H Is For Honesty

And H is for HEROES!

Superheroes. Everyday heroes.

Kid President's message to be extraordinary resonates with me
and answers my question: What's Under Your Cape? 
Thank you, Jo, for posting it to our FB page.

Visit Soul Pancake for this and more Kid President clips.

Today I'm delighted because one of those extraordinary people, 
Kim from Joy in Sixth
is reviewing Chapter 6 in our book study. 

Kim is a 30-year veteran teacher who has become one of my closest colleagues despite the fact that distance separates us geographically. Go to her JOYful blog to see how she'll use the information in Chapter 6 to help her sixth-grade superheroes soar. Honestly! Tell her I said hello when you leave your kind comments. 

One of my favorite posters about honesty tells it like it is:

Want to be trusted? Tell the truth. 

Like these, it's a virtue that must be a non-negotiable.

Click {here} for source.

My two favorite object lessons for this concept have to be 

My two favorite picture books that reinforce 
the importance of being honest are 
and The Empty Pot by Demi. Coincidentally, Kim discusses them both in her post! 

This chapter is so important because it's the basis for friendships. If we are going to form trusting relationships, then honesty truly has to be more than just a policy. It has to be a way of life. Honest people don't cheat, lie, gossip or steal. They are loyal and keep their promises. They tell the truth, even when it might cost more than they'd like to pay. They own up to what they've done, and they work to make it right. Simply put, honest people make trustworthy friends. We can count on them because dependable and reliable. And that's what makes them super.

Here's an activity I posted a few years back at my school site:

I've listed quite of few friends-that-fit titles in Chapter 6;
what are some of your friendship faves? 


Kindsight Is 20/20

Yesterday I stumbled on this thought-provoking quote on 
couldn't refuse making another mini-poster 
using a picture I took of our orange summer sky last night.

Too often we forget to express kindness to ourselves.
What was I learning? I like that reframe.
What will you do differently today, in kindsight?

And speaking of kindness, our friends from the FarFaria app have reached out to me and kindly offered to give one lucky reader a 3-month membership. 
You can get one free story {here}.

From their website:

A World of Stories

FarFaria is an iPad app that provides the perfect story time experience. 
With more than 750 amazing children’s stories—and five new ones added each week—
story time has never been easier. Created for children ages 2-9, FarFaria helps children 
develop a passion for reading and encourages families to spend quality time reading together. 
FarFaria’s engaging story-discovery experience encourages children 
to stumble into new stories they’ll love forever.


  • Unlimited reading from our library of more than 750 stories.
  • Five new, engaging stories added every week.
  • Interactive experience is fun for kids and easy for parents
  • Every story can be read aloud with a Read-to-Me feature.
  • Reading-level badge on every story cover.
  • Offline access to read Favorite stories
  • No advertising. No hidden fees.

As you know, my iPad mini and apps are oh-so-very-new to me, but I downloaded it, signed in, and chose a level 2 book called Can't Catch Caitlyn. I let the device read it to me and watched in awe as this software (are apps actually software?) highlighted the words in blue as they were being read to me.  

Read it again, this time without audio.
Encourage your child read it all by himself the third time.

I marveled at how far we've come and secretly hoped that something like this wouldn't ever replace the old-fashioned lap that we used to sit atop. Then I started to think about talking points within this short story, thinking of some questions whose answers aren't fixed, like this:
*Is it fair the Caitlyn has an earlier bedtime than her brother? 
*What would happen if you talked back to your parents? 
*What about if you ran from them?
*How do you predict they'll catch Caitlyn? 
*What do you think Grandma is knitting and for whom?
*Why is it important to brush our teeth before bed?

Celebrate the touchdown with a photo finish 
and make an album for your rocket reader.   

If you want to win a membership for this cool reading-enrichment app, just tell us in the comments what your favorite Back-to-School book is. The Gruener Generator will randomly pick the winner this Friday, July 25th, at 1 pm central. Check back that afternoon to see if it's you! 
Today I want to express my gratitude at the halfway mark in the book study for all of the character educators who've caped up to share their reflections, thoughts, and ideas for extension. Two bloggers who weren't on the list have reviewed the book as well, so here are those links. Please tell them I sent you to help me thank them for their love and support.

And one of my character role models, Dr. Michele Borba, tweeted this sweet endorsement out to her followers yesterday:

  Our crusade continues tomorrow and takes us into August
with this star-studded blogging line-up:

I predict it'll be super!


R Is For Respect

Today I'm excited because I got to don my character cape yesterday. 
It happened when I asked the winner of the book at 
if I should personalize her copy or sign it generically to make it a 
pay-it-forward copy. She chose the latter and asked that it be signed To Teachers Everywhere so that when she's done reading, she can pass it along to move the message forward. And, since she happens to live in WI, the ripple will be starting in my home state ... can you see why I'm soaring?

Today the focus of our book study is something that made Aretha Franklin famous: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

And our super leaders are Tiffani at Time 4 Kindergarten 

Just look at Amy's little caped crusader ... my heart swells!

Thank you, Tiffani and Amy.

Need a few ideas to help enrich the concept of respect?

Ask students to write a jingle based on Aretha's song. Challenge students to think about something they've noticed that could use more respect. Brainstorm these concerns and make a list. Then have students write a little ditty. 

Here's an example. You notice that your neighbors are leaving their empty garbage cans on the curb instead of bringing them in after the trash has been picked up. Illustrate a poster for your campaign and pair it with a jingle that goes something like this:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; keep your street curb garbage-can free.

Stray cats or dogs in your neighborhood? Sound off for respect by posting a billboard-style sign that says:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; please put animals on a leash.

Use this activity to reinforce poems and rhyming. Hang the campaign posters around the school ... or better yet, in the businesses of your community partners ... to remind your stakeholders to always show respect, not only to self and others, but also to property. And since you're talking poetry, click this sheet to download and let students complete this acrostic.

My favorite book to teach respect?  Hey, Little Ant

My favorite respect for difference movie clip? 
This AdOrAbLe song from Stellaluna:

Finally, we always chant or sing to seal the deal:

We are almost halfway through our SUPERHEROES acrostic.
Come back Thursday to read what Kim from Joy in 6th 
has to say about honesty.


Monday Made It

Today I'm linking up with Tara's Monday Made It.
It's week 8; I thought it was about time.
Click her adorable graphic to check it out.

Here's what I've been making, 
inspirational-quote minis.

For my presentations.

Photo by Tena Roher; click {here} for post about Recorder Karate.

And to enlarge and use as mini-posters.

It's so easy-breezy to do at PicMonkey.
And it's free.
Here's what the page will look like.
I use the Open tab to pull in a picture from my desktop.

I use the little frame icon (third from the bottom on the left) to put some color around the picture and leave a little space if I want the inspiration to be at the bottom rather than on the photo. And I use the T icon to add words, using their fonts ... or my faves! When I like what I've got, I hit save and it's on my desktop.  It's not rocket science, and it's so much fun to see what you can create. 

Last week, I printed some of these out on card stock and cut them into pieces to make a fun activity - Find Your Missing Piece - for my friends at 
the Kindness Cure training. 

What have you made lately that you'd like to share?

Blogging buddy Mrs. Labrasciano linked up her creative idea 
for this Character Bracelet ... 

'cause she's gearing up to join Tiffani at Time 4 Kindergarten to review Chapter 5 tomorrow!

Head to Tara's blog now and link up before 
Made-It Monday goes on a back-to school-hiatus.

Oh, and Make It a Marvelous Monday.


E Is For Empathy

Today we get to elicit empathy over at EduKate And Inspire
Kate brings to the the book study experience and training as a teacher and a counselor and she's sharing not only her reflections, but also some book suggestions, a few film clips and several other activities to enrich the empathy experience. {She's also got a signed copy up for grabs!}

Thank you, Kate, for helping bring Chapter 4 to life.

I started really focusing on elevating empathy four years ago after I heard CEP Board Member, Author and Parenting Expert Dr. Michele Borba address it in her keynote at the Character Conference in Wisconsin. It really clicked with me, that we needed to nurture, stretch, and grow this glorious virtue. Now it's a word that every child in our school knows and a skill that they, as peacemakers, are working on every day. We even have a silent signal to make concrete the intangible concept of switching places with someone. Click {here} for a video clip of first-grade Charlotte modeling the empathy switch. Just like with expressing empathy, it can be extremely challenging for that pinky and that thumb to fluidly switch places, to walk in someone else's shoes, but with practice, they can do it.

Enjoy Sue Lively's beautiful piece with ten ideas for teaching empathy {here}. 
Watch Dr. Brene Brown's The Power Of Empathy {here}. 
Read an interview with David Levine {here}.
Then find more empathy activity ideas on my 
Elevating Empathy Pinterest page {here}. 

And look at what our PE Coach posted after she read the Empathy Chapter and engaged her first-grade son:

Finally, use this Coke video to encourage your students to switch places with and explore how these people are feeling ... at the beginning, when they're away from and missing family ... and at the end, when they find some relief to their homesickness. Ask them what they would want and/or need if they were these workers. What if they were the family members back at home? And how must it must feel to be one of the engineers who initiated and/or who got to work on this 
Hello Happiness - Connect with Coke project.   


Kindness Ripples

Today I'm thinking about kindness ... and ripples.

As I was walking this morning, I was pondering what empathy and kindness actually have to do with one another, and I was reminded of Sam. I had the pleasure of meeting Sam, a kindhearted custodian from the Show-Me State, during a National School of Character site visit via Skype about five years ago, when I asked to visit with him about something I'd read in their NSOC application. You see, Sam has a tradition of going into the cafeteria and giving every child a hand-crafted card with a dollar in it on his/her birthday, a practice that had sparked something supersized at his school. 
Students told me that they cannot wait for their turn to turn a year older and receive their dollar from Sam. We're talking about a dollar, people ... but it's not the money at all, is it? Nope, it's the kindness that's wrapped up in that card and sealed in that envelope that is the much-anticipated treat for these birthday boys and girls. It's a big deal to get something special from their superhero Sam.

I imagine it goes like this:
Empathy - Sam figures it'd feel pretty good to get a homemade birthday card in the cafeteria on your special day.
Compassion - Sam thinks with his heart and cares enough to want to spread those feelings of positivity and joy while honoring his little friends with something special on their birthday.
Kindness - Sam gets a birthday list, starts making cards, saves enough money so he has a dollar to give to each child, and Sam makes it happen, one birthday at a time, all year long.

Just think about all the goodness that might happen as a result of Sam's kindness. I'm wondering if his parents know what a terrific job they did raising him ...

And wouldn't you know that it started with empathy, such a nice segue into the reminder that tomorrow our book study continues with Chapter 4 over at EduKate and Inspire. I can't wait to hear what Kate, a second-grade teacher who's also got a counseling degree, has to say about one of my favorite chapters.

Here are a few more resources I found 
on empathy and kindness this week:

Download the Ripil Kindness App {here}. From our friends at Pay It Forward, this free app lets you express your kindness and keep track of the good that it does.

Read advice from a Harvard psychologist about raising kind kids {here}.

Glean ideas on encouraging empathy from Melissa Harding {here}.

And see Sandra Smith's thoughts on Compassionate Kids {here}. 

How will you use kindness ripples to make a splash today?


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