PPBF: Red Berry Wool

Today I'm feeling happy and hopeful after a week of amazing kindness and love. As I was leaving the building yesterday, I received a sweet note from one of our moms with her payment for a signed copy of my book. Inside was ten dollars too much with this note: I'm excited to share your book with my friend ... the other $10 is to bless someone else with a copy. So this evening, before my 10 pm CST bedtime, the Gruener Generator will select the recipient of Erin's generosity from all of the comments on today's post. Come back tomorrow to see if it's you!

I'm eager to keep those kindness embers burning with today's PPBF pick; prepare to feel the warmth.

Title: Red Berry Wool
Author: Robyn Eversole
Illustrator: Tim Coffey
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date: March 2002
Genre: Fiction
Suitable for: ages 4 and up
Themes: perseverance, kindness, friendship
Brief synopsis: A little lamb named Lalo wants to have wool like  his shepherd boy. What lengths will he have to go to to make that happen?
Opening page: In a meadow on a mountain near the town, a boy watched over a flock of sheep. The smartest lamb was called lalo. He noticed everything. One day, he noticed something different about the Boy. 
Resources: *Check out a review at EdSnapShots blog {here}.
*Read it during your farm unit and find out all you can about sheep.
*Show the Pixar Short Boundin' to integrate and connect with values 
like kindness and respect for differences.
*Talk about this quote from the P is for Perseverance chapter of my book. Then unravel some connections with Lalo's quest to make red berry wool, his persistence and his perseverance.

*Visit the Growing Firsties blog for enrichment activities related to perseverance.

*Discuss or write about it: Lalo has a plan, to turn his "straggly, and muddy, and full of straw" wool into wool that "would look splendid like the Boy." What steps does Lalo take to turn his dream into a reality? What worked? What didn't? 
*Inquire: Why do you think it was so important for Lalo to be like his Boy? Encourage students to relate this to a time they've pursued a connection or a goal. What went well? What didn't go so well? What was the end result?

Why I like this book: This tale is like a wolf in sheep's clothing in that it seems really simple but it's actually quite deep. Lalo asks what it would take to get his wool to look like the boy's sweater and his mom remembers the answer:

First, you wash the wool. 
Then you spin it. 
Then you dye the wool. 
Then - you knit it.

Easy breezy, right? Well, that's what little Lalo was hoping anyway. He would find out the hard way that it wasn't going to be easy at all and, well, perhaps it'd even be difficult. Still, he figured it'd be worth it to be like his Boy. And for every misstep as he journeyed toward his goal, sure enough, there's the shepherd boy to pick him up, dust him off, and put him back in the meadow. 
Sound kind of familiar?

Toward the end, when Lalo reflects on how unsuccessful he has been ~ "I must have done everything wrong," thought Lalo. He sat down beside the drinking pond, miserable. "I will never look splendid like the Boy." ~ he realizes he forgot the knit part. Lalo found his mother on the far side of the meadow. "What does knit mean?" he asked her. "Knit? Let me think." Lalo's mother thought for five whole mouthfuls of grass. At last she said, "Knit means to bring things together."

And that's where I'll leave you, back at the drinking pond, Lalo with his Boy. Did the persistent little sheep meet his goal? Check out this book to find out. Then leap on over to Susanna's blog for today's PPBF titles.


Sunshine & Mud

Sometimes a smile and a positive reframe is all it takes to turn lemons into something tastier and more palatable. Yesterday this first-grade ray of sunshine showed up at my office door to tell me that he had fallen down outside, in the mud. Upon closer inspection, sure enough, his right pant leg was coated with dark, icky, Texas-style winter gumbo. He was muddy and wet all right.

But you wanna know the good thing? he asked in earnest.
The good thing is that the mud is only on the outside,
not on the inside.

Day Made!

And I thought to myself that this is the best reframe I'd heard in a very long time. little bit lot of mud isn't going to get this superhero down. Besides, it's what's on the inside that counts. 

In the end, what we focus on, we get more of ... 
and sunshine trumps mud any day of the week!

How was your Day Four of the Great Kindness Challenge?


Colorful Kindness Guest Post

Today I'm excited because I was invited to guest post over at Free Spirit; click {here} to read my thoughts about coloring the world with kindness.

Day three of our kindness challenge found me face-to-face with this cutie patootie, whose mom was in school getting ready for our big annual fundraiser auction. Kindness is a volunteer's superpower, for sure!

And how about this superhero's sensational smile?
Warms my heart every time.
How many kindnesses did you give or receive today?
Need some more inspiring ideas? 
First, watch this trailer about the viral nature of kindness:

Then check out these posts:

Finally, if you're out and about in our corner of the world, why not bring a pair of new or gently-used jeans to help us help Clear Horizons HS students help the homeless! Click the image for more information on the Jeans4Teens campaign and how you can help in your local community.

Happy coloring!


Takin' It To The Streets

Today I'm on Cloud 9 because we took our #kindness message
{with a splash of confetti} to the street! I am so grateful to 
Libby and Lora for their heart work on this visual masterpiece!

Just as I was tweeting this picture out, my phone rang and it was Jill, a co-founder of Kids For Peace and initiator of this grass-roots movement that is 
It made me so happy to reconnect with Jill as we discussed the contagious ripple that being kind can create, one simple, sincere act at a time.

Colorful kid-made cards continue to find their way to my office.
These two came from Mrs. Janish's class family just down the hall.

Character is our superpower

And we changed out the books in our Character Case
to display a few of our faves with a kindness theme.
Check out these AmAzInG titles:

KiKi's Hats by Warren Hanson
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
One Smile by Cindy McKinley
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Maddi's Fridge by Lois Brandt

How are you taking kindness to the streets this week?


Loving Kindness, Inspiring Joy

 It's heeeeeeere! 
The Great Kindness Challenge 2015.
Look what I found on my table waiting for me today
from a bucket-filling first-grade friend:

Mr. Whitlock and I worked together to put our message on the marquee 
inviting our community to celebrate with us.

I thoroughly enjoyed personally giving out my hand-made magnetic cards to our staff family members on the preK-3rd site this morning. At the 4th & 5th grade side, I left them in this little basket.

Today's kindness Day Maker stars our friends at the district Print Shop. Since their load has been extra heavy lately, they've gotten behind, and our GKC checklists didn't come in on schedule last week. So this morning when I called, they said that we were in the queue for tomorrow. But then kids won't have them until Wednesday when the week is half over, I heard myself say. When she gave me the option to "rush order" it, I decided against bumping another order just to get ours done and told her I would pick our printing up tomorrow at noon.

Within the hour, I had a phone message from ... you guessed it ... Judy at the Print Shop, telling me that our GKC checklist was printed and ready to go. So touched by her kindness in getting it done, I ran by McDonald's and picked up a tote of warm chocolate chip cookies to leave with them when I picked up our printing. They're busy, but still they found a way to help us out, proof that an act of kindness doesn't have to be great to be grand.

What Kind Act did you experience on Day One of the Great Kindness Challenge? Were you on the giving side, the receiving side, or both? Because kindness is like that, you know. It always boomerangs back, sometimes when we least expect it. 

Want a little something to seal the deal? Teach your kind kids this poem using motions from the Hand Jive:  

Do a kind act, it'll boomerang back.
Give kind, get kind ... just like that!

Before I sign off, a few links to share:
1. See our UNLESS bulletin board featured at MPM {here}.
2. Read about Opening Doors at Connected Principals blog {here}.
3. Experience the kindness shown by this first-grade friend:

May your week be bursting with outrageous, spontaneous acts 
of loving kindness and inspiring joy.


Create A Kindness Synergy

The Great Kindness Challenge starts tomorrow,
but it got a jump start on Balmoral Court yesterday. 

You see, I was out in the street in the afternoon, 
sweeping what was left of that torrential downpour 
away from curb, around the cul-de-sac, and down the drain.
Across the street, I had to move some leaves into a pile
away from the curb to get the water to flow.

That's when a young girl came riding up on her bike.
She introduced herself as my "neighbor's granddaughter."
When I asked her if she had a name, she responded, "Justice."
I told her that was a fun name, and she agreed.
"I even have a store named after me," she chided.
I added, "Well, your name is also something that people want; 
everyone wants Justice, that's for sure."
And then, I pointed to that pile of leaves on the other side of the street, and asked her if I ought to move them or leave them there. She looked and quickly decided I could probably just leave them there. I asked what would happen if I left them there, and she said that they'd probably blow away. Then she whooshed away on her bike like the water I was pushing down the street, toward the drain. 
I guess I was hoping for a different answer.
What I didn't count on was what happened next. 
Justice was headed back my way, 
this time on foot, 
with garden gloves on her hands, 
a trash bag in her hands, 
and her brother following behind. 
"This is my brother Sebastian," she said. "We're good helpers." And sure enough, they helped me pick up those leaves and then asked if they could try sweeping the water. You better believe I handed them my broom. 

Throw Kindness Like Confetti
Paper by Barbara Leyne Designs
So today I'm thinking about kindness.
The kind of kindness that blows around all over, 
like those leaves ...  or confetti ... 
but doesn't make a mess.
The kind that creates a movement, like that water,
The kind that brings someone along to help.
The kind that looks outside of herself and what she wants, 
to someone else and what they need.
The kind that says you matter; 
let me help you with that.

The kind of kindness that can will change the future.
For good.
The kind that Kid President talks about with 
passion and purpose, 
energy and enthusiasm.

What will you do to change tomorrow today?

Be the reason somebody dances this week. ~Kid President
Get to it.

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