Monday, February 22, 2016

Making Friends is an Art! (Making and Keeping Friends)

Last week I posted one of my crayon themed lessons and I'm sharing another one today (sidenote:  this book is actually about colored pencils).   Once my third graders are done with their lesson on empathy and compassion using The Day the Crayons Quit I introduce a book that talks about friendship qualities.  Making Friends is an Art! is my absolute favorite book about friendship.  The main lesson of this book is that " To have good friends, you need to be a good friend."  The author also points out that "you can't expect the other colors to like you if you don't like yourself."   The main character (Brown Pencil) learns that he doesn't have friends because he never laughs, always puts others down, frowns, complains, disagrees, etc...
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Making Friends is an Art!


Making Friends FREEBIE

Teaching Kids How To Make Friends

Here is another crown FREEBIE:
Friendship Crayon Crowns

I also purchased this product from TPT for $2.00.  I would recommend it!
Making Friends is an Art!
PowerPoint with activity
Mrs. Koehler
Grade – Cicero Elementary
PPA PowerPoint
You can purchase Making Friends is an Art! HERE.

More books about friendship:
How to Lose All Your Friends
How to Lose All Your Friends (Picture Puffins)

How to Be a Friend
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Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Day the Crayons Quit (Empathy)

Today I am sharing a lesson that I have been working on with my 3rd graders.  We are doing a crayon theme this month and I will be sharing some other crayon themed lessons in the next few weeks.  This particular lesson focuses on Empathy and Compassion using the book The Day the Crayons Quit.  
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Description from Amazon:  Crayons have feelings too!  Poor Duncan just wants to color.  But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing:  His crayons have had enough!  They quit!  Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon.  black wants to be used for more than just the outlining.  Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water.  And Orange and Yellow are not longer speaking--each believes he is the true color of the sun.  What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?  

To begin the lesson I read the book The Day the Crayons Quit and had a class discussion about empathy and compassion using THESE discussion questions.  The following week I assigned students to play the part of each crayon in the story and students acted out the story using this Reader's Theater Script.  I made "crayon hats" for them to put on their head as they read the script.  These were very simple to make.  I googled "crayon image" and printed out the simplest one that I could find.  I then printed them out on construction paper and stapled strips of paper around them to turn them into hats.
Next we reviewed our theme words (empathy and compassion) and each student made a crayon writing craft.  I purchased this Crayon Craft / Craftivity for $3.00 on TPT.  Students were assigned a color and instructed to write a few sentences showing that they understood how that crayon felt.  For Example, one student wrote "If I were the Red Crayon I would feel tired.  I understand how Red feels because I feel like I have to do more chores than my sister just because I'm older.  I wouldn't want to work on holidays either and I would feel like I was being treated unfairly.  I would want some time off and I would want to be treated fairly."  
Crayon Craft / Craftivity

The following week I had students respond to the crayon's letters.  Each student had been assigned a crayon color the previous week so they wrote a letter back to that crayon.  They were instructed to write a letter that showed their crayon that they understood how the crayon felt (Empathy) and to then let the crayon know what they could do to make things better (Compassion).  Here are some of their letters:

 Finished result:
You can Purchase The Day the Crayons Quit HERE.  I also think it would be fun to read The Day the Crayons Came Home.
More Connections:
Crayon Fun {FREEBIE}--Writing Activities for The Day the C

The Day the Crayons Quit
Literature Response: The Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit Letter Writing Activity
Back to School: A Crayon Box Full of Activities

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Mindfulness Monday (Test Anxiety)

I recently started an anti test-anxiety group based on the book The Anti Test-Anxiety Society by Julia Cook.  I am running this group with a group of 3rd graders as well as with a group of 5th graders.  The group will meet once a week for 5 weeks and we will be incorporating mindfulness and mindset into these lessons.  I have connected you to everything that you need to conduct this group, starting with the book that I am using:
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Description from Julia Cook's Website:  
Betha Billinsworth (BB for short) is basically a happy person until she has to take a test.  To her, the word test stands for Terrible Every Single Time, because that's how she does on them, TERRIBLE!  
"Whenever I see or hear the word test,
The hair on the back of my neck stands up.
My face turns as red as a beet.
I start to sweat, my stomach aches, and I can't control my feet!
What if I get every answer wrong?
And I don't get any right.
I just know I'll get a bad grade on this test, so I don't even want to try!"
BB's teacher comes to the rescue by inviting her to become a member of the Anti-Test Anxiety Society.  She tells BB that TEST stands for Think Each Situation Through!
She also ends up teaching BB the Dynamic Dozen (12 amazing test taking strategies), and convinces her to use her "GET To" brain instead of her HAVE TO' brain.
Now when BB takes a test, she is calm and focused and thanks to her teacher, the Terrible now stands for Terrific. You can purchase The Anti Test-Anxiety Society HERE.

Outline of Group Sessions:
Session 1:  
Students complete a test-anxiety assessment.  You could use either one of these:
I then read pages 3-15 in Julia Cook's The Anti-Test Anxiety Society and have a discussion about Warning Signs.  I use the second step program with grades k-2 so we applied information from the Second Step Emotional Management lessons.  We wrote BB's warning s signs on the board and talked about how your brain has trouble thinking when feelings are strong.   I then  had students complete Mindset Worksheets.  For some reason I am having a hard time getting the picture to turn...the cloud worksheet says; Instead of saying..."Terrible Every Single Time" and the sun worksheet says; Try Saying... "Think Each Situation Through".  These quotes come directly from The Anti-Test Anxiety Society.   I use mindset with all of my students in their classroom lessons so I didn't need to introduce this concept to them.  You can get the pictured worksheets for Free on TPT.  If you don't already cover mindset and warning signs in classroom lessons you may want to break this session into two sessions; one covering warning signs and how strong feelings make it difficult to think and the other session talking about mindset.  You can find some mindset materials HERE.

Session 2: 
During session 2 I read the rest of Anti-Test Anxiety Society.  We talk about how the brain works and we go over the mindfulness poster that comes with the MindUp Curriculum.  We talks about our mindfulness posters from the week before and then discuss using the GET TO part of your brain verses the HAVE To part of the brain (pages 16-17 in The Anti-Test Anxiety Society).  We review the warning signs from the previous lesson and begin a discussion on how strong feelings prevent the thinking part of the brain from working and allow the feeling part to take control. (Hand visual from Second Step).  These are some good resources that are FREE on TPT:

Session 3:  
We review the information from sessions 1 and 2 and then focus on the "Dynamic Dozen" from Anti-Test Anxiety Society.  This is a list of 12 simple things that will lesson test anxiety.  I then have students create this foldable.  I changed mine to read T.E.S.T. on the outside ( Think Each Solution Through) and then I had students put the 12 tips from the "Dynamic Dozen" on the inside.  They did 3 tips per door.
Test Taking Tips Foldable "RELAX"

Session 4:
Session 4 is spent practicing tip # 6 (Stay relaxed).  We review our warning signs and then brainstorm ways to relax.  I use some of the strategies from Wilma Jean The Worry Machine, another book by Julia Cook, in the lesson as well as strategies from A 5 could make me lose control.  We practice the following techniques:
Breathing using the "Breathing Ball"

Session 5:
We review the materials from previous weeks.  We discuss warning signs and each student reads the 12 tips from their foldable.  We then practice our "calming-down" strategies.  At the end of Session 5 I handed out notes of encouragement:

Notes of Encouragement for Test Takers FREEBIE

More Connections:
Test Taking Tips

7 Proven Strategies to Reduce Anxiety at School and at Home
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Purchase The Anti Test-Anxiety Society HERE.
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Friday, February 12, 2016

Better Than You

Today's connections are all about boasting, bragging, one-upping and acting conceited.  I have quit a few students who are having trouble in this area.  I find that these students often lack communication skills/social skills and aren't necessarily trying to make other students feel bad.  Bragging is a sure way to lose friends though so I am working hard to help some students communicate in a way that makes everyone feel good.  I am sharing three books that focus on this topic.  Better Than You is great for students in 4-5th grade (or older), Well, I Can Top That! is great for grades 2-3 and I'm the Best! is more appropriate for K-1.

Trudy Ludwig is one of my favorite authors and I think I have almost all of her books.  I really like the book Better Than You because the main characters are boys.  The main character, Tyler, has a friend who constantly brags about "being better".  I use this book to help students understand that braggaing can ruin friendships.  This book also has a section for parents and teachers to help guide discussions.
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Description from Amazon:  Brad has a lot of great things going on his life or at least that's what he tells all of his classmates!  When one student wins a contest, he told about how he won an even bigger contest!  When another student broke his arm, he told about how he broke both arms AND both legs!  Children and adults will get a real kick out of Brad's tall tales as he learns the importance of being a 'pull-upper' and not a 'one-upper.'  
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Description from Amazon: "I win! I’m the best!" Dog boasts. He can run faster than Mole, dig better than Goose, swim faster than Donkey, and he’s much bigger than Ladybug. He wins! Unfortunately, Dog’s nonstop bragging is starting to make his friends feel kind of sad. But what if they mixed things up and looked at them differently? Could they teach Dog a lesson — and remind him of what it means to be a best friend?

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Friday Freebies (Teamwork)

Teamwork Poster

Cooperation and Teamwork Lessons for Character Education g

Team Work Lesson - Powerpoint and Lesson Plan

Teamwork Bulletin Board Quotes

Let's Get Moving Together! FREEBIE

Fairy Tale STEM--Jack and the Parachute

Save Fred! Community and Teamwork Builder

How to Make a Friendship Snack: A Community Building & Wri
Connections: shares some great team building activities HERE did a great Compliments Web activity that you can find HERE.

Alligators is one of my favorite teamwork activities.  You can find directions HERE.

This is another one that I love.  I do the spaghetti and marshmallows challenge every year with my 5th grade students and they have a blast!    

I also do this activity every year.  You use straws and tape to create a boat and then see how many pennies your boat can hold before it sinks.  Students have so much fun with this one!

The Human Knot is another great teamwork challenge.  You don't need any supplies and I have done this activity with students as young as 2nd grade all the way through high school.  

Great Items that are NOT FREE!
Books about Teamwork:
If you don't have these books I would highly recommend them.  I used them throughout my internship before I had money to spend on counseling supplies and they were a life saver!
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More Connections (I have each and every one of these books and can vouch for them all being terrific books for teaching teamwork and cooperation:
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