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5 Ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Primary Classroom That Will Make you SMILE!

I am thinking that if you are like me, you want to see more kindness in the world...kind actions and words every where. We need to start teaching our students and children how to be kind to one another and to spread kindness like confetti...If this sounds like YOU, then you will love this post: 5 Ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Primary Classroom that will Make YOU Smile...you will especially like #5

So...today as I walked into Wawa, which, for those who do not live in the Delaware Valley, is an awesome convenience store that has everything from great coffee and soup to nuts and breakfast sandwiches to name a few things, I saw an older gentleman running toward me as I was about to open the door. He was wearing an US Navy baseball cap and said, "No, let me get that door for you!"  I looked a bit bewildered because I had nothing but my pocket book on my shoulder and by no means did I need any help what so ever, but I replied,"Sure, Thank you! Now aren't you kind." He limped into the store and wore a smile from ear to ear and I...well...I wallowed for a while in his kindness and began to reminisce to "the old days" when doors were held and opened for others and people...well...people seemed to expect that these actions were simply what you did without even thinking about it!

I grabbed my coffee and juggled my purse as I threw the change into it and walked behind a man who opened the door to exit and well...he just looked straight ahead, unaware of me behind him and simply let the door swing back at me...good thing I had the change in my purse and had a free hand or I would probably have a broken nose...well that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point.

"POOF" in 2 minutes I went from experiencing a simple kind gesture to a who cares if the door slams into a person attitude and then I had a revelation ( soft inspirational music please).

Kindness is a lost social grace.  I am not saying that no one shows kindness anymore, because they do...but what I am saying is we need to demonstrate kind actions everyday not just when our schools and neighborhoods decide to have a "pay it forward" or a "100 Acts of Kindness Week."  It reminds me of Mother's Day...we should be celebrating our moms everyday...not just one day a year...I know, I know...actually it is nice to have a special day where we celebrate kindness or moms or dads and especially teachers...BUT...it is important to demonstrate love, kindness and consideration every single day!

I am sure by  now you are wondering where I am going with this, but just give me a few more seconds...my point is..I think that Kindness is one of the most important behaviors that we can teach  our children and students.


I want it and I am sure you want it too...I mean everyone wants their students and children to be kind and show kindness in school and at home. At times it can be a difficult task, especially in a world where children are exposed to so much more than years ago.

In order to be kind it is necessary to ignite thought patterns that encourage children to think beyond themselves and to think about others. It is almost like stepping into the shoes of others to understand how they might feel. When children read a book, we ask them to imagine how a character might feel in a certain situation or even how they might feel if they were to experience what is happening in the story.  This is a form of empathy and a way to teach children how others might feel in different situations.  So it is important to give children opportunities to use real life situations.  For example, if they see a classmate crying, what would they do? A reminder to treat others the way they would want to be treated! YES..."The Golden Rule!"


So, here are 5 Ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Primary Classroom That Will Make you SMILE!

1. Role Model and Practice Kindness:  You know the saying:  "Children Learn What They Live"...so if "Children Live with Kindness and Consideration, They Learn Respect."
We need to model kindness and consideration so our students will understand kindness and how to be kind.  We need to be aware of the words WE use when dealing with our students and our tone of voice. We need to USE those "Magic Words"or polite words..please, thank you, May I, Can I, etc.

Here is a resource I have created called:  Social Skills Manners Be Polite and Use Those Magic Words.  This resource will encourage your students or children to remember these words with posters and situational task cards to reinforce how to be polite and kind!


Another way to model kindness is as your students come into the classroom, greet them at the door to make them feel special. This small kind gesture will stay with them the entire day!
If children feel good about themselves, they will be calmer, more positive and ready to learn not to mention if you demonstrate this small act of kindness, you will see your students being kind to each other throughout the day!

2. Morning Meetings:  As soon as everyone is ready and all morning jobs are completed, provide a morning meeting where everyone joins in a circle on the rug and classmates greet each other in different ways.  They can pass a smile, shake hands to welcome their neighbor, elbow shake, butterfly greet or any ideas that you might think of for students to greet each other.  

You can also encourage a Compliment Greeting where each student gives a compliment to the person sitting next to them as they greet each other.  If you choose to do this, I always make sure that we compliment kind gestures or actions,
" Jimmy sat with me at lunch or Kelly shared her book with me" and not simply,"I like Johnny!"



A morning meeting provides a positive time for students to interact get to know each other better and when you nod or shake a hand and say, “Good Morning, Jake. I am really glad you are here today,” it sets a positive tone for your class and supports expected behaviors throughout the school day as well as supporting kindness, consideration for others and respect for each other.

A Morning Meeting consists of a Greeting, quick Game, Sharing Time and a Class Message, which all provide a positive way to start the day and encourage positive classroom behavior. (I will share more details about Morning Meeting in a later post).

3. Teach about Kindness and What it is and Means:  There are many resources out there and on Teachers Pay Teachers that have great ideas on how to encourage kindness and a plethora of books.

Here are a few books you may want to consider when teaching about kindness:
🌟  What Does It Mean to Be Kind? (Rana Diorio)
🌟  Kindness Counts (Brian Smith)
🌟  Kindness is Cooler Mrs. Ruler Margery Cuyler)
🌟 Small Acts of Kindness (James R. Vollbracht)
🌟 Hey Little Ant (Phil and Hannah Hoose)

Perhaps you may want to think about using my most recent resource:  Be Kind

This extensive resource, jammed packed with many activities and ideas, will support your students and/or children to understand and be aware of ways to spread kindness. With Thanksgiving and other holidays right around the corner, I cannot think of a better time than NOW to empower your students to demonstrate kindness and be kind to others!








4. "Talking Turtle" a Spot to Talk and Work Out Problems:  I had a turtle, which was an old sandbox I found at a garage sale...don't you just LOVE garage sales?  I mean they are right up there with Dollar Stores and the Target Dollar Spot as well as Wednesday trash days...I have been known to find some great FREE deals walking around the neighborhood...you know the old saying "Someone's Junk is another's Treasure" or something like that!  Any way you can use anything even just 2 pillows in a corner or a table with a few chairs in the back of the room.  The main idea is to provide a spot where your students or children can talk out their problems independently in a nonthreatening considerate way giving each person a chance to talk and then coming up with a common solution on which everyone agrees. I can hear you right now...how long do you let them talk? What if they never come up with a solution and yadda, yadda, yadda! I place a poster with steps to solve problems and how to fix what you have broken in a kind and considerate way so everyone can feel good with the solution...I have to admit that sometimes it can go a bit long, but the upside is...they are learning how to take responsibility for their actions and how to solve problems...I may just have to write another post on this as well.

5. Kindness Jar All Year Long:  Have a Compliment or Kindness Jar during February or any month, for that matter.  I always placed the "jar" on a counter where it was easily accessible so children were able to write compliments about a classmate.  At the end of the day, I would simply pull a few out and read them to the class. This was also done during our morning meeting.  The jar I used was decorated with hearts to symbol kindness and I simply had a pencil/pen and heart-shaped sticky notes or paper next to the jar for students to write their compliments. If you notice that not everyone is getting a compliment, be sure to add some of your own so there is always smile!
       
Here is one I made for Kindergarten that was created from a clear flexible plastic container.
Any container or basket will work!














So...there you have it...5 Ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Classroom...I hope you are smiling...I promised these ideas would make you smile and I never go back on my promises and after all...Kindness is a friendly smile!






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A Cute Paper Bag Turkey with a Recipe...Cute or What?


Here is a cute turkey craft that you can make at school before Wednesday or at home with your own kiddos...Enjoy!

Well...I have to admit last year I posted this a  little late. So this year I am doing the TURKEY TROT and posting it with lots of time to spare...so round up those brown paper bags and add this adorable turkey centerpiece craft to your plans...your kiddos will love making it and the parents will absolutely LOVE it and if you add the recipe suggestions, they will even LOVE it more! YEP...If you really want to make it special, type up the recipe for Leftover Turkey here or here is another recipe to use. To make it even easier, just type up the URL link and don't forget to add this one...my favorite!!! BUT...the turkey centerpiece is fine alone and is so cute!!

Oh...if you are not in school or a homeschooler, have your kids make it at home as a Thanksgiving fun craft. I have created this with my grandkids and they LOVED it!!!

I hear you...you just looked at this cute craft and said out loud, " I LOVE this Turkey Craft and I want to make it tomorrow...so how do I do that?"

Never fear...the easy directions are right here.  


Materials:  


  • Brown Paper Lunch-sized bags
  • Google Eyes
  • Red, Yellow, Brown and Yellow Construction Paper

  • Markers and Crayons
  • A Wooden Spoon to use as a tracer to make the turkey head tracers for kids to use.
  • Copies of recipes or note with URL's for Leftover Turkey Recipe(optional).
Directions: 
  1. Use a Wooden Spoon to trace as many turkey heads as you want to have for your class to share.
  2. Make or find a Diamond shape to make tracers for the beak and quickly draw a turkey foot, which can be made by tracing your pointer, middle and ring finger at the tips and add a curve at the bottom. Your tracers might look something like this:
  3. Using a paper cutter cut strips of various colors of construction paper about 1"x 9 to use for legs and 1/2" x 9" from red paper for the gobblers.
  4. Give each child a paper bag and have them decorate the outside of the bag.
5.  Children trace 1 head, 1 beak and 2 feet on red, yellow, 
     orange or brown construction paper cut smaller for each 
     part of the turkey.
6.  Children trace their hands on a choice color construction 
     paper and put aside. These will be feathers. 
7.  Give each child a red gobbler and 2 legs. Now they have 
     all the parts they need to create their turkey.
8.  Have children fold the top of their bag down so it does not
     cover their design and glue the head on top; fold the beak 
     in half and glue onto head.  
9.  Roll the gobbler around a pencil to "curl" it and glue it on
     top of the beak.
    


10.  Glue 2 google eyes on the head above the beak, glue traced hands on each side of the turkey's 
       body for wings, glue feet on the strips for legs. Children can fold or curl legs as desired. 
       AND....drum roll please....here is the end result (hopefully).


OOPS!  I almost forgot...If you are looking for some other great "Turkey Day" Resources...Just take a LOOK below...I have a few for different activities and ideas for various grade levels right here:

You will LOVE this Thanksgiving Stations BUNDLE...it includes everything you need to run Literacy Stations in a SNAP!                                       
Thanksgiving Stations Learning Fun with Common Core Math and ELA for 1st and 2nd Grades
 

CVC Word Game Worksheets with Thanksgiving Theme for Grades K-1
I always felt that is was so important to teach thematically and to integrate various subjects when doing so...

This resource is a prime example...using a Thanksgiving theme to play a cvc word game and to make learning fun!

This resource was created with differentiation in mind. 

Thanksgiving Activities For First Grade

Thanksgiving: A time to think about everything we are thankful for in our lives...It is also a time to teach our students about how this holiday came to be and why we celebrate it!

If you are teaching about Thanksgiving, then you will want to add this resource to theThanksgiving activities that you are already use, but this resource is really all you will need to teach all about this holiday! 







Thanksgiving Math Activities Aligned with Common Core

These Fun Thanksgiving Math Activities can be used to enhance any of your Station activities that you already have in place to add a little Turkey Caper Math Activities for Thanksgiving that are aligned with Common Core!

These stations would be great to use the week or a few days before Thanksgiving as rotations during your math time







Thanksgiving Activities for Grades Second, Third and Fourth Grade  
If you are like me, you love to have activities on hand to simply print and use quickly and easily!

If that is the case, these Thanksgiving activities are easy and fun for your students and of course will make you life much easier.

These Thanksgiving activities are geared to grades 2-4, but can be used in different ways as you see fit for your learners and can be easily differentiated as needed.


Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your family and remember to be thankful for all the blessings you have in your life and there are many!!!




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Let's Get INTERACTIVE: 3 Great Tips for Interactive Shared Reading



Let's imagine that you are ready to share a book...you gather all your students on the rug...they are all sitting "crisscross applesauce" ready to begin the story...just waiting for you to start...all eyes on you, smiles gleaming. They are so excited they can hardly contain their emotions. All directions have been announced and modeled.


They know that they will have such a "fun"tastic time interacting and taking part in Shared Reading for the day! They are ready!!!

Let's Get Interactive: 3 Great Tips for Interactive Shared Reading...a great ideas to involve your students in your shared reading! You will love all 3 tips!!
I remember those days...great memories and now that I am retired...I want all of you to have this same experience! YES...YOU! You can do this with these tried and true tips! 
I have had a few principals, get so involved when they observed, that THEY even began to participate...and said,

I wish my elementary reading experiences were like this!

So...drumroll please....Here you go:


3 Great Tips for Interactive Shared Reading!!!


1.  Get your students thinking about the books you use for shared reading:  Plan ahead and see which parts of the story you want to share can be integrated with participation in the story.  If you feel that the story won't work, then definitely assign your students predetermined "Thinking Partners" for shared reading that can change every so often.  Then
 sticky note parts of the story that they can make predictions and inferences, rethink metacognitively
( I am not sure if that is a word, but if not, I just invented it!!) and parts where your students can think about questions they might have at the beginning, middle and ending of the text.  If you have done the work beforehand, your experience will run so much more smoothly!

So...now...when you gather children onto the carpet, ask them to sit with their "Thinking Partner" and to be ready to Think, Pair, Share, which of course you have already modeled several times...I hope!! (Simply have children to their partner and chat about the parts of the text as directed by YOU!)

Now...these partners are ready to go...Don't they look happy?


2.  Use visual props to support reading Comprehension:  Now this tip is connected to #1.
In a small basket next to your reading chair, have visuals to support Reading Comprehension Strategies; such as, Visualizing, Cause and Effect, Questioning or what you might be wondering about right now and Making Predictions.  Then as you ask the question or want your students to share with their "Thinking Partners"...you simply hold up the sign that matches what you want them to do.  

While reading, you can also give each child a different part to play: The prediction Maker and they have the wand, The visualizer with the fake glasses or a pair of dollar store glasses, the Thinker, etc.

Later you will see students using the clouds and props on their own while partner reading or even reading to self!!! 


Here are some samples of some of the props I used with my kiddos and to make sure I am your BFF, you can find them HERE along with some other related Reading Comprehension resources.

              Making Predictions:                                                  Visualizing:


                                              

                                                                                                     

                                                                             
                        Cause and Effect:                                  Explain your Thinking or Metacognitive
                                                                                                               Thinking:




Questioning or I Wonder: 

These props can be used with ANY Book!




3.  Using actual props from the text: Say What?  I LOVE dong this and so do all children.  It can even be fun to do at home with a story when reading with your own students or in a homeschool setting.  So let me explain:  

Take a book like If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff or actually any book in her series of similar texts.  

Look through the story to what items you can collect around the house or purchase them at the dollar store.  Then give students or partners and item you have pre-purchased. As you read the story to your class, have those students rise every time you read their item.  Imagine the fun of listening until their part comes!
After the story is read, see if your students can retell the story as a group using their props. 

One of my all time favorite books to encourage participation is: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

The kiddos LOVE this story and in fact one day, a few years back, I invited my principal in for our Halloween Party and shared this book on the rug. At the end she screamed out in unison with the class, when I asked them to scream out what they thought the little old lady would do with all the items that followed her home!  PS...I always ask the students to scream, whisper, speak like a robot, a mouse, a baby or other ways when I want a whole class answer and it is the BEST!
They can't wait to hear what voice I will ask for to answer the question!!!
So to in order to use props for this story, you will need, shoes, a pair of pants, a shirt, a pair of gloves, a hat and a Jack-o-Lantern...                                                                         If you separate the shoes and gloves, there are 8 different props to give out to your class.  You can also add doubles of each item so everyone has a props or assign partners to each item.                                                                                    As you read the story to the class, they have to act out the parts with their props.  For example:  when the part is read,"the shoes went CLOMP, CLOMP."  the students who have the shoes make them walk...CLOMP, CLOMP! Just imagine the listening and participation that will magically happen when you share a book in this manner!  Can you read every single book this way? Probably not, but pick and choose those books that you can use this way and make it a "FUN Friday" activity...learning and fun. What more can a teacher ask for?



It has always been my philosophy to make learning educational and fun, so that each child will love learning, want to come to school, reach their potential and be their best self! 



Here are two fabulous authors whose books work great interactively with props:

There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bat  With this story, you can have each childs stand every single time their item is read in the story or use this video below and YOU can be the OLD LADY! At the end everyone can YELL TRICK or TREAT!!!



Laura Numeroff Books.  She also has a classroom live on FB where she reads her stories and an education discount on her books on this site.




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More Great ideas!



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5 Easy Peasy Ideas to bring Fall into your Primary Classroom


Let's bring a bit of fall into our K-1 classrooms with these 5 Easy Peasy Ideas. I know you will absolutely LOVE all these ideas...especially #1!

For those who experience the true colors of all four seasons, it is hard not to agree that fall is the most colorful if not the most beautiful season of all.  Each season brings a different climate and colors...but fall...well is simply fall...vibrant colors all around...red, yellow, orange and brown leaves gently spin and fall to the ground, the air is cooler and there is an urge to be a child once again and jump head first into a pile of leaves.

With fall comes many teaching opportunities...so...I have decided to round-up 5 absolutely, positively great developmentally appropriate fall activities to support Kinders and Firsties .

So let's get started and "fall" right into these colorful ideas!

1.  Leaves: Leaves are everywhere during this season so let's rake them into some great lessons.
What can you do with a Pile of Leaves has so many great ideas from graphing leaves and creating leaf creatures to creative writing!






These ideas can be found right here... What Can you Do with a Pile of Leaves?


2.  A Fall Maze:  Enjoy this fun Autumn Maze activity while your kids practice their critical thinking skills as well as fine motor and visual tracking skills.  I remember how much I loved the challenge of completing a maze when  was a child.  Try this and other Kindergarten activities from Education.com.
 

3.  Seasonal Writing: Get your kinders writing about all the seasons with this fun and FREE resource. It is a great differentiated writing activity in that it includes pictures and ideas for each season that reluctant writers as well as any writer can use to motivate and support their ideas!

4.  Fall Crafts are always a great idea whether you are a homeschooler or teach in a classroom.  Let's not forget how important creating crafts can be for fine motor skills and to spark and inspire creativity in a child.  Remember it was Albert Einstein who said,"Creativity is the intelligence having fun!" 





5.  25 Great Books about Fall:  These books include some of my all time favorites. Red Leaf Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert is a beautifully illustrated book that describes the birth of a Maple tree. You do not want to miss out on reading this story with your kinders or first graders. Take a look at some of the other great fall books mentioned. YOu will be running to the library to grab more than a few of these titles.







There you have it 5 easy peasy ideas to bring fall into your classroom this year!  What ideas do you have for fall. Please comment and let us know...we would LOVE to hear from you!


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