Just a Little Patience

The Swooper Citizens character trait of the week is PATIENCE. There are so many times throughout the day where we all have to practice being patient. We began this week’s lesson brainstorming ideas for things to do when waiting in a long line at Disneyland. The students had some great ideas: play I Spy, play Rock Paper Scissors, go to a different line, and more! Mrs. Vanetti then introduced our Marshmallow Challenge:

The students were all in….

Look how patient they were!

These students hid their marshmallow.

These two played Rock, Paper, Scissors to pass the time.


These students covered their eyes so that they would not see the marshmallows.

Hooray! Everyone showed patience and earned a second marshmallow!

We then watched this fun video:

I then read aloud My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook.

This book tells the story of a boy who interrupts. He just can not control the volcano in his mouth. When it is his special sharing day at school, the boy finally understands how frustrating it feels to be interrupted, and he learns to respectfully wait his turn. The students shared times when they had been interrupted and when their mouths had been a volcano! We tried to strategize ways we could wait patiently when we have something important to say but someone else is already speaking. Students agreed, it really takes a lot of patience!!


Why I Love Musical Plays!

Musical plays have been a passion of mine since the beginning of my teaching career. In fact, when I was in graduate school, my masters thesis was centered on the importance of musical plays in elementary school classrooms. Team building, language acquisition, critical thinking, public speaking, creativity, and more, are skills involved in the production of a musical play. Each year I look forward to producing a musical play with the kindergarten class. This year was no different. Mrs. Vanetti and I decided to work on a brand new-to-us musical play this year: Character Matters. Character Matters fit into our Swooper Citizens curriculum perfectly.



Not only do musical plays provide students with opportunities for team building and expressive interactions, but students internalize and remember history, in this case, through active learning. Musical plays help students take their learning to the next level!


Last week our Swooper Citizens topic of the week was compassion. Compassion means caring about others. This short video clip demonstrates compassion perfectly.


I wanted to give students the opportunity to truly practice being compassionate. I filled a jar with activities that show compassion and asked students to each choose one.

Students were encouraged to show compassion by completing the special deed listed on their card.

Many students reported back today that their acts of compassion were completed and VERY appreciated!

Thankfulness-The Gratitude Project

In Swooper Citizens today, we discussed Thankfulness , which means to appreciate what you have or what someone does for you. We asked students to share things for which they are thankful. We then asked how different their lives would be if they did not have those things. What if you didn’t have an iPad or a pet? What if you didn’t have a bed or food? How would your life be different without books or your family? What things can you live without?

We then read the book The Most Thankful Thing by Lisa McCourt. The students had fun guessing for what the mom is most thankful.

“When a little girl asks her mom what her “most thankful thing ever” is, Mom turns the question into a fun trip down memory lane. Turning the pages of Mom’s photo album, they discover many wonderful moments in Mom’s life, from summer camp to winning a trophy in a soccer tournament, from singing onstage to her wedding day. But one event in Mom’s whole life is the very best ever — the birth of her precious little girl.” (Amazon)

As a way to follow up on the theme of Thankfulness, we introduced The Gratitude Project to the students. Over the course of the next week and a half, we challenge the students to show gratitude to three different people. Here are some quick and easy ideas:


Once your child completes an act of gratitude, please comment on this blog post. Tell us what your child did and perhaps what the person’s response was. We can’t wait to hear and see the students showing gratitude!


In exploring the Swooper Citizens character trait of diligence this week, students listened to the most amazing story called Dex, the Heart of a Hero, by Caralyn Buehner.

“Little Dex has big dreams: he wants to be a superhero. So he reads all the comic books he can, builds his muscles, and even orders a hero costume. Once he has all the makings of a hero, Dex’s first mission is to save a tomcat in need of help. However, the cat is a classic bully who teases Dex about his size.

Will Dex learn that a hero is not defined by the strength of his muscles but by the trueness of his heart?

Husband and wife Caralyn and Mark Buehner tag-team to create a fun and modern superhero tale with a real comic book feel, akin to Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker and Ten Rules of Being a Superhero by Deb Pilutti.

Dexter has determination, spirit, and heart as he proves, above all, that no matter how little you are, you can still do very big things.” (Amazon)

Students recalled the different ways in which Dex used diligence to pursue his dream of being a superhero. We then set up an activity for students that helped them practice diligence.

Mrs. Vanetti shows students an origami bookmark.

Learn step by step how to make an origami bookmark. There was a lot of focusing, patience, and perseverance going on!

Look how cute these came out!

The students were thrilled with what their hard work and diligence accomplished!





As we continue to explore the character trait of Responsibility, we invited Dr. Douglas McCauley to visit during our Swooper Citizens lesson this week. Dr. McCauley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB, and a Laguna Dad. He has an important message to share regarding sustainability. (We think that the traits of responsibility and sustainability go hand in hand.) Dr. McCauley began his talk by sharing his marine science background with the students and then segued into what sustainability means.


Dr. McCauley then shared a story about Flora, a young girl who is forced to move to a new island because the natural resources on her previous island have run out.

At the end of the lesson, Dr. McCauley provided the students with a “sustainability bag” filled with items that will help us all make choices that are Earth friendly.

Thank you so much, Dr. McCauley, for your informative visit!



We looked at the character trait of perseverance today by reciting a famous quote for the children, “It’s not that I am so smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer” -Albert Einstein.

What does that mean? Students shared their thoughts about this, saying that the person keeps trying, even if the thing isn’t fixed or solved. Bingo! That’s perseverance- showing determination and never giving up. We decided that the students needed a chance to practice persevering, so we took them out the climbing wall and gave them a challenge. Students who have not yet climbed all the way across the wall were encouraged to do so. Those students who have previously climbed across the wall were challenged to cross the wall using only the RED pieces! (I wish I had been recording when I announced this! The students’ response was priceless!)

The students gave the challenge their all!

After each student took a turn climbing across the rock wall, we returned to the classroom to listen to the book Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty.

“Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal–to fly–Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But, when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success. She explains, ‘You can only truly fail if you quit.'”


After the read aloud, we asked the students why we would choose to read this particular book to the class during our discussion of perseverance. Their answers were spot on, sharing that Rosie kept trying and didn’t give up. We will be referencing this character trait often in the classroom, as new concepts are introduced to the students. Never give up.

Swooper Citizens: Determination

As part of our month-long look at the character trait of Responsibility, we explored how the trait of Determination relates to Responsibility. Determination means to make up your mind about doing something.  We began the class by discussing what happens when students tried doing something that was too hard at first.  Do they give up or did they try harder? Many students shared about learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. After lots of practice (and a few skinned knees) they were able to successfully ride a two-wheeler!

To put students to the test, they participated in a Braincercise Challenge called Scissors/Straddle/Together.

That was really challenging!

Then we showed the students a video clip that very clearly shows exactly what determination is…


Finally, students listened to the book Sally Jean, Bicycle Queen.

“I can pop a wheelie, I can touch the sky,
I can pedal backwards, I can really fly!

Sally Jean was born to ride. And her bicycle, Flash, is just about her best friend. But one day something terrible – and wonderful – happens. Sally Jean grows. Suddenly she finds herself too big
for Flash. What’s a Bicycle Queen to do? Finally, by collecting old bicycle parts to make a new bike – and giving Flash to a young friend who longs for a bigger bike of his own – she rides

With exuberant art that’s just the right match for Sally Jean’s new found freedom, this joyous text celebrates growing up, learning new skills, and giving back to the community.” (Amazon)

This week, we plan to create situations where students will need to practice diligence. Stay tuned!

A Kindness Service-Learning Project

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!