Indigenous Education – Ms. Chan's Class Blog

Category: Indigenous Education

Dear families,

I could use this blog title every week because every week feels like a fond week! 🙂

I am so grateful to end a lovely week at the Vancouver Aquarium on a beautiful day on our field trip. Deep gratitude to our parents who generously offered their gift of time and effort to supervise a group. We are grateful to Maissa’s mom, Enma’s mom, James L.’s dad, and Senara’s dad for your help! Check out the images of some of the animals and creatures we saw there!

Thank you to the fundraising efforts of our PAC Executive, more than half of the cost of this field trip was covered.

Our next steps will be choosing an animal or creature we would like to learn more about through research.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our lovely mothers!

We hope you enjoyed your special day!

From Ms. Kapusta: This week, we worked on a special art project: cards for Mother’s Day! We challenged ourselves by making 3D pop up cards using paper, recycled scraps, cardboard, and sharpie. We also challenged ourselves to draw different kinds of flowers. We ended off by writing a special message to our mothers. We also talked about the importance of all caregivers in our lives, including fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, etc. as every family is different and unique. We couldn’t be happier with how our cards turned out! You can tell that students put a lot of time and effort into their work and wanted to their best jobs. I hope you all have had a happy Mother’s Day this weekend! Mothers and caregivers, thank you for all that you do for your children.

We are artists. From Ms. Kapusta

April 30:

The students learned about a new Canadian Indigenous artist this week: Norval Morisseau! Norval was also called “Copper Thunderbird” and he was part of the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation. We observed some of his different artworks and discussed what we noticed, like his depiction of nature and animals and use of thick black outlines and abstract style. We also compared and contrasted this contemporary Canadian Indigenous artist’s work to some of the Coast Salish art we looked at last week. You can look at some of his work here and ask your child what they learned. We then began our very own Norval Morisseau art! We drew a copper thunderbird in sharpie and tried to emulate Norval’s abstract style through the use of soft shapes, curved lines, and symbols of nature. Next week we will be painting our work! The students were really excited about their copper thunderbirds and we can’t wait to see how they turn out once we add some bright, solid colours!

April 23rd:
This week, we learned about Coast Salish art. Students learned that traditionally Coast Salish people made their own paint, using natural elements like charcoal for black, copper for blue and green, ochre for red, clay for white, and moss for yellow. We also learned about the traditional Coast Salish shapes, including ovoids, trigons, u-shapes, circles, ovals, crescents, and extended crescents. We viewed some traditional and contemporary Coast Salish artworks and discussed how the use of shape and colour (Elements of Art) makes this type of art very identifiable and unique. Lastly, we reviewed the different local Coast Salish animals, including the bear, salmon, eagle, hummingbird, and whale, and their special meanings to Coast Salish people (like how whales symbolize community and family). Taking what we learned, students were given Coast Salish shapes to cut out and make into their own animal collage art. The students had a lot of fun arranging their shapes into different animals and creating backgrounds. 

Butterflies are free!

We had a great opportunity to join Ms. Rinaldo’s class on their butterfly release at Willingdon Park on Wednesday. These were painted lady butterflies.

One of the butterflies was not able to survive because the wings did not expand to dry properly so their wings did not develop the way they should have. We did a farewell to honour its life.



On the Trapline

We read a picture book that celebrate Indigenous culture and traditions. Then we had an opportunity to write our own connections to the story.

This is taken from Amazon: The Governor General Award shares a story that honors our connections to our past and our grandfathers and fathers.

A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago — a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.

How to support at home: What were some of your stories of spending time with your grandfather or grandmother? Share some fond memories with your child.

“Fond” was one of our new words this week. Many didn’t know what the adjective meant so using this word in your vocabulary this week can help solidify their understanding of the word fond.

We are mathematicians.

This week, we learned about measurement and the relation between centimetres and millimetres. They learned how to convert a measurement from cm to mm.

Then we extended this by learning about perimeter and how to measure it. Please feel free to review perimeter with your child at home. We will continue this week and move into learning about area as well. You are welcome to look for videos on YouTube that can help your child review this new concept.

Word Work

For our work work last week, we practiced past tense and learned that with regular past tense verbs, they ALL end with “ed” even though they have the /d/, /id/, or /t/ sounds.

Wondering Wednesday

We joined Ms. Santorelli’s class and Ms. Tai’s class on our shape search walk. They had so much fun looking and tallying all sorts of shapes in our environment.

This upcoming week

We have Sports Day on Friday! We will be telling students more about what to expect this week. There will be an early dismissal at 12:30 pm. Students on the hot lunch program will receive their hot lunch on this day. Your child is welcome to bring a lunch as well or eat at home after sports day is over. Families are welcome to attend and cheer students on!

Thank you so much for your continued support at home. You are an essential part of our learning and we appreciate you!

With much gratitude, Ms. Chan

Dear families,

I am the luckiest teacher ever to get to work with your children! Every week seems like a busy week full of learning but that’s not the best part. The best part is that we get to do it TOGETHER! What a blessing and pure joy to spend my time with them! Of course, you already know how much joy your children bring. I am always so grateful for their love, joy, and the fun we have as a classroom community.

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

This is the picture book version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I recommend this popular book if you haven’t read it yet.

Habit #5: Seek first to understand. Then to be understood. The lesson this time was about the importance of listening. Take a look at the image for the I statements, in particular: “I don’t interrupt whenever someone is talking.”

This has been an area that needs improvement so one thing we have been working on is being more patient by not interrupting my teaching or conversations. For example, when I am in the middle of a conversation with another adult or classmate. If you experience this at home, please remind them to be patient and to wait their turn to speak. We are working on doing this independently without reminders. Thank you!

The other thing we have been working on is responsibility for our belongings by picking up after themselves. We have many people who are willing to help clean up our classroom but if everyone did their part to begin with, there would be less to tidy up. Any opportunities at home to independently pick up after themselves will be great practice. Thank you!

Jump Rope for Heart

We started the week with Jump Rope for Heart. There is still time to donate. Please click here to learn more. Thank you if you choose to donate.

Thanks to our organizing committee, students had an opportunity to try six different stations with their big buddies and Ms. Allocca’s class. They had so much fun and were sweaty when it was all done!

We are mathematicians.

We continued to solidify our understanding of division and as it relates to multiplication. Further learning this week had us practicing the concept that we can do division by subtraction. After the lesson, we almost always practice the new concept with a partner first. Here it gives them an opportunity to practice their core competencies of communication and collaboration skills. I appreciate how quickly they set themselves up, how well they work together, and how engaged they ALL were in their learning! So proud of them!

It is also a fantastic opportunity for children who don’t know each other well yet or have had differences to learn together. This was what happened last week. A partnership between two people who had preconceived notions about each other ended up asking if they can be partners again in the future. This warmed my heart. This is one of many reasons why we explore new concepts together and with partners chosen randomly. Students have an opportunity to develop relationships and learn with others while developing their personal identities and social competencies.

How to support at home: Please review this video and ask your child to explain this concept to you. When learners can teach you, they demonstrate proficient understanding.

We were also introduced to measurement (mm and cm) and measured things around the room.

How to support at home: Take out a ruler and have fun measuring things around the home! Have your child estimate the length and then measure the items.

We are scientists.

Each week, we continue to check on the growing chum salmon in the library. This past week, we were blessed and grateful to have Ms. Reid give us a lesson on the life cycle of the salmon and to answer our many questions! I really enjoyed how curious they were by asking so many interesting questions.

They went from the egg to alevin to fry stage which is the current stage they will stay in at Kitchener until they are released in a few weeks.

The book We Are a Community was a great way to mesh science with Social Studies and learn more vocabulary about landforms and water sources. Here is an excerpt from Strong Nations website:

This book is about a river. Most rivers start high up in the mountains. As the water comes downhill, it makes little pathways in the rocks and gravel. As the pathways get bigger, they join to make streams. When several streams join, they make a river. Some rivers have waterfalls and deep pools. In some places, fast moving water tumbles over rocks forming rapids. When a river leaves the mountain for flatter ground it starts to slow down. Eventually, a river ends when it flows into the sea. Where the fresh water and the salt water meet is an estuary. 

The area in and around an estuary is a good place for plants, animals and people to live because we can all find food and water there. The salmon is an important food for many of us. 

People have paid attention to the life cycle of salmon for thousands of years. We have learned that sometimes we can help salmon survive by building a salmon hatchery along a river. Some hatcheries are huge while others are quite small. 

There are many sizes of rivers in the world. Some are wide. Some are narrow. Some are deep. Some are shallow. 

We are readers, listeners, and writers.

We read a story called A Simon for Salmon about a boy who saves a salmon by helping it get free.

If you would like to listen to the story with your child, click here.

We reviewed the three different ways we can make connections to the stories we read: text to self (a personal connection or something that reminds them of a personal experience), text to text (something that reminds them of another book or movie), and text to world (a connection that reminds them of something that happened in the world).

The Two Sisters is another book we read that is a story about the twin mountain peaks we see to the west of our school. We actually have quite a beautiful view of it from our classroom. Here is a synopsis from Amazon:

For the first time, Pauline Johnson’s “The Two Sisters,” a First Nations legend, is accompanied by sumptuous illustrations that showcase the splendour of the Salish Sea. The universal themes of Creation, courage, and peace run through this legend of two little girls who grow up to be courageous young women who help to bring lasting peace to their world. The story is supplemented by a reference section that will enable a reader, parent, teacher, or visitor to the coast to immerse themselves in the rich history of Coast Salish cultures.

Feel free to learn more here:

Big Buddies

The last few weeks, we have enjoyed our time with big buddies at Willingdon Park. This past week because of the rain, we visited their classroom. After helping them with their entrepreneur project, we played two games of Kahoot! We reviewed questions that tested our understanding of various life cycles and practiced multiplication with arrays. They have SO much fun playing as a team against each other!

Vancouver Aquarium Field Trip

So far, we have more than enough parent volunteers to help supervise. We are so grateful to those who have offered to spend the day with us! We can only take four parents on our trip because of our field trip funds and the number of free chaperones based on the number of students we have. If you have your own membership, please let me know. I know that some of you will need to take time off work so if you indicated you can volunteer but would like to change your mind knowing that we have more than enough adult supervisors, please let me know. Thank you!

Prior to our visit, we will be learning about some of the sea creatures we will see. This week, we started with learning about the sea otter. They really enjoyed viewing the live cam! Click here to watch them live!

Enjoy the long weekend! I am excited for our Pro-D day on Monday! One of the greatest joys this year was working alongside fellow colleagues like Ms. Hardie, Ms. Forbes, Ms. Chung, and Mr. Hunter on the Pro-D Committee to plan our learning days. We have worked hard this year in moving the school forward in terms of our two school goals of social emotional learning and reading comprehension. I love collaborating with others, using creativity, and connecting to improve the learning that happens at Kitchener!

We continue to have fun so time is flying by way too fast! It’s hard to believe it’s May this week! I am deeply grateful for your continued support at home. I love and appreciate you all!

Dates to add to your calendar

  • Monday, April 29 – Pro-D Day; students do not attend
  • Friday, May 17 – Sports Day & early dismissal
  • Friday, May 31 – 2 PM Early dismissal

Dear families,

Today is Earth Day and our Jump Rope for Heart event. To learn more, click here to visit our school website.

On Wednesday, classes all over Burnaby were invited to attend an Indigenous lesson. It was a Virtual Drum Circle and online teachings with honoured Guest Xwaluputhut, Patrick Aleck. As I was away this day, please ask your child about what they experienced and learned.

The Secret Pocket

Here is a summary from Amazon:

Mary was four years old when she was first taken away to the Lejac Indian Residential School. It was far away from her home and family. Always hungry and cold, there was little comfort for young Mary. Speaking Dakelh was forbidden and the nuns and priest were always watching, ready to punish. Mary and the other girls had a genius idea: drawing on the knowledge from their mothers, aunts and grandmothers who were all master sewers, the girls would sew hidden pockets in their clothes to hide food. They secretly gathered materials and sewed at nighttime, then used their pockets to hide apples, carrots and pieces of bread to share with the younger girls.

Based on the author’s mother’s experience at residential school, The Secret Pocket is a story of survival and resilience in the face of genocide and cruelty. But it’s also a celebration of quiet resistance to the injustice of residential schools and how the sewing skills passed down through generations of Indigenous women gave these girls a future, stitch by stitch.

After listening to this story, children may have more questions. Please feel free to have a conversation with your child about their thoughts and feelings about  the many hardships that children experienced in Residential Schools. Conversations at home and school are an important part of truth and reconciliation.

We are poets!


Students were introduced to the Haiku as a Japanese structure. The traditional haikus had three lines. The first and last line has five syllables while the middle line has seven. This was great review and practice for how to count syllables.

We read Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons. This was a book that offers 26 haikus about the four seasons. The author moves away from the traditional 5-7-5 syllable structure because english words typically have more than one syllable per word.

I loved the way the poet painted pictures for our minds to see. We are almost all finished our good copies which will go on display in our classroom soon!

I hope you enjoyed writing a poem WITH your child during our student led conferences!

We are mathematicians.


I am always so impressed with how quickly children learn. We were introduced to division concepts on Monday and by Friday, almost all were experts!

Students really love learning together to explore concepts. So many core competencies are practiced when they learn together: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, personal and social responsibility. It truly is heartwarming to see them work so well as partners.

How to support at home: Give a division question that will not result in having a remainder. For example: 20 ÷ 4 = 5 or 12 ÷ 3 = 4

What this represents is: The total number (20) ÷ the number of groups (4) = equals the number in each group (5)

Your child then would draw four circles to represent the number of groups and then divide the total number (20) equally into the groups to discover there would be 5 in each group.

We also learned there are three other ways to write the equation. Take a look at the images for how and ask your child to show you what they learned so far.

We are artists!

This week, students finished off their springtime animal art and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone’s work! We started off with the Read Aloud: “Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox” by Danielle Daniel, a story which gives an introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals. We spoke about the meaning of the bear and rabbit in our art. In the story, the bear is described as brave and confident, and the rabbit as creative and adventurous. Students then finished off painting their flowers, adding “texture” to their animals, and glueing their finished art onto coloured background paper. In this project, students “developed processes and technical skills in a variety of art forms to refine artistic abilities” (BC Curriculum Arts Education 2/3.) 

We also worked on finishing up our Spring Break paragraphs (where we focused on the skills of sequencing events and revising our work)  and “selfie” drawings. I’m hoping to have these done soon and to share them here with you. Although my time is limited with your kids, I always look forward to making new art with them every week! They bring such enthusiasm, creativity, and care into everything they create and it always shows in the final product.
We are athletes.
Students enjoyed their lacrosse lessons last week. Please ask them all about it!
Vancouver Aquarium Field Trip on Friday, May 10
The notice went home on Friday. Click here to download a PDF version. Thank you to the fundraising efforts of our PAC, the cost of the field trip was subsidized.
Unfortunately, the bus cannot accommodate parent volunteers due to space since we have three classes going. We will need one or two parents to help drive other parent supervisors. We will pay for your parking, thank you! We appreciate you!
If your child orders from the hot lunch program, a bagged lunch will be prepared for them on this day.
Whenever I think of you, my heart is always so full of gratitude. Thank you for your continued support at home as our partners! It really is so hard to believe that we are in our last term together. I tell your children every morning that I am glad to see them, I love them, and I appreciate how they bring me such joy. Just typing this instantly warmed my heart and brought an instant smile to my face! 🙂
Looking forward to having yet another fantastic and funtastic week with your children! Have a great start to your week too!
In appreciation, Ms. Chan
Dates to Note
  • Monday, April 29 – Pro-D Day; students do not attend
  • Friday, May 17 – Sports Day & early dismissal
  • Friday, May 31 – 2 PM Early dismissal

Dear families,

It has been a great first week back after spring break so far reconnecting and listening to our stories about how we spent the break!

We are poets.

This week, we started exploring our creative side as poets. We started the week with writing a poem titled “Who am I?” and then followed up with writing poems about our favourite things. Poetry is a great way to develop our personal awareness and identity (which are our core competencies we aim to develop every day).

We are looking forward to sharing them with you at our Student Led Conference this Thursday!

We are mathematicians.

We are having fun learning about multiplication concepts. Students have learned to demonstrate their understanding in multiple ways. Check them out!

We are artists.

Ms. Kapusta has been working hard to plan different art experiences for your children. Here are some updates from this week:

This week, we hung up students’ finished tulip origami art in the classroom and we can’t wait for families to see them during student led conferences next week!

Students also worked on their springtime animal art (inspired by this blog post: We finished making our bold and bright backgrounds featuring different flowers blooming. We then painted over the marker and crayon using water, which created a beautiful water colour effect.

We talked about value, an element of art, and how colour changes (it becomes lighter) based on how much water is added when painting. Next week we will be learning about texture and contrast as we create black and white animals to place over top of the paintings.

FROM March 12

This week, students finished their origami tulip art from last week. Students experimented with different sizes, styles, and colours of origami tulips and then glued them down onto a nature-themed background they decorated for a 3D effect. Some students even played with texture, using pine needles they found outside as grass. We also began some springtime bunnies inspired by this blog post: This week we worked on creating beautiful, bold, bright backgrounds featuring different flowers blooming. We talked about how bright colours will pop in contrast to the black and white bunny that will be placed on top. We also talked about the technique of using markers and crayons as we’ll be painting over their drawings with water to play with the value of colour. Stay tuned for photos of both the origami tulips and springtime bunnies, and please have a restful and refreshing Spring Break. 😊

FROM March 7

This week, students finished their mini spring weavings. By the end of the day, many students had made at least 2-4 separate paper weavings, which was great practice! It takes time and patience to build up the dexterity to weave using our fine motor skills and to get a grasp of the “over, under” pattern, and it was impressive to watch everyone’s resilience. Afterwards, we explored the process of making origami tulips. Students then glued them onto paper for a 3D effect and decorated the backgrounds. These will be hung up just in time for spring around the corner! “Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place) (First Peoples Principles of Learning).” Before we made our tulips, we talked about the signs of spring we’re beginning to notice and what we’re looking forward to in this upcoming season.

We are excited for you to come into the class during Student Led Conferences to see it with your own eyes and for your child to explain the process and their reflections.




Student Led Conferences

Please see my last email regarding sign up for Thursday, April 11 from 3:00 to 6:00 PM. Click here to go to bookings if you do not have an appointment yet. We are looking forward to having you in our class!

Thank you for your continued support at home. We appreciate you!

Sincerely, Ms. Chan and Ms. Kapusta

Upcoming dates

  • Friday, April 12 – 2 PM Early dismissal
  • Thursday, April 18 – Class photos
  • Monday, April 29 – Pro-D day; school not in session
  • Friday, May 10 – Field trip to Vancouver Aquarium; we will need parent volunteers, please
  • Friday, May 17 – Sports Day; early dismissal at 12:30 PM
  • Friday, May 31 – 2 PM Early dismissal


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