Wildly Unwound

Today's blog is a repost of something I wrote last year at this time for the Teacher's Lounge blog and my friends at Really Good Stuff {here} that bears repeating.  Easter blessings!

Though our hectic schedules usually keep us from even contemplating a Sunday drive, springtime in Texas beckons us to head out into the Hill Country to breathe in the beauty of the Wildflower explosion. Bluebonnets and paintbrushes coupled with square-bud primrose and winecups create a bloomin’ bonanza on hillsides, in fields, and in ditches. How could we possibly be too busy to treat ourselves to nature’s visual masterpiece?
So off we went last weekend; a bonus of that country drive was our stop at the Whitlock farm. Now, when I say the word farm, it’s not like the big family dairy that I grew up on where the cows outnumbered the people one hundred to one.  Nope, it’s a modest 45-acre hobby farm with some of the friendliest animals you’ll ever meet:  Horses, donkeys, sheep, chickens, and a cow.

Ruby at the Salt Lick 
Just look at this adorable Pygmy, for example, who stopped jumping long enough to treat herself to the mineral salt lick. Her name is Ruby and her twin sister is Rose. Meeting them totally made that daytrip worthwhile. To watch them frolic and fret and jolt around with joy was an elixir like no other.  And when they let me pet them, they actually purred like little kittens; be still my beating heart.
So what do the Wildflowers and this Pygmy have to do with today’s topic? They provided down time to de-stress. Time to pamper ourselves with scenery and serenity. Time to leave technology and housework and hurrying and scurrying behind to take a leisurely drive.  Time to visit in our vehicle, to get away from it all. And though I was personally feeling the healing effects of the excursion, I wasn’t sure our teenaged boys were . . . until I saw how carefully they coddled those baby chicks and how gently they spoke to those itty-bitty goats, how happily they skipped stones across the pond and how sheepishly they asked if they could please come back again sometime soon.
Bright and early the next morning, with details about this decadent day still fresh on my heart and mind, I headed to the airport en route for Puerto Rico.  It was on board the aircraft that I heard these words again for the very first time:  In the event of an emergency evacuation, please put your own oxygen mask on first, then assist your small children with theirs.   
Put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping your children?  Did I hear that correctly? Put your own mask on first. Me first? Well, that just goes against everything that I’ve been taught. Help myself first?  That just doesn’t sound right. And to be perfectly candid, it doesn’t feel right, either.  And yet, if I hadn’t put gas in the car for that long Sunday drive, how far would we really have gotten?
So my questions for today are these:
What is your oxygen mask? 
Who puts gas in your tank?  
Where is your trace mineral salt lick?
It’s going to vary for all of us, the things we choose to help us de-stress and decompress. Maybe it’s an hour on the couch in a vegetative state mindlessly watching House Hunters or Swamp People on cable. Maybe it’s an hour in the kitchen turning those rapidly ripening bananas into a loaf of deliciousness. Or maybe it’s going outside for some fresh air, reading a book by the pool, pulling weeds in the garden, or pedaling around the block on your bike or on foot. It could be a day trip to the countryside or a drive in the other direction to the Seawall in Galveston to enjoy the sand, the sun and the shore. It might even be that shopping soothes you or maybe it’s a manicure or a massage that does the trick.
Whatever the medium, of one thing I’m certain; I’d rather be wildly unwound than going wild with unresolved issues and stress. Relaxation techniques help us manage those unpleasantries to help us maintain our mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing so that we can be more available to ourselves, our family, our friends, and our colleagues. So spring into action and go wild with wellness. Find that person, place, or experience to serve as your Calgon Moment and let yourself be taken away regularly to that safe and stress-free place where you can relax, refresh, and rejuvenate.

Enjoy being wild and well.


A Good Egg

I hope you're enjoying this beautiful Easter weekend. We had a glorious day off yesterday and I managed to get some much-needed yard work done. I am missing my girl, who stayed up at school instead of coming home for the holiday. Look at how cute she was in our Easter-bunny days gone by.

We miss you, Kit!
Quick story about car rider duty on Thursday: As kindergarteners arrived and emerged from their cars safely coddling their eggs for the egg drop, I would say things like "egg-cellent" or "egg-citing" and "egg-ceptional" to make them laugh. Some got it, most, not so much. As one mom who was with walking her child approached, I overheard her say that Mrs. Gruener is making silly comments about their eggs. Without skipping a beat, her child replied, "Mrs. Gruener's weird, isn't she mom?" 
That's me ... a weird egg!

As I was making my rounds in the second grade hallway, I saw that one of our teachers had given the parents an assignment. Don't you just LOVE parent homework? Anyway, their task was to decorate the Easter egg template and complete this sentence:
 _________ is a good egg because ________.
Their responses warmed my heart.

Finally, do you know about the One Good Egg Project? 
It's all about farmers feeding the hungry. 
Here's a clip from the Colorado celebration last year at this time:

That's the essence of Easter ... in an eggshell!


PPBF: Wolf! Wolf!

If you've been looking for just the right story to help your students understand not only that they need to always tell the truth, but also what it means to create a win-win situation, then you must 
check out this PPBF!

Title:  Wolf! Wolf!
Written and Illustrated by: John Rocco
Publisher: Hyperion Books For Children New York
Date:  Fifth Edition February 20, 2007
Suitable for: Kindergarten - Grade 3 
Simple Synopsis: This tale is an entertainingly whimsical spin-off of Aesop's Fable about the little boy who cried wolf. In this version, the aging, arthritic, and somewhat hearing-impaired Wolf hears the boy's call - "Wolf! Wolf!" - as he's tending his garden. He thinks he's being summoned by someone he might know, so off he goes to investigate. He sees that it's just a young boy playing a trick on some angry villagers. After three go-arounds, however, the crafty creature decides to trick the little prankster. 

Opening Page: 

THE HUNGRY OLD WOLF was too slow to snatch birds and too stiff to chase rabbits, so he tried growing food in a small garden.
     "Bah, weeds everywhere! There are so many I can't even find the vegetables." The old wolf growled, rubbing his empty stomach.
     As he yanked dandelions from where his carrots should have been, his ears began to twitch.

Enjoy the Aesop's The Boy Who Cried Wolf {here}
Find curriculum integration from Round Rock ISD {here}
Read a review and suggestions on Margo Dill's blog {here}

Why I like this book: Readers of every age are likely to enjoy this humorous version of an age-old tale because it's hilarious; I like it, too, because it's full of follow-up food for thought. Compare and contrast it with Aesop's version or other versions on the market. How are the versions alike? How are they different? How do all of the versions connect to the virtue of trustworthiness? Is honesty always the best policy? Why or why not?

The idea of setting the story in Asia makes for an interesting twist. Students can now research whether or not drawings of the clothing, landscape, and the overall look of the story are accurate. What do students find as they study Eastern culture and philosophy that's comparable to their lives? What are some notable differences?

In Wolf! Wolf!, the author creates a win-win situation; use the story as an opportunity to talk about stakeholders in our choices and decisions. Every action creates a reaction. Ask your students to think of a time when their good choice created a win for themselves as well as for two other people in their lives. Have them create a win-win graphic organizer to show the concept visually.

With springtime just around the corner, this would also be a good opportunity to talk with students about gardening. The privilege of having a garden comes with it the responsibility of tending it. Watering and weeding are a big part of those duties. What would happen if you didn't weed your garden? What if you didn't water it? For enrichment and/or a service project, find a plot where your students can plant a giving garden. Plant veggies like radishes that are easy to grow. Donate the produce to a local homeless shelter.


Beep Beep

So this morning I got beeped at and all day long 
I've had the Beep Beep song stuck in my head.

Do you know this song?  John didn't and I was shocked because he's a big 60s guy! Anyway, it's not like my situation has anything to do with a Caddy, a Rambler, or a race, but that beep beep kept playing on, over and over, in my mind.

It's not the first time I've ever gotten beeped at either. But since the accident, I've become a more cautious driver for sure, so it's no surprise that I would get beeped at when I was at a stop sign where maybe I could have gone sooner but decided to wait for a bigger clearing instead. It didn't ruin my day or anything like that, but it gave me pause because it doesn't feel good ... to be beeped at. And it made me wonder what the hurry is. Don't get me wrong; in a hurry-up world, I'm typically a hurry-up girl. But I'm reminded about the wisdom of this Lao Tzu (the Father of Taoism) quote: 

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. 

So beep at me all you want and tease me about Mother Nature if you must. I'm trying not to be in such a hurry anymore. 

Beep Beep!

To make up for getting beeped at, 
look at what came in this afternoon's mail: 

To a random recipient, it might seem like a really random surprise, but to me it was an amazing gift. You see, I bought several of these joy mugs last year on the day after Christmas (why yes, they were half price!) to keep on hand to give as gifts to people who bring me joy. I put fuzzy socks with a few of them, a Starbucks card with others, and a few of them I just gave as is. 
Oh, and I kept one for myself.

For over a year now, I've alternated drinking my morning candybar-in-a-cup between my Peace on Earth mug and my joy mug. A few weeks back, however, first thing in the morning before my right hand's muscles had fully awakened and would cooperate, I reached for that joy mug and it fell out of my hand and broke. Jacob heard the crash and came rushing in there. He was sweet to suggest that I drink from the side of the mug that wasn't damaged, but in my frustration, I just threw it away. 

So you can imagine my delight when I opened this box from Amazon, sent to My Sweet Friend at my address, and it was my joy mug coming back home. It brought with it a friend for when I have overnight guests at the Gruener B & B. Jacob assures me it wasn't he who sent this to me. So does John. Rest assured that I have my suspicions, but this act of kindness adds an element of fun because it's mysterious, so for now, I'm not putting anyone in a line up or under the lights. I'll just enjoy my daily 
jolt of java and joy 
with extra caramel and an even bigger smile.

Beep Beep!


As It Should Be

So much in my life hasn't been as it should be these last twelve weeks, since the collision that totalled my van and took me on a major detour. But the Friday of spring break, that changed slightly, if only for a few hours. You see, a friend of a friend from out of state happened to be in town for some tests in the medical center at the same time that I was down there. 
Coincidence or God wink?

So I got her cell number from that friend and called her to see if she wanted some company. As it turned out, she would be finished with her appointment at almost the exact same time that I was finishing up with mine and that just so happened to be time to eat. So we arranged a meet-up and my driver (this time it was the hubs!) and I picked her up and whisked her away to LePeep, our favorite place to eat in Rice Village, where we enjoyed a tasty brunch and an engaging chat about life before heading north to the airport so that she could catch her plane back home. 

Here's an excerpt from her reflections about it:

A friend of a friend picked me up after my appointment today and treated me to lunch and a ride to the airport. In this busy world we live in, almost perfect strangers came and picked me up and took me to lunch and dropped me at the airport - that, my friends, is what we're supposed to be doing - helping one another.

And though it may seem like we were the ones doing her a favor, in an ironic twist as we hugged farewell, I found myself thanking her, for letting us take her to lunch and give her a ride to the airport. The gift, I remember thinking, was as much (or maybe even more?) mine as it was hers. After two months of people helping me, the tables turned and I got to help someone else. 
Don't let that quote above mislead you; 
this new friend has more strength than I could ever hope to have.  
And helping her felt incredibly healing!
That's as it should be.



Another On The Road with Steve Hartman has captured my heart and renewed my belief in the goodness of humankind.

Don't you love that word? 
Say it slowly and let it sink in:


The Empty Chair

I often use the empty chair technique in my office, especially with kiddos who've lost someone significant and need to talk. We'll be visiting and then I'll ask them what they would say if their loved one were sitting in that empty chair. It's an easy, non-threatening way to get them to open up and say what's on their heart and mind.

So you can imagine my delight when I saw this Impact Therapy video clip with a few more ways that I can use chairs in my counseling:

Technology makes me so happy!


PPBF: The Little Firefly

Today I'm positively glowing because I get to reveal a glorious newcomer on its birthday! My PPBF pick is sure to enchant and engage you as this adorable little firefly finds her light and learns to let it shine.

Title: The Little Firefly
Author:  Sheri Fink
Illustrator: Mary Erikson Washam
Publisher: Self-published by Sheri Fink
Date: March 22, 2013 
Suitable for: ages 6 and up
Brief Synopsis: A little firefly notices that she doesn't glow like the others. Playfully teasing, a friend tells her that fireflies who don't glow have to go live with the June bugs. This frightens the little firefly and makes her wonder if she will ever find her light.

Opening page:  On a warm summer evening, a group of fireflies happily twinkled over a moonlit meadow. They sparkled in the night sky and danced in the darkness. The air was thick with the sweet smell of honeysuckle and the soft sound of the breeze whispering through the trees. The little Firefly watched the others and wondered when she would glow as beautifully as they did.

*Read an interview with the author at BeachBoundBooks {here}
*Visit the author's website {here}
*Find activity suggestions for The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle which would work beautifully with The Little Firefly {here}
*Introduce some new vocabulary: tranquil, assured, carefree, frustrated, disheartened, devised, embarrassed, sympathetically, loyal, self-confidence, genuine

Why I like this book: This little firefly endeared herself to me instantly because she wants what everybody else does - to belong - and she's incredibly adorable in her pursuit! She's just sure that she'll fit in better once she's able to glow like the older fireflies. When her friend playfully teases her that fireflies who don't glow have to live with the June bugs, she feels nervous and starts to worry. We'll use this page as an opportunity to talk about playful teasing and hurtful teasing ... is there really such a thing as playful teasing? And how do we know when they've gone too far? This is such a critical discussion to have with our budding friends.

The next few pages intrigue me because the little Firefly decides she's got this and can problem solve it by herself. This would be a great time to find out from your little lights what they would do in her shoes to get her glow on and/or what they predict she will do. First she feigns illness - who hasn't tried that trick before? - and when she gets bored with that, she goes out but stays close to the porch light and pretends she's aglow. Finally she wraps herself in a shiny yellow ribbon but to no avail; she's just not able to speed up the "gift of glow" and shine like the others. That's when her friends come to her rescue and assure her that she does not need to win their friendship by glowing; she just has to be herself.

For enrichment, have students bring in a flashlight (or buy those little keychain keepsake lights and give one to each student) and use it to create a friendship code (think morse code!). Have them try it out on one another. Or dim the lights and play indoor flashlight tag. Compare and contrast the book with Leo the Lightning Bug by Eric Drachman and The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle; so many possibilities as your students learn to shine their own lights in their own time. 

Have you discovered a book that you want to tell us about? Why not link up with author Susanna Hill over at her blog {here}.


Sticks And Stones

But names will never hurt me ... yeah, right.
If you have not yet seen this video gone viral with its powerful anti-bullying message, you must carve out 8 minutes from your busy day to experience 
To This Day Project by Shane Koyczan.

Does this resonate with you, too?


Billy Bully & The Character Critters

As I plan today for my preK classes to come to see me tomorrow, I'm so eager to share what I'm thinking about for them. Since our focus this month is respect, I figured we'd go with a bully-prevention strategy lesson, 
but how do I do that effectively with fours and fives? 
Enter Billy Bully by Alvaro and Ana Galan. 

In this school-yard counting tale, Billy loses his friends one by one because of his bullying behaviors. Here's the cool part ... I have a puppet or stuffed animal for each one of the characters in the book that he's mean to. Yay!

So what I'll do is get volunteers to be these characters and we'll act out the book together. As Billy interacts with these critters, each one ends up going away when he overpowers them. Because of his behaviors, Billy no longer has anyone to play with. After a brief discussion about what they'd do if they were in Billy's shoes, we'll have them come back one by one and bring the book to life as Billy makes amends for the way he's acted and regains their friendship and trust. I cannot wait to see how it goes!

The older students will also practice the concept of swarm, a safety strategy to encourage bystanders to become upstanders. We'll play out Billy's scenario to see what might have happened had some friends intervened by swarming the friend while it was in harm's way 
and getting it out of the situation.

Using the R-I-P formula, we'll also answer the question:
Is Billy really a Bully?

Were his actions Repeated?
Were his actions Intentional?
Did he create an imbalance of Power?

If we can answer yes to all of these, 
then by school policy it would be labeled bullying. 
Do I have a great job or what?


Over The Moon

Tonight I'm over the moon because we enjoyed such beautiful spring weather on our last day of spring break. Since it's St. Patrick's Day, today marks what would have been my Grandma Natzke's 103rd birthday. 

She has been on my mind 
and in my heart all day.

Here's a treasured picture of her and Grandpa from my bedside nightstand.

She lived to be 98 years old, each of them happy years 
because Grandma knew that happiness is a choice. 
Think happy, be happy.
 I have so many great childhood memories of Grandma Natzke because she lived on the farm with us, in the house just down the lane. One of my favorite things about going to her house was the gum drawer, probably because we didn't have one, and she did. 
Sometimes we'd sneak an extra stick of Juicy Fruit. 
She never let on, but I suspect she always knew.
Another thing I loved is that she was always humming. 
Our Joshua hums, too, and it reminds me of her.

The weather was so mild that we worked on our vegetable garden ...

 and our rose garden before sitting poolside with a relaxing read.

That leads me to the point of this late-night post. See that book on my little table? It came in the mail yesterday from the author. He thought I'd like it, that it would be a good fit for me, and he was right! 
I picked it up and could not put it down. 

Maggie Vaults Over The Moon by Grant Overstake is a young adult novel set in rural Grain Valley, so its first connection to me is that Maggie, like me, is a farmer's daughter. When she's driving the tractor, I could smell the straw that she was helping harvest and feel how itchy it is. When she wins a ribbon showing her lamb at the Fair, it took me back to that day when I won Showmanship at the Brown County Fair so many years ago. And when she's in the hay loft, I could feel the breeze on my face as I swung to the rafters on that barn swing. Another connection is the small town she lives in and 3A school she attends. When she was running the halls as she trains for track, I was right alongside of her in the halls of Reedsville High where I experienced the exact same workout my senior (and first) year on the track team. A third connection is the special bond she has with ... you guessed it ... her Grandmother

It truly is serendipitous to be reading a book that totally could have been my story on my Grandma's birthday. But would this novel still resonate with me without all of those uncanny connections? Without a doubt. Events that come crashing our way very early in the book will undoubtedly engage any reader, and endear him or her to Maggie, a likable teen with an indomitable spirit, and to her family as they courageously face their feelings and move forward. What might have stopped someone else dead in their tracks instead vaults Maggie to new heights as she processes her grief and loss and makes peace with her new normal.

Have I piqued your interest? 
Would you like to read it next? 
I'll send my copy to the first reader who comments.
Check out this book; 
I enthusiastically recommend it.


My In Just Spring Contest Entry

Today I'm excited because I'm trying my hand at fiction for the
IJust Spring Contest at Susanna Hill's blog
Here now, my entry.

With Thatcher By Their Side by Barbara Gruener

To the animals on his farm, Thatcher was a guardian angel.

His job was to protect their newborns from the coyotes and wolves.

After a long winter waiting inside, Thatcher’s thick coat started to shed and that was his first clue that spring was on its way.

Springtime was his favorite because he got to stand guard over the newborn lambs, goats, and chicks.

Oh how he loved keeping those young newbies safe.

Thatcher was strong and brave; he was at his best when he was on watch. 

Nothing bad would happen with Thatcher by their side.

With wildflowers starting to bloom, leaves budding out on trees, and caterpillars eating like crazy, Thatcher knew that spring wasn’t far off.

Those babies would be here soon.

Then, out of the blue, Thatcher was loaded into a trailer and taken somewhere new. 

Somewhere he didn’t recognize. 

Somewhere called The Rodeo.

That’s where Thatcher met Winn, a wagon-pulling mule.

Not strong enough to pull the Mutton Busters’ wagon alone, Winn needed Thatcher.

“Can you help me pull my wagon in the Rodeo Grand Entry Parade?” Winn wondered aloud.

“But I’m a guard donkey, not a wagon-puller,” replied Thatcher politely.

“How do you know you can’t do it if you’ve never tried it?” challenged Winn.

Well, that was a good question.

Could he learn to pull a wagon, then be back to the farm in time for the birth of the baby animals?

Thatcher asked, “How long does The Rodeo last?”

When Winn replied that The Rodeo would be in town for just two weeks, Thatcher said he’d be glad to help out.

To Winn and those Mutton Busters, Thatcher was an angel. 

The donkey duo made a terrific team. Side by side they pulled that wagon full of young Mutton Bustin’ buckaroos with grace and ease.

The crowd waved and cheered.

Thatcher was pleased to be a part of the parade pageantry and happy to help his new friend, Winn.

And when The Rodeo ended and he got back to the farm and met the new kids on the block, Thatcher knew that spring was here at last.


A Song From Space

This might be the coolest collaboration I've ever seen.
From the cupola of the International Space Station (I.S.S.) orbiting the earth approximately 220 miles above the surface, Canadian Astronaut and current I.S.S. Commander Chris Hadfield joins Canadian singer Ed Robertson and the glee choir from Toronto's Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts in this song 
Is Someone Singing (I.S.S.).   

Canada is one of the principal partners of the I.S.S., a collaboration of fifteen nations working together to achieve the common goal of human space flight and the extension of our society into the solar system. Because a program like this means putting aside political differences, NASA considers it as much a human achievement as it is a great technological advancement.

Since I'm always looking for teamwork and career stuff 
to motivate kids, I was delighted when John (my space boy) sent me
this link to an inspirational comic strip, created using 
Hadfield's words of wisdom, 
including this quote:


Exploring Empathy

While searching for something new for my next lesson, 
I stumbled across the Start Empathy website.

 When you visit, you'll find Ed Stockham, 
and a series of eight film shorts to help your students 
understand what empathy is and why it's important.

This one cleverly shows the difference between
empathy and sympathy

Going now to find that extra blanket!


When Left Just Isn't Right

It has been exactly two months since my life took a major detour 
and look what happened at school while I was away:

I was nominated for Future President 
by one of my first graders because she thinks I'm 
loving and caring and nice and funny! 
If that huge campaign smile has anything to do with it, 
I'm a shoe-in. Even her teacher thinks she made a Great Choice! 

I made another discovery while I was away. 
I found out that my left hand can't quite get it right. It can't do the things my right hand does so, well, handily. It struggles to figure things out. My curling iron? Not at all. It had trouble with my blow dryer, too. Child-proof medicine bottles? Forget it. My left hand was slow to twist opened a door knob and turn a key. And stirring something? Not a chance. 
Don't get me wrong; it's trying to help out. 
But it's never been so clear how 
dominant my right hand actually is. 
I mean was.

Since my right wrist broke and was in a cast for a month, the muscles, ligaments, tendants, and skin around the bone all went to sleep while the bone healed. No one really explained that to me, so you can imagine my disappointment when the cast came off and
 my right hand, wrist, and forearm just laid there. 
Little to no range of motion. At all. Without pain, that is. 
Turns out it wasn't a cast off, it was cast-to-brace appointment
Was I bummed that day! 
Anyway, while I'm strengthening the right hand, I've been working hard at teaching the left hand (which is the one I tended toward as a child before they forced right handedness on me) to help out more around the house. 
It's been kind of a terribly slow learner.

 And with a slow left hand, a kinked neck, and pain in the right knee and right ankle, my life has had to slow way, way down. For someone like me who is accustomed to going at warp speed, that has been an incredible challenge. 
But in the end, life isn't really a sprint, but more like a marathon. 
I'm learning to accept that it'll be a long way down the road 
before I return to life as I knew it. Until then, I'll be working on my character campaign and on helping the left and the right meet somewhere in the middle.



I love to use film clips with students, and generally they need very little introduction, so today all I'll say is thank you to Pam Dyson for sharing this particular cut so I could share it with you. Don't you love Wing Clips?

And now, I Need Help from the movie Ray.

This made me wonder: 
Do I have the strength to do what Ray's mom did and let children pick themselves up? 
And when a door closes, do I empower them to go and find the window? 
What might I do differently after experiencing this clip?
How did Ray feel about his mom watching but not helping?
Finally, how might life have been different (easier? harder?) for Ray had the mom come running to pick him up and dust him off? 


PPBF: Farm

Today I'm excited because it's the day before spring break, I'm guest posting about The Rewards of Recycling at the Character Educator {here} and I've got a PPBF pick that takes me back to my childhood on the FARM!

Title:  FARM
Author and Illustrator:  Elisha Cooper
Publisher: Orchard Books 
Date: 1st edition - April 1, 2010
Suitable for: ages 4-8 
Themes: farm life, responsibility, jobs, work ethic
Brief Synopsis: Meet a farming family (and all of their animals down to the barn cats and dogs) and journey with them step by step through the seasons from sowing to reaping.
Opening Page:  Take a farmer, another farmer, a boy, a girl.

Take a peek inside the book at the author's website {here}
Enjoy an interview with the author {here}
Activity Suggestions at Home School Year Blog {here}
Reagan Tunstall's Farm Unit Lesson {here}
Peterson Brothers I'm Farming And I Grow It song parody on You Tube:

Why I like this book:

Here is an aerial photo of the farm I grew up on. Though it's changed significantly since my brother Mark took this picture, it's still in the family after 150 years. My brother Paul and his family live in the homestead now, milk the cows and work the land.

So, this book is perfect for a farmer's daughter like me. But it's also a really great glimpse into rural life for an urban or suburban student like the kids in my school. Team First does a farm unit every year; today's the day I get to be a guest farmer in a few of the classes to show them some pictures and a video of a PBS documentary that was made on our farm 
back in 1976 for a series called Wisconsin, Our Home. 

This unit endears itself to me because the students actually make these bird's-eye-view farms that were on display last night at Open House. They are initially given some play money with which they have to purchase their animals and the acres to put them on. It's good for math skills, sure, but also great to help them learn vocabulary like silo, manure, fertilizer, and acreage, that might otherwise be foreign to them. 

Farm also includes a page with helpful farm vocabulary and would be the perfect complement for our first-grade farmers!

I hope you're able to check out this book; there are so many little details and bonuses that you'll want to experience for yourself.

For more excellent picture book recommendations, 
head on over to Susanna Leonard Hill's blog now!

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