As we are wrapping up our month of practicing the character trait of Kindness, Mrs. Vanetti and I decided that we needed to create a special service-learning project where the students could demonstrate how simple acts of kindness can bring happiness. We found Project Linus- a national organization that looks to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.” Blanketeers!? We are now blanketeers!!
Mrs. Vanetti and I visited the Project Linus website (www.projectlinus.org) and selected the blanket pattern to best suit our needs…the No Sew Fleece Blanket!
Our Room Parents prepared the fleece ahead of time, making us ready to knot the fringe today.
The fabric is all ready to go!
The students worked together to make the knots.
Together our blanketeers made eight fleece blankets to donate to Project Linus!
The kindergarten and first-grade classes have met the past two Tuesdays as part of our Swooper Citizens program. This month we are discussing the very important character trait of kindness. Last week, we shared this short video clip with the students to get them thinking about kindness.
Students listened to the book The Invisible Boy, by Tracey Ludwig.
“Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.
When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.
From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.”
This book gave us many wonderful opportunities to discuss kindness and how kindness relates to the students. We touched on how it feels to be excluded, or how it feels to be asked to join a game. (There is always room for one more!) We talked about the students’ feelings when someone has a play date or party and they aren’t included. We talked about having a party and not being able to include everyone but making sure to talk about the event when those who weren’t included aren’t around. We then asked the children to think of examples of times when someone has been kind to them.
We followed up the first lesson on kindness with a second, where we talked about how manners play an important role in showing kindness. In wanting to get the children up and moving, I prepared four sentence strips with a phrase on each: “Thank you.You’re welcome. Please. and Excuse me.” I taped these into the corners of the classroom. The goal of the game was for students to walk to the corner that had the most appropriate response to the scenario we posed. For example, “By accident, you knock over a younger child. What do you say to that person?” or “You want to go to your friend’s house. What polite word would you use to ask your mom?” Take a peek at the game in action:
I then read aloud a funny book called Mary Louise Loses Her Manners, by Diane Cuneo.
“One morning, after some particularly shocking–but awfully funny–breakfast behavior, Mary Louise realizes that she has lost her manners. I’ve paid so little attention to them, she thinks, that they’ve up and run away! She has no choice but to begin a search mission.
From a neighborhood restaurant to a doctor’s office, past a hot dog vendor then a street musician, and even into the library, Mary Louise tries to find her manners. Instead, she ends up making more trouble everyplace she goes. Have her manners deserted her forever?”
I am happy to report that Mary Louise finds her manners! This week, the kindergarteners will be practicing using good manners as a way to show kindness. Be on the lookout at home for some extra pleases and thank yous!
With all that has happened these past six or so weeks, I continue to feel grateful for the acts of kindness my family and I have received. Additionally, Girl’s Inc. has been very kind in sharing their space with us. The acts of kindness go on and on!
Students do kind acts all the time, and I really want to point out to them how much even the smallest act of kindness means. I have made a special spot in our classroom to record acts of kindness. Students can “tattle” on a friend, telling me when they witness an act of kindness. I then write the students’ name of a heart sticker and place it on our “Kindness Counts” heart. From pushing in a friends chair without being asked, to helping up a peer after he fell, I am proud to say these students are full of kindness! Look at all the acts of kindness I have caught these past few weeks!
I think this heart will be full by the end of February!
Students also have been writing compliments to one another based on the book How Full is Your Bucket? This book shares the story that we each have an imaginary bucket of water over our heads. As we make mistakes, are teased, or maybe forget something, the drops of water fall out of the bucket. But, when we receive or give a compliment, or something positive happens, the bucket refills! So during these past few weeks, we have been working to fill each others’ hearts. Remember this bulletin board?
Our writing activity culminated at the Valentine’s Party, where students read each of their love notes with their family members. Here are some examples of the compliments the students wrote.
Students were encouraged to spell each word using their best guess spelling. This means they spelled each word using the sounds that they hear. As the school year progresses, spelling in kindergarten will transition from best guess to more conventional. It is always fun to watch this transformation!
I can’t seem to get the lyrics to Home by Phillip Phillips out of my head. “Just know you’re not alone. ‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home.” As of last Wednesday, we were fortunate enough to have a place to temporarily relocate our school while the clean up continues from the disaster in Montecito. Originally, we thought we would be starting from scratch, and then came word on Thursday that Mr. Surber would be allowed into the Montecito campus to collect some furniture, curriculum, books, etc. What wonderful news that was! Here are some before pictures of the kindergarten learning space at Girls Inc.
And here are some after pictures. I asked Mr. Surber to grab items that I thought the students would recognize and consider to be part of our classroom, thus making it easier to create a “homier” environment.
We have our reading strategies, Home Reading Books, Dinosaur Notebooks, Math Journals, reading group bins, and my weekly activity cart!
We have the white board easel and pocket chart that students use almost daily during reading centers, our calendar, our reading center chart, and my chair.
We even have our tables, chairs, and nametags!
We will be focusing on kindess from now until the end of February. I will share more about this bulletin board in a future post.
The kindergartners are still glowing from the excitement our musical play performance created! We are astounded by what the classes accomplished in three short weeks. Ordinary Mary’s and Ordinary Jerry’s Extraordinary Deed taught an important lesson that the students will hopefully remember to use in their own lives: a child’s compassion and good deeds CAN change the world.
I brought my old school Blackberry in for Dr. Tom to use….he got such a kick out of it!
“Honesty, is such a lovely word. And that is what I heard from you….”
I want to give a BIG thank you to Ms. Atkinson for her clever song writing and adaptations of the book and music. It was extra fun for me to work with music that was recognizable and so upbeat. And, who doesn’t love a little Billy Joel?!
Here is a link to ms. Atkinson’s blog…she has some additional video footage you will enjoy.
This morning, the Santa Barbara Chapter Coordinator of Project Linus, Iris, stopped by the kindergarten classroom to receive the blankets we made earlier in the week. She shared some background information about the organization and expressed her gratitude to the students for their hard work in creating the blankets. Ms. Iris also left this information sheet with me which provides more details about the mission of Project Linus, as well as an example of the tag she will sew into each blanket.
Ms. Iris’ visit was a nice way for the students to see the impact of their hard work. Well done, kindergartners.
Project Linus provides homemade blankets to children in need. As we were introducing this project to the students, we touched on the idea that a blanket or special snuggle often provides a feeling of calmness or security to a child. Students shared stories about their special toys or blankets with the class.
Then we had the students move to the corners of the room so that we could lay out the fabric. Each blanket was assigned four students…one student to work on each side.
Using their fingers to pull the one inch fabric strips through a pre-cut hole, this activity was also beneficial in strengthening fine motor skills and encouraging teamwork.
The room was silent at the groups worked together. I was impressed with how focused the students were….we could have easily made twice as many blankets if we had more prepared!
The Project Linus Santa Barbara Chapter Coordinator will be stopping by the classroom at the end of the week to receive our donations.
If you are interested in making a no sew fleece blanket for Project Linus, here are the instructions:
If you are interested in preparing blankets for the class to make, please let me know. (I have extra fleece that can be cut….it does take about 30 minutes or more to make all the cuts.) This would be a great ongoing activity for Choice Time.
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:
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:
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.