Swooper Citizens

We discussed citizenship this week. Citizenship means being a part of a community and taking pride in it. The lesson began with students brainstorming the communities to which they belong: Laguna Blanca, Santa Barbara, California, Girl Scouts, United States, and so on. Then we discussed ways in which we show pride in our communities, like by picking up trash, or saying “please” and “thank you.” This discussion was followed by a read aloud, If Everybody Did, by Jo Ann Stover. This books shows what might happen if everybody did something that was unhelpful, like if everyone picked flowers, the plants would be bare, or if everybody left their toys on the stairs, there would be a huge mess.

We took this idea of If everybody did and paired students up to create a poster depicting what would happen if everybody did something positive, like pick up trash or clean up their dishes. The students did a great job working with their partner to come up with and illustrate their idea.

We made the posters into a class book that the students can enjoy.

That reminds me….I eagerly awaiting the bright pink compassion slips to be returned. You may remember last week, each student was given a slip of paper with an act of compassion on it, and they were encouraged to complete that simple act. If your child did, please have them bring the slip of paper back to me with their name on it so we can record how we showed compassion. Thanks!


For Swooper Citizens today we talked about Responsibility. What is it? Do students have responsibilities? Are there some responsibilities you like better than others? After some discussion, we watched this fun music video.

The tune brings me back to high school…Young Mc Bust a Move anyone? (Or am I just dating myself?)

Lastly, students wrote in their Swooper Citizens journals. Here are some of their responses:




We will be checking in on responsibility later this week….here’s your chance to introduce a new responsibility (aka chore) at home!!

Rainbow Fish Preparations


The preparations for our spring musical play are in full swing! The costume pieces have arrived.


Students will use these blank canvases to create sea stars, lobsters, purple fish, yellow fish and more! Tomorrow students will begin the process by dying their clothing items. Accents will be added once the clothes have dried. Students will have full creative control over their own costumes…..so far they have requested that I provide felt, glitter, rhinestones (Does anyone have a Bedazzler? 🙂 ) and more! I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

We ran through the play several times this week. It is obvious that students practiced their parts during Spring Break.  Thank you! The Rainbow Fish extravaganza is coming together nicely because of this!

This musical play does a great job incorporating our Swooper Citizen character traits. I asked students to name the traits that are included in the play, and they listed friendliness, courage, kindness, sharing, gratefulness, and generosity. Perfect! I can’t wait for you to see it!


Is it ever ok to tell a lie? Have you told a lie? What happens when you tell the truth?  Oh….the stories we heard today! During our Swooper Citizens meeting this morning we revisited the character trait of trust. Our breakout question was, “Is it ever ok to tell a lie?” With wide eyes, the students answered with a resounding, “No!” Then we began to think about certain circumstances….like planning a surprise for someone or telling a lie to protect our safety, and we decided that sometimes, in rare occurrences, people may need to lie…..but telling the truth is usually the better option.

Then, the floodgates opened, and students begged to tell stories about times when they….or THEIR PARENTS (gasp!), had told a lie. I had to get in on the fun and shocked students with the time I threw a nerf Frisbee inside my house (totally against my mother’s rules) and broke a cherished picture frame. Instead of telling the truth, I blamed it on one of my dad’s employees….(who not a believable suspect at all, poor goy….) How the situation would have been different had I told the truth! (What shocked the students the most, though, wasn’t that I told a lie, but that my punishment was that I had to go to bed without dinner!)

Next, we showed a great video clip of a classic story, demonstrating why truth telling is so very important:

Students then listened to a book called Being Trustworthy, which gave many clear examples of trustworthy behaviors, including coming home when your parents tell you, returning extra change after a shopping trip, and following through on obligations.

Here are some of the journal entries the students created:

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.01.17 AM

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.01.09 AM

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.01.01 AM

Just so you know, parents, I did stick up for us and say that there are times when parents need to tell little “untruths” for the good of the family. 🙂


It’s Random Act of Kindness Day in K!

We are celebrating Random Act of Kindness Day here in Kindergarten today. Our Swooper Citizens theme this week is Kindness, and what better way to learn about kindness than to practice it?!

Our day started with brainstorming ideas for random acts of kindness. Students suggested tying a friends’ shoelace or asking someone new to play with them. When we were joined by the first grade class, we enjoyed this sweet video. (I promised the students that I would post it here, as they wanted to watch it over and over again.)

I enjoyed watching and hearing the students’ reactions to the video. There were giant smiles and large gasps when the items filled in with color. What a perfect way to illustrate acts of kindness!

I then surprised Ms. Atkinson with a Random Act of Kindness…I presented her with a small gift to show my appreciation for her and our friendship. Be sure to ask your child what the small gift was…

Students then listened to the book:

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.00.54 AM

We encouraged students to give examples about ways to fill others’ buckets. (In kindergarten, we have been working on filling each others’ stockings with kindness….the big reveal of all the compliments the children have written will be this Friday at 9:30!) The students decided that it is far easier to fill someone’s bucket, than to empty it….and more fun too!

Finally, we moved into the writing portion of the lesson. Here is what students had to say:

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.20.15 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.20.34 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.20.41 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.20.26 AM

Spreading Kindness and Holiday Cheer

The kindergarten and first grade classes accomplished our second service-learning project of the month yesterday by visiting the retirement community of Valle Verde.


As usual, the bus ride was tons of fun.

When we arrived, I had to snap a quick photo of the students wearing their reindeer hats.  Too cute!


 We quickly entered the Quail Lodge at Valle Verde, and I introduced myself and the students to the residents, who were just delighted to have us there.

We sang four holiday songs.  Here is a little video:



After our songs, students gave each resident a reindeer ornament that they made in art class. I was impressed with how comfortable the children were with the residents. Many opted to sit down next to a resident and have a conversation. It was very sweet to see.




The best part for me was introducing the students to my grandma. She was thrilled with all the extra attention she received!

Ms. Atkinson and I plan to take the students to visit Valle Verde again in February, around Valentine’s Day. We are excited to continue fostering this special relationship.



Courage was this week’s Swooper Citizens theme. We started the lesson asking the students to share a time when they may have felt scared or nervous. Nightmares were the hot topic. We discussed how the students needed to be brave to conquer their fears.

Next we watched a brief video on having courage to do the right thing.

The read aloud this week approached the topic of courage from a different direction. Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie de Paola is a touching story about a boy and his grandfather.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 3.36.21 PM

Bobby and his grandfather, Bob are close. Grandpa Bob tells Bobby stories and builds block towers with him. Grandpa even teaches Bobby to walk. One day, Grandpa has a stroke and can no longer walk or talk. Doctors think he doesn’t recognize family members. Bobby is not allowed to see Grandpa at first. After many months, Grandpa moves home. When Bobby tries to talk to him, Grandpa makes a grunting noise, scaring Bobby out of the room. Bobby finds the courage to go back to see Grandpa Bob and realizes that Grandpa Bob does recognize him. What follows next is a touching series of events that show Bobby reteaching Grandpa how to build block towers, tell stories, and even walk. (So touching in fact that I had to have Ms. Atkinson read the book to the students as I sat sobbing in the corner!) I pulled it together enough to ask the students how Bobby demonstrated courage in the story.

We then boarded the bus to the harbor, where we were met by Officers Martinez and Alldredge of the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol. The invited us to board the Harbor Patrol rescue boat!


As we climbed safely aboard and sat on the deck, Mr. Alldredge spoke to the class about courage.

Next, students were invited to explore the boat! They got to shoot the water cannon.




The sat in the wheel house and “navigated.”


And even got to try on the officers gear!



It was a beautiful day on the water!



Confidence is an important character trait to possess. When Ms. Atkinson and I were planning a lesson that would teach the importance of confidence, we immediately thought of the rock climbing wall. It was decided the I would scale the wall first and then boast about how great I am and how easy it is to climb. Ms. Atkinson would comment on how she had never climbed the wall before, and she would become visibly upset by my boasting.

Here’s how the lesson worked out:


I climbed…should have worn more athletic shoes…


I boasted….just a little.


I realized how my high confidence level was off-putting to Ms. Atkinson and decided to help her, rather than unintentionally put her down.

The students then each had an opportunity to climb the wall. They were all very encouraging and positive. There was no boasting!



After the climb, we returned to the classroom to discuss the activity. I had an opportunity to clear my name when Ms. Atkinson pointed out to the students that we had planned for me to be overly confident and boastful. She even told the students that we would still be friends. 🙂  We discussed the importance of being confident and the difference between confidence and boasting. Later today students will record their thoughts in their Swooper Citizenship journals. I am excited to see what else they learned from the lesson.