that were needed for adhering the wooden materials such as popsicle sticks and branches to the base.

Many students brought supplies from home. This allowed the students to give their dioramas personal touches.

​The dioramas were displayed along the common area hallway during parent-teacher conferences for all the families to admire.

  • Writer's pictureThe Mischievous Librarian

(Original Post: October 17, 2021)

This was an adventure for the books! It was a two-month long collaboration that culminated in a museum walk of artifacts created by Division 2 & 3 (Grade 4/5) during their exploration of Canadian Immigration.

There were many lessons, books, and activities that occurred during classroom time, I’ve only documented the parts I was involved in below


The teachers and I started the unit off by presenting a short dramatic piece for the students. We collected an assortment of artefacts representing Immigration which would be used by the students throughout the unit.

​The two teachers acted like delivery workers, walked into the library. and dumped the artefacts haphazardly in front of me and the students. I was dressed in a lab coat pretending to be a museum curator, and I lost my mind when I realized that all the objects were missing identification tags and were mixed up in boxes. I sought the students’ help in identifying the artefacts and hypothesizing their connections to immigration.

Artefacts: rope, blow up boat, soldier hat, immigration papers, Charters of Rights, shawl, potato, life jacket, sandal, railway pick, shovel, cell phone, teddy bear, religious book, fishing pole, old family photo, basket, water jug, suitcase, paddle, beaver pelt, newspaper, fishing net, mining pan

​Students worked in pairs to choose an artefact and create an identification card. The artefacts were used during the following weeks as the students attempted to make connections between their artefacts and the stories they read in class.


We read Danny Ramadan’s beautiful book, Salma the Syrian Chef, and brainstormed ways Canadians, young and old, can welcome and lovingly “make room” for newcomers. The students used word bubble charts to explore the idea of “Making Room” for Canadian refugees. Then, I took all their ideas from the four charts and amalgamated them into a “Making Room” flow chart using common heading such as “education”, “jobs”, etc.

Using the lists, students brainstormed artefacts that would represent all their ideas. i.e., cell phone = maps, direction to work, finding their away around new home, etc.

Download PDF • 35KB

Next, we read Nicola Davies' incredible book, The Day War Came, and we researched the #3000chairs project that came out of the story of the refugee child who couldn’t go to school because there wasn’t a chair for her.

It was from the #3000chairs research that we created an art installation of chairs entitled “Making Room”.

"Making Room" Art Installation

Students worked in groups to sand a wooden chair and paper-mache a maple tree branch wrapping around it. (Chairs were donated.)

The students painted the maple branches and chairs using acrylic and random leftover wall paint.

Tip: Paint outside and wear smocks!

Each group chose three artefacts that represented the concept of making room for Canadian refugees to them. The artefacts were the ones brainstormed from the original list (see above). They brought these items from home or created them during class.

The artefacts and maple leaves were attached to the branches/chairs using wire or hot glue. Groups wrote an explanation of the artefacts that was placed on the seats of the chairs.

It was truly a celebration of learning as we used the chairs, original artefacts, and student classwork projects to create a museum in the gym for the school to enjoy.

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