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Is it Primary Math or Art?

by Chris Jenkins


Symmetry, grade one & two

Educators seem to be rushing to get through the curriculum.  I hear things like, ‘There’s so much to do in math!’ or ‘I don’t have time for the arts anymore.’  Here’s my survival secret  -  Plan ahead and try to piece the curriculum together in a logical and authentic way.  Help students make connections to all new learning by layering curriculum expectations instead of teaching subjects in isolation.  Think about the big picture – literacy and numeracy.


Some examples to get you thinking:

• Data Management or Health?  In small groups, ask your students to sort and organize food photos from grocery store flyers into four food groups.

• Social Studies or Writing?  Write a description about a person or a place in your neighbourhood.

• Numeration or Language?  Build a small store using classroom objects and the plastic coins. Label and price each object.  Invite your friends to purchase things at your store.

• Media, Mapping or Health?  Make a map of your home and show your fire escape routes.  Add a legend.  Present your ideas to the class on a poster.

• Algebra, Music or Dance?  Using an ABAC pattern, create a rhythm using clapping, snapping and slapping.  Using the same pattern, create a dance pattern using stepping, hopping and twirling.


Give yourself some time to wrap your head around all the components of the curriculum.  Make sure you’re using your teaching time effectively and get rid of the fluff. Sketch out long range plans that allow you to put the big pieces together in meaningful tasks and activities. Use flexible assessment tools that let you track a variety of information simultaneously.  Most importantly, remember that young children don’t think in subjects.  Teach from the perspective of the child and help each student make their own connections old and new learning.  Their learning will be richer and you’ll feel less pressured for time.


Share your own triple tested engaging activities that layer the curriculum for young children.



Christine Jenkins is a grade one teacher in Simcoe County. Over the past 24 years, she has worked as a Reading Recovery™ Teacher Leader, a literacy resource teacher, a literacy coach, and has taught grades one through 8. Chris  is passionate about teaching children to read, especially children at risk, and believes that success in the early grades is of the utmost importance. Since 2001, she has concentrated her own professional development in literacy instruction. She holds a Master of Education.


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