Friday Two Cents: The Days I Have Learned To Look Forward To


Well another school year has come and gone and in its wake a new batch of children will be moving on to the next grade with new knowledge that will be forgotten by the second week of July.  Ha Ha Ha Just joking, maybe.  However, the children are not the only ones who learned a thing or two.  I too learned a few things and I would love to share this new-found wisdom with you all.


  1. Teachers have endless amounts of patience, because the children in the classroom have none.  You may tell them that you will get them something in a couple of minutes but once you turn around they will ask if you have gotten it for them yet.
  2. No matter how many classrooms you go in, there will always be a class clown.  They say there is always one with a smart remark at any given moment and they are right. 
  3. If a student asks a question and you answer it, be prepared to answer the same question for every child in the room.  Sometimes you may answer the question more than once to the same child.  My record is 6 times in one afternoon by a fourth grade boy.
  4. For some reason a child’s voice is painfully loud when they are playing or doing something they like.  But when they are addressing the class or the school they are as quiet as church mice. 
  5. But I think the most important lesson occurred the last day of school.  After all the trials and tribulation, answering the same question 6 times, dealing with class clowns and running out of patience, the graduating grade fives can still steal your heart away. 

I arrived yesterday to see the grade fives after the last bell rang for the year.  Three senior girls came up to me and said, “I going to miss you the most Mr. Paul.”  They gave me a hug and started to cry.  It took all my strength to control myself and just hug them back saying, “It’s ok to feel this way.  I am going to miss you all too.” They continued to hug me harder for about 10 more minutes with tears in their eyes. 

 No matter how much you plan and look forward to the end of the school year, you can never prepare yourself for the flurry of emotions from these kids.  The hardest part of the job is not the work or the endless hours of prep or even the constant bashing from the public.  Its saying goodbye to children you have seen grow over the years and you know they will be great people when they grow up, but you won’t see it happen. 

But if you are lucky, they will return and visit.  Those are the days I have learned to look forward to.


Have a Happy and Safe Summer!!

Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Aphrodite


“Distraction on Olympus” is a project I worked on with my students at the school I work in.  It was a final project in a drawing club the children where in when I taught them how to draw in the style of comic and cartoon characters, they were most familiar with.  The class had decided to go with the theme of the Greek gods and I would help them draw a scene around that idea.

In the process of creating the scene, the children asked to be represented as the gods in the project.  They would choose who they wanted to be draw as from the Greek gods.  In the class just about every girl wanted to be drawn as Aphrodite.  It was a difficult choice but I had to choose by flipping a coin so not to upset the girls.  The girl who was finally drawn as Aphrodite was happy and I told her a bit of Aphrodite’s story.  Not the whole story, I abridged a great deal.

Aphrodite (or Urania) was born when Uranus’s genitals were cast into the sea and she arose from the foam as the beautiful and irresistible goddess we see today.  Her name comes from the Greek word for foam (aphros) because she arose from the sea-foam where she was born, yet she was also described by other terms.  Since her father was Uranus, god of the heavens, she was also known as Urania meaning Heavenly and Celestial. 

As you may have gathered, Aphrodite is known as the goddess of beauty, love and marriage.  She was a very powerful goddess.  She was also worshiped for many things ranging from marriage to prostitution.  She has inspired many artists to create works of art, music and literature. 

Many deities also attended Aphrodite. Some include:

  1. The Three Graces – the Charites are females that represent the aspects of charm and loveliness. 
  2. The Hours or Season –  the daughters of Zeus and Themis: Horae meaning hours, then time and then seasons.  There are four that represent the beautiful qualities of the different times of the year. 
  3. Eros – in Greek Myth he is named Eros but many today know him by his other name, Cupid.  In Greek Myth he came out of Chaos and then attended Aphrodite when she was born.  In the Roman or other texts he was the son of Aphrodite and Ares.  He was a handsome god of love and desire, but in either case he was Aphrodite’s closest friend and confidant. 

I drew Aphrodite with long curly blonde hair as many have done.  The good fortune is that the girl I modeled her after had the same type of hair.  She is mainly drawn in the nude or partially nude but with the children, I drew her with a dress, with the colour of light blue like the sea she was born from.  If you look carefully she is wearing sea shells as jewelry also from the birth from the sea.  She has her hand on her heart and looking down at someone, looking very pleased.  You’ll see why in a few weeks. 

The girl was very pleased with the drawing and enjoyed it tremendously.  I hope you enjoy irresistible Aphrodite as many have. 

Aphrodite - the Goddess of Beauty, Love and Marriage

Aphrodite – the Goddess of Beauty, Love and Marriage


Friday Two Cents: Fun At The Zoo


Sorry it’s taken until Saturday to post this Friday’s “Friday Two Cents”. 

Friday was a big day all around for the children in the kindergarten class.  We had just had graduation, for the senior kindergarten’s the day before and Friday we all went to the Toronto Zoo.  We all wanted to see the animals but everyone wanted to see the Giant Pandas.

If you have an opportunity to see the Giant Pandas, I strongly suggest it.  Yes, they are an endangered species and they are so rare that we may never see one alive soon.  But because of that rarity, I think it makes them so amazing.

The Chinese government only lets these magnificent creatures out of China only on rare occasions and it is an honour to see one of these creatures alive.  It is the same when you go see other natural wonders like Niagara Falls, the Grand Cannon or dolphins or whales swimming near your boat.

I know this wasn’t all that exciting for the children but for me, it was inspiring.  I took a lot of photos of the Giant Pandas so I can remember and be moved to create.  We also saw many other animals and they are all wonderful.  I have posted these images but I know they will inspire something great within me.  Hopefully they will inspire you too.


Comic Strips: Among the Stars


This latest comic strip is the last for the school year.   As in the previous years I placed every student in the comic and gave him or her all a final farewell message.   I also gave the school a copy for the year book they give to the graduating class.  Well they loved it, as did the grade 5’s.  I hope you enjoy it as much as they did.

In the first year I positioned them in a class photo layout.  I the second it was a collection of different looks and costumes to represent the different people you might meet in life.  With this years group I wanted something fun and close to my personality.  I wasn’t sure what theme to put them into but once I saw a movie I knew what I wanted. 

If you do not know I have been a life long Star Trek fan and the latest movie inspired me to create this comic.  I thought how could I incorporate this into the comic, then it hit me.  I heard of a quote to “Always shoot for the Moon.  Even if you miss you will land among the stars.”  This was the quote I needed to inspire me. 

I took all the characters for the year, fixed them up a bit and placed Star Trek logos on the shirts.  However, I wanted a bit more.  The tall girl in the centre was drawn in that pose and I knew I could make her add a bit more to the picture.  Therefore, I redrew her hand into the shape of the Vulcan salute.  You know the one when Spock holds up his hand and says “Live Long and Prosper”.  

Well she added a great touch to the comic but I needed something else for the background or setting.  That is when I remembered the space shuttles.  Everyone thinks that Nasa had only five shuttles in the program.  Columbia was the first, Challenger number two, Discovery, Atlantis and finally Endeavour.  But in reality there were six with the prototype before Columbia.  It was called Enterprise, named after the ship from the original Star Trek series. 

If you look closely, you can see the Enterprise in the background and the children standing in front of it.  A fitting tribute to the children boldly going and being among the stars.

 I hope you all enjoy it and good luck graduating class. 


Friday Two Cents: The Children Are Awe-Inspiring


For the past couple of weeks I have been supplying in a kindergarten classroom with a great bunch of children and teachers.  The teachers have been telling me that I have inspired the children to do and try different things.  But the thing is that they have inspired me along the way.   They have inspired and given me hope that this country will do all right.

As part of the curriculum of the class, the teacher introduced a learning package she got from Elections Canada.  In it the children would have the opportunity to choose or vote for their class mascot.  However, they would not just look at a photo of a mascot but go through the entire electoral process in choosing one.

The mascots were introduced as candidates for the position of class mascot.  Each candidate was an animal from northern Canada and each one had a campaign speech and song they used to make their case to the children.  The package had a teacher booklet, CD with audio speeches and songs, as well as posters of each candidate.  The children also received an activity book with colouring sheets of each candidate and other activities for them to do.  Amazing!

When I learned about this program I became very excited and curious on how the children would react to the process.  The package gave instructions and information on the entire electoral process.  Everyday the children were introduced to a couple of candidates (one in the morning and one in the afternoon).  We would talk about and describe each candidate, their habitat, what they ate and some other info on them.  After we would hear the campaign speech and song from the candidate.

This Monday was voting day and we went through the candidates’ speeches, songs and what they stand for one last time.  We then talked about the voting process and how to vote.  They even gave us voting cards, a ballot box and screen.  I was once a deputy returns officer for an election, so I did the same duty here, but I had an enthusiastic Sr. Kindergarten help me as a poll clerk.

We had a voters’ list and he would check mark the people off the list once they voted.  He was absolutely adorable when the other children came up. He would ask, “Name please.” in a professional voice and them mark them off the list.  After everyone voted, he helped me count the results and he was very serious about it.  By the way, the candidate “Sam” won the election and is now our class mascot.  (See photos below)

All the Candidates

All the Candidates

Teacher Package

Teacher Package

Speeches and Info on Candidates

Speeches and Info on Candidates

1st Candidate: Charlie the Raven

1st Candidate: Charlie the Raven

2nd Candidate Desneiges the Polar Bear 3rd Candidate Max the Walrus

2nd Candidate Desneiges the Polar Bear
3rd Candidate Max the Walrus

4th Candidate Neevee the Caribou 5th Candidate Sam the Grey Wolf

4th Candidate Neevee the Caribou
5th Candidate Sam the Grey Wolf

Activity Booklet for the children

Activity Booklet for the children

The whole process was a great learning experience for the children and I absolutely loved it.  The children learned about our democratic system by participating in an election of their own.  They learned about different animals from northern Canada, and we even learned the native names of the candidates.  What is more inspiring than a young person learning something new and having fun doing it.  Trust me the smiles on their faces when they where participating was more than enough proof, but also awe-inspiring to me.


Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Dionysus


“Distraction on Olympus” is a project I worked on with my students at the school I work in.  It was a final project in a drawing club the children where in when I taught them how to draw in the style of comic and cartoon characters, they were most familiar with.  The class had decided to go with the theme of the Greek gods and I would help them draw a scene around that idea.

In the process of creating the scene, the children asked to be represented as the gods in the project.  They choose their own character of who they wanted to be.  Dionysus was not on anyone’s radar but I suggested him to a boy who I thought brought out Dionysus character traits.  As with many of the children he wanted Zeus or Poseidon but after I told him about Dionysus he liked the idea.

Dionysus is the son of Zeus and a mortal Semele, daughter of Cadmus.  Hera was jealous and convinced her to trick Zeus into revealing his full divinity to her.  Of course she burst into flames when he did so but Zeus retrieved the unborn child and placed it into his thigh until it matured.  He was raised by nymphs and Semele’s sister Ino on the mountain of Nysa.

Dionysus is the god of vegetation but most particularly fruit of the vine or grape and the making and consumption of wine.  He represents the emotional and irrational side in humans.  The violence, fanaticism or extremism and the ecstasy and religious experiences; he is both the yin and yang.

A famous poem, the Homeric Hymn of Dionysus, recounts the story when pirates captured him.  They kidnapped him and tried to tie him to the mast but the ropes would not stay on.  Only the helmsman realized they have captured a god, but his warnings to the crew were ignored.  He created miracles on the ship that astonished the crew.  He creates a vine that twisted around the mast that produced flowers and grapes.  He created a ferocious bear and he also turned into a lion.  The sailors were so frightened they jumped off the ship and were instantly turned into dolphins.   He revealed to the helmsman his true identity and he took pity on him.  He spared his life, one of the few gods to show mercy.

I created Dionysus lying under and apple tree sleeping.  I also added a wine urn to say that our buddy here is just sleeping off a good few hours of drinking. A reference to his wine which he is associated with.   The child liked the idea and I told him that Dionysus was the original party animal.  He liked that idea too.

Hope you enjoy.


Dionysus: god of vegetation but most particularly fruit of the vine or grape and the making and consumption of wine.

Dionysus: god of vegetation but most particularly fruit of the vine or grape and the making and consumption of wine.

Friday Two Cents: A Lesson In Happiness


This week I experienced a moment when my university courses came into contact with my professional life as a teacher.  In the course we are reading a book called “Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World” where the two authors share their insights into moments from their life that helped them go onto the path of helping the less fortunate.

I was reading a chapter where they were discussing the Happiness in America.  That despite a high standard of living, money and comforts brought on my technology, peoples’ happiness levels have not moved since the 1950’s.  Maybe money cannot buy happiness.

Studies and polls done on the subject of happiness conducted around the world show that countries in the developing world show a higher happiness level than Americans.  It would appear they are not happy with what they have, they want more.  Even if people win the lottery after the initial celebration of winning, people begin to become complacent and want more to feel those emotions again.

My first thoughts were, “Yeah right.  People are not like that here in Canada”, unfortunately I experienced two grade 5 boys acting like many people described in the book.  They would appear to have a good life, parents with good jobs to give them what their parents never had, an education, peaceful surroundings and opportunities.  However, these two continue to want more.

Don’t get me wrong, I tried to see that they are just curious or hungry for knowledge, but I missed the mark.  These two went on strike and would not participate in activities because the ones the teachers where doing were boring.  Yet we asked the other children and they were fine with them.

We asked the two what was this all about and they said they were representing the other grade 5’s and wanted more.  So we told them to write down what they wanted and we would try to accommodate them.  Once I saw the lists I knew right away that these “demands” had nothing to do with the grade 5’s but what the two wanted.  I can say that because the demands where very specific to reflect the two’s interests and not the grade 5’s in general.

All I could think about was the words from the book about the people with a lot more than others, always wanting more.  I saw a real life example of the decadence and greed in our society reflected in these two adolescent boys.  All I could think about was how I had failed to teach them this important lesson about thinking of others not just themselves.

I know that this is not my responsibility alone, but I knew that I had to at least make some difference.  Therefore a couple of days after their demands they came to me with more demands.  I did something they did not expect, I said a flat-out, “NO.  I will not listen to your demands any more.  You have gone too far and you will not get anything else.”

They were taken aback by this and was about to continue but I cut them off and asked them a question.  I said, “I have been supplying at other schools with children who would beg to have the programs you have here, because they don’t have any.  They are content and happy with what they have. Why is it that you are not?  Isn’t there a word we have for people who constantly want more and more just because they want to?”  They didn’t answer and I saw in their eyes they knew the answer, but I told them it anyway. “Greed.  I think you should be grateful for what you have and be happy with what you’ve got. There are a lot of other children who will never have what you’ve got and they are happy.”

They walked away not saying a thing.  Hopefully, a lesson in being happy with what you have, was learnt that day.

Comic Strips: A Student’s Work / Trying Something New


Usually I post comic strips that I create for the children that get posted in our monthly newsletter.  But in this rare occasion I would like to share with you a creation of one of my students.

In the school I work in I do many different clubs or classes for the children.  They range in interest from Baseball to art.  One club in particular, the children had an opportunity to flex their literary and creative muscles in the Journalism Club.  In it the children would write articles and I would place them in the monthly newsletter for the parents.

They would write movie and book reviews, articles on different subjects and of course one child would write and draw a comic. This one month I had a young man who wanted to create a comic but he did not know what to write about.  As I tell the groups before they choose an area to write about that comics are one of the most difficult things to create.  Making people laugh with words is not an easy task.

For the children who create the comics I give them a free range with no limits except it must be clean.  Our budding artist was stuck on what to make.  So I tried to help him with some ideas to get him going but it was hard to come up with something that would appeal to adults (the parents are our target audience not kids).

I do know that he has a passion for primates and I was steering him in the direction for using that passion in a comic.   We came up with several topics and he liked a few.   We went over the final idea for the comic and he liked the whole tone and concept of it.  However, he told me something that he was a bit embarrassed about.  He said he could not draw.

Now I sat him down and said “Bud, in the beginning I didn’t know how to draw either.  But I learned and practiced until I could. All you need to do is try.”  He was encouraged by this and I got him on a website that shows you how to draw.  We started to draw and I showed him a few things and he picked it up right away.

He went through a few tries but the final product was great.  Even the conversation in the comic was improved on as we went on.

He took it home, his mom helped with encouraging words and what you see below is truly fantastic.  It is smart, insightful and well drawn.  I told him that I was proud of him for trying something new and that he could do anything he wanted to do.

I asked him if I could post it on my Blog.  He was ok with it, but the smile on his face said it all. Buddy, you did a great job and you should be proud of yourself. I know I am of you.

I hope you all enjoy a young students first try at something new.


A student's First Step into Creating

A student’s first try at somthing new.

Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Hephaestus


“Distraction on Olympus” is a project I worked on with my students at the school I work in.  It was a final project in a drawing club the children where in when I taught them how to draw in the style of comic and cartoon characters, they were most familiar with.  The class had decided to go with the theme of the Greek gods and I would help them draw a scene around that idea.

In the process of creating the scene, the children asked to be represented as the gods in the project.  They choose their own character of who they wanted to be.  No one choose Hephaestus but I modeled him after a child in the class.  He wanted to be Zeus or Poseidon, but we weren’t using them or Hades in this project.  I wanted the children to learn about different Greek gods and not just the six original Olympians.

The child did not know much about Hephaestus but I told him that he was the god of the forge and creator of arms of the gods.  After I told him a bit more about Hephaestus he was all right with the choice and felt a bit pleased with it.  You see the child was a good artist and great with his hands.  You give him a project to do and he will create wonderful things out of anything. Once I told him that Hephaestus created beautiful pieces of art out of almost anything, he was hooked.

I did not tell him the whole history about Hephaestus.  Hephaestus had a rough ride from the beginning.

Poor Hephaestus was a lame god and the son of Hera and Zeus, or sometimes the son of Hera alone.  His mother, ashamed by his disfigurement, cast him out of Olympus.  On another occasion Zeus hurled him down from Olympus because he interfered in a fight between Zeus and Hera.

He was married to the gorgeous Aphrodite, but she would always go to Ares and had “encounters” with him.  This enraged Hephaestus and he built ways of capturing the two in the act.  On one occasion he created unbreakable chains that was as fine as spider silk. He caught the two and displayed them for his amusement.

Hephaestus was reinstated to Olympus and became the great artisan and blacksmith of the gods.  He had the 3 Cyclopes help him in his workshop and he created wonderful masterpieces including the following.

–       The Shield of Achilles

–       The silver Bow and Arrows of Artemis and Apollo

–       A chain net of unbreakable chains as fine a spider silk.

–       The Spear of Athena

–       The Breastplate of Hercules

–       The Specter of Zeus

–       The battle armor of the gods

–       Jewelry

–       The first robots that helped him get around.

I drew Hephaestus working on a sword and with a forge that looked like the top of a volcano.  In many stories he uses volcanoes as his forges.  If you think about it, Hephaestus is the only Greek god that is in manual labour.  Poor Hephaestus is just a working Joe like many of out there.  However, he works hard for his craft and makes the most amazing creations.  A true artisan to be revered for his talents.

The Artisan and Smith to the gods.

Friday Two Cents: Every Life That We Touch


Sorry I am posting this issue of Friday Two Cents on Saturday, but that is what happens when you have a crappy Internet provider like Bell.

This past week I started reading a book called “Me to We; Finding Meaning In A Material World” by Craig and Marc Kielburger.  I am reading it for a course I am taking about Community building.  I finished the first two chapters for the class and it was interesting.  It recounts the life changing moments that turned these two brothers into activities for child labour practices and the conditions of the poor in the developing world.

These experiences profoundly changed their lives into helping others and making a difference in people’s lives.  These stories made me pounder something very interesting though.  Should I judge my life by what these two people accomplished by the age 12 and 18, and if so was my life a waste if I don’t measure up?

The answer I came up with is a resounding no.  If these two individuals found life satisfying goals with their activism, great for them, but someone else may find satisfaction someplace else then how less satisfying is that.  I think we all find fulfillment in our own way and we shouldn’t judge or compare our lives to other people.

I find satisfaction in helping kids learn new and wonderful things.  This past week I supplied at another school where I brought in my puppets and showed them how to draw.  The teachers told me it was great that I came in and provided a new experience for the children. A moment they will remember for a long time.  I felt gratified by what they had to say and I felt good that I helped a group of children experience something new.  I didn’t fly to another country to do it, it was in the same town I live in.  I touched those children’s lives and I hope it is for the better.

It’s great that people go to other countries and help others but I know there are people who need help and encouragement right here at home.  I think we can all change the world with every life that we touch, no matter where we go.


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