Thursday, March 28, 2013

PreK Citizenship Heroes!!!!

Never underestimate a bunch of young kiddos---like about 18 PreK kids who put on their 5th annual PreK Citizenship-athon!  The first 4 events were Puzzle-a-thons.   Kids would get pledges for so much money per puzzle piece that they put together.  Some donated a penny a piece and others on up to 25 cents a puzzle piece.  All pieces were kept track on their puzzle piece necklaces they wore during the day.  Totals were tallied and participants let their sponsors know how much to pay in.  This year the teachers decided to do things a little different as puzzles weren't something all students could do.  So..... they opted to do a Hall Walk.  AND walk they did around the S-O HS and MS hall loop.  I was told by a reliable source that the most the kids walked was 4 MILES!!!!  Each student had their own team.   Some gave themselves a name or theme and walked as families or friends.  Some kids brought in a flat donation amount from people and others had pledges based on how many laps they did.  A 2nd grade student who is the sister of one of the kids donated a penny for each lap out of her own money! 

Team Daniel had a duct tape theme!

Team Ben with the Duck Dynasty 

Team Kyler with an Iowa State Cyclone Team!

The cool thing is that the class voted on what the funds raised would go for.  The following choices were what they voted on:

Choice #1:  Brendan's mom (Brendan is a student in the class) who has cancer and could use the money for her treatment costs
Choice # 2:  Toys for our classroom
Choice #3:  money to help Barb N (a volunteer for their classroom) get a new wheelchair
Choice #4:  iPads for the classroom
Choice #5:  Josiah's swing (a student in the classroom who needs a swing)
Choice #6:  a pizza party for the class

The class discussed how they could help others or help themselves and took a vote.  The winning votes went to:
Brendan's Mom
Josiah's swing
Barb's wheelchair

Is that great character or WHAT?   Thinking of the needs of others and then pulling together to "git' er done!'
AND that is exactly what they did---to the tune of a whopping
Each recipient will receive $800 and the other $50 will go towards another project they decide on.

I say "Hat's off to PreK!" and you rock at citizenship!

Your big sister is proud of you Miss Heidi!  Love ya, Mrs. K

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In a pickle?

Have you ever been "In a pickle?" 
Maybe you were "Up a creek without a paddle?"
Okay then you were "In a real bind?"
A family friend has a horse that got himself in a pickle.  Fortunately he was able to get help from neighbors and get Roni over the fence.

Whatever it was, you had to do some problem solving.  So many times kiddos will come to me and ask,  "Mrs. K, what should I do?"  My response is, "Well I'm not sure, it sounds like YOU have a real problem.  What do you think you should to?"
Some kids have no idea and are used to adults solving their problems for them.  The problem with this is that we are robbing from the kids the opportunity to learn how to solve problems on their own. 
So how can we help kids learn to be problem solvers?
I have found these easy steps to follow:
When they tell you they have a problem and ask you what to do, ask them what they think they should do.  Kids need to know that it is THEIR problem and not YOUR problem.
If they come up with ideas ask them how they think that would work for them.  This allows them to look at the consequences of their choices or explore what actually could happen.
If they say they have NO IDEA what to do, ask them if they would like to know what some kids try.  Of course they will say, YES!
When they say YES! give them the worst possible idea, which will make them give you a really strange look and gives you the chance to continue with other ideas.
It might sound something like this:

Student:  "Mrs. K, Billy is being mean to me on the playground.  He calls me names."

Mrs. K:  "Oh, that must be tough.  What are you going to do about it?"

Student:  "Well I don't know."

Mrs. K:  "Well what have you tried?"

Student:  "Well I told the teacher and she told Billy to stop but he hasn't.  So now I don't know what to do?"

Mrs. K:  "Well do you want to hear what some kids have tried?"

Student:  "YES!"

Mrs. K:  (give the worst idea first!)  "Well some kids have made a really tight fist and popped the kid right in the nose.  How do you think that would work for you?"

Student:  "Well, that would be bullying and I might get caught."

Mrs. K:  "Oooh, you are right on that.  It probably wouldn't be fun to explain that to your parents or the principal.  Well, how about calling him names back?"

Student:  "I saw other kids do that and they got in trouble for that too."

Mrs. K:  "Well, some kids try using the tools we talked about during guidance class.  Remember them?"

Student:  "I remember them."

Mrs. K: "Well do you think you could try to use one of the tools?"

Student: "I think so."

Mrs. K:  "Great!  I knew you were a smart problem solver.  Hey, let me know how that works out for you.  OK?"

By doing this you have empowered the child to solve his own problem on his own.  Think of how great he will feel when he reports back to you how it worked.  If he says that he tried something and it didn't work, do some more work the same way and maybe even role play with him.

I LOVE this technique---although sometimes it solves the problem and the kiddo forgets to come and tell you that it worked out so you might have to check in with him/her.

Have fun problem solving.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Celebrating differences!

One of my favorites at school is Dakota.  I use The Adventures of Dakota in 3rd grade and my book is about worn out!  I found this treasure about 10 years ago in a Youth Light catalog and picked it out because it was in "my budget".  I divide the class into "Wolf Packs" which are the discussion groups which meet during our Dakota stories.  Half way through each story we have "Paws Time" where the groups meet to answer about 2-3 questions which we discuss and make predictions of what will happen.  After the discussion I love saying, "Are you ready to find out what Dakota does?"  Of course they wait eagerly to hear "the rest of the story".  One of the stories in the book addresses prejudice or talking about differences.  I love this story and this time I decided to do something a bit different.  I found an idea of Pinterest of using Venn Diagrams a little more creative than just a couple of ovals.  Instead of the kids meeting in their wolf packs for our activity after the story, I let them pick a partner and make a Friend Diagram of how they were different and the same as their friend.  The kids had a blast!  It was fun to hear all of their ideas from their favorite flavors of ice cream to family traditions!  Below you will see a couple of pictures I took before we hung them in the hall.

Great job kids!!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Character Counts Rally!

It was Character Counts Rally today,  FINALLY!  During our Character Counts Week, which was a couple of weeks ago, the Rally was rescheduled---late start because of weather and other reasons.  ANYWAY....we had the rally today!  And did we HAVE FUN!!!  This year we decided to have some class competitions.  Each class sent some representatives down to have some "good clean fun" and the rest of us cheered them on!  Here are some of the fun games we played.


Blow fish--using a a straw they had to blow fish into the bucket.

1st Grade

Marshmallow Catch--one person tossed marshmallows to their team mate who tried to catch them.

2nd grade

Worm diving---kids had to get a gummy word wet and then try to catch a pretzel and eat it.  They had one minute and one student did eat all three pretzels in that amount of time!

3rd grade

Bubble Blowers had to blow bubbles into a hoop.  This took a lot of "wind power".

4th grade

Carpet Ride---was done by the 4th grade girls against the 4th grade boys.  Lots of "bootie scootin'" goin' on here!

We finished the rally with the 4th grade leading all the classes in The "Six Simple Words"!

WOW!!! What fun!  and excitement! packed into one gym!

Way to show your character kids!

(PS--It was Pajama Day for those viewing this who are wondering why the kids are wearing pj's to school.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Life is like Coffee

Some days you just have to laugh!  So many things can happen during the course of a day and you have the CHOICE.  You get to decide how it affects you---are you going to let it ruin your day or not?  I visited with a few students and parents at conferences about this exact concept.  I like to use "visuals" so I ask the kiddo's who is running their remote control?  You see, no one can MAKE you do anything, other people are not in charge of your feelings and actions.  You might be thinking, "Oh, my mom and dad can make me clean my room!"   No, they can suggest it, order you to do it, threaten to take away privileges, hire someone to do it and give you the bill.  BUT if you clean it yourself, YOU CHOSE to do clean it.  The consequences of not doing it might have been a big factor in that decision but you did make the choice.  Some things we don't have a choice in----like when my car was sliding on the ice and I took out 2 or 3 reflector posts in a parking lot today.  (I guess even cars can have a mind of their own.)  

I thought it was interesting when I received this little video clip today.  It really put things in perspective and makes you think.  I hope you enjoy it.  (Click on the words below the picture.)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Beading" Bullying :)

I have a group of 4th grade girls (all from Mrs. Strandberg's class) who have been on a mission to STAND UP TO BULLYING.
Every school has bullies and every school has kids who aren't bullies but choose mean behavior at times.  Blame it on a bad day or whatever, it is still a choice.  It might be a mean look, leaving someone out, gossip or pushing someone.  Well, these girls ended up in my office earlier this year and we had a "long talk".  I gave them the choices:
1.  I take care of the problem and talk to whoever is being mean.
2. We ignore and hope it stops!
3.  I teach them some skills to empower themselves to handle the situations when they arise.

Being the smart girls they are....they took #3.

So....we have been discussing situations that come up and ways to handle them.  We have role played, brainstormed ideas, laughed and really pulled together for a cause.
Well....Robin from the local newspaper (Ocheyedan Press-Melvin News) was visiting with me about what is going on in school that we should put in the paper and I happened to mention this group.  That is all it see, Robin has a BIG heart for bully prevention and loves our G.I.R.L.S. Empowered activities we have done over the past few years.  So...she suggested helping the girls create some jewelry to sell to help raise money for t-shirts (Operation Stand UP---OSU for short).  Robin has a jewelry making business with her friend Beccie.  Long story short, we set a date and spent an evening "beading" ... making keychains and bracelets.  But that isn't all they did!  Robin and Beccie also helped the girls come up with this fun little "sound off" to spread the word.  I know you will enjoy it too.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What would you do?

Do you ever find yourself in situations where you need to speak up and show you have made a mistake?    This happens like daily!!!! it seems!  Geesh, we can always be making choices that show we can make decisions and choices which show that we are people of character.  BUT sometimes, if no one catches the mistake, a small error, does it really matter to speak up?  I want to share how I witnessed character in actions today.
I had my daughter, Natalie, at an Archery Tournament today.  She was in a group of 5 youth during their round---in other words, they were grouped to score each other.  Natalie added up one set of the score cards and one of the other participants added up the 2nd set of score cards (which are to match up).  Well, the scores were totaled, signed and ready to turn in.  One of the participants in Natalie's group came over and shared that the total he got was one less than what Natalie had added up for him.  Sure enough, we re-added and we had made an error--Natalie had given him an extra point.  It didn't make a difference in placing, but it did show his character---he was willing to say, "I have a lower score than what you are turning in."  WOW!!!  I had to shake this 11 year old boys hand and tell him that his honesty shows he has good character.  I just love it when stuff like this happens!