Strategy Sandwiches

Today I'm excited about sandwiches! Not real sandwiches, although I do love a good chicken salad. Nope, I'm excited about the strategy sandwiches I found {here} so I decided to try a Calm Down sandwich for lunch.

photo of a strategy sandwich

Since I de-cluttered my office by putting a lot of stuff in my new suite, I now have room for a small bistro table. One student, who comes at lunch to practice her calm-down strategies, and I made this sandwich while she ate. The ingredients - some meat and cheese, two tomato slices and a piece of lettuce - represent the things that we've talked about trying when the worries start to overwhelm. We put it in a zipper sandwich bag and she tucked it in her lunch kit.

This activity leaves SO much room for variation. How about a respect sandwich? I see math integration, too, by having the students cut and identify their shapes. (The lettuce could easily be an oval or a triangle!) 
Here are some titles that lend themselves to a sandwich enrichment activity:

In this tasty tale, Carla's Sandwich by Debbie Herman, what will Carla do when she gets teased for her odd sandwich creations?

In The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania with Kelly DiPucchio, will their difference separate these fast friends?

In The Peanut-Free Café by Gloria Koster, kids in the Nutley school cafeteria learn a little bit about the challenges of coping with a peanut allergy.

What strategies could you sandwich together?


What Do You Reflect?

I just LOVE it when parents add a personal touch to their kids' lunches! Yesterday I saw a note from a mom suggesting to her little girl that she look for someone new to sit by today, someone who might look lonely or lost or like he or she could use a friend. How great is that? 
Sometimes it's a simple reminder: I love you
Sometimes it's written on their napkin. 
One dad draws pictures on the paper sack for his little girl.
My husband even wrote one, once.
Here's one we found on our first day back:

What's the coolest message you've put in your child's lunch?


The Happy Racers

Photo of Happy Racers CD

Today I'm excited about The Happy Racers! I got this CD in the mail a few weeks back but just now listened to it and I am on fire for these happy tunes. You might remember that author Barbara Joosse mentioned this award-winning group in my interview with her because she's collaborating with them to bring her lyrical books to life musically.

(Click on the Blog Talk Radio widget on the right to hear that interview!) 
With a playlist that includes catchy tunes like I Can Do Anything, Failure's a Myth, Hip Hooray Parade, and Move Your Body, there's something for everyone. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of this 
musical masterpiece!

Click {here} for a chance to win one these CDs. 


Brain Aerobics

Kids say the darndest things. I forget over the summer how funny they are. For example, one of our newbies actually asked me if I had a baby in my tummy. Yep, hilarious! I was caught SO off guard by that one that it left me uncertain as to how to respond, so I simply said, "No, honey, the baby already came out of my tummy." Like thirteen years ago! Maybe instead of brain aerobics this ought to be a post on high-impact aerobics! Anywhooooooo.............

photo of Will Rogers Quote and article about Brain Aerobics

I first heard that adage when I sat in a session with a speaker from the GeoMotion Group. (We have their math-movement mats.) It's SO true . . . if get our students moving every ten minutes or so, we'll maximize their learning. Here's a quick and easy routine that will move your students and give them a brain break

They also have a cute rendition of Captain Music's Dalmatian Disco - 
here's a snippet:

Check out the easy moves in the Cupid Shuffle, courtesy of these cute kids at my school and Coach Romell; talk about your perfect two-and-a-half minute chance to fire those dendrites.

I stopped by the p.e. classes on our first day back and she'd grouped the kids by fruit, then called out fruit names with a prompt like "spaghetti" and they had to move like limp noodles until the next group's name was called. Wouldn't that SO easily adapt to the classroom? I can totally see the strawberries skip, the blueberries bounce, and the grapes gallop. When it wasn't their turn, they were frozen food, exercising self-control and practicing their deep breathing!
Click {here} for more meaningful movement ideas and watch for my guest post on Saturday at the Teachers' Lounge ten additional
 energizers and brain breaks
What are you waiting for? Let's get moving!


The Giant King

Hooray for the first day! 
Today's our first day back for students and I can't wait to meet our newbies and get reacquainted with my other little friends

I'm guest posting for Lisa over at Fourth And Ten (at 5 pm EST) so click the book cover graphic to go there to read all about The Giant King by 
Kathleen T. Pelley and see what it has to do with the Law of Attraction. 

Click {here} if you want to hear my Blog Talk Radio interview with Kathleen; prepare to fall in LOVE with her Scottish accent while you listen to the words of wisdom from this sweet soul.

I also did my monthly Sunday Post for Michelle at Making It As  Middle School Teacher yesterday, so click {here} to go there and grab my Anger Buster Rap

Finally, I found this AmAzInG List of recommended books for kids 
(by theme) last night, so be sure to bookmark this 
back-to-school bonus!

I wonder how many KINGS you'll crown this year. 


Empathy Guest Post

photo of lyrics to empathy song by Barbara at the Corner on Character

Today I'm welcoming guest blogger AnnMarie Birster from the
School Counselor Companion blog. AnnMarie has been stopping by the Corner for over a year now and often leaves a kind affirmation, so I asked her to to share one of her favorite lessons with us.

Empathy - or Understanding HOW Someone Feels
by AnnMarie Birster

Empathy simply put means the ability to understand HOW someone REALLY feels!! As counselors, this is one of our main goals. As educators, this is something we strive to instill in our students, yet it can be a difficult concept for kids to understand.  

I am excited to share with you a lesson in Empathy that you could do with your students! When I was taking an Introduction to Play Therapy course a couple of years ago, this was one of our class assignments to explore feelings and get familiar with and understand the deeper feelings of others!!!

My professor had us watch about the first 15 minutes of the 1987 Walt Disney Movie Benji the Hunted. The movie is Rated G, so it is appropriate for all ages and can be shown in schools. Our assignment was to watch and initially see what emotions/feelings we could recognize!! About 4 minutes into the movie, we were told to shout out what Benji's thoughts and feelings were.

For students, some particular things to focus on or use for discussion are:
  • What are Benji's feelings with the mountain lion?  
  • What about when the helicopter flies by?
  • What is Benji feeling when he discovers the cubs?
  • What are the cubs feeling?
  • What is the 1st cub feeling?
  • Do they trust Benji?  How do you know?
  • What is Benji trying to communicate to the cubs
  • What happens next?
  • Does Benji experience empathy? 
  • Does this help him in decision making?
This movie is a wonderful way to help kids understand and connect with others' emotions and learn about deeper feelings. What are your creative ways to teach kids about empathy?

Author bio: AnnMarie is a very new blogger who's very excited about it! She's a certified elementary school counselor serving in two elementary schools in PA. This is her seventh year as a school counselor and she enjoys using Play Therapy techniques with her students. AnnMarie also enjoys cooking, tennis, and reading educator blogs. She's interested in technology and is somewhat of a Pinterest addict.
Thank you, AnnMarie, for stopping by the Corner while I'm away.

It's my turn at our PreK and K Sharing collaborative so hip hop over there when you're done here for my post on
 meaningful movement. 


Moments of Pure Joy Guest Post

Today I'm excited by two things. The first is a follow up to my 
Do It Anyway post from earlier this week; our daughter earned a spot in the Longhorn Marching Band clarinet section! Because of the schedule conflict, she will have to be an alternate, but she does get to march in the first game for sure. We are so proud of our girl! Second, I'm excited to welcome Nancy Parker to talk about one of my favorite things:  JOY!

Moments of Pure Joy by Nancy Parker 

Have you ever sat down and tried to remember the days in your life when you experienced pure joy? As a parent, the majority of these times center on my children.

I was reminded of a time when my daughter and I went on an adventure. It was the summer before her senior year in high school when she was seventeen. I began to think about her going off to college, thinking of ways that we could spend quality time together. There was an age difference of seven years between my daughter and son, and as you can imagine, they didn’t have the same interests. I decided that my daughter and I would take a road trip together while my son spent some time with grandma.

I presented this idea to my daughter and we started making plans. I wanted to take her so many places that I had enjoyed and it was a difficult decision to choose. We also had a seven-day time frame and a very limited budget. I wanted her to see the mountains in North Carolina and the west coast beaches. We decided we’d take the family mini-van and follow the map to the state parks along the way.

We were starting out from Texas going into Arkansas and ending in Louisiana before returning to Texas. Nine states in seven days! We weren’t staying in all those states, some were just drive through visits, but that was our plan. We set out, my daughter armed with the map, timing our journey out between state parks.

The first couple days of the trip were pretty uneventful, just loads of beauty as we drove through some breathtaking scenery. (There were a few minutes in the Memphis traffic that were a bit disconcerting.) The Smokie Mountains were inspiring; everything was so lush and green. These are the moments that I wanted to share with my girl.

We also had some very bonding experiences, snakes that resulted in piggy backs given by yours truly, a scene from the movie Deliverance in South Carolina, where we mistakenly mapped out a hunting park instead of a state park which ended up on a very dark road in the middle of nowhere. Our hearts pounding, we were hitting the door locks every few seconds as we headed toward the nearest hotel for the night.

We had a wonderful time on the beach… that is until I figured out I’d locked the keys in the van. We had to wait on Panama City Beach’s main strip in our bathing suits with quite a bit of honking, cat calling, and waving going on. She still loved me after that, I wasn’t too sure after the next stop in a Florida park, there were so many mosquitoes and so much fair young skin… *sigh*.

All in all we had a wonderful time, something neither one of us will ever forget. There are stories to tell, beautiful scenery to remember, and memories to share that will last us a lifetime. These are the moments of pure joy that we all strive for. They aren’t all well thought out times of perfection, they can be messy and thrown together, but the goal is to be together and make time for those we love.

Author Bio

Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like Health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, Nanny Background Check Tips, and more. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com


Paint The World With CharACTer!

Goodness there's a LOT going on today!  First, I'm celebrating with Valerie over at All Students Can Shine cause it's her blog birthday.  
I've donated an author-signed copy of Carol McCloud's 
Have You Filled A Bucket Today? so head that way for a chance to win the book and some other really cool stuff!

Next, I am officially finished decorating my back-to-school bulletin boards! At last count, I have done ten of them in my school. It's just that I cannot stand to see a pitiful blank board, so if it appears they're not going to get decorated, I adopt them. Here's one of my creations from yesterday morning:

Photo of Fish School Bulletin Board
Yes, I put the word DIFFERENT upside down on purpose!
This next one has a pretty cool story behind it. 
I wanted to add paint palettes so that I could post some values onto my 
Paint The World With CharACTer board I was making. My friend Terri did the brush for me and it was all coming together when I got the brainstorm that Michelle from The 3am Teacher blog would be perfect for the palettes. She's so talented! So on Wednesday, the day before our families were coming to Meet & Greet, I shot her an email request and she asked what color for the palettes and I said white and she said sure

Then on Thursday morning I woke up to a note that said she had a sample white one for me, but was also throwing in this fun zebra-print, just in case. Michelle had NO way of knowing this, but our new Principal has been using the zebra to represent initiative because when the safari animals come upon a river that might be fraught with crocodiles, it's the zebra who will typically decide that the benefit is worth the risk and take the initiative to cross through the waters. Of course, I went with the zebra print and here's the visually-vibrant finished product:

Photo of Paint the World With Character board

Click {here} to purchase those Paint-Me-Pretty Palettes from TpT.

Finally, I interviewed author Kathleen T. Pelley on Blog Talk Radio on my lunch break today. Listen here to hear what a blessing this author and artist is!

Listen to internet radio with TeachingBlogAddict on Blog Talk Radio



I just noticed that I've got over 300 Cyberspace Collaborators now and that is SO so SO so SO energizing. Thank you for stopping by the Corner for your daily dose of InSpIrAtIoN and MoTiVaTiOn!

Look at the visual garden that I get to gander at every time I leave my office!

Photo of Braille bulletin board

It's for our students with visual impairments; in the middle of the flowers are sight words . . . in braille!

It's beautiful to the touch!

Switching senses, have you seen this clip from Britain's Got Talent in which nine-year-old Malaki Paul gets overcome with fear and starts to cry? The cool part is what happens when his mom and one of the judges go onto the stage to comfort and coach him. Grab your tissues, turn up your speakers and prepare to LISTEN!


Vision Boards Guest Post

Today I'm excited because I'm guest posting for the Character Educator {here}. One of the most-viewed guest posts at the Corner this summer was Empathy in a (Shoe) Box and guess what? 
She's baaaaack! 
Welcome, Tanya, and thank you for being my guest blogger today!

Vision Boards by Tanya Kirschman

If you're looking for a fun way to review goal-setting and staying focused on those goals as students enter middle school the following year, then why not make a Vision Board. I like to do this activity with my older students (usually 6th graders) in individual counseling, but it'd work great in the classroom as well.

Supplies: First you’ll need some appropriate magazines and catalogs that you no longer want (students will be cutting images out of them), an artist’s canvas flat panel board from a craft store like Michaels (the 9” x 12” size works best for me), a pencil, glue stick, marker and a blank sheet of paper.

Step 1: Ask the student to list several goals she has for her life on the blank paper. The direction is very open-ended at this point. Some students are comfortable with the limited instruction and start writing, while others ask for specific guidelines. If the student is apprehensive, I direct her to think about the following goals (or what she wants her life to look like) for the next year, by the time she graduates from high school, by the time she’s 30 years old, etc.:

* what do you want to accomplish?
* what (material) items do you want in your life?
* who do you want in your life?
* where do you want to travel?
* what will be important to you?
* what will you buy with your money?
* where will you live?

Discuss these goals as the student reveals them to you.

Step 2: For the student who has already written things on his paper and didn’t need the initial direction, I ask the questions in Step 1 to develop his list further.

Step 3: Explain to the student that she is going to be looking through magazines to find pictures or words (or letters to make her own words) that symbolize the goals she’s written on her paper. Do NOT cut anything out yet.  Simply tear out pages with the representative images on them and start making a pile. This step may take several sessions. Students may see images in a magazine and think of additional goals. She should write those on her paper, too. I help the student look for pictures and words that might represent her goals as well. However, the student always has the choice to use (or decline) my findings.

Step 4: Instruct the student to cut out the images and words he wants to keep and arrange them on the artist’s canvas like a collage. The student will glue everything down when the arrangement is to his liking. Students may also write on the board with a marker.

photo of a Vision Board
 A vision board made by one of my students.

Step 5: Talk about the purpose of the vision board. Put in a prominent place in her room at home, the vision board prompts her focus on her goals. When she looks at the board each morning, she is unconsciously going to make choices throughout her day that are consistent with moving toward her goals. Students sign and date the back of their board and take it home.

** This activity has also been very effective in working with students who struggle with trust, or who simply don’t want to “go to the counselor."  It focuses on their FUTURE instead of their current situation, which is often less threatening (however those issues are addressed in later sessions when we’ve built a better rapport).


Emulating Erma

I've never really told anyone this (in fact, I haven't really thought about it in years), but I used to aspire to be like Erma Bombeck. (For those of you who are too young to remember Erma, she was a humorist and a columnist.) Truth be told, I wanted to BE her. I admired her so much and her stuff always made me laugh out loud 'cause it was just SO real. And talk about voice! Her writing had a voice that I connected with SO much that I always had the sense that I knew her personally. I've never told this to anyone, until now. And unless I've had the opportunity to email or talk with you in person about my keynote in Alabama last Thursday, you might be wondering, "Why are you telling us this now?" I'd probably be wondering that, too. Well, you need that information to understand why this feedback from my keynote was so incredible.

I'd finished my two-hour presentation for 1200+ Montgomery County elementary educators on quite a high; the gracious participants gave me a standing ovation to express their thanks and they were lining up for hugs and high fives. It was an aMaZiNgLy humbling rush! A librarian told me that she'd ordered the book I read while I was reading, two kinder teachers told me that they were going to start a knitting club, a group from Floyd Elementary asked if I'd pose with them for a group picture. 
Then an audience member came up to me and, 
in one providential moment, made this connection:  
You are like a young Erma Bombeck. 
I was instantly transported to speaker heaven! Really? 
There's NO way she could have known what those seven words 
affirming my authenticity would mean to me . . . 

Erma Bombeck passed away on my dad's birthday in 1996. Click {here} for a beautiful list of things Erma wrote about (at the age of 52) that she would have liked to do over were she given the chance and 
prepare to be moved
Then think about what you would like to do over and remember that every day you get another chance to do what you want to do! 
Happy reflecting.


Do It Anyway!

I didn't really want to take my college girl back to school yesterday, but I had to do it anyway. And it wasn't too bad. Oh, sure, it was super sad, and the house will undoubtedly feel SO lonely without her, 
especially at first. 

But here's what I know: She was SO ready to get back and she loves it there SO much that, worse than taking her away would be to try to keep her here! Before she left, she made a dozen new feeling tiles for my new suite. I just happened to grab the camera as she was finishing up 
the SAD feeling tile . . . sniff, sniff . . . 

As I hugged Kaitlyn and headed out the door, I heard myself tell her to 
"hope for the best but prepare for the worst." That's because she's going to try out for a spot with the Marching Band again this fall, but she knows full well that they may not take her because she's got a required architecture lab scheduled at the same time as the Band's Tuesday night practice. She's frustrated about that, but she's going to do it anyway.

There are 26 new clarinets vying for her spot, so it follows that she may not get chosen this year. But she's willing to give it a shot and even serve as an alternate if she has to, just to be part of that Band family that she's grown to love. They make her so happy! There's also an option for her to be an alternate for carrying a Big Flag. That wouldn't be her first choice, of course, but she'd be willing to do it anyway, just to belong.

We're hopeful for good news, 
when she calls later this week!

What I'll always appreciate about these tiles is that when it came to that last one and Kaitlyn wasn't feeling like doing another one, she made herself do it anyway, for me
I sure am gonna miss that girl!


Friendship Matters

Today I'm excited because the Corner is Heidi's spotlight blog over at Raki's Rad Resources! Click the graphic to head that way for a post about my favorite subject:  FriendsIf you were going to make a friendship kit, what items would you put in it? Why? Leave a comment for me over there! And while you're there, feel free to pin the picture to one of your classroom Pinterest Boards!

Oh, and for twenty free back-to-school resources for your first few days and weeks back, visit the Teachers' Lounge Blog {here}. 


Welcome Home

photo of quote about HOME

Even though my Saturday Songs summertime series has ended, I heard about this song yesterday for the first time from my friend Autumn, and yes, it's Saturday, and yes, this is an inspirational song . . . what's a blogger to do? Autumn was Joshua's sixth-grade teacher (remember the 
I Love Joshua post?) and said this about Home by Phillip Phillips:

I just LOVE this song and it is going to be my theme song this school year. My favorite line says, "Just know you're not alone, and I'm going to make this place your home." I really can envision what a different school year it would be if every single teacher grabbed every student's little face between their hands, looked them in the eyes, and recited those words. That is my wish for my own two kiddos, I hope at least one teacher will do that for them, and I plan on doing it for all of my students. Home SHOULD represent the safest, best, warmest place on earth . . .
I want all kids to be welcomed home this school year!


In The Clouds

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I just LOVE it when God paints. Just look at the cloud-and-light exhibit to which I was treated on my way home from Sweet Alabama last night:

And just like that it's gone. Don't these shots from seat 9A
 just take your breath away?

I am still on Cloud 9 because my keynotes went really well. A film crew was there, so I think it was on the News in Montgomery last night. I will let you know when it's posted on their website in case you want to experience a little bit of the enthusiasm, energy and motivation I left behind.
Click {here} for the power point presentation. 

And if you're into cyberspace clouds and want some new blogs to follow, then you've come to the right place. I'm in great company on this list of more than a hundred education blogs; enJOY our one-stop blog hop!


And Many More!

I didn't plan it this way, to be away on Jacob's 18th birthday, but that's how it worked out. When I got invited to do that back-to-school presentation, he and I talked about it and agreed that it wasn't that big of a deal since he'd be in band all day anyway, so I said SURE! But as I was flying to Alabama the evening before, it started to sink in that I'd be missing his big day and it tugged at my heartstrings. A LOT! So I came up with this plan: I'd ask the teachers in my Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character keynote to send birthday wishes to Jacob, then I'd post the singing telegram on his FB page. To surprise him. And it did. Here they are, being such good sports and playing along with a mom who was feeling conflicted about being gone and missing some memory-making moments; don't you just LOVE the teacher who waves to him from the back?

Spring 2009
Here he is, the one in the NASA shirt, with his siblings in probably the last picture of the kids together in the bluebonnet patch that I would ever take. And now he's about to start his senior year of high school. What a big difference a few seasons make. 

The two ladies who added, "And many more!" to the birthday refrain are Pam and Lisa, my new friends from Alabama. I join them in wishing Jacob many, many more wonderful birthdays as he grows into adulthood and goes out into the world to do great things.

Our three blessings, summer 2012.


Looking Through Respectacles

After I mentioned respectacles, Tammy at Forever In First and Barb at Grade ONEderful both asked for more information, so today's post is dedicated to 

Making respect visible is a good way to keep it in the forefront. We made these frames with the kids when they were younger; here's what Kaitlyn had to say about respect when she was in second grade. (Can I just say that it looks slightly different to her now that she's 19!)  Glue some Dollar-Store colored craft sticks together, have students write their words of wisdom on a scrap piece of paper, glue it to the sticks and attach a magnet. The sticks are colored-coded to correspond with the Six Pillars of Character color scheme.

Put up a Radiating Respect bulletin board:

photo of respect bulletin board

With your students, brainstorm ways in which we radiate respect. Then make their ideas the rays of the sun in this visual display.

This next idea is inspired from a lesson in the State Farm Thought, Word, and Deed binder. Find out what your students think glasses do for people. Let them know that another word for glasses is spectacles. Then ask, "What could respectacles do for you?" Have students make their hands into a pair of glasses, bring them up to their eyes, and voila - you've got respectacles! Make it your silent signal for respect. 
Use respectacles to look for examples of respect or to let students know they should check their respect-o-meter.  If you want to make them more tangible, get some pipe cleaners and let students create a pair of respectacles. See the small glasses on Seymour, that baby harp seal puppet in the Clubhouse in the picture to the right? I put a purple pipe cleaner around them to make respectacles (after this picture was taken) and they look SO cute on him. The kids loved it. 

Finally, let students put on their respectacles and belt out 
R-E-S-P-E-C-T with Aretha! Sing it with me now . . . 
Oh, just a little bit . . . just a little bit . . . 
Click {here} for a RESPECT acrostic activity 
and {here} for a Brush Up On Respect lesson idea.

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