Sunday, September 27, 2020

Please Welcome Thomas Durwood an Award Winning Teacher



                                        About Mr. Thomas Durwood

   I most recently taught English Composition, World Literature, Business Writing and Public Speaking at Valley Forge Military College, where I was named Teacher of the Year five times. My cadets were perpetually tired from their military duties, so there was huge premium on classroom engagement. From this challenge sprang the attention-getting lesson plans in "Kid Lit." I was usually able to connect these building-block assignments to larger ideas and to critical thinking on a number of topics which the cadets found useful. I am also a children's author and father who loves thoughtful discussions with my kids!

                                 A Pathway to Critical Thinking

   Looking for topics to talk about with your kids? I promise that your kids have lots to say about the stories they have seen and heard. Kids have seen hundreds of versions of the coming-of-age story. They are well-versed in its conventions, and will surprise you with detailed and passionate opinions about everything from the powers of characters, to key roles and parenting. 

                                      Basic Rules of Literary Criticism 

    If learners can understand the basic components of their favorite children’s stories, this worthy skill can lead to a lifetime of critical thinking. Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism shows young readers and general readers alike how to recognize class, gender, story structure, Orientalism and trauma in children’s narratives. 

                                           Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism  

 The Kid Lit text offers techniques of new scholarship in children’s literature. Kid Lit includes 28 pages of lesson plans to help teachers leverage this idea-rich material into productive classroom sessions.

Readers will discover:

  • what story points have in common
  • a breakdown of Afrofuturism 
  • different villain categories
  • recurring literary characters such as the failed adult, savage conquest, and dream manic girl
  • what scholars of the family consider important
  • vital connection between movies and war  
  • social Darwinian structure supporting children's films  
  • similar story lines and movies


                                         How to Use “Kid Lit”

   “Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism” is meant to be a practical guide to literature, as practiced in a classroom for a fifteen-minute in-class writing exercise comparing sidekicks and common story points.

   Teachers can use the ideas in “Kid Lit” as an introduction to the world of critical thinking, using the stories the students already know so well. I hope you enjoy these lessons!    



                                          Thomas Durwood

Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism


Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism Lesson Plans


Monday, September 7, 2020

Please Welcome Mme Sutherland


Laying the Basis for a Love of French Language Learning


  Hello everyone! I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be featured on TiePlay Educational Resource and share my love for French Language Learning. Today, I will highlight a few of my favorite ways to create a positive and supportive French language environment and share one of my favorite teaching resources, which provides an opportunity for young learners to snuggle up with family and share their love of language learning.

                                                About Me

 I am a French Immersion teacher currently residing in the Ottawa area. I completed my Bachelor of Education in New Brunswick and have been teaching in the Ottawa area for 4 years now. I have taught French Immersion from Kindergarten to Gr. 8 as well as Core French in various elementary grades. I am currently LOVING teaching French Immersion in Kindergarten, where learning opportunities can be found anywhere and each new experience is beyond exciting. My Kinders have taught me so much and have brought many rewarding experiences to my teaching portfolio.

                               Creating a Love for French Language Learning

   I am often asked by parents if their child should remain in French Immersion. My belief is that a child who enjoys taking part in our French learning activities and feels accomplished in some way in their French Language learning journey is a child who will succeed. Creating a positive and supportive French Language learning environment is the basis to building confident language learners who will succeed with a growth mindset, and are engaged in learning activities. Here are a few of my favorite ways to create a positive and supportive French Language learning environment:

                                              Games Based Learning

   Games are a fun and engaging way to motivate students in the French Language classroom. Games are fun and create an easily relatable objective to a young learner. The mindset of a game creates an environment where everyone gets a turn, it is OK to make a mistake and we can always restart the game and play again! A great outdoor colours game for Kindergarten where students learn, run and have fun can be found at IDELLO, “Le marchand de couleurs”

                                         Sharing Successes

 Finding the opportunity to share a success of each student is a great way to build confidence and community within learners. I love ending the day with a closing circle, where I ask students to share something, such as, how a friend helped them that day. It is a rewarding opportunity to see each student light up when being recognized for their kind actions – it is even more rewarding when it is for helping them with French related learning, “P helped me find les crayons” or “K helped me write the word chat”. 

                             Creating Opportunities to Share French Language

   In the play-based learning classroom dominated by Anglophone learners, creating opportunities to speak French can sometimes be challenging. A fun and relatable way to encourage authentic French language learning is at the snack table! After recognizing the amazing conversations happening at our open snack table, I wondered how I could direct those conversations to French language learning. As a group, we had learned food vocabulary and how to say “Can you open this”. I began encouraging French conversation at the snack table by asking friends “Qu’est-ce que tu manges?” and if a student asked me to open a snack for them I would ask if anyone at the snack table could help our friend. There was always an eager handful of students willing to help another! So the question “Peux-tu ouvrir ceci” (Can you open this?) would be asked around the snack table, encouraging more student led French language learning.


               My Resources - Inspiring French Language Learning at Home

   Many Kindergarten classes have an at home reading program where students take home an alphabet book or easy reader and share this book with their family at home. I believe this creates an amazing opportunity for young readers to cuddle up with family members and share their reading journey and achievements. I wanted to offer this same opportunity to my French Immersion Kindergarten class but could not find simple alphabet readers in French. That is what inspired me to make this resource, a set of 24 Alphabet readers in French, which begin with just one word per page, building the confidence of the reader. Each alphabet book then repeats the vocabulary in a simple, repetitive sentence, helping young readers recognize French sight words. I also offer these Alphabet Books in an online, interactive BOOM Cards version which includes audio for independent reading and for parents who may have questions about pronunciation. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!!


French Alphabet Books + Interactive BOOM Cards



Let’s Stay Connected 😀

Instagram -

My Instagram page features helpful tips, resources and activities for French Immersion Parents and Teachers!


Teacher’s Pay Teachers

If you liked this resource and would like to stay up to date with other fun and interactive resources I;m creating, click the link above to follow my store.


Looking forward to connecting with all of you!

Mme Sutherland



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Back to School Distance Learning Linky Party

Add up to 3 distance learning products here, and 1 free product of any kind.

Happy linking!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Welcome Back to School and Distance Learning

Many students and teachers are heading back to school and in a distance learning situation. How should students and parents prepare for this new environment? Here are some helpful tips that may help your children to succeed. 

 1. Organize a study place. 
 The place of study at home could be a nook in a room with a bean bag chair, a traditional desk, yoga mat or all three. Whatever makes your child comfortable in the 6 hour long work day. You might even decide to have several study locations available for a change of pace. Add his or her school work schedule in a prominent location. Provide shelving or designate a place for reference materials, books, craft materials and other electronic devices. You and your child can craft decorations for the study place, add a colorful plant and provide inspirational posters. Scented plug ins for the room will give a nice aroma, such as lavender, pumpkin spice or vanilla. 

 2. Create a checklist of daily work for the week.
After creating the checklist, have your learner check off the assignments as they go. 

 3. Highlight due dates. 
Some work may not be due until the end of the week. Have your child work on the assignment daily or as required, so that the work will be completed in the best possible way and not all at once. 

 4. Create a distance learning work routine that includes breaks. 
 Some classes might be at a certain time of day where your child will need to be present online to contribute to the topic. Plan around these times and offer a time to relax, and off of the computer device. What does your child like to do? It may be time to make a craft, ride a bike, fiddle around in a garden, or draw and play some music. Try to limit computer or online games in favor of physical activities.

 5. Decide if you want to monitor the daily work or use a trust system. 
Make sure the assignments are completed or if your child is mature, use the trust system. Having a student learn to develop ownership of his or her learning is so important. But, sometimes when children are not ready to take on such a large task, parents need to check the work. Last year, a math teacher called the day before the end of the quarter to say not all work had been completed in my child's math class. This led to a race to the finish for my child to complete the work. How much real learning can be done in this manner? 

 6. Reward, reward, reward. 
Noted, work is not always rewarded in the regular work world. But, a child is not in the traditional work world yet. So, when your child has checked off all the work for the day or week, allow them to choose a reward. Having a treasure box or goody bag at home filled with small toys, crafts, squishy or slime and clay can make the end of the school week more fun. Also, playing family board games such as bingo or chess, having an indoor or outdoor picnic, or family movie with popcorn can provide something to look forward to for your learners during the week.

Stay safe!

Imagery supplied by

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Prize News

Prize News 

I just won a TPT Gift Certificate prize for $10.00 from Teachers Pay Teachers! I am very excited.
The best news is that I'm very grateful that I can pass this $10.00 award down to you.
My 600th TPT follower will receive a $10.00 gift certificate to be used on any Tieplay resource PLUS the $10.00 TPT gift certificate that can be used on any TPT resource. If you are follower #600, contact me at
So, this $20.00 gift card (in total) could be very helpful to the start of your new year. 
Tell your friends!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Please Welcome Fun Science with Mr Chun

First of all, I would like to thank Lynn of TiePlay Educational Resources, LLC, for giving me this opportunity as a guest blogger.

                                                                        About Tim Chun

   I am from Bayside, New York but I currently reside in Houston, Texas. I have been teaching for about 18 years and have taught students in grades 7-12 and currently teach biology & aquatics science. My most recent journey on Teachers pay Teachers began about a year ago. I am now starting my blog this year. I will be sharing about how to implement strategies in the classroom on my blogs. One of the things that I love to incorporate into my classroom is the Escape Room.

Student Engagement

   Student engagement is one of the most challenging obstacles in the classroom. The teacher will not be able to teach their lesson because they are disciplining the student and then students in the classroom will get frustrated because of all the disruptions. Does this sound familiar?

Escape Room Challenges

   One of the ways I solved this issue was to implement an Escape Room in the classroom. All I did was walk around the room and facilitate. There was engagement from all of my students because they were cooperating, communicating, paying attention to details, and having great teamwork. There was a 30-minute time limit for this activity. Here are some helpful tips when you implement the Escape Room activity in your classroom.

1.         Before you begin this lesson, make sure that you place students into groups of less than 3. Students need to get along in order to have a successful escape room lesson. Make certain that students are able to work with each other prior to implementing this lesson and confirm with them as well. This will assure you that there will be fewer issues on the day you are planning this Escape Room activity.       

2.         Make sure that your students have prior knowledge of the subject that you are using for the Escape Room. For example, I used the Virus Escape Room in my classroom but I didn’t plan on using this lesson until the end of my unit and used it more as a formative assessment. If the students have not built up their knowledge of the topic, their frustration level will be higher than normal. Students will begin to shut down. In order to minimize this, it is best that you use this towards the end of your unit plan.                                                   

3.         Let your students know that you are planning an escape room activity so that they are looking forward to that day. In 2019, I implemented 2 Escape Room activities. When I told my students that I was planning to do this activity, my students looked forward to that day.                                                   

4.     Challenge your students. There is only a 30% success rate in the actual Escape Room.

5.         As you walk around the room, provide support to students who are struggling with the clues.

  At the end of this activity, all of my students were able to remain focus and think outside of the box in the classroom and complete each task. They had lasting memories of my class and these are lessons that are very valuable that they will not forget.


Tim Chun

Teach 100