Thursday, March 8, 2018

Classroom Kindness Series Week 2: Modeling & Role Playing {FREE Printable}



Hey friends! I hope you enjoyed last week’s post where I shared some of my favorite books for teaching kindness. Today I would like to share with you some strategies for modeling and role-playing kindness in the classroom.

Kindness is like a muscle. The more you practice being kind, the better you will become at it and the easier it will become. As a parent and a teacher of young children I think we have to remember that children are learning SO much every single day. They really do not know or cannot remember that some things they do or say are unkind. In many cases, children are totally going off of impulses, which may or may not be a good thing.

Just like children need to be taught their letters and numbers, they need to be taught what kindness looks like and how they can show kindness. Thanks to mirror neurons children also mimic what they see. The more they see others around them exhibiting kindness, the more likely they are to exhibit kindness themselves. Unfortunately this also works the other way. The more they see unkind behavior, the more likely they are to mimic that.




Modeling Kindness

As teachers and parents it is crucial that we model the behaviors we want our children to exhibit…no pressure, right? Here are some simple ways you can model kindness for your kids.

1. Share and show ways that you have been kind. Kids love to hear about your life outside of the classroom…it’s shocking to them that teachers have lives outside of school isn’t it? I know that many of you volunteer or help friends and family members in need in various situations. On a Monday, maybe during morning meeting or whatever sharing time you have, share photos of you being kind to others. For example, if you volunteer on a Saturday for Habitat of Humanity show students the pictures you took. Most of us take photos on our phones all the time. Your children would love to see their teacher being kind to others and this is a great way to lead by example.

You can also point out ways you are kind during the day. Say, “Boys and girls, I want to practice kindness so I am going to stand here and wait. I am going to let the other class go first this time.” Another example could be if another teacher asks you to watch their class for them for a minute. You could say, “Boys and girls, Ms. Smith needs for me to watch her class for a minute. I am going to practice being kind and help her, can you practice being kind and finish your work quietly while I watch both classes?”


2. Think Aloud throughout your day about ways you could show kindness. As situations arise, you could model your thought process aloud to the kids. They need to hear these decision-making steps so that they can piggy back off of you.

An example could be, “Boys and girls, I see that Ms. Smith left her clipboard and whistle out here on the playground? How could I show kindness to Ms. Smith?”

They may suggest that you take the whistle and clipboard back to her. Normally, you would probably just do that and not make a point to talk about it. In this case, it would do your students a lot of good to stop and talk with them about what you’re doing and why.

3. Use the Same Language throughout the day. If you talk about kindness and then you say “be nice” or “be good”, it can be very confusing for kids. The idea of kindness is already very abstract to young children. The more consistent you can be with your language, the more they will understand the language and the more likely they are to use it correctly themselves . If you are going to use kind, then use kind all the time. If you are going to use nice, then use nice all the time.




Role Playing

Role playing is another strategy you can use to teach kindness. Like I said earlier, thanks to mirror neurons, children mimic what they see more than what they are told. This is why the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do” is not effective and is not supported by science. Here are some role playing strategies:

1. Anticipate Problems Before They Start by role playing possible scenarios before games or center time. Let’s say you are teaching them a new math station. Take time BEFORE they begin playing to play out each and every possible scenario. For example, if you know that students struggle with grabbing things out of the hands of others…role play that happening and what can be done to make the situation better.

You might say, “Boys and girls, I’m playing with John. He just snatched the game piece out of my hand. What are some things I can do to show kindness but also help solve the problem?” Discuss how we can kindly (but assertively) tell John, “That was my game piece, please give it back. I don’t like when you grab it out of my hand.” In this scenario you are showing students how to be kind yet still stand up for yourself and get a problem solved. 

2. Review Things That Have Happened and discuss how we can incorporate kindness here. After you observe a scenario play out in your classroom, discuss the scenario with the whole class. Refrain from calling students out by name, as you don’t want to embarrass them. You may say something like, “Boys and girls, I noticed during math stations that we had some unkind behavior going on. I saw ______. How do you think we could add some kindness into that situation?” Let children discuss possible ways to include kindness.

3. Use Role Playing Scenario Cards. In addition to practicing real things that have happened in your classroom, use cards like these to give your students more practice. Show students the picture on the card and discuss what they see. Read aloud the short scenario and let students discuss if the children in the photo are showing kindness or if they need some more practice.

It’s best to create an anchor chart or pocket chart display with the cards. This will give children a reference in the classroom. Throughout your day you can say, “Boys and girls, remember this card? Remember what happened? We decided that was not kind. How are some ways we could include kindness in this situation? Do you remember?”



You may pick up the scenario cards here, they are free for classroom use.

Bottom Line: Children need to practice kindness on a daily basis until it becomes a habit. Just like practicing their sums of ten, their alphabet sounds, rhyming words…kindness is a skill.

Let’s help our children by treating kindness, and other social emotional skills, as a concept we need to teach, not something we expect them to already know

Do you have any tried and true strategies for teaching kindness in your classroom? I would love to hear them!



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Classroom Kindness Series Week 1: Read Alouds



Hello friends! Today I'm starting a five week series devoted to teaching kindness in your classroom. We are living in a very stressful time. Turning on the news is incredibly scary and as a mother and educator, I just want to shelter my babies from all the chaos. A lot has to change in our society for things to get better and we can debate on what that is...but today I would like to focus on small things we can do daily to start making a difference for our children.

Just like children need to learn math facts and the alphabet, children need to be taught how to be kind. It is not something that just happens. Children's brains are wired to mimic what they see more than what they are told. If children are told to be nice and share but watch others fighting and watch violent shows on television or on their iPad, they are going to be more likely to mimic the violent behavior than adhere to the command of "Be nice." It's just the way the brain works. We can thank our friends "mirror neurons" for this!

Teaching is a tough job, and there are way more things that need to get done in a day that are humanly possible. I totally get that. However, I think that living in the time we are living in really challenges us to reflect on what is the most important. Research shows that children with strong social emotional skills will be more successful later in life than children who score high on academic tests but have poor social emotional skills. So what does that tell us? It tells us that if we want our children to be successful in life, we need to put social emotional skills at the forefront of what we are teaching every single day.

Once a week for the next five weeks, I will be posting tips and strategies to help you teach kindness in your classroom. Don't worry, it's not one more thing for you to do. Teaching kindness can be easily incorporated into any other content area you are teaching. Today I want to help you by sharing five read alouds you can use to teach kindness in your classroom.

The power of reading aloud is exponential. There are so many skills children sharpen when they sit and listen to a great book. The nice thing about reading books about kindness is that you are teaching several skills beyond just kindness, so you're getting a lot of bang for your buck. The books I have listed below work for pre-k through third grade, you can also use them with the older kids but my area of expertise is early childhood specifically.

Comprehension skills are taught year round, so it's easy to incorporate these books into your weekly lesson plans. For example, if you're teaching text to self connections you could easily ask children to think of a connection between themselves and something that occurs in the text. The read alouds below will easily fit into any reading comprehension standard you need to address.

Here are some of my favorite read alouds for teaching kindness:

(Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links below, this means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)


1: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig



I saw this book at Lakeshore Learning Store last weekend and as I read through it, tears filled my eyes. It's a very touching story. The little boy is drawn at the beginning of the story as almost invisible, he has no color to him, just pencil lines. In the beginning, no children play with him at school, he's very much alone and it's so sad. Then a new kid comes to school and they become friends. Slowly, the little boy gets more and more color to him until you can see him in full color, he is no longer invisible. This book teaches the power of inclusion, empathy and of course, kindness.



2. The Kindness Quilt by: Nancy Elizabeth Wallace




This book is a classic. A little bunny named Minna works on a kindness project with her classroom. As they complete acts of kindness they record them using a kindness quilt. It's great inspiration for your children to complete acts of kindness on their own.



3. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? By: Carol McCloud





I'm sure some of you have heard of "filling buckets" as many schools have used this as a way to encourage positive behavior on their campuses. The idea is that children are taught everyone has a bucket and our buckets get full when people are kind to us and we engage in positive behaviors. I definitely like that idea but be careful when using the term "bucket dipping". I have heard that used as a way to describe negative behavior and sometimes that term can be used to make kids feel bad. Instead of focusing on "bucket dippers" I would suggest focusing on "bucket fillers," still a really good book for teaching positive and kind behavior.


4. Those Shoes By: Maribeth Boelts




I really love this book! It's about a little boy who REALLY wants a pair of shoes that are very popular at his school. (I'm sure most kids can relate to that!) His grandma explains that they cannot afford those shoes, they can only afford things they need, not things they want. The little boy finds a pair of those shoes at a thrift store, but they're too small. In the end, you will see how the little boy finds out that objects are not more important than people...you have to read and find out what happens! *This book also teaches basic needs and other simple math skills.*


5. Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners By: Laurie Keller


I recommend this book for 1st grade and up, it can be kind of overwhelming for the itty bitty kids. This book is very humorous and teaches children to treat others the way you want to be treated. There are a lot of cute, funny illustrations that will get kids talking about ways to be kind.

I hope these read alouds give you a good start for incorporating more instructional time to teaching kindness. If you use these books, I would love to hear how your kids liked them. Tag me on Instagram or Facebook, I'd love to hear from you!

Oh...and don't forget to come back next week for part two!





Thursday, February 22, 2018

Nursery Rhyme QR Codes




Happy (almost) Friday!! Today I wanted to share a quick freebie I added as a supplement to my pre-K/Kindergarten nursery rhyme pack. I linked up 13 nursery rhymes to short YouTube videos. You can print the cards on cardstock, laminate and then place in your library or reading center. 
















You can pick up the QR codes here. If you want to see the whole Kindergarten Poetry Pack you can click on the picture above. :)


Friday, February 16, 2018

Presidents' Day Emergent Reader

Hello Everyone!

I have a quick blog post for you. I had several people ask me if I would make a Presidents' Day emergent reader like the MLK JR one I created a few years ago. Well your wish has been granted! I picked up some super cute new clip art during the TpT sale, so I used that to make this reader for y'all. 

Here's what it looks like:






The page above is the front page and the back page. Fold this page in half with the title on the top. You will then fold the following pages in half and tuck them inside the cover page. Staple on the left to keep the pages together. These are assembled like the MLK books, you can view those here










You can pick up this emergent reader here. I hope you enjoy this simple emergent reader and that it makes your planning a little easier. :) Have a great weekend!




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

3 Reasons Why Social Studies Notebooks ROCK



Hey Y'all!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous day today and that your children are being little angels!! (It's Valentine's Day...the craziest day my first year teaching was Valentine's Day...if you're kids are acting calm in any way I would be SHOCKED.) I do hope that the chocolate gifts you get do make you feel better at the end of the day!! :)

Today I would like to talk to you about why I think social studies notebooks rock. Now I will be honest, I used to really dislike teaching social studies to my second graders. It was really hard to find good activities and resources, like really hard. Our textbooks were way outdated and the TEKS (the Texas state standards) were really specific. I would spend a lot of time coming up with things to do with my kids and ended up not ever being satisfied with the end product.

Then I thought about transferring the idea of notebooking that we did in science to social studies and it really helped spice things up. My last year teaching second grade I tested out notebooks and started developing ideas that would turn into my Second Grade Social Studies Notebook. Here are three reasons why I think social studies notebooks rock and how you can use them in your class.




They document learning. It's really nice to have a place where everything should be. It's a good refresher for kids to look through and remember lessons we have done in the past. When planning I used them to see what we still needed to get to and what standards we have already mastered. It's also very empowering for the kids. They tend to take ownership over their work more when it is in their notebooks. They know they will take it home at the end of the year and it just matters more to them than typical seat work.




There are so many things you can do with notebooks. For social studies specifically, there is a lot of research done. You can create pockets in notebooks to store notes on index cards or fold paper up and store them inside. I will say that creating pockets and tabs in notebooks does require some fine motor skills and I wouldn't try doing with children younger than 2nd grade. My 2nd graders were just the right age and stage to be able to create many different pockets, tabs and foldables in their notebooks.



Different is always fun and engaging. Children (and adults) get tired of the same old thing. Using notebooks allows you to create several different methods of teaching a lesson. The really cool thing is that you can make your own foldable templates by getting clip art online. You can create any resource you want pretty easily!

I can tell you that children will be more likely to write a lot about being a good citizen when they are using a cool accordion book versus a typical sheet of paper. Little novelties here and there can make a big difference.

My 2nd grade social studies notebook is probably one of my favorite products I've created on TpT. I find it to be the most helpful to teachers because every single standard is addressed. I also think it's cool because it is Texas specific which is really hard to find. If you'd like to see more pictures from that file you can see some below:










 You can always create your own templates for notebooking lessons as well. If you search TPT for notebook templates you should find several. If you are interested in my 2nd Grade Social Studies Notebook it is sold in two parts. You can view part one here and part two here. Right now they are both on sale so it's a great time to pick those up.

Happy Teaching!