Shelley Smith – Excellence in Play Based Learning

Year: 2021 — Province: Saskatchewan
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Holy Trinity Catholic School
Warman, Saskatchewan


“Our child comes home every day telling us how much fun it is to be in Ms. Smith’s classroom. Her play-based learning approach is amazing. She has given them a love of learning. It is fantastic to see them grow into such kind and confident learners.”


Teaching Approach

Shelley’s philosophy is focused on her students becoming peacemakers and leaving a peaceful legacy. Shelley uses the Second Step program, Treaty Education, Gospel Virtues and the Seven Sacred Teachings to support problem solving and she shares the concepts of justice and equality. Through her guidance and example, and with role modeling and daily guided practice, students learn to become assertive problem solvers.

Shelley creates a highly motivating learning environment through innovative teaching strategies. Students are engaged using hands-on activities on the SMART board as well as creative activities with ipads. The physical structure of her classroom changes several times throughout the school year to provide new and exciting ways for students to learn. She uses a “centre” approach to teaching. Each centre is enriched with numeracy and literacy tools to assist students acquire these two vitally important skills. As the year advances, she creates groups called independent cohorts. In that context, students know that they have to problem-solve on their own, without the help of an adult. This approach allows her to teach not only academics, but also develop independence and responsibility.

In the Classroom

Shelley’s kindergarten classroom is a learning environment that fosters creativity, imagination and excitement. All curriculum areas are woven into play-based learning experiences. COVID restrictions and protocols have made safe inquiry and hands-on learning a significant challenge. Shelley’s innovative ideas, endless hours of organization, creativity and hard work have resulted in another year of exemplary teaching and learning. Throughout the pandemic she was successful in adapting and maintaining the most effective play-based, holistic, inquiry-based learning. She has embraced and integrated technology to deliver meaningful learning opportunities. Her innovation and hard work create a safe learning environment filled with wonder and awe.

Shelley provides a wide range of learning experiences to meet the diverse learning capabilities of her students and support their academic and personal growth. And she relentlessly pursues and assesses the learning targets of her students. She works with Learning Assistance teachers, Speech and Language specialists, Occupational therapists, as well as any other supports that may provide insight. She immediately implements any suggestions to help struggling students succeed academically.

Outstanding achievements

In the school board Shelley stands out as a role model for Kindergarten teachers. Her exemplary and forward looking instruction practices has been recorded and are now part of the board’s professional development. She represented the board at the Early Learning Symposium (2020). She is a mentor among kindergarten teachers. She is also a representative for the Saskatchewan Teachers Association. Her dedication to her students, profession, her own professional and personal learning exemplifies excellence in education.

Get in touch!

Holy Trinity Catholic School
405 Traditions Boulevard
Warman, SK  S0K 4S5