Thursday, January 31, 2013

Charlie the Caterpillar: Friendship

One of my 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Strandberg,  shared a great book with me today that she had come across in her guided reading group.  I had to sit down as soon as I had a few minutes to read it.  I LOVED it!!!!  What a great and simple way to share kindness and the true meaning of friendship.  Maybe my friend was thinking of her own little Charlie who was born early and hopes that he never experiences meanness like Charlie the caterpillar did in the story. So many times we don't think about how our words can make another feel and Charlie kept hearing the same words over and over...."you are ugly".  Kids come and tell me all the time about mean things that others have said to them---hurtful words about their skin color, wearing glasses, clothes and the list goes on forever!   I recommend Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom Deluise  to you.  Enjoy!  (and thanks Mrs. Strandberg for sharing!)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Operation Stand UP!!!

Don’t you just love it when things work out the way you want them to?  When that happens I think just like Emeril and want to say “BAM!”  So, here is how it all came down....
I have had to deal with a number of “meanness” complaints” this week from one of my grade levels.  Of course it is kids who are “old enough to know better”.  Fortunately, I had a girl who was tired of the mean behavior and wanted something done about it.  I visited with her to find out that a group of kids in her class (the boys) were saying mean things about other kids, mainly about their size or what they looked like.  My first reaction was that I am beating my head against the wall with what I teach and they don't get it but then I thought, “No, someone just came in to tell me this wasn’t right!”  YESSS!!!!  So I rallied the troops and had the 6 girls from that class come in.  Guess what?  They were all sick of it!  YIPPEEE!!!!  Well, we talked about our options:
1)  tell the teacher and principal and have him deal with them
2) learn how to stand up to them
I was glad to hear that THEY wanted to handle it.  We talked about the fact that it isn’t easy to stand up to kids when they are being mean.  They said they might be made fun of  or that they will become a target also.  I told them that could in fact happen.  I told them we need to put “Operation Stand UP!” in place.  We role played different situations they have been having and practiced having one person say something like, “Hey, that was mean.” and having others back them up.  They decided they needed to have a code language if it was happening in class when a teacher wasn’t within earshot and someone said something mean and they needed “back up”.  They decided to if they needed back up they would say “OSU” and another girl would know that they needed to go and stand up for the person who was being targeted.  Well, today was Day 3 of Operation Stand UP!  Our guidance lesson was a continuation of last week and we were talking about making fun of others using Michael Pritchard’s Stepping on Up to Character.  During our discussion some interesting things came up.  First one, what if you are around some kids and someone says something mean about another person who isn’t standing there?  The first reaction was to go tell that person.  My question was “How would that help?”  It took awhile and some prodding to get them to realize that telling the person they were talking about what they had said would only make her/him feel bad too.  I was finally able to guide them into knowing that stopping the talk by saying something like, “Hey, that wasn’t very nice”  and having another person agree with that would help more.  I also suggested that when kids respond with “Well I was just kidding!” to let them know that it isn’t funny.
Next down the hall to another classroom---same lesson.  In this class I had the teachable moment occur during our discussion when the teacher walked out of the room.  I said in a kind of “whispery” voice, “Hey, have you guys noticed Mrs. Runia’s new haircut?”  They all nodded.  Then I proceeded with “Don’t you think she got it cut too short?”  One girl said, “Well I like her color” and I continued with “Oh, that isn’t so bad but the style is way too short for her.  It doesn’t really work for her kind of hair don’t you think?”  One of the kids said, “Hey, I think she is in here.”  I said, “No, she just walked out so it’s okay for us to talk about her.  But don’t you think it is too short?”  All of a  sudden on boy said, “Mrs. K, that is mean what you just said.”  Immediately I asked him, “What did you just do?”  He just sat there with a red face and was thinking he was in trouble so I said “Did you see what he just did?  He stood up for Mrs. Runia!”  Then I asked him how he felt before he told me it was mean.  He responded with, “I was mad you were saying it and I was kind of nervous to say something to you.”  I told the class that was exactly how a person feels when they stand up for someone, mad and nervous or scared.  I really praised him for his courage and that it was it takes to stand up to someone:  COURAGE!  When I asked the other kids what they thought when I was talking “about Mrs. Runia” they responded with:
* ”I couldn’t believe you were saying something so mean.”
* “I didn’t think  you would do something like that.”
* “I didn’t like what you were saying.”
After lunch recess my “Operation Stand UP” girls came in.  They said it is still happening but they are figuring out ways to stand up and back each other up.  They want to make t-shirts and start teaching others about their cause.  WOW!!!!  We may start a whole new movement here!  Way to go girls!  Way to go Carter for standing up to an adult when she was saying mean things about your teacher.  Let’s just keep this whole thing moving!!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Potato Chip Champ

Today I get the special honor to be a part of Maria Dismondy's Virtual Book Tour.  I guess I was "in the right place at the right time" when she asked if I would be a part of her tour because someone else had to drop out.  LUCKY ME I thought!  I couldn't wait for The Potato Chip Champ to arrive so I could read it!

It was more than I had expected!  I love so many things about this book so I am going to share my
#1.  Having "stuff" isn't what is important.  So many times I hear kids talking about their "stuff".  You know,  all the cool things they have---toys, electronics, etc.  The interesting thing is that I have seen kids who don't have much being more grateful kids.  The simple things really charge them up, like spending a recess playing a game or telling about going sledding with their family.  Good lesson for all of us as parents to be sure we are putting the importance not on things, but on relationships, family, friends and doing for others.

#2.  Empathy!  Boy oh boy does this book ever give us a great lesson on empathy!  The best part is Champ figures it out on his own---that's a bonus in my mind!

#3.  Friendship--How can Walter manage to have so many friends?  Everyone likes him.  Champ figures this one out too---even when he is trying so hard not to like him.

#4. Kindness Matters!  It really isn't hard to show kindness and it has no price tag.  This book shows how simple acts of kindness make a huge difference.

#5. "Feels good."  I read this book with my 5th grader before she went to bed.  Sometimes she likes to put down her chapter books and read a children's book.  So....when she saw it sitting on the table with my things she was curious and asked if we could read it that night.  Of course, what a great way to test out a book, on a kid!  After we read the book her comment was, "Mom, that was great!  It makes me feel good."  (And we didn't even eat her favorite chips with onion dip!)

Now for the real BONUS!!!  You can enter for a chance to win The Potato Chip Champ.  Here is what you need to do:
Stop over at Maria's blog, Be the Difference, by clicking HERE.  You will find some other reviews on the book and also find out about more great books by Maria.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Silver Linings!

I was all geared up to go and visit Barbara Gruener in Friendswood, TX this week.  I have followed her school webpage and her blog for quite some time and learned so many things from her.  She is an awesome character educator and school counselor.  Well, misfortune "ran into" Barbara last week when she was hit head on by a drunk driver at 3:00 in the afternoon!  The woman who hit her was on her way to pick up her kids from school!  First of all, Barbara's wrist and ankle were both fractured and also many cuts, bruises and burns.  The amazing thing is her spirit was not injured---she of course blogged about the silver lining in all of this.  WHAT AN EXAMPLE to all of us!  So stop over at The Corner on Character to see what Barbara has shared lately and you will walk away a better person by reading some of her wisdom that she shares.

I will for sure be sharing about my trip when it does take place, hopefully in February.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Working as a team has great payoffs!  I love to help kids learn about working together and the best part is they have so much fun working as a team!  Today I worked with a couple of kids on the "buddy walkers".  I explained what they had to do and off they went.  They figured out how they were going to "get the job done" and even though they got frustrated, they stuck with it.  When we were processing afterwards, one of them said, "It was hard but I was NOT giving up!"  Geesh, I threw perseverance in without ever thinking about it!  (DOUBLE WIN!)  Have fun watching them work as a team below.

Read the following for the benefits of teamwork:

Teamwork requires people to work cooperatively with others towards a shared purpose. For a team to work together effectively, it takes all members of the team to respect each other’s abilities and opinions. Teamwork is a highly social activity and involves much interaction and exchanging of ideas and actions. Being part of a team enables your child to move from more intrapersonal (individual) ways of thinking to interpersonal (communicating with others). It will help a child in all areas of their learning, and help them to feel part of a community, too.
Working as part of a team will strengthen your child’s social and emotional skills, help develop their communication skills, and can improve confidence.   (Source:

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Top #5 Welcome Back List!

It was great to get back to school today and see all the kids!  Even though I totally enjoyed the long break--relaxing, baking, Farkle championships, hanging out with family, .....---I was glad to be back.  Top 5 list of things I heard/experienced today:
             #1.  "Mrs. K, how about if we all give you a hug?"  (said by a 1st grader during classroom
             #2.  "Mrs. K, I was wondering if I could volunteer to be a WATCH DOG next week." (said by a grandpa of a 2nd grader!) and "Hey Mrs. K--wondered when you need me to be a WATCH DOG again? (said by a dad of a 2nd grade and 4th grade boys)---VOLUNTEERS---WE LOVE THEM!!!!
            #3. A 3rd grade boy helping translate for another student who doesn't speak English and helping him feel accepted!  (Character in ACTION!!!)
            #4.   "Mrs. K, I got a great book about bullying for Christmas and want to share it with you as
soon as I'm done reading it.  It's really good." (said by a 3rd grade girl)
            #5.  "Mrs. K, I would like to serve on the Character Counts Advisory Council." (e-mailed from 4 staff members!)