Love That Sticks

Today's post is all about love on a Post-it note.
And it's brought to you by the letter U.

This young third grader came to my office last Thursday to ask if she could have lunch with me. Since Counselor Cafe hasn't opened yet, her request puzzled me. And because in fourteen years, no student has ever stopped by my office to ask to eat lunch with me, it kind of caught me off guard. I had to make a split-second decision and, on the chance that she needed my help with something, I agreed and off she went to get her tray. 

When she arrived at my office, another first happened. I asked her how I could help, and she said, "You know how we're doing superheroes in PE and we're on letter U for unconditional love? Well, I wondered if we could write nice notes together."

You see, Coach Rommel is on a crusade to put Post-its of affirmation on every child's desk. And kindness, it seems, is contagious. 
Turns out this young superhero has caught it. Bad. 
Or should I say good! 
She didn't have a problem to solve; 
she simply wanted my help with a pay-it-forward project.
To brighten up the afternoon for some of her classmates. 

So we wrote uplifting messages on Post-Its while we ate {tulips for the girls, footballs for the boys} and then we snuck down to the third-grade restroom area while her friends finished their lunch so that this is what they'd see on their afternoon trips to the bathroom.

And, sure enough, on Friday she brought a friend came by to ask if they could eat with me because they had the idea that they could make care packages for their teachers ...

Some days words seem inadequate to explain 
how blessed I am to do what I get to do.


Techno-Charity: Maurice's Secret Sycamore App

Today I'm delighted to announce that
will be released Friday and I can't wait.
My copy came in the mail last week.

In addition to the fact that it's a really neat tale about hope and freedom, I'm excited because I was invited to write the Foreword! 

Adding to the awesomeness is the fact that Maurice's charitable-giving app was released just this week! Download Maurice's Secret Sycamore for free {here}.

App description from the creators: 
Picture yourself no bigger than a mouse, opening a door in the base of a Sycamore tree. You have magically arrived in the home of Maurice, world traveler and collector of the world’s wisdom. Secret passages lead to rooms full of math, memory, geography and other educational games. Game points earned can be transformed into books for kids in need. These donations model the lessons of compassion central to the companion children’s book series Maurice's Valises. This is a free, non-commercial app for children 5-9. 

How exciting is that? Technology meets charity to create a win-win for young and old alike. Kids helping kids by donating books while game-playing is genius; I am so inspired by author Jerry Friedman and so grateful to be a part of his projects.

Happy Sunday.


PPBF: Out Of The Ocean

Today I'm excited that the teaser post for my keynote - Kindness is the real global warming! - is now posted at the Character Education Partnership's site {here}. I'm also delighted to share this beautiful PPBF with you.

Title: Out of the Ocean
Author/Illustrator: Debra Frasier
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
 Date: 1998
Suitable for: ages 4-8
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: nature, hidden treasures, gratitude
Brief synopsis: This beautiful tribute to the gift of the water challenges its reader to discover things to treasure, both tangible and much more abstract. Journey along the shore as mother and child help each other look.
Opening page: My mother says you can ask the ocean to bring you something. If you look, she says, you might find it.

Resources:  Visit the author's page {here}.
Find an Inspiring Ideas lesson plan from Loving2Learn {here}.
Read a review at Connecting Family & Seoul {here}.
After a read-aloud, discuss with your readers what they think
the author means by this:

What natural treasure is so big that they might forget to see it?

Why I like this book: For me, there's a personal connection that's so very close to my heart. My mentor and friend, Sally, used to savor her time at the shore, and, as a result, I have these amazing treasures and the notes that she'd leave when she'd sneak by with her surprise. Ms. Frasier's book brings Sally back, 
if only for a bit.

"It's not the asking. It's the remembering to look."
Sally knew what to look for, on the beach, and in people.
She saw the gift in everybody and everything.
And she was grateful. Always grateful.
This gem has become a personal favorite, 
because of that connection to Sally and her heartbeat.

It's also filled with possibilities for extension. Three ideas:

Sometimes what the ocean has to offer isn't worth treasuring. My daughter helped with a creek clean-up last year and they got 1427 pounds of trash, including 62 pounds of recycling from Waller Creek. Yuck! If you're near a body of water, this book could easily springboard a clean-up effort.

This story pairs a mom and her child on a special daily outing to the beach. Have your students talk about, write about, or draw a special outing that they've had with one of their parents or caregivers. Where are they? What are they doing? How does it smell? What temperature is it outside? What season are they in?  What are they wearing? What colors do they see? What is so special about the memories they making?

You could also use it to show how kindness and/or peace ripple out. Ask students to bring in a river rock, maybe something they've found at the shore. Clean the rocks up and let students write a character value on one side (kindness, gratitude, generosity, charity, love) and draw a peace symbol on the other. Bring a big bowl or a bucket and fill it with water. One by one, students can drop their character rocks into the water and watch how their messages of kindness and peace make a splash and ripple out.

Click {here} for some of my other ideas for Character Rocks. Then head to Susanna's blog to read today's other PPBF picks.


For A Cause

Hello and Happy Tuesday!
Congratulations to Leah, the winner of our Girl Power series.
Leah, send me an email and I'll put you in touch with the author
so that she can get your books on their way.

Today I'm delighted to share of few stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, for a cause. Here are some pictures of the Hope Rocks that I bought ...

from two brothers in our school who are making these 
to earn money which they will, in turn, donate to charity.

Decorative rocks with a positive message ... made with love
for a cause.
Last year, proceeds from the Hope Rocks went to the Snowdrop Foundation; this year they tell me the funds will go to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Then Mrs. Krail gave me a 10-pack of these GiveBags, purchased to support another cause. From the package top: 
Here's your good deed for the day. This is not your ordinary lunch bag. Give back with Givebags! Each bag buys a meal for someone who would otherwise go without. Join us on our mission to help feeding Americans in need.

Such a creative way to help feed the hungry.

Finally, check out this classy act by football sensation Aaron Rodgers, who stops by to help a young girl support a cause near and dear to her heart, 

Annie said her brother Jack would want us to take action, so that's what she's doing. And that's what the Bhalla brothers are doing with their Hope Rocks. And that's what the duo behind the Givebags are doing.

What will you do today, for a cause?


Peace From The Inside Out

Sunday was International Day Of Peace, so today Westwood-Bales students sent 'whirled' peace out into our community by planting nearly 1000 
Pinwheels For Peace.

I can't wait to talk with our Peacemakers in class this week about what they drew on their pinwheel papers to symbolize what peace means to them; how it looks, sounds, and feels.

If you've not experienced Reba's ballad Pray for Peace yet,
do yourself a favor and watch it now.

As many of you know, I spent a few days unplugged because I was out of town, at home for a high school class reunion. I won a door prize for knowing that the minimum wage in 1979 was $2.90.

My takeaway from that gathering thirty-five years after we graduated from high school is that everyone seemed so nice. We had a blast reminiscing and laughing together. The theme that the committee had selected was Operation Relaxation. They asked that we come together to do just that: Just Relax.

So relax we did, with laughter and love. 
Belly laughter. Bonding laughter.
But not at one another, like we did in high school.
Instead, it was with one another.

Here now, some of the thoughts that I found in the booklet that our reunion committee put together which, interestingly enough, parallel our prayer for peace.

What we want to do is not nearly as important as what we want to be. The longer I live, the more significant that becomes. It's possible to do lots of things, yet be zilch as a person.  Doing is usually connect with a vocation or career, how we make a living. Being is much deeper. It relates to character, who we are, and how we make a life. Doing is tied in closely with activity, accomplishments, and tangible things, like salary, prestige, involvements, roles, and trophies. Being, on the other hand, has more to do with intangibles, the kind of people we become down inside, much of which can't be measured by objective yardsticks and impressive awards. But of the two, being will ultimately out-distance doing every time. It may take half a lifetime to perfect, but hands down, it's farm more valuable. And lasting. And inspiring.

Don't you love that?

Now that's peace, from the inside out.

Check back tomorrow to see who won the Girl Power Series!


PBBF: Cyber Friend?

Today I'm delighted because  for PPBF,
I get to introduce you to not only a book, 
but also to the Girl Power series and its author

Title: Cyber Friend?
Author: Erainna Winnet
Illustrator: Joyeeta Neogi
Publisher: Self-published
Date: February 17, 2014
Suitable for ages: 8-12
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: friendship, kindness, behavior
Brief synopsis: Olivia and Grace's friendship is put to the test when a real-life conflict takes wing online and out into cyberspace.
Opening page:  Olivia and Grace finished tying their shoes and gathered their gymbags. "Do you still want to come to my house Friday after school?" Olivia asked. "Sure, we can make it a movie night," Grace said excitedly. She started walking but suddenly stumbled. Her left foot tangled around her right foot, and she toppled to the hard concrete floor with an "Oomph!"

Related resources:

*Watch the Cyber Friend? trailer {here}.
*Ask students to list buddy and bullying behaviors. 
*Make a T chart. 
This is what bullying looks like in elementary school ...

but when you put a device at their fingertips, it changes to this:

*Use this clip to talk with your children about the importance of cyber-kindness online, because what you post today leaves a digital footprint 
that can last a lifetime.

*Download your supplemental free activity sheets from TpT {here}.

Why I like this book: This book {and the other three in Girl Power series} is like a social story that jumped off of the pages at me because of its authenticity. Written by a school counselor in the trenches, it's got real-life woven into its very DNA. This could totally happen ... and has ... in a school near you. The enrichment activities in the back of each book are top-notch, another reason that I am so eager to incorporate these treasures into my small group feelings classes! As a bonus, I was able to chat with this counselor recently about her journey from counselor to author and here's what she had to say:

First, I’d like to thank Barbara for inviting me to share a little about myself and my voyage into becoming a children’s book author

Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m a wife, mother, educator, school counselor, and children’s book author. I’m moved by kindness, compelled by compassion, and believe in the power of forgiveness.
Why did you start writing books?
When I first became a school counselor, I fell in love with bibliotherapy.  However, I found that many of the issues my students were facing didn’t have a book readily available that could address their needs. After searching in vain and after many, many sleepless nights, I decided to write my own books.
How many books have you written?
It has been four years since I began writing and publishing my stories and what a roller coaster ride it has been. I’ve rewritten each story so many times that I’ve lost count. My first book, Mrs.Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives, was illustrated four times. That book is extra-special to me because the title character is named after my mother who passed away the summer before I became a counselor. So, I wanted it to be PERFECT! At this time, I have thirteen picture books, twelve workbooks, three counselor resource books, and two self-help books for tweens.

How did you come up with the story ideas for your Girl Power Series?
Most of my story ideas come from the students I work with each day. I work at an elementary campus grades K-5 and it seemed the upper elementary grade girls were always in an uproar. I was meeting with small groups almost weekly. I knew there had to be a better way to reach them, so I turned to bibliotherapy, and penned the Girl Power: Believe in Yourself Series.
My favorite story in the series is It’s Good to Be Me which was inspired by my oldest daughter. Her birthday is January 1 and she came up with the idea of decorating a box and writing down all the good things that happen to her during the year, then on her next birthday she’d take them out to remind herself of the great year she had. How Fun! In fact, this year I’ll read this story with each class and every person will create their own ‘It’s Good to Be Me’ box. I can’t wait!
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on an eBook series for tween girls called Tween Life. I’m hoping it will be ready early spring 2015.

Thank you again, Barbara, for sharing my story. You can view all my books, including book trailers for the picture books, as well as ordering information, at Counseling With Heart.

Doesn't she sound amazing? And did you read that last part? Erainna has generously offered to give away a set of her Girl Power books to one of you, my treasured readers! We will put the name of anyone who comments between now and Monday, September 22, into a hat and let the Gruener Generator (also known as Joshua) draw the name of one lucky winner, to be announced on Tuesday's post.

This contest is now closed; congratulations Leah!

Oh, and after you leave your kind reflections,
head to Susanna's Blog for today's other PPBF picks.


Thursday Tidbits

Happy Thursday. 

I've done some repurposing this week.
Jacob had this crayon bank and I put a label on it that reads:
Color the world with character.
I figure it'll make a nice talking point.

He also gave me his Birthday Bowling pin.
I gave it a cap, a smile, and a caption:
Character is RIGHT up our alley.

This week I'm preparing for PALs.
I asked each of these teenage mentors to share their story on a star. 
My superheroes were so excited as I was putting it up.

And you have got to see this super T design
from our friends at My Mustang Pride.

Isn't that so so cute?
Other resources that might interest you:

Click {here} to read posts about an app with extension possibilities to help increase empathy

See you tomorrow for another PPBF.


Constitution Day 2014

Today's thought, a quote by Keshawn Noir seen hanging 
at FHS in Nathan Roher's AP History classroom: 
With courage, you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.

It was courageous of our founding fathers to gather
and to agree on our promises to one another,
otherwise known as the Constitution.
Here are Mrs. Limmer's students reciting the Preamble
at last year's Veterans' Day program:

As seen in Karen Hillier's English classroom at FHS,
John Wayne said it this way
Courage is being scared to death ... and saddling up anyway.

Can you tell that we just had Open House at the High School?

What have you been up to lately that's courageous?
What techniques do you use to "saddle up anyway" when decisions get tough and could cost you more than you'd like to pay?

Don't forget to comment on Monday's post for your chance to win a download of The Adventures of Ai before 9 pm central tonight!


Introducing The Adventures Of Ai

What will your dot look like today?

To celebrate Dot Day, I have the opportunity to partner with a creative mind to share a new product on the market. This newcomer - The Adventures of Ai by Craig Bouchard - piques my interest because it's a digital game and eBook combo for preteens. Just look at this gorgeous illustration from the book cover.

Here's the intriguing trailer:

From the Press Release: 

The Adventures of Ai takes preteens on a fantastic journey 
through culture and time.

Craig Bouchard, international entrepreneur and New York Times Bestselling Author creates a unique transmedia entertainment event with his new children’s fantasy The Adventures of Ai. Using nonfiction elements, this novel, set in pre-renaissance Japan, unlocks the potential of a global generation of preteens.

The unique story intertwines independence, strength and the determination required of kids today with unquenchable imagination. Art, history, poetry, music, and mathematics find their way into the dangerous journey of an eleven-year-old-Japanese girl in search of treasure and her father in the year 1514.  Released in six languages and distributed through one of the greatest 3D video games of 2014, The Adventures of Ai is a story of empowerment transcending global boundaries. 

I especially like this part:

Proceeds from a global competition of kids playing the video game benefit children’s charities around the world, including:
·      Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (USA)
·      Child Cancer Foundation (New Zealand)
·      Child Rights and You (CRY) (India)
·      Children’s Leukemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Australia)
·      College Women’s Association of Japan (Japan)
·      Foundation To Be Named Later (Factionless)
·      K is for Kids (Factionless)
·      Magic Bus (India)
·      Maria Social Welfare Foundation (Taiwan)
·      Misericordia Hearts of Mercy (USA)
·      Naples Equestrian Challenge (Factionless)
·      Operation Smile China Medical Mission (China)
·      Our Lady of the Lake Foundation (Factionless)
·      Taipei Orphan Welfare Foundation (Taiwan)
·      The Dempster Family Foundation (Factionless)
·      The Jordan Foundation (Africa)
·      The Sony Foundation (Australia)
·      The Working Youth Society (Japan)

The Adventures of Ai interactive book app and mobile game 
are currently available at the following links:

I can't help but think that Kaitlyn would have loved this had it been available when she was in intermediate school, so I was delighted when, earlier this summer, I was asked if I wanted to give it to not one, but two of my readers!

Leave us a comment before 9 pm central Wednesday night (9/17) telling what your favorite book was when you were a preteen and the Gruener Generator will randomly select two of those comments for a free copy of this fantastic new product. We'll announce the winners on Thursday.

Oh, and if you want a chance at a signed copy of 
What's Under Your Cape?,
head to Patricia's blog over at Children's Books Heal 
to read her kind review and to comment to win.


Your Attention Please

Quite frankly, I don't know why we'd want or need to rank-order precious gifts. But, if we did, I'd agree that attention would be way up there, 
maybe even at the top, as this beautiful graphic suggests.

Click picture for source: soul-to-souls.com

I've actually got a few things growing in my garden this week.
First is the chance to speak with the parents of our second graders at church tonight. It's a big day for these parents, because their little ones will be participating in a blessing ceremony, after which they'll get their Bibles. My part is walking them through the developmental stages ... physical, social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual ... of their 7-and-8-year-olds. I'll help them out with what to expect and how to nurture their growth so that they'll bloom like the flowers that they're meant to be. It's something I look forward to every year.

Then at the end of the week, I'll be flying home for a weekend to attend our 35-year High School class reunion. When Dad heard I was coming home, he asked if I would be able to give a little talk to some high school students where he served as interim Principal a few years back. Well, sure, I said, I'd be happy to, I heard myself say ... but that's kind of a new audience for me, so I'm working hard on this one. What seeds do I plant to nurture and grow a group of teenagers? I decided on 
An Attitude Of Gratitude 
and I'm still tilling the soil for that presentation. It'll be Friday from 2 to 3 pm (CST) if you want to send up a little prayer or some warm fuzzies and positive vibes.

In between those two speaking opps, we'll be celebrating Constitution Day and preparing for our Pinwheels for Peace activity at school. Our Buddy Benches ought to be installed once it stops raining and I'll be putting together small group counseling classes and pairing PAL mentors with their mentees, so this is going to be a busy week for me, one that will require at lot of attention. 

So again I'll ask:

What are you planting this week that needs 
your attention ... 
your time ... 
your tender loving care?

Because what you plant will grow.
Happy harvesting!


PPBF: The Secret World Of Walter Anderson

Today I am super excited to share that my book,
has won the Mom's Choice Gold Award for Adult Books.

I am feeling oh, so grateful. What a wonderful honor.
And if I wasn't jazzed enough, it's also the return of PPBF.

Title: The Secret World of Walter Anderson
Author: Hester Bass
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Date: September 8, 2009
Suitable for ages: 8-12
Picture Book Biography
Themes: creativity, artistry, individuality
Brief Synopsis: This book tells the story of reclusive painter Walter Anderson.
Opening page: There once was a man whose love of nature was as wide as the world. There once was an artist who needed to paint as much as he needed to breathe. There once was an islander who lived in a cottage at the edge of Mississippi, where the sea meets the earth and the sky. His name was Walter Anderson. He may be the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of.

Resources:  *Read a review at The Picnic Basket {here}.
*Read about the life of Walter Anderson {here}. 
*Watch an author interview {here}.
*Read more at the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog {here}.
*Talk about Walter's odd obscurity with your budding artists.
Encourage students to write a reader's response considering why they think Walter Anderson wanted to live on Horn Island, his private paradise. Do they have some things that they prefer would be kept secret? Is there anything that can't be kept a secret? Explain. Use this as a time to talk about secrets that we shouldn't keep.

*Listen to the song Me, Myself, I {here}. How does this ballad parallel Walter Anderson's story?

*Using a Venn Diagram, compare and contrast Walter Anderson's secret life with Charlie Anderson's secret life. Do you know this story? Charlie is a cat who lives two distinct lives with two different families, one by day, the other by night. 
What would they consider the same about their stories? 
What's different?

Why I like this book: The first reason it's special is that I got it from my mother-in-law for my birthday. I love it when people pick out books that they think I'll like. Secondly, it's just such a great metaphor for escape and expression. There was so much that people didn't know about Walter (known to his family as Bob) and he wanted it that way. On one hand, the book made me wonder why. Why would he want to leave his family for weeks at a time and hide like that? And yet, I can kind of understand his desire for privacy. Sometimes it's good to get away and enjoy your therapeutic resources, like drawing and painting, in private. By yourself. Alone. Additionally, I appreciate and connect with Ms. Bass' fluidity with words: He needed to paint as much as he needed to breathe.

Check out this book; I think you'll be intrigued, maybe even enchanted.

For today's other PPBF book reviews, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog


The Path To A New Beginning

All we need is love ... can you hear the Beatles singing? 
It seems waaaaaaaay too simple, right? 
But look at how true this graphic that I captured from a Twitter chat is ... 
can you feel it to the core?

U is for unconditional love. Chapter 2 in my book.
It's no secret that I think we need to 
affirm more and criticize less.
I love to affirm people, 
to catch them making good choices, 
and to delight in their presence even if their choices aren't all that good. 
To let them know that they are loved.

Look at this lovely idea from our beloved Coach.
She's going into classrooms and putting sticky-note affirmations
on her students' desks. Talk about love that sticks!

And who doesn't love to be affirmed?
To have someone tell you that you are loved.
That you are valued. And valuable.
It's not always easy.
In fact, most of the time it's hard.
Really, really difficult.
Challenging even.
Some people seem really unlovable.
Those are the people who need our unconditional positive regard the most.
So we must press on.
Because there's too much anguish in this world
not to be the peacemaker who makes a difference.

Grab a snack and your joy journal or blessings book
and prepare to be moved to love.
One child at a time.
One adult at a time.
One neighbor, friend or {gasp} enemy at a time.
One day. at. a. time.

WoW ... just WoW!
I'm thankful to The Letters of Gratitude for that reflection.
Won't you join me down the path to a new beginning ......

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