2011-2012

Collective Responsibility
wordsThere’s a new book on the block that you may want to add to your collect. Published by Cuento de Luz, The Word Collector by Sonja Wimmer infuses an interestingly unique layout of phrases and words that tango across the page as they tell the positively magical story about Luna, a girl who’s passionate about words. Its intriguing illustrations cleverly capture the essence of how the glorious words have infiltrated every aspect of Luna’s life. So when something happens and people get “too busy” for words, Luna heads out into the world to share hers.  My favorite two pages say this about Luna’s quest:

“Wherever there were people who were sad and lonely, she wove threads of warm words,
words of friendship and compassion.”

After all, what good is collecting something that you can’t give away? I predict you’ll be tickled to find out what happens when her suitcase empties and all of Luna’s words are gone.

Collectors have a great responsibility for deciding what to collect and keeping track of what they’ve collected. Find out what kinds of things your students collect. As an extension, let them bring their collections for show and tell. Use this story to encourage your students to start hoarding words. What kinds of words will they look for? How will they collect them? What will they put them in? How many words will they need before they have a book? Will they be able to collect them all? If not, how many words will be enough? What types of words might they NOT want in their collection? Why might those be undesireable or unacceptable? And what will they do with their words once they’ve collected them? Check out this book; the extension possibilities with this poignant treasure are infinitesimal.

The Importance of Being Ernestine
ernestineThink you know what it means to be over-scheduled?  Think again.  Meet Ernestine of The Busy Life Of Ernestine Buckmeister by author Linda Ravin Lodding. Start by showing the cover and asking students to predict what’s going on with this queen of the extracurricular and how she’s feeling about it.

The scene is all-too familiar; this precious prodigy can’t ever play with her friend over the fence because she’s rushing off to the next event on her calendar, kindly kept by Nanny O’Dear. Her parents, who’ve advised “live life to the fullest” and “make every moment count,” have her scheduled solid with something extra every day of the week – sculpting and swimming, taking musical arts and martial arts, yodeling and yoga, knitting and no free time.

She is one busy beaver!

And guess what?  Just like a beaver, she’d rather be playing around outside. So Ern concocts the perfect plan to ditch her personal PDA and, when she doesn’t show up on schedule one day, her parents get to walk in her shoes for a spell, crossing the bridge she built between what the child-in-her needs and what her parents want for their little girl.  Not only do they get a healthy dose of empathy, but they ultimately learn a very valuable lesson about the importance of being Ernestine.

The eye-catching illustrations by Suzanne Beaky totally pop off of the pages, adding a marvelous magic to this terrific text.  Put this one on your wish list; it’ll undoubtedly serve an important reminder (that you’ll want to revisit time and time again!) about encouraging your busy beavers to engage in purposeful play.

Enrich with questions like these:  Ernestine clearly needed a change; was the way she went about changing her life okay?  Why or why not?  Have you ever felt over-scheduled like Ernestine?  What have you tried to do about it?  How would you have changed things if you were Ernestine?  How did Ernestine create special moments for herself and her family?  How do you predict her life be different now?  Draw a picture other than Ern on the trampoline with Hugo that shows how “sometimes she just plays.”  Finally, ask kids to reflect on these sayings from the book:  Live life to the fullest and Make every moment count.  What do they mean and do they apply to their lives?

Let There Be Peace

peaceTypically I think of peacemaking as part of the respect pillar, but it certainly does complement personal and social responsibility, so it’s a vision we’re weaving into this year’s Character Counts! and Red Ribbon Week celebration in October.

Our theme – Helping Our Community Piece by Peace – will focus on doing our share to make the world a better place.  Each of the first four days of the week, we’ll be collecting items that we can donate to local charitable organizations to help them help others in need.  It always feels good to be a helper.

During the week, we’ll be engaged in activities that foster peace in our corner of the world.  We’ll be signing a Pledge for Peace, taking a school-wide walk against drugs, inviting our Hometown Heroes to lead a character pep rally, and honoring our role models with a GRAND Celebration for third-graders and their grandparents.

We’ll also be inviting our parents and guardians to a Coffee Chat with the Counselors that week so we can share tips and strategies on helping our children become PeaceMakers. This will include information on our anti-bullying program as well as our Bucket-Filling crusade.

What are some ways that you encourage your little PeaceMakers to make the world a better place?

Self-reflection Starters

catHelp your child discover who he or she is with self-reflection starters like these:
1. My future goal is
2. Something I like about myself is
3. Something I want to change is
4. What scares me is
5. What excites me most is
6. I feel saddest when
7. I get angry when
8. I feel happiest when
9. The silliest thing I ever did was
10. I want people to remember me for

Something To Squawk About

     From the jacket cover:  Matilda is a chicken with attitude:  proud, dignified and scrappy. Aunt Susan sends her to Mae, who loves to take on special projects.  However, Mae’s quick solutions can cause bigger programs, like that time she made Dog glow in the dark. . . .
     Nothing is quick or easy with Matilda.  Mae never had to work so hard before!  Soon new projects grab her attention, and Matilda is neglected.  But when Aunt Susan plans a visit, Mae has to find out what it takes to care for a special chicken like Matilda.

matildaI was so excited to find Squawking Matilda by Lisa Horstman because it’s got responsibility written all over it – responsibility to projects, responsibility to promises, and responsibility to pets.  It’s also got a caring and compassion piece that might just pull at your heartstrings a bit.  Like a lot of little ones, Mae has a ton of creative ideas, some of which work out, some of which do not.  She also tends, like a lot of children, to get easily distracted and fly from one project to the next, sometimes without completing either one.  So when Matilda comes along, caring for a chicken seems like a worthwhile cause, but Mae gets distracted and Matilda feels forgotten. What will it take to find Matilda when she goes missing and reconnect with that scrappy bird?  And can Mae ultimately win Matilda over and secure her happiness?

Responsibility. It’s a HUGE word with even bigger significance. It’s about choices and consequences. And it’s about stakeholders. Who are the stakeholders in Mae’s story? What are some things that Mae does in the story that don’t quite work out?  What does Mae do that does work out well?  Is Mae a good problem solver? How do you know?  Is Mae good at taking responsibility and at showing responsibility?  Are those two things the same or different?  How did Mae show responsibility toward her projects?  How did she show responsibility toward her promise to Aunt Susan?  How did she show responsibility toward Matilda?

Want to infuse some meaningful movement?  Dance a celebratory Chicken Dance after you see what happens to make this proud chicken Mae’s “best project yet!”