Character Week Resource Round-Up

Day 2 of Character Counts! Week 2014 and the Kindle Edition of my book is now available free for one more day today to celebrate! 

Today we got our Buddy Benches off of the stage ...

and on to the playground!

Our superheroes came in this morning so excited about it!

A few character-development resources for you:
Click {here} for a Harry Smith clip on acceptance and respect.
Read an amazing Trudy Ludwig interview {here}.
Watch an empathy PSA {here}.
Check out this Katie Hurley piece on raising kind girls.

Need t-shirt ideas? Look at what came in today's mail ...

from my generous friends at North Pointe Elementary.

Simply powerful. You can bet I'll be wearing these this week!

And since next week we'll celebrate Red Ribbon Week in style, 
our design team decided on a Fashion Show Runway PSA:

Click {here} for a comprehensive, kid-friendly 
Red Ribbon Week resource.

How will you and your school family celebrate
character as your anti-drug?


Monday Made-It: Fingerless Gloves

How will you celebrate healthy choices?

We've got a Coins 4 Character collection going on,
to help our friends at Post Elementary recover from a fire.
We're also sending our character message out into the community when we deliver pizzas for our Papa John's Fundraiser on Thursday night. I can't wait.

This weekend I decided to knit something besides a scarf or a baby hat and, guess what? I finished in time to link up with Tara's October Monday Made-It!

Check out these fingerless gloves. I didn't really use a pattern,
but this link will take you lots of free pattern downloads.

So here's what mine looked like when it was still on the needles:

And once sewn up the sides, here's the finished product.

Isn't that fun?
And the yarn is so yummy 'cause it's from an alpaca in Peru!

So this is what I did. I cast on 36 stitches, then knit five rows using the basic garter stitch. Then I switched to a knit one row, purl one row pattern for about 40 rows. This will vary depending on how high up your arm you want your gloves to go. When you have your desired length from the thumb up, start to cable with a knit two stitches, purl two stitches pattern for about 10 rows, again depending on your hand size and desired amount to cover it.
Bind off and sew up the sides, leaving a two-inch slit for your thumb to come through.

I'm so excited to have tried something new. 
What have you made lately that makes you happy?

Finally, I'm delighted to share that my book 
is now available in Kindle format {here}. 
To kick off Character Counts! week, I'm offering it for free today (10/20) and tomorrow (10/21), so head there now and download it to your Kindle at no charge. 
Cape Up and Crusade On.


Echoes Of Time

So today's a busy day for us after a very late night last night.
While beautifully elegant, this year's band show 
Echoes of Time
is taking up a lot of time and energy.

Joshua needed to be up at 5:30 for today's competition, so a bleary-eyed me stumbled around in the dark trying to wake up just enough to drive him to school for rehearsal. As he was eating the cereal I made him for breakfast, he asked if I could buy him a show shirt when I got there. Not planning on going, I offered to give him $20 and encouraged him to figure out how to get one for himself. 

That's when mommy guilt started to hit. No, I hadn't planned to make the trip across town to Conroe because, quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I worked a 2 1/2 hour shift in the concession stand last night after a long day at the office and didn't even hit the pillow until midnight. And now I'm up before the sun, so no, I'm not coming tonight. Me. Me. Me. And out of the blue, the dong of the bell changes pitch. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

So I headed to the morning competition, where I made arrangements to hitch a ride to be there tonight as well. Because our days together are numbered and, in the end, it won't matter that I got that extra nap or saved myself from the possible traffic jam through construction on I45.

What will matter at the end of the day is that I can tell my son,
"Wow, great job!" 
and know what I'm talking about, 
'cause I was there to experience it firsthand. 
To see it. 
To feel it. 
To love it.

I don't ever want to hear regret 
as time echoes in my heart.


PPBF: Elmer The Dog

Today's PPBF is dedicated to my friend Rhythm!

Title: Elmer the Dog
Author: Duke Nguyen
Illustrator: Vuthy Kuon 
Publisher: Providence Publishing - Brown Dog Press
Date: September 1, 2000
Suitable for: ages 6 and up 
Themes: differences, point of view, attitude
Brief Synopsis: Mixed-breed Elmer is sent to doggy obedience school where he finds that the other students are purebreds. Will he find a way to fit in even though they see him as a mutt?
Opening page: Elmer was a normal little puppy, who liked little puppy things, like chew toys, balls, swimming and large T-bone steaks drowned in Teriyaki sauce.


Have students research their ancestry. Challenge them to find a family crest
If one doesn't exist, have them create one. 
This yellow shirt that my brother is wearing sports our crest.

In a letter-writing unit, students could take Elmer's point of view and write a letter home talking about everything he's learning in Obedience School.

Use the book as a springboard for a service-learning project involving animals. Here's an excerpt from my book:

A special thanks goes to master teachers Carolyn Lowe and Michelle Maruca for sharing their expertise on these extension ideas. Students can:
Collect data and chart their findings on the different breeds of dogs or other animals they know or would like to know more about, perhaps even their “class pet.” Students could also conduct an independent research project on the domesticated animal of their choice. Find or illustrate different pictures of dogs and cats. Students can then identify the different needs of the animals. For example, larger dogs need room to run, require more food, etc. This can be a class activity as well. All students who have pets can bring a picture and, as a class, compare and contrast needs through a Venn diagram, an H map, or a double-bubble graphic organizer.

Since there's another Elmer out there, you could also use a double bubble graphic organizer to compare and contrast Elmer the Dog with David McKee's Elmer.

Why I like this book:  One thing that hooked me about this book besides being reeled in by the stunning illustrations is that Elmer's differences don't turn into a book on bullying, instead they turn into a reframe about celebrating who you are. Of course Elmer gets down about not being a purebred, and yes, he wants to quit Obedience School at first, but he quickly learns that being a mixed-breed totally has its advantages. "It's a gift" they tell him ... and he believes it! So instead of bemoan his ancestry, he returns to Obedience School with a renewed verve and capitalizes on those differences

As an extension writing exercise, encourage students to write a note to someone special that begins with "You are a gift because ... " 
We've done this at our school and it's such a fun way to affirm one another. I rediscovered this one from Sally recently and it's something I treasure dearly.

Then, have them write one that says: I am a gift because ...
I know, I know, it sounds self-centered, but hear me out. This year's National Red Ribbon Theme is "Love Yourself - Be Drug Free." I wasn't sure I could connect with that theme, but technically we must love ourselves before we have love to give away, right? Elmer had to come to terms with his lineage and what makes him who he is.

So talk with students up front about focusing on their strengths without bragging, those they were born with, and those that they've learned from their home and in their school families. It'll be a strong reflection piece if they can focus on who they are, where they've been, where they're going and what they have to offer to others.

Rhythm, you are a gift. Thank you.
Want more PPBF book reviews? Go to Susanna Hill's blog next!


Helping Just Makes 'Cents'

Character Counts! Week is just around the corner, so when we heard about this devastating school fire at Post Elementary, a Character Counts! school across the state, jumping in to help just makes 'cents.' That's why we're hosting a coin drive:

I spoke with the counselor, who told me that her office was a total loss. Thirty years gone, just like that. So I packed up a few of our puppets and some other treasures to help her start over. We've also found a donor who has generously offered to pay for shipping so we'll be able to send some of our surplus library books their way. 

If you want to help this school during its recovery, donations can be sent to 
Post Elementary ~ 200 West Sixth Street ~ Post, Texas 79356.

We're also gearing up for our Celebrity Delivery Night partnership with Papa John's and busily making our student-created Box Toppers. 
Look at how super cute this one turned out.

How will you celebrate character next week?


You Matter!

Today as I put the finishing touches on my presentation for tomorrow, I'm remembering a back-to-school workshop years ago when we started out by putting our staff members into circle time to give them the experience of a 
Morning Meeting. As I review pictures from that day, I'm reminded how important it is to let each other know: You matter!

Maybe you know them as sensitivity circles?
Whatever their name, just look at how engaged staff members are,
looking at one another in the eyes, listening with intention,
validating each other's story.

In a world that can seem very disconnected to our kids, it's critical now more than ever to find a way to intentionally connect them and let them know that 
if it's important to them, it matters to us.
To check in with them and get an emotional barometer reading.
To share genuine concern and express our love for them.
We owe it to the people at our work place, in our homes, and in our community to let them know that they're important to us,
that their story matters, that they matter, no matter what.

Have you seen the new Whirlpool commercial?
Yep, every act of care counts ... 

I can't wait to share this message at tomorrow's workshop.
How will you spend Columbus Day?

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