The WoW Awards

WoW! Today marks post #365 for me at the Corner - 
one a day for an entire year! 
To celebrate this milestone, I'm linking up with author 
Maria Dismondy 
for Make A Difference Monthly. If you haven't met Maria, you simply must do yourself a favor and visit her beautiful website to learn more about her and her books! She is a sweet, sweet soul so I'm happily partnering with her to teach fairness.

Click here to go there!

I haven't written a lot about my puppets because, even after twelve years with them, it still feels kind of weird to the adult in me to have these conversations with myself while pretending to talk with a piece of cloth on my hand. But the kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my puppets, so I do it. For them. And guess what?  My puppets are actually very funny. If anyone ever asked me about my secret to student engagement, I'd totally say two words:  
Puppet Power.  
My students are SO enamored with these fur balls that they've been known to ask about them during fire drills! 

Kids:  Mrs. Gruener, where's Seymour?
Me:  Uhhh, in my office . . . . . (gulp!)
Yeah, try explaining that one.

Anyway, the kids' favorites are Seymour the seal, Boris the bear, Pillar the Caterpillar, Junior the Giraffe, Hammy the pig, and Rainbow the Toucan. Here's a picture of part of the seal family and Pillar from a few years back; their beauty is timeless. Me? I've aged a bit . . . one of my own children actually built that little play house for them.

OK, so on to the lesson. See the seal with shades? That's a pint-sized Seymour. Let's say I use Seymour to set the scene. I get the kids settled in my office and tell them that Seymour is going to give out the WoW awards today.  Those kids hear the word award and they suddenly sit up straight, hands in their lap, flat and forward, crisscross applesauce!  So I ask them what they might get a WoW award for . . . and they start listing off all of the positive behaviors that we might notice, basically all of the bucket-filling things we do and pillar practices we want to see. Seymour can even be making a list if you've got a white board handy 
(and can write with a seal on your hand).

Then it's Seymour's turn to pick. He randomly gives the award to a kid with glasses, just like him. When we ask Seymour how he selected his WoW winner, he flat out tells them that it's because the kid's wearing glasses, just like him. (If there aren't any students with glasses, then he picks someone with a white shirt, just like him.) Well, you can imagine the shouts of "that's not fair!" that fill the air, a refrain that sets us up beautifully for a talk about how knowing the criteria up front makes things so much more fair. It is SO cute to listen to my little leaders telling Seymour how the cow ate the cabbage when it comes to being fair.

To conclude, we put their criteria for a WoW award on a poster board that I give to the teacher with a class set of Character Honor Roll pencils so that she can give out her own WoW awards as she catches students WoWing her by playing fair, following the rules, taking turns and sharing (along with any other other good-choice behaviors that they put on the list!). Such a great visual reminder that good character is in their hands! And speaking of hands, for months after that lesson, the kids would give me a secret hand signal spelling out WoW using the sign language letters.

Seal the deal with this little ditty I wrote, using the hand-jive motions:

Gotta be fair, you've gotta be fair;
Gotta take turns and you've gotta share.
You've gotta be fair, just gotta be fair.
Gotta play by the rules, all the time and everywhere!


  1. Congrats on meeting your goal of a post a day for a year! I have so enjoyed reading them, learning from them; and laughing at them. You filled my bucket many days.

    I hope you continue with your blog as you have so much knowledge and experiences to share. See you at the Conference in June!

  2. Cute, cute, cute!!!! Maybe I should use puppets to teach my 5th/6th graders American History?????!!!!???? :)


  3. WoW! You have wowed me this year by posting every single day ... I've often wondered how you do it - I sometimes have a hard enough time remembering to get dressed before I'm out the door with my girls in the morning. Thanks for spreading JOY and HAPPINESS! Congratulations!

    Runde's Room

  4. Happy One Year!!! Thanks again for linking up. I am not giving up on spreading the good news of teaching character ....

  5. I love puppets! And your WOW awards lesson is wonderful!
    Swersty’s Swap Shop

  6. I love that you use puppets. I don't feel comfortable using them, but I always think they're so cute.
    Great lesson idea!!

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs


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