PPBF: A World Of Pausabilities

Today I'm feeling mindful of the world of possibilities
that unfolds before our eyes every day.
But only when we pause to unwrap the present.

Title: A World Of Pausabilities
Author: Frank J. Sileo
Illustrator: Jennifer Zivoin
Publisher: Magination Press
Birthday: February 13, 2017
Suitable for: ages 4-8
Themes: mindfulness, being present
Brief synopsis: This rhyming text encourages children to press pause in their lives so they can focus on slowing down and being present.
Opening page: 
Do you know what a PausABiLity is?

Check out my read-aloud of the story poolside here:

Read about other mindfulness titles from Magination {here}.
Peruse reviews of the book {here}.
Sign up for the Calm Schools Initiative {here}.
Check out my mindfulness Pinterest collection {here}.

Why I like this book: In a world that's increasingly hectic and demanding, it's so important that our littlest learners learn to press pause so they can breathe and think. This brilliantly-illustrated, Mom's-choice award winner aims to teach children ways to choose calm and quiet. In the back of the book, there's a bonus two-page spread directed at parents and caregivers to educate them on the benefits of practicing mindfulness.

I appreciate its focus on enjoying what's in front of us, mindfully aware, without judgement. After sharing the book, head outside to see what's in bloom! Take in the sights, sounds, smells and feels.

Look what I spotted in my backyard yesterday afternoon.

After a nature walk, grab some chalk 
and draw a picture on the sidewalk.

Can't get outside? Enjoy a water fountain inside.

One of my students brought this bird fountain to me this week after telling her grandma that she wanted to find something to match my personality. Isn't it beautiful? It sounds so soothing and brings peace and calm to my office.

Encourage your older students to write an acrostic poem
using the word PAUSE:

P is for peace.
A is for awareness.
U is for understanding.
S is for senses.
E is for emotions. 

In which other ways do you awaken your senses while you 
breathe in calm and enjoy the world of endless pausabilities?

Looking for more new titles?
Head to Susanna Hill's blog for more PPBF goodness next.


Volunteering Kindness

We've done it, just finished our 15th year of our Knit-for-Service Club meetings. Doesn't this year's group of volunteer needle-workers look adorable?

Third, fourth and fifth graders volunteer their time,

to knit a cap to help save the life of an underweight preemie.

Photo credit: Save The Children
Unravel details about our 15 years of knitting to serve
 {here}, {here} and {here}.

Here's our keepsake Knit One, Save One video; 
these young knitters are now high school seniors about to graduate. 

I'm told a few of them still use their skill to help others.

Volunteering is contagious like that; once you get the ball rolling, you'll want to keep on helping out. Lisa Currie from The Ripple Kindness Project wrote about the helper's high in this kindness post. Volunteering has been shown to help improve the health and well-being of volunteers and donors.

And no, you don't have to have a special skill to be a volunteer;
anyone can see a need and fill a need. Consider these opportunities right in your own neighborhood: washing a car, raking some leaves, shoveling some snow, mowing a lawn, watering some plants.

Need a nudge launching a volunteer campaign of your own? Why not sign up with WE Volunteer Nowan inspired way to organize a student volunteer activity. Whether you want to visit a senior home, donate to a food pantry or raise awareness about a cause that your kids are passionate about—like safe driving or recycling— this campaign is an easy way to get started.

 Simply enter here on WeAreTeachers and you’ll get an instant download from WE Volunteer Now, full of information on how to start a volunteer campaign at your school. You’ll also get access to grade-specific lessons you can use right away. 
WE Volunteer Now Campaign Resources include:
·       A step-by-step guide on how to get started with service learning curriculum in your classroom
·       Volunteering ideas
·       Teacher checklists to keep you on track
·       A worksheet for you to complete with your class—by the end you’ll have a solid idea of which volunteering option is best for you!
·       We Volunteer Now curriculum
Made possible by The Allstate Foundation, the WE Volunteer Now grants help schools and youth groups in their effort to give back to their local communities in a creative and unique way. As a bonus, 500 schools will receive a $250 grant to use towards their volunteer project. The grants will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to all eligible schools/groups, to be used toward supporting your volunteer project. The eligible school or youth organization must:
·       Have an educator, administrator, or adult group leader to fill out this application 
·       Be based in the U.S. and registered in the WE Schools program
·       Plan to use the provided funds between October 2017 – October 2018
·       Include students/youth participants in grades K-12
·       Participate in the WE Volunteer Now Campaign
Check out the reasons to join WE schools {here}, then enjoy these benefits:
Inspire your students to make a real difference. When you join the WE movement, you’re giving your students a chance to make a difference in their neighborhood and in the world. Together you’ll find something you are passionate about and can work toward as a group.
Fit service into your curriculum with ease. You signed up and took the first step. Now, you can use the WE Schools Kit to figure out which action or campaign your students want to work on throughout the year. The kit is packed with ideas for teachers and students to brainstorm ideas and set goals.
Earn your way to WE Day. Once you’ve decided on a project, finished your good deed, and reported your results, you’ll get a chance to earn your way to WE Day. It’s a stadium-sized event (there are six held annually in select cities across the country!) that brings together amazing speakers and performers. And YOU and YOUR students could be honored; students can tune in and watch live.
Be a part of something huge. Last year, 4,200 schools across the United States signed up and participated in WE Schools. That’s 1.3 million students! Plus, over 3.1 million viewers watched the WE Day Special on CBS this past August.
Help your students earn service learning hours and AP credits. High, middle, and even elementary schools are requiring students to log the time they’ve spent on service learning and volunteering. The WE Schools framework gives your students more options to gain volunteering time in ways integrated with your lessons.
Instill a love of volunteerism in your students (that they’ll have forever) just like we've done with our knitters. In a hectic world that values achievements and grades, it can be tough for students (and their parents) to make the time for giving back. WE Schools and the WE Volunteer Now campaign show us all how accessible volunteering can be.
Sign up for WE {here}.  

NOTE: This post is brought to you by WeAreTeachers, the Allstate Foundation and WE. Please join me in thanking them for their sponsorship.


Making Something Spectacular

Today I'm thinking about how cool it is when parts come together 
to make something whole.

About how seemingly small pieces quickly combine 
to create something really special.

About how every little contribution

makes a big difference.

It's something that has been on my mind for a while now, something that came to the forefront today as our fifth graders started to paint their mosaic mural.

Each student paints their portion of the mural, whose theme this year depicts how our school and community came together to help one another recover and restore after hurricane Harvey blew through.

UPDATE: After day 2.

We actually once made a rainstorm five-hundred-students strong at one of our character assemblies, to illustrate what happens when we all do something small to create something big.

In unity, strength.

I love experiencing the magic when parts of the whole 
unify to make something spectacular.


PPBF: Yoga Frog

Today's PPBF is so stinkin' adorable; prepare to fall in love with Yoga Frog.

Title: Yoga Frog
Author: Nora Carpenter
Illustrator: Mark Chambers
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Birthday: May 29, 2018
Suitable for ages: preK-3rd grade (and beyond)
Themes: mindfulness, relaxation, yoga
Brief synopsis: Travel with Yoga Frog through 19 yoga poses to help you 
re-energize and get back in touch with your happy self.
Opening page: 
Every morning, Yoga Frog wakes with the sun and stretches his arms high above his head. Sometimes he's still tired. Sometimes he's even a tad grumpy. 
He isn't really a morning frog.
When he's not feeling his happy, froggy self, or if he wants to feel better, Yoga Frog knows just what to do: yoga! Join him! 

Resources: Check out the author's website {here}.
Read a Publishers Weekly review {here}.
Do yoga with Frank the Frog and Cosmic Kids {here}.
Sing the I Am Yoga song with Emily Arrow.

Compare and contrast Yoga Frog with I Am Yoga by Susan Verde. 

Why I like this book: Such a playful way to introduce our littlest learners to the practice of yoga as a way to stretch, relax and regroup. The author and illustrator work together in harmony to explain and show the poses, sharing their everyday names along with their Sanskrit names. I loved the bonus Note To Parents in the back along with a perforated fold-out poster of the precious frog 
practicing all of the poses.

In a world in which children are increasingly stressed out,
it's so important to find ways to stay in the moment,
to relax and restore, and to unwrap the present.

Check out this book for help with doing just that.
Put it in a calm-down caddy or a Peace Room.
Then head to Susanna Hill's blog for today's other PPBF picks.

Oh, and May the Fourth be with you. 


Puppet-Tree In Motion

Today I'm excited because I was invited to share how puppets have helped me and shaped my school counseling story on a #StoriesInEdu podcast.

Do you have any puppets?
We have a parrot, an eagle, a wolf, a sloth, a bird,
a toucan't toucan, a kitten, two pigs, a turtle,
a bronco, a pack rat, a cow, a bear, a giraffe,

Hi Junior!

a caterpillar, and a pirate.
Am I forgetting anyone?
Here's they are, our Puppet Patrol, hanging out in the Puppet-Tree 
that Kaitlyn made for us in an architecture class.

It was such a blast, to go back 18 years and reminisce about Seymour, my first puppet, and remember what happened when I first got to Westwood and forgot to grab that baby harp seal when we evacuated for my first fire drill there.

Who knew that the littles would think the puppets were REAL?

And to talk about how I engage all learners from preK through 5th grade 
with our squawker, Winthrup, who tends to worry.

To share about the time that some third-grade girls
gave up recess to gather some rocks for my thieving Pack Rat,
so he has his own and doesn't have to steal anymore.

And to plant ideas for using the puppets as a tool to facilitate conversations, to solve problems, and to integrate them into curricular areas, like writing.

And to let them be kids for a bit and play.
Because play heals.
And it's just flat-out fun 
for young and old alike.

And today, this note from a fifth-grade girl
who is going to miss us.
Can you feel the puppet love?

The interview is also available as a You Tube clip:

How do you unleash the power of the puppet?

I'm so grateful to the Bretzmann Group and to Mandy and Josh
for this amazing opportunity. It was great fun chatting with them.

Speaking of gratitude, how will you thank 
your favorite teachers next week?

Click the image below to go to a guest post
I wrote for my friends at Prosign Design
sharing some intriguing ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week.

Happy May.


PPBF: I Walk With Vanessa

This week we had the pleasure of sharing some kindness from the kitchen after picking wild dewberries and baking a batch of kolaches. 

Turns out I baked a memory for these grandparents; 
this thank-you text from their daughter fed my soul.

Kindness doesn't have to be great to be grand;
sometimes it's the littlest things that mean the most.

Today's wordless PPBF tackles cooking up kindness at school.

Title: I Walk With Vanessa
Author/Illustrator: Kerasco√ęt
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Birthday: April 24, 2018
Suitable for ages: 4-7
Themes: empathy, compassion, kindness
Brief synopsis: When the new girl at school has an encounter with a cruel classmate, another girl notices and shows empathy, compassion, and kindness 
by befriending her and offering to walk with Vanessa.
Opening page:


Read a Publishers Weekly review {here}.
Get ideas for Kind Acts at this Passion For Kindness page {here}.
Download free kindness posters at Ripple Kindness {here}.
Listen to Episode 13 for a Kindness Podcast {here}.
Visit this Pinterest collection for Kindness Integration ideas.
Compare and contrast this wordless book with 
Kathryn Otoshi's Draw The Line ... 

or Henry Cole's Unspoken.

Make a bulletin board to put kindness on the wall.

Why I like this book:  To be honest, I was kind of frustrated when I first opened the book and didn't find any words. I really wanted to know the story. And I really wanted there to be words. But the more I thumbed back through and paid closer attention to the pictures, the more excited I got about letting the students use the absolutely adorable illustrations to tell the story in their words. From their perspective. With their emotions. Brilliant!

I just shared it with a group of 4th graders
and they noticed something I didn't;
the book starts with a stark white background
(maybe it was snowing?)
and ended with kindness adding beautiful color.

Couple that with a bonus in the back of the book for children and adults on how to counter bullying behaviors with intentional acts of compassion and kindness and you've got a recipe for success.

Check out this kindness multiplier; it's the kind of story you'll want to read again and again. Then put on your kindness cape and come to someone's rescue, one kind act at a time.

Visit Susana Hill's blog for other PPBF picks.   

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