Monday, September 26, 2011

We LOVE Howard B. Wigglebottom!

Last year I discovered the blog Books That Heal Kids and immediately became hooked. It's such a fabulous website with reviews of tons of books that teach kids about character traits, self confidence, making friends and life in general.

One series of books that I discovered through the site was the Howard B. Wigglebottom books. Howard is a lovable bunny who has books in which he encounters all sorts of problems and life lessons. The great thing is you can see/hear all of his books read aloud online at the author, Howard Binkow's, website We Do Listen. I showed last year's group the book about bullying and they loved it. It has a REALLY fun song/rap all about bullying and standing up for yourself or others. We started singing the song during Morning Meeting as well.

Howard Learns to Listen is perfect for the beginning of the year when we talk about what it looks like and sounds like when you are a good listener. The best part is Howard is so silly and fun and the kids love him! I usually let them go to the website to hear the stories for a week or two for listen to reading and it's always a hit. Sometimes I'll catch them singing along to the songs with their headphones on. So cute. :)

There are also awesome games and coloring pages on the website as well. My kids last year really loved art and coloring so we did a few of these to reinforce what we learned.

After watching all of the stories online at the beginning of this year I decided to buy all of the books to have in the classroom. The great thing is Howard Binkow sells them to teachers for only $6 each for a hardcover. That's an awesome deal!

Have You Filled A Bucket?

As I continue on my journey of teaching, I feel that I learn new things all the time. As a teacher I am always learning new ideas, strategies and ways to do things. Last year I realized that my academic teaching goes so much further if we have a healthy, positive learning environment. I began to look for easy ways to integrate character traits and positivity into our daily routines.

A couple weeks ago, I pulled out book Have You Filled A Bucket Today? to use for a minilesson. The kids love this book and the concept is so simple. It teaches them about kindness in such a simple, easy to understand way. We read the book at least 3 times in a few days, stopping to talk about what it means. My sweet assistant read it to them during snack one day and then had a great talk about how they could fill buckets at home and school. She challenged them for their "extra homework" for the night to see if they could fill someone's bucket at home that night and then come back to school ready to share. The next morning at Morning Meeting we stopped at the end to share how we had filled buckets. It was so sweet to hear the ways they filled buckets at home! People often don't give kids enough credit - they are so creative and really do want to do the right thing!

So I decided to take the bucket filling a little further in the classroom. I printed out some bucket filling slips and then wrote the name of each student in my class on one slip. After we read the book again for the bazillionth time I told the kids that they were going to get a chance to fill someone's bucket right then. I had them put up their no peekers (file folder office/study buddy) so that it would be a super secret. I gave each student a slip with someone else's name and told them to write a nice thing to that friend. I then collected them and checked them all to make sure they were sweet and kind before passing them out. We sat on the carpet in a circle and when I called each student's name they came up and read it to themselves and then to the class if they wanted. They were beaming as they read what someone else wrote about them! It was too sweet!

The following week one of our awesome guidance counselors came to do her first lesson for the year with the class. Lo and behold her lesson was on bucket filling! She said we were the first class that had already read the book. She reviewed it again with the kids and they had fun sharing the ways that they had already filled buckets. I am now thinking that we will add filling buckets to our Friday Awards Ceremony. Our guidance counselor made us a cute bucket with blank slips to keep in our classroom.

I would like to have a bucket filling area in the classroom but with moving every 9 weeks it needs to be something simple. I have seen all sorts of cute bucket filling displays using buckets and pockets around the web. Any ideas for a portable one?

- Bucket Filling Ideas on What the Teacher Wants