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Even though teachers have the summer off we usually have a hard time switching off our teacher brains. I find myself on my family summer holidays looking around and thinking about whether I can use different natural objects in my classroom. I can’t walk down a beach without picking up the perfect rocks to make story stones or build an Inuksuk. Every outing is an opportunity to find materials for a lesson.

My classroom is already full of natural objects both for play and specific lessons in math, science, or literacy. It is important for the students to collect some of these objects themselves so they feel ownership of their learning but also for me to provide some examples. I collect rocks and shells at the beach that speak to me and remind me of my experiences. This way I can show students how an object like a rock can tell a story or hold memories. We can then put all of our rocks together and turn the opportunity into a math lesson on sorting.

One year I set out to find the perfect set of rocks to make both a lower case and upper case alphabet. I used acrylic paint to write the letters and then put shellac to stop the letters from wearing off too quickly. This year I am looking to collect small pieces of driftwood so students can build the letters themselves. Unlike the rocks, the driftwood will likely need to be replaced again next year. I always have an eye out for something unique and exciting. This year I found a collection of rocks in the shape of hearts that I plan to use to inspire the students to find their own heart rocks that we will use for a lesson on kindness and caring. Summer is the perfect time to collect all of the treasures I need to inspire new learning opportunities for September.

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