Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Little Linebacker Virtual Book Tour

I am so excited to be a part of The Little Linebacker Official Virtual Book Tour!  What an awesome book to share with my students!  I first introduced the word "determination".  We talked about what that word meant and decided it went well with another word that we learned this year, "perseverance".  For first grade students, the theme of WORKING HARD and NEVER GIVING UP really seemed to resonate.  What were the things they have had to work hard to achieve:
riding a bicycle
learning math concepts
riding a skateboard
These were just a few of my fave's---especially "listening"!

My next question was "Who writes books?"  Of course they named some of their favorite authors.  I asked them if football players could write books.  Some said YES and others said they didn't think so.  I told them I was going to read them a true story about a boy who grew up to be a professional football player and that the book was written by him and Maria Dismondy (one of our favorite authors)!  They thought that was pretty cool.  They loved the part where it would say "A few years later...".  We would make predictions about what was going to happen.  What happened when the coach said they only practiced once a week?  We made predictions about how Stephen could still get some practice time in and they came up with great ideas.  We made predictions about what he could do when he scored poorly on a test.  We talked about how Stephen was a great example of using growth mindset and having grit!

Great story to read and talk about with your kids.
Watch the book trailer here:

If you would like to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment how you would use the book with your own kids or students. 
Thanks for the great story Stephen and Maria!

Friday, April 15, 2016

1, 2,3 Switch!

I love working on team building with kids.  There are so many different activities to do with them that really get them engaged and having fun.  The best part is that when they are having fun, they don't even realize that they are learning how to be a team player!
Last week I introduced our kids to the TooBeez Baton Pass.  I love using our TooBeez which you must check out if you don't know what I am talking about.  We have built with them and now we needed to do something else.  So....after doing some research, I found the Baton Pass activity.  
We first talked about leadership and what qualities a leader has.  After this I divided the kids up and gave half of them red tubes and half blue tubes and we formed a circle with the tubes alternating in colors.  Next, I told the kids that the tubes needed to be passed around the circle but they could only touch the tube with their right hand, so the lefty got put behind their back or in a pocket.  At first it was total failure.  Everyone was dropping the batons and talking at the same time.  CHAOS had erupted.  So, I decided to stop and ask them 2 questions:
What is working?
What is not working?
This seemed to help.  They came up with a plan and things slowly got better.  Unfortunately our 30 minutes came to an end rather quickly, which meant putting off our hope for success to next week.
Well, today was next week and we had some success.  Each of the 3 sections were able to get the batons passed 4 consecutive moves without dropping.  AWESOME SAUCE!!!!

The best part was some of the comments I heard:
We can do this!  We have a growth mindset!!!
Let's work as hard as the Beatles!
( I got a real chuckle out of this one!)
Focus People!

I love to have kids up and moving when we are doing activities.  Can't wait until we try out next TooBeez activity.  My suggestion is if you don't have the funds for TooBeez to get some PVC pipe and make your own batons.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

All Good Things!

Today was the LAST day for the knee scooter!  I was so excited!  I started the day at the elementary visiting our 3rd grade classes with advocates from the Family Crisis Center.  They spoke about teasing and bullying and did a great job connecting with the kiddos.  I actually had to "scoot" out a few minutes early to get to my 7-week appointment for my foot.  I have been sporting around on this knee scooter for 3 weeks which has gotten me where I am going much quicker than crutches.  The kids have loved it!  I have had many offers to take it for a ride.  We thought about turning it into a fundraiser for $1 a ride but opted out...always liability!
I loved one little gal from pre-school who seemed very intrigued with my scooter.  She would smile and just about drool looking at it.  She would tell me every day (and I mean that!) how much she wanted a scooter like mine.  My sister is actually her teacher and I suggested we let her go for a ride.  I was told NO, but being the mischievous person I am at times, I decided I couldn't stand it any longer.  I offered her the opportunity to ride it today.  WOW!  You should have seen those eyes light  up! When I told her she could take it for a ride.  It was PRICELESS!!!  The associates from her room were in on it with me and got her started.  I hope you enjoy the video that I had to share:

I really think if I hadn't rented it, I would have given it to her!  I'm going to miss her telling me, "I think tomorrow I will get one!"

I must be easily entertained or excited.  I have to admit I have experienced more feelings than are talked about it the recent movie "Inside Out" through this whole 'foot ordeal'.  I really had to practice what I preach!  Growth Mindset was not always easy.  I have felt:
 pain--literally, but it wasn't horrible!
boredom--sitting around in a recliner with your foot up isn't all it is cracked up to be 
frustration--losing some independence
 hope--when I could see improvement 
gratitude--for all the people who prayed for me and took care of me
anxiety--about stepping on my foot after 3 months of not being able to
excitement---TOTALLY felt this today!
I don't think the woman in the waiting room at the doctor had a hard time telling I was excited today when I WALKED OUT of the exam room WITHOUT CRUTCHES OR A SCOOTER!
As I sit here now I also think about things I was able to accomplish that I had on my "to do" list --- things I could do from a sitting position.  Like reading books, staying on top of my Bible study, sending cards or notes to people, Pinterest, and getting my TpT store open.
So, it wasn't so bad after all.  I still need to wear the fashionable boot on my foot but I get to wean myself off of that also.
Life is good---don't ever doubt it.
My mindset has improved, no longer fixed!
I guess the saying is really true,
And guess what?  I can actually see the light at the end of this tunnel.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Kind Encouragement: Priceless!

Today ended my first week back at school as my foot recovery continues.  I did half days and reconnected with my elementary kiddos!  It was so good to see every single one of them during the week as I visited each classroom for a counseling lesson.  I also had some referrals and started 3 small groups and signed up 3 kids for individual counseling.  It is great to be needed!  AND the kids have been so concerned about how I am doing:  "How is your foot Mrs. K?", "Do you need help Mrs. K?" and on  and on.  One of my 3rd grade girls has been filling my water bottle each morning.....she reports to me like it is her job!  How kind is that!?  

And MANY cards from the kids.  What a thoughtful gesture on their part....taking the time to create a card to give me.  
Today one second grade girl brought in the card she was working on Wednesday when I went to her classroom.  She told me she wasn't finished yet when I wrapped up the lesson and was ready to leave and I told her she could just bring it down when she was finished.  So, today, she came in and dropped it off as I was visiting with someone in my office, placed it on my table quietly without interrupting and then turned around and walked out.  When I finished my conversation, I started putting away the items on my table that I had used with a small group.  I noticed the card with the colorful carefully designed front.  I picked it up quickly to read it.  Wow!  My heart was touched!  I just have to share this "keeper" as I call them...the ones that will forever be in my "stash" of cards, notes and other encouragements I have received.

This is why I do what I's all about the kids!  Love them to pieces!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Back to Work!

This was the day I have been waiting for!
After missing over half of the school days in January and every school day in February, I was beyond ready to go back to school following my 2 foot surgeries.  I have not walked on my left foot since Dec. 18 when I walked into surgery.  Things didn't go as planned and rolled into a second surgery on January 29.  I didn't exactly walk in today either---I rolled in on my knee scooter.  I was greeted by all the kids lined up outside chanting, "Mrs. K! Mrs. K! Mrs. K!"  I always tell people if they want to feel like a rock star, become an elementary school counselor!  I had to hurry in because I was actually tearing up---love those kiddos!  I will try to get a pic tomorrow!

I have been using my time to accomplish some things that had been on my school bucket list.  First was working on my Parent University videos.  I have 3 accomplished and working on the next one.  I have also been working on products to put on my TpT store, which has the same name as my blog!  My store opened on February 9 when I uploaded my first product, Character Posters.  As of today I have sold 11 of my products and given away my free products to 152 people!  WOWZA!!! Now that makes me excited!
So, to celebrate going back to work I decided to throw a sale!  If you are a teacher, counselor or anyone who wants to share my store with the educators in your life, I would really appreciate it!

Click HERE to go to Mrs. K's Good Stuff TpT store.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Parent University: Turning Words into Gold!

Have you ever tried to force someone to do something and they wouldn't budge!  
Flashback:  Sitting in church trying to get your kids to stop talking!
Oh yeah, you've been there, right?
One thing I learned from Love and Logic was using what we call Enforceable Statements.  What exactly is an enforceable statement you ask?  It is saying exactly what you are going to do in a given situation.  It must be human nature for us to tell our kids what they need to do:
clean your room
do your homework
wash your hands
be nice to your brother
eat your dinner
take out the trash
walk the dog
Okay----you get the idea.  I'm sure you have many other "commands" going through your head.  
The real truth is when we tell our kids these things, we hope they do them.
BUT....have you ever had one of those kids who says, "I don't want to." just wait forever for them to do it?
Not giving up any family secrets here....well, maybe just a little.
I will admit that "enforceable statements" is one of my favorite L & L techniques.
This takes a little practice but is very easy to catch on to.
Let's take a look at those examples from above and say them the L & L way:
Clean your room........ I take kids with clean rooms to the park (shopping if they are teens!).
Do your homework......Kids who have their homework done get to play a game.
Wash your hands....Anyone who has washed their hands are welcome at the dinner table.
Be nice to your brother.....I let kids who are nice to each other stay in this room.
Eat your dinner...Kids who clean their plate will get dessert.
Take out the trash....I take kids who have their chores done to the movie.
Walk the dog.....I charge $5 for walking the dog.

I think you are probably getting the idea, right?  Take those statements that you usually use and write them down.  Then, think of how you can rephrase it with an enforceable statement.

Here is my Parent University video to go along with this skill.

Hope you enjoy!

Let me know if there is a specific topic you would like me to address.  I will let you know if I feel I can cover that topic or will find the resources for you.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

What is your story?

I had my one week check up, after surgery #2, at the podiatrist on Thursday.   My husband offered to take me but I gave him the day off because he has been such a good caretaker!  So, my sister-in-law took me.  Get two gals in a car for a one hour ride  and there isn't a quiet moment, just sayin'!  After the 10 minute appointment I suggested we go get some "real" food--no fast food this trip!  So I suggested Applebee's---easy in and easy out since I'm using a walker at the time being.

We were seated at a table and Charlie showed up as our server.  Friendly young guy who Deb and I guessed to be about 20 tops.  Charlie was very good at his job.  I saw how he was interacting with the small child at the next table---good people skills!  By the time we finished our meal and Charlie stopped by to see if we were ready for our bill, I couldn't help but ask him a question.  "Charlie, what's your story?"
Well, I got the whole story!
Charlie told how he had been a rebellious kid.  Grew up in Florida until him and his dad moved to the midwest.  His dad was a tough love parent which at the time he didn't appreciate.  Charlie made some poor choices and eventually ended up at Boys Town.  He was in a relationship and had 2 daughters.  It didn't last.  After 4 years of being sober he was able to reconnect with his daughters.  He is soon to be married and has a young son with his fiance.  Life is good right now for Charlie but he sure went through some tough times.  On our way our I asked Charlie one last question, "What church do you go to Charlie?"  He told me he was Catholic and I told him to make sure he makes attending church a priority for his family.  He told me he would and that without his dad's tough love and his faith he wouldn't be where he is today.
Wow!  What a story! didn't stop there that day.
I was waiting with my walker in the entry way for Deb to get the car and pick me up.  An elder lady came in and was waiting for someone who had just dropped her off.  Yep, you got it, I had to talk to her.  "Well hi, how are you today?"
She responded that she was doing much better.  She went on to say that she had moved to the city recently so her daughter could help take care of her.  She was feeling much better since she got her pacemaker.  
"That is so good", I responded.
She then shared how she had suffered 2 heart attacks since April.  She shared how they had lost her after the second one and had to bring her back.
"So you have been to the other side?"  I asked.
"Oh yes.  I saw angels.  They were beautiful.  And I can't even put into words how beautiful everything was that I saw."
Seriously.  This isn't something you can make up!
I told her she had an important story to share with others and she agreed.
As I got to Deb's car she asked, "Now who were you talking to?"
I told her, "You aren't even going to believe this one!"

So, what's your story?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Attitude Check!

Julia Cook does it once again by giving us a book that addresses a topic which can sometimes be a bit tricky to deal with.  Bad Attitude, or as Julia has coined the term Baditude!

What is it that makes us have a baditude?
Is it things that happen to us?  Or our environment?  Maybe our personality.
To be honest, it has to do with our we view circumstances or events.
I'm sure you have had an experience where the way you react to something is totally different than a friend or someone else.  You might brush it off and the other person may get very bothered by it.
How about someone cutting you off when you are driving?
For some people, it can ruin their whole day, or even longer than a day.
A baditude can take over your whole mindset if you allow it to.
If you are like me (and most people) you don't really enjoy being around people with a bad attitude.  I used to call these types of people toxic.  Not enjoyable at all.
The sad thing is when that negativism rubs off on others.  Lose:lose for everyone concerned.
Julia presents to us in the Baditude book that we need to turn our "have to's" into "get to's".  It is changing our mindset into more positives.  We look at what we are grateful for.  Pick 3 gratitudes a day and you will be amazed at how that can turn a baditude around!

I enjoyed reading this book to my students and they totally got it!  We talked about how sometimes we think our life stinks---too much homework, chores, putting up with a younger sibling, etc.
Then we turned our thinking from "have to's" into "get to's".  It was fun to listen to the great ideas them came up with.
I put the activities I wrote together into an activity packet and have accomplished one of my goals of opening up my TpT store.  Check out the Baditude Activity Packet and have fun working with changing the bad attitude mindset.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I Hope You Dance!

Let me introduce you to Olivia!  She is one of our 5th grade students and is a pretty awesome girl.  I think a perfect nickname for her would be "SmileMaker" because everyone who meets her in the hall or class at school can't help but smile.  I love to see her reach the goals she is working on at school.  When she is walking in her walker you can see the determination in her face.  
(Olivia in the Wax Museum in 4th grade.)

And I would argue all day with anyone who might think she doesn't know what is going on...she does.
I love it when she gets that sneaky little look in her eye followed by her contagious laugh.  She loves to tell jokes by pushing the speaking button.  It's great to have conversations with Olivia.
Well, Olivia celebrated another first:
Dance Clinic!
It required help from her associates that work with her at school---they stayed after to make sure all her needs were being met.
Olivia got to interact with friends from her class and the high school dance team coaches and members.
But Olivia wasn't the only one to celebrate the first!
It was a first for the dance team to experience dancing with someone with Olivia's needs.  They made it happen!
The other participants learned that anything is possible.
It just takes team work!  It takes determination!
It takes empathy and wanting to look pass limitations.
She taught us something:

"when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,  
I hope you dance!" 
from Leann Womack's song "I Hope You Dance"

Thanks for making the choice to dance!  
Thanks for teaching us all to take the chance!
Love you Olivia!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Celebrating Mistakes!

It seems we get so upset with ourselves when we make a mistake.  And WHY?  
People make mistakes all the time....that is how we learn. 
Think of all the things you have learned from making a mistake:
*learning to stand on your own
*feeding yourself
*riding a bike
*dressing yourself
These were all by the time most of went off to school.

For some people it is easier to run from their mistakes than use them as an opportunity to learn.  After all, isn't learning from our mistakes or failures where we have the opportunity to better our skills or knowledge?  You bet it is.
So let's come to an agreement:
Let's stop beating ourselves up when we make a mistake!
Let's take that moment to step back and say,
"Rats!  That didn't work out the way I planned!"

I think the following video clip is a great way to sum it all up---enjoy!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

National School Counseling Week 2016

National School Counseling Week is an exciting time for all school counselors.  It is the week when counselors pump up their advocacy skills and make sure people understand the role of the school counselor and how we meet student needs.

Little different for me this year as I will be on sick leave following a foot surgery.  So, how does one challenge her students when not there?  I decided it would be fun to do a daily video for the students where I give them a word for the day and a challenge.
I learned how to do PowToons at our ISCA conference last year but really hadn't taken them time to make some.  Well, when you have to sit and elevate your foot, you have plenty of time to play around with these fun sites and get creative.

Here are the daily videos, all in one blog entry, for you to watch.  I created them as daily messages for my K-6 students, but I think they could be used for any students.  I  hope you enjoy them!
Day 1!

Day 2!

Day 3!

Day 4!

Day 5!

I will be anxious to share some of the other exciting things I have going on this week.  Be sure to stop back and check out what I have for parents during National School Counseling Week!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

It's Not TERMINAL!!!

So I had a bunionectomy (a bunion removed) a month ago.  My foot hurt most of  the time and decided it was time to take care of it.  For some reason I thought if I had it the last day of school before Christmas vacation, I would be ready to go back to part days when school started back up.  Probably would have worked except for the iPad I dropped right on my foot the day I returned.  My check up 4 days later showed that the bone had shifted---yep, sure did!  That meant I needed to stay off the foot, which I did for one week!  I got a little stir crazy not being able to go out of the house much and not being around my school kiddos.  
So, make the most of it, right?!  I decided to get my Parent University videos going, which I did.  Then I decided to work on some activities which I could use with my students based on some of the books I use.  At this point I have one completely finished and ready to put on TpT  (more sharing on that later).
Finally, my week of pampering my foot like a newborn came to an end---get to work Laurel!
So, back I went.  Loved seeing the kids and checking in with the teachers.  Tried my hardest to catch up with the kiddos that needed some one on one time with me.  BUT by day 3 of being back I left school in PAIN!  My Prince (nickname for hubby who has been great at taking care of me!) took me back to the doctor to find out that the bone shifted further!  SERIOUSLY!!!  Now the doctor's orders were "Go home and STAY OFF the foot---get the swelling down!  And come back on Monday and let's take another look at it!"  Okay, 5 days and we will meet again to see how the foot (which I am ready to name but haven't come up with a good one yet!) is doing.

So, where am I going with this?
Well, I teach kids to have a Growth Mindset---to look at the bright side, be positive, 
have an attitude of gratitude---but I will be honest, I have been struggling to stay out of the "Self-Pity Party" thinking.  Back to the "Mommalies"--My mom always said the following:
"It's not so bad that it couldn't be worse!"
"You can always find someone who has it worse than you do."
"What are you whining about?"
I am actually glad those words stick in my mind, they keep me grounded.
I decided I needed to give myself a little "kick in the tush" and come up with a mantra to keep me from losing my JOY---so, here it is:

You know, there are so many people out there struggling with all kinds of things!
Keep your head up when things happen that can get you down!
Don't let your JOY escape you and end up falling into the pit of PITY!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sesame Street: Bruno Mars: Don't Give Up

How many times do we tell kids to keep trying or try harder when they are learning something new? I came across this song and thought it would be great to use with kids when we talk about trying to do new things, skills like riding a bike, or new concepts at school. I know my kiddos at school will love this and maybe this little tune will stick in their heads when they are ready to give up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Parent University; What type of parent are you?

Have you ever watched another parent and wondered, "How do they do it?  They seem to know the perfect things to say and how to handle their kids!  AND their kids actually listen to them!  What am I doing wrong?"
Well, I have thought that.  I spent a week at a Love and Logic conference and came home with my eyes opened!  I was introduced to the 3 different types of parents.

Drill Sergeant:
Yep, been there, done that!
Usually when I am stressed, tired or feel like I have used every tool in my parenting toolbox.
Demanding, barking out orders, having to do things MY way!
Not good for the parent child relationship!
Not good for creating a responsible child because the parent is always robbing from their child the opportunity to make decisions and think for themselves.

Helicopter Parent:
Yep!  I flew a BIG helicopter!
Wanting to make sure my child didn't feel bad.  Rescue them by taking care of any types of problems they may be experiencing.  Running shoes, band instruments or other items forgotten to school for your child.  (speaking from experience here!)
Make the decisions for the child.  Provides message of weakness and low personal worth.

The Consultant Parent (also known as the Love and Logic Parent)
I love it when I am working this type of parenting.
This parent prays that their child will make mistakes when the price tag is small.
Hopefully they will have learned from the consequences of their mistakes so when they are
older and the price tag of the bad choices is older, they will have learned.
These parents help guide a child to look at their choices but lets the child make the decision.
They also let the child experience the consequence.

Are you wondering which parent role you fill?  It is hard to break some of those habits
if you are a drill sergeant or a helicopter parent, but it can be done.  I am adding my latest Parent University video below.  Take a few minutes to watch it and then check out more info at

Thanks for joining me!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Parent University: Getting kids to listen the first time

Parent University is something I have offered at various times during my school counseling career.  I love working with kids in school.  They bring smiles to my face and joy to me every day!  I also enjoy working with parents of my students.  When parents, teachers, and counselors work together, students win.
So let me tell you about my newest venture.
I met with my principal to set my professional goal for the year.  I was struggling to narrow it down to how I could really meet the needs of my students that was different than what I had done in the past.  He suggested that it had been a few years since I had taught a Love and Logic class for parents and that it might be good to offer it again.  I guess I had been dragging my feet on this because my Love and Logic partner retired a couple years ago and I know she is quite busy in her retirement.  It was so much fun teaching it with her that I wasn't sure I wanted to go solo on this.  It is also very difficult to find a night where there are no conflicts with other events, for 7 weeks straight!  My principal suggested I do some videos.  I think he knows I enjoy this and it would be a great way to reach a bigger audience.  PLUS I can collect data on how many views I get, comments, as well as parents reaching out for more info.

I have a few topics lined up and will be posting them weekly for hopefully the next few months.  My goal is to keep them short and to the point.  That way parents don't feel like they need to find a half hour or more to watch them.  Quick, to the point and a tip or new skill that they can try out on their children.

So, I now present my first Parent University video:  Getting kids to listen the first time!

I do need to add this disclaimer:
I am not the parent of the year!
I have learned from making many mistakes.

You can find more info on Love and Logic .