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  • 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.

  • Writer's pictureThe Mischievous Librarian

(Original Post: October 17, 2021)

Two classes went on a Stop Motion adventure with me in Term 2 (January 2021). We used our classroom iPads and the Stop Motion Studio app to create our own short films.

Division 1 (Grade 4/5) spent nine library blocks creating LEGO stop action films while Division 5 (Grade 2/3) used a collaboration block to create stop action films using toys from home.

First, both classes watched the Youtube tutorial, How to film Lego Stop Motion! Beginners Tutorial. Drew from Nation of Bricks explains the concepts of lighting and flicker simply and with great examples.

Next, we practiced using the Stop Motion Studio app with rubber ducks as props. Students moved their ducks across the screen and quickly came to understand that smaller movements over many frames was ideal for creating a smoother duck walk.

Division 1 went on to create LEGO walls and props on base plates. Walls were limited to three colours so that the props and mini figures of different colours would stand out. Walls ten-layers in height prevented the library from showing in the frames... if students were careful and remained aware during filming.

Each group brought mini figures from home as the library figures have disappeared over the years. Groups discussed plot lines as they created their LEGO sets.

​Surprisingly, set and props creation took four 30-minute classes leaving five classes for filming and editing.

Division 5 shot their films in one day using 2.5 hours of collaboration time. The classroom teacher divided the long library counter into small working areas using painter’s tape.

​Some groups brought homemade backdrops while other groups simply used the blank brick wall behind the counter. The students were encouraged to rest the iPad on the counter to prevent shaking in the frames. Once a group decided upon an angle for the iPad, the classroom teacher marked the iPad's spot on the counter with painter's tape so that the group knew where to reposition the iPad if they had to remove it from the counter for any reason during the filming.

We were not entirely successful in preventing flicker (inconsistent light changes over a series of frames). However, we learned that adding a desk lamp helped and taping the LEGO base plate on a stationary countertops using painter’s tape reduced the flicker considerably. One group brought their own desk lamp from home!

The groups added sound effects and dialogue during the editing process and some more experienced students added title frames and credits.

We hope to use these skills to demonstrate learning in other academic areas during the following year. It was so much fun!

The compilation videos can be viewed here:

  • Writer's pictureThe Mischievous Librarian

(Original Post: March 7, 2021)

Can Grade 2/3 students “bind” their own books?

Yes, they can… with a little scaffolding and a whole lot of creativity!

This project was inspired by the bookbinding workshops I took with Nancy Dawes. Nancy is an incredible and inspiring artist, a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), and a trained bookbinder. Nancy was so methodical in breaking down each step of the process that I knew that one day I could teach my students to bind their own books in the library.

Fast forward to Spring 2021, and such an opportunity presented itself when the Grade 2/3 teacher enlisted my help in making writing “fun”. We wanted the students to have a special place to free write that wasn’t in their typical half-lined journals.

So, we made our own writing books.

Set Up

We “cheated” by buying colourful lined notebooks from the dollar store to save time and avoid using sewing needles. I would do this again in a heartbeat for any primary grades.

I found "free" fabric in the art room and the students chose from three colours.

Students also chose inside front/back cover paper.

I traced and cut out the front/back covers and spine pieces out of chipboard and fabric to speed up the process.

Day 1

1. Front and back OUTSIDE covers

  • Dab bookbinding glue on chipboard (sponge brushes)

  • Place chipboard in the middle of the fabric

  • Fold over fabric corners and glue

  • Fold over fabric edges and glue

2. Spine

  • Dab glue on spine chipboard

  • Place chipboard in the middle of the fabric

  • Fold over fabric top and bottom and glue *Don’t fold or glue the sides

Day 2

1. Attach spine to covers

  • Dab glue on spine fabric edges

  • Lay front and back covers onto the spine fabric edges

  • Press down and count to 100

2. Front and back INSIDE covers

  • Dab glue on coloured paper (sponge brushes)

  • Place paper over the exposed chipboard *Dab a little extra glue on the corners!

  • Press down and count to 100​

3. Spine INSIDE fabric

  • Dab glue on fabric (sponge brushes)

  • Place fabric over exposed spine chipboard

Day 3

1. Glue writing pad on back INSIDE cover

2. Add bling to the front OUTSIDE cover


  • I recommend wearing smocks and putting tarps over the tables.

  • Glue: PVA Adhesive ( I used the brand Neutral pH Adhesive).

  • Make sure to soak/wash the sponges as soon as the students are finished using them. I had a bucket of warm soapy water available on my desk.

  • Use one paper plate between 2 students for glue

  • Set up a “drying place” on a counter with students names on sticky notes. This way students know where to find/put their books during drying times.

  • Bling: sequence/flat beads from the dollar store

  • Write their names inside the front covers at the end

The students thoroughly enjoyed the process. I even found a few of them during recess writing poems and stories in their new books!

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