Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Games!

Assemble five items found from around your home that you are allowed to bring and willing to share. Please bring in a Ziploc bag for Monday, October 24th.

As part of the new Applied Design, Skills & Technology curriculum we’ll be Making, Tinkering and Engineering in Division 8.  Next week’s design challenge will be to design a simple game that uses objects found around your home .  Remember, makers are creative and resourceful with materials.

  • Be thinking of each object.  Pick up the object and think of all the things it can do.
  • Remember there’s no such thing as a silly idea…
  • How might you re-invent a game you know using these objects?
  • How might you make the game more or less challenging?
  • If at first your idea doesn’t work, re-think and re-imagine more possibilities.

Can’t wait to get started… I hope I’ve made ignited your curiousity for this upcoming maker challenge!

Homework: Parents Know Best!

Every year I think back to parenting our two children and remember the question of “How much homework is too much?” if any. Every year I have parents who request ‘homework’ to create a routine of ‘practice’ while other families have busy schedules and prefer no homework at all.

outside-playHere are my thoughts!  I think parents know best!  Please decide what works best for your child.  As a teacher I have told my students that I assign 30 minutes of homework every day!  Wait a minute you’re asking.  I encourage students to ‘play’ outside for 30 minutes a day!

If on the other hand you’d like to set up a routine for your child to have daily practice of Mathematics in particular, I’ve come across a possibility which might suit your needs.  I have paid for this download to use with my students. If you wish you can print it off at home and create your own homework routine.

Please find the attached document for October Practice  

– at home.

*Although this homework sample is from a previous year; it still provides lots of current ideas for appropriate student practice.


Gum & Stuffies

chewing-gumLet’s talk about gum!  Yes, to sugar free gum, that’s chewed quietly, respectfully and for the purpose of self-regulation. Unfortunately, there are some students who require consistent reminders about classroom expectations. There are pros and cons to chewing gum in the classroom setting and the debate continues. Students in Division 8 who wish to continue to chew gum however must abide by these considerations:boy-blowing-bubble

  1. We’re proactive and only chew gum in our classroom. We know that any adult at Aspen Park may ask us at any time to put our gum in the garbage and that we will respectfully follow their instructions.
  2. We’re proactive and choose not to chew during music, gym or while eating.
  3. We’re proactive and choose not to chew while public speaking or when sharing our writing aloud.
  4. We begin with the end in mind and  choose to chew quietly, respectfully, with our mouth closed and to not blow bubbles.
  5. We know there are consequences to our choices and actions:  If consistent reminders are needed we will lose the privilege of chewing for the remainder of the day! If the problem persists the privilege will be removed altogether.

stuffiesStuffies are warm, furry, cuddly and comforting!  They’re also an incredible distraction to many students.  I have asked all students to refrain from bringing stuffies to school.  I have also suggested that soon we will  have a special day, (date – TBA) where students will be invited to bring one special stuffy to school for the day.  Please help support your child to keep these beloved creatures and furry friends at home (unless they’re invited)!stuffed-cat


Many thanks!

Mrs. Jocelyn Bystrom

You’re Invited – Tuesday, October 24th

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.28.03 PM


An introduction to your child’s ‘E-Portfolio’ and ‘My Site’. 

Part 1.  (10 minutes) A teacher-led presentation on access, features and what’s new.

Part 2.  A student-led conference with an explanation of what’s in their portfolio & and opportunity to add comments.


Aspen Elementary School – Enter at main doors  and head upstairs. We’ll meet beside the library in the computer lab.


Tuesday, October 24th  6:30-7:30 p.m. (We promise to start and wrap up on time!)


Parents, Caregivers, Grandparents & Invited Guests – Anyone invested in your child’s learning. (Please bring your son/daughter. If you can’t attend please consider sending your child with a caregiver, relative or invited guest, who can share the information they learn with you afterward.  The goal is for your son / daughter to have an opportunity to share, teach and celebrate their learning with you.)


  • 10 minutes just isn’t enough to share everything your child and I want to share with you at parent/teacher  interviews.  
  • Gives your child a chance to be part of the conversation!
  • Opportunity for working parents to attend an evening session (*although this is not the time for a one on one p/t conference).
  • Help make sure you feel confident with the technology and how to access the assessment tools we’re using to share ‘reporting’ with you.

We’d be delighted if you can take the time!

Our Gratitude Tree: Let’s Be Mindful What We’re Grateful For!

I was pleasantly surprised what deep thinkers your kids are this afternoon as we discussed our ‘Classroom Gratitude Tree’.  One student suggested they were thankful for a doctor who  had saved their life, another student wrote about the unconditional love  they receive from their family and many students wrote about their appreciation for quality time with their families.  Come see our tree next week and watch it grow throughout the year as we reflect on just what we have gratitude for.  Idea retrieved October 4th from a blog titled: Premeditated Leftovers (click here to check it out).

Students were then asked to close their eyes and consider the following questions and how they might respond (silently in their heads) while I read these 25 Journal Prompts. A few sample question are listed below:


  • What is one thing that made you smile today?

  • What is one thing you love about yourself?

  • What is something beautiful that you saw today?

  • What is something you love about your parents?

  • What is something you love in nature?

  • Read more gratitude prompts! (Click here)


***Can each member of your family make a leaf for our Gratitude Tree? Each family member might make a leaf, write on it what you are grateful for.  Bring the leaves to school next week and  add them to our Gratitude Tree! 


Thank you for Returning Forms! – Re: IPAD / Computer Usage

Unless you haven’t had a look at the form yet; I’ve included it here.  One of the first apps we’re looking at is SpellingCity, which you can have a look at here. [* This is a free app for you to use with your child at home.  I have paid to use it as a teacher and set it up with our 1st spelling list including Place Value vocabulary. Your child can pre-test or test themselves on the list at any time using the app whenever they are ready by using the testing feature of the site.  We will also test in class next Thursday.  I have given each child a login and password to use and the program can be used on any electronic device including computers, IPADS or phones. The app keeps track for me each child’s progress and I will be monitoring their use of the app regularly.]  I’ve made it abundantly clear to division 8 students that they’re always to ask for parental permission and that using the app at home may be an earned privilege. They must always consider the use of the app as a responsibility which they must use in an ‘expected’, appropriate way.  

I suggested they ask you for 10-15 minutes and that they set a timer on the stove if you say ‘yes’.  Then when the timer goes off they take personal responsibility to log out as expected without reminders. 

Thank you to parents, who’ve already returned the signed forms re: IPAD apps or who’ve asked questions where they needed clarification.


Jocelyn Bystrom

5 Interesting Facts Challenge – due Thursday!

We’re just getting started with this challenge:  

(*see file below) 

  • The first step is just to think of and record your facts,
  • The second step is to bring them Thursday.
  • The third step will be to insert them into your E-Portfolio. We will do this together on Thursday in the computer lab. At that time I will also teach you  how to access your E-Portfolio if you don’t already know how. 


Thank you Division 8 for a Great Day at Mt. Washington

One of our proudest moments came at 7.0 km. 

A couple of hikers stopped us to say “that of all the school groups they’d met along the trail today (Psst: there were 8 other classes on the trail)  they felt our class was the most respectful and well-behaved!”  Way to go Aspen Park ambassadors!  

At 8.1 km we  celebrated with high fives and  many celebratory snapshots of our tired, but happy hikers!  Aspen students most assuredly demonstrated grit, perseverance and attitudes of kindness and positivity!

Thank you to each of the parent drivers & the chaperones extraordinaire: Tracy, Louis, Lana, Sarah, Nicole, Kim, Sonia, Sarah and Bill.  Forgive me – I hope I didn’t miss anyone!  This teacher was extremely proud of our exceptional students. I’m also pretty darn tired and ready for bed!  I wonder if your kids are as sleepy and filled with wonderful shared memories of our special day?  I hope they’ll share stories with you of our most marvellous adventures.


Parents who took photos – please do share them with me so that I can share them with the students. A reminder to please share them in a confidential way (usb stick or e-mail).  Please do not post any photos publicly on social media.    I will be adding many of the student requested photos to our class gallery for you to enjoy with your children. Next week,  I will be taking division 8 students to the computer lab for the first time, teaching them how to access their E-portfolios and to reflect on our glorious day up Mt. Washington!

Watch for an invite coming soon:  Parents, families and invited guests will be invited to a special ‘Family night’ for division 8.  It’ll be an opportunity to  learn about our E-Portfolios, how to access and enjoy the contents of student E-portfolios and what special plans we have in mind for Division 8 students and their families this year…

Please watch for details of the date and timing t.b.a. next week!

Our Big Hike – Thursdays Forecast: Sunshine & Fun!

Thank you to all our parent drivers and parent chaperones, who’ve volunteered to go on tomorrows hike in addition to ensuring all of the required paper work is in place.  We’re very grateful and look forward to an exceptional hike tomorrow up to Lake Helen McKenzie, Battleship Lake and around Paradise Meadows.  The weather forecast is for pure sunshine!  Hurray!

Parent & Student Reminders:

  • Please wear runners or hiking boots – no rubber boots, sandals or flip flops.
  • Dress in layers (*it’s often cooler up the mountain).
  • Parent discretion: sunglasses, hats and sunscreen as needed.
  • Please bring a water bottle and a large nutritious lunch.
  • Please choose a positive attitude and come prepared to have fun, get to know one another better as we walk, talk and visit and leave electronics at home. 
  • Students: Use kind words, encourage each other and be excellent ambassadors of Aspen Park Elementary, while sharing the hiking trails with other park visitors!

Reminders for Parents Chaperones / Drivers: (Please review)

  • Chaperones / Drivers: Please arrive, park and come into the classroom Thursday morning (tomorrow) at 8:45.  I will review expectations for students, drivers and chaperones prior to our departure at approximately 9:00 a.m.
  • Needed: I’d appreciate if one of the chaperones might be willing to carry a First Aide fanny pack (I’ll have it ready)…  It would also be helpful to be aware if any of our chaperones have current first aide training. Please e-mail me at:
  • Parent Chaperones –  Please bring cameras to help take lots of photos of students,  wildlife,  alpine plants the students would like to identify or just great ‘happy kid’ photos.  If you can later provide these photos to me on a usb stick,  or in another convenient, confidential way that would be most appreciated.  To honour confidentiality I would ask that no photos from the hike be posted anywhere publicly; but rather only provided to me for student reflection and E-Portfolios.  We will take a group shot at the end of the hike by the Paradise Meadows sign (please all meet at the sign prior to going to cars).
  • Drivers: Please ensure that you have the students I’ve assigned to you prior to leaving the school, that they each have a lunch, backpack to carry there own belongings and that their back pack is not too heavy.  If it is too heavy; we may want to leave unnecessary items (check with me) in cars; so that students are not carrying excessive weight!  This takes all the fun out of the hike!  
  • Drivers (return trip to Aspen Park Elementary) – Please make sure you have all the assigned kids back with you, and check in with me prior to leaving the parking lot.  All students must remain in the assigned cars unless I have confirmed alternate instructions with individual parent drivers.

    Thank you again for joining us on what will most assuredly be an amazing day of outdoor learning and fun.


Math Vocabulary – Homework Challenge



It’s challenging to learn and use the language of Mathematics without some of the basics.  Please help support your child at home to learn the following vocabulary, which we will also be practicing in class.

Extra Challenge – Can you identify the one word I spelled incorrectly?

digits two seven thirteen eighteen multiply expanded
one  three eight fourteen nineteen divide standerd
ten  four nine fifteen twenty equal place value
hundred  five eleven sixteen add  fun decimal
thousand six twelve seventeen subtract challenge base ten


Might you be a possible parent driver?

parent drivers 2015We’d like to get an initial feel as to the availability of  parent drivers for field experiences.  If you are available during the daytime on occasion or throughout the year, willing to ensure all your driving forms/paperwork are filed at the office and would like to join us or drive on the occasional field trip please send me a brief note at  At this time we’re considering the possibility of a fall walking/hike up at Paradise Meadows; but it would be a very short turn around time to organize and make happen. We would need to hear back very quickly from the necessary parent drivers, send out permission slips and get them back very quickly to make this work.   We’re currently considering Thursday, September 28th, 2017 as a potential date for this  (weather dependent) field trip if we can get enough rides for 22 students,  2 adults and  a minimum of 4 parent chaperones to hike with us.  

In your e-mail response please note if you can drive, how many seats you have for students, if you’re interested in doing the hike with us as a parent chaperone, if you have updated drivers license, abstract and insurance on file as well as if you have any skills or hobbies appropriate to our hike that you’d like to share with the group ( outdoor safety, alpine plants, animal lore, etc.)
Paradise Meadows
Looking forward to exciting possibilities,

Mrs.  Bystrom / Mrs. Volkers

Who’s Responsibility Is It Anyway?

Winning the Pencil War – An Effective Management System

(Idea retrieved and adapted from:, Sept,2017)




1. I will provide your child with a new pencil case that’s just for them.

2. I have prepared the pencil cases and will have them ready for Day 1.

3. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me Jocelyn Bystrom



  • In each pencil case will be 5 sharpened pencils and an eraser. (*I will be collecting pencils and erasers from your child’s school supplies to support this endeavour.)
  • Every Monday your child will have their pencil case returned to them with 5 sharpened pencils and an eraser, which will be each student’s responsibility to keep track of and return safely to their pencil case after every use.
  • On Friday, at 2:20pm pencil cases will be collected.  If all five pencils and the eraser are in the pencil case, your child will find a small prize in their pencil case come Monday morning when pencil cases are returned.
  • If there are any pencils missing, (THIS IS KEY) the pencil(s) WILL be replaced, but no prize will be given.   All pencils need to be in good condition (no erasers snapped off or broken) to receive the prize.
  • If pencils are missing, I will place a note inside the pencil case saying: “Try again next week!”
  • Bottom line: The pencils are the student’s responsibility.
  • What to do if you if you find yourself with an extra pencil or you find one on the floor?
  • Be a “Bucket Filler” and give it to someone who’s missing a pencil.  If you know who it belongs to,  return it to them with a smile.

What’s New for 2017 – 2018?

Welcome to our blog!  Together we’ll learn to take responsibility for adding content to our blog and to become wise and responsible users of technology.   Our blog will be a place to celebrate our learning, inquiry and reflection! It is my hope that you’ll experience our classroom as a safe place where you can confidently take learning risks and grow your leadership capacity.

imagesAt Aspen Park we’re a ‘Leader in Me’ school!   Just recently, I read an article titled:  Where Leaders Grow  by   written June 19th, 2014. You can retrieve the article at: tlim_logo@2x

The article asks: “Do you ever dream about a place where everyone feels at home, content, and confident—where everyone knows who they are, what they enjoy, and how they want to make a difference in the lives of others? In such a place, you feel the passion and energy in a way that is contagious. Now, imagine finding read more” (Holland, 2014)

It’s my hope that our learning environment will be such a place where each of us feels at home, content and confident!

Let’s have an awesome year together,

Mrs. Jocelyn Bystrom

It’s Auction Time – June 26th

At long last the day is almost here.  Monday, June 26th the Division 8 hammer will drop on the 1st inaugural classroom auction.  With Bystrom Bucks, wallets and bank books in hand students will be able to bid on items they wish to purchase.  

  • What strategies might be helpful to have the winning bid? 
  • What rules will we use for our classroom auction?
  • What items will students be bidding on?  
  • Do we get to keep what we bid on?  YES!  

These questions will be answered so that students are ready to actively participate, have fun and think strategically while bidding.  Watch for a newsletter coming home Monday with details.  

Might you have any gently used, pre-loved items in excellent condition that other kids might like to purchase?  We’re now welcoming any items you may wish to donate for our auction the week of June 19th-23rd. Each item dropped off by next Friday will be cataloged, tagged and ready for the auction!  Thank you in advance for your contributions of pre-loved items.

  • Please bring in any larger items  Thursday or Friday,
  • If its a collection of small items to be sold as a group please put it into a Ziploc bag,
  • Please make sure your child is okay with what you’re sending so they aren’t surprised to see something that belongs to them being sold at the auction.

Thank you also for supporting this exciting event.  This will be a highlight for sure to our year end classroom economy.  Student wallets are currently thick with cash; eagerly awaiting the big event Monday, June 26th!

Let’s Celebrate – Division 8 / Can you help?

Its difficult to believe we’re at the beginning of June and making plans to celebrate another successful year of learning!  Division 8 will celebrate with a year end field trip to Riverside, Simms Millennium & Lewis Parks on Thursday, June 22nd.

In preparation we’ll be learning about how to responsibly ride public transportation as well as to plan a route to our destination as we head off to three of downtown Courtenay’s most incredible parks where we’ll exercise, play, picnic and swim!

We’ll be walking and then riding on Comox Valley Transit as we head to downtown Courtenay!  Check out this link with your kids at home in preparation for our big day!  More information and details to be announced shortly.  Please watch for a request for parent chaperones, parent drivers and permission slips coming home Monday. *If you’d like to join us for the day please e-mail Mrs. Bystrom directly at:

Track & Field Jamboree – Monday

Parents & Students  – “On your mark, get set, go!”

It’s time for our annual track and field jamboree when all students grades 4-7 from Aspen Park Elementary are bused to the track at Vanier Sports center.  Monday, May 15th is the date!  (*** Grade 3 students will remain at Aspen with Ms. Merritt Monday.)

What to remember:  

  • dress for the weather with layers  (consider wind, rain and sun)
  • bring and wear a hat  (rain or sun),
  • sunscreen,
  • bring a warm jacket (doubles as something soft to sit on or picnic blanket and for warmth if you get chilled.)
  • bring a water bottle, refills are available at the track!
  • wear running shoes, shorts and a t-shirt ( Aspen students will have an Aspen jersey to wear) as there will be many students from other elementary schools.
  • Bring a healthy snack and a larger lunch for the whole day… activity and fresh air mean you’re usually hungry),
  • Choose a positive attitude:  Participate in as many events for your age group as you wish.  It’s much more fun to participate and know you’ve tried your best.

Remember:  It’s okay to make mistakes; its a mistake not to try!

Egg Cartons & Toilet Tubes – Please!

Phil Brown, art teacher extraordinaire has inspired our next art project for which we’ll need egg cartons & toilet tubes and empty, flattened cereal boxes Friday or Monday.  I wish to give credit where credit is due so here is a link to her website:  Idea retrieved May 3,2017   

Check this out:  Next UP – Flying Pigs! Your child may decide to express their imagination and create something magical, imaginary and completely fun and unexpected; so perhaps not a flying pig.  Click on the ‘Flying Pigs’ for links and directions to the site.

If anyone spots ‘Art Paste’ made my either Elmers or School Speciality around the Comox Valley; please let me know as I’d like to buy some for this project.

Thank you in advance for keeping an eye open for this specialty product mentioned in the following article.




I Care About You – Child & Youth Mental Heath Awareness!

Today we kicked off our Child & Youth Mental Health Week on the theme of “Caring, Connected Relationships”.

All week long students can sign in each morning if they bike, scoot or walk to school.  Students are encouraged to wear green and to ask the question:  What is mental health?  This would be a great dinner table conversation for families.

All week long I will post here things that we’re doing in class related to this theme.  Check back for updates.

What is a Pecha Kucha?

Just picture an oral presentation where you tell all about what you know while in the background you have a Power Point presentation of 20 images that are timed for 20 seconds each.   This style of presentation originated in Japan and is lots of fun!  I’ve done it with my students previously and its a really great way to learn how to present to an audience with the help of images as aides to remembering the details.

For more information here are a couple of links:

  1.  Pecha Kucha – Frequently Asked Questions
  2. An example of a child’s Pecha Kucha?  Racing Greyhounds
  3. Another example of a child’s Pecha Kucha – Art Evolution

Our Animal Research Project & Pecha Kucha