Thursday, February 28, 2019

Breathe by Scott Magoon {Mental Wellness}

Breathe by Scott Magoon is a lovely story about a baby whale exploring his habitat on his own.  Baby whale's day is full of activity and adventures.  His day is filled with play, swimming, diving, exploring, friends, listening, singing, a fearful situation and creative thinking, love, dreams, and sleep.  That's a jam packed day!  The simple text phrases and the carefully chosen color hues of blues and greens don't make the reader feel anxious at all about such a busy day.  Another carefully chosen task in baby whale's day is breathing.  Three times baby whale takes a breath and I find those pages a bit more peaceful.  

Breathing is a distress tolerance skill which can promote relaxation.  Baby whale models going through our days and finding a moment to take a deep breath.  That deep breath provides relaxation and an opportunity to gain momentum for more activities.  


"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

For Them? For Me? For Both! {Slice of Life}

Prologue - I attending a district PD day a week and a half ago and a colleague shared posting images or song quotes with his fifth graders to spark conversation, connection, and relationship building.  As I pondered our time together, I wondered if posting an image could help set our emotions for the day.  How could we leave the morning behind us and start fresh?  Could posting a relaxing or nature picture help adjust our mental wellness?  Could moving the morning message to an easel at their eye level improve reader-ship?


Slice - I finish giving example directions.  Students mark their answer.  I read the follow up directions and watch some students adjust their answers.  I give the examples for working independently and sigh.  The language is robotic.  We are half way through with another hour and seven minutes to go.  I'm bored.  I can't look at their responses.  I begin to wonder why I didn't do some extend our brain thinking analogies so today's exercises weren't so foreign.  I turn around and shoulders go down.  I gaze for a moment.  I breathe and look outside at the sunshine.  That roaring fireplace is still up from our morning meeting and it helped me relax and take my current situation as that.  A situation to move through so real learning and joy could happen.  




Epilogue - I think it helped my students too.  Our morning went smoothly and that's  win - win for everyone.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this group and maybe move on with things.  

Thursday, February 21, 2019

All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopman {Mental Wellness}

Anxiety.  I'm hearing this word more frequently in references about student behavior and performance.  I'm hearing it from educators and parents.  It's starting to worry me a bit - anxiety as a diagnosis needs a doctor's evaluation.  I wonder if it's being over generalized and if anyone else thinks maybe we need to find moments to slow down and adjust our expectations in education currently.

All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann is a great book for someone wanting to understand the multifaceted aspects of anxiety and learn some coping strategies.  I found it fascination to read about a mental health topic in detail while looking at beautiful photographs of birds in nature.  It was relaxing.  It was also informative and I could see the anxiety information portrayed by the bird image.  I think this is a fascinating way to present information to someone either wanting to know more or trying to understand what they are feeling.  I also think this book could help everyone understand the complexity of anxiety and maybe distinguish it from feelings of anxiousness.


"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Whimsy's Heavy Things by Julie Kraulis {Mental Wellness}

Whimsy's Heavy Things by Julie Kraulis offers readers another strategy for dealing with worries.  Readers meet Whimsy on a swing in her backyard and it's not the image you might envision of a child swinging.  Whimsy and the swing are touching the ground, her head is down, and there are four black circles/balls anchoring the earth around here.  She tries many things to get rid of her black ball heavy things; hide them, hang them, fly them, float them, and pretend they aren't there.  She becomes sad because the heavy things won't go away.  Then Whimsy realizes she might be trying to deal with too many heavy things and finds ways to make these worries smaller. 

Not only does Whimsy break up her heavy things into smaller manageable chunks, she is able to do something good with smaller pieces.  For example, she plants some heavy smaller chunks and grows a beautiful peach tree.  The last worry helps Whimsy do something faster and feel lighter.  Whimsy offers us all some sound life advice, "Because Whimsy had discovered that heavy things are just light things in disguise."

I love the illustrations and how each page embraces Whimsy and her struggles and really added emotional connections for me and Whimsy.  Very thoughtful details and color hues enhance this story.



"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Welcome to #nf10for10 with Books for Growing/Gardening

Welcome to Nonfiction 10 for 10 for 2019!  We are so excited to have you stop by today and explore nonfiction books with other book lovers.   The three of us; @mandyrobek@cathymere, and @jacbalen can't wait to connect with everyone and we are grateful to learn from each of you stopping by today.  Please share the link to your post in the comments and use the hashtag #nf10for10 on social media platforms.         


Today I'm sharing 10 books I'm discovering and collecting to encourage and fostering interest in using our greenhouse and outdoor spaces at my school.  When my girls were little and our house was new to us, I often spent Sunday evenings working in my flower beds.  I asked my gardening grandmother why I seemed to have this Sunday evening habit and she said something like - digging in the earth is good for us, it helps with our thinking.  I think there's something there and am excited to learn about incorporating outside learning in my classroom.

These are in no particular order -

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O Galbraith is a beautiful book explaining how seeds travel and  offer us surprises.  The seed travel examples include; birds, plants, wind, water, animals, and people.  The pencil and watercolor illustrations by Wendy Anderson Halperin are warm, soft, and informative.  I love her collage format that shares lots of visuals and stages for each text idea.



Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow - A Compost Story by Linda Glaser is a beautiful photo essay sharing the experience of a family that compost in their backyard.  I personally try composting and was inspired to be more diligent.  I think seeing other children composting will be inspirational for my students.  The back of the book as a Q and A format with simple directions for a small scale compost experiment in a garden pot.  I see us trying this in our classroom.




A Harvest of Color by Melanie Eclare is another photo essay with children sharing their growing story.  In this book each child shares what the vegetable they grow and how they do it.  Then there is a notebook page illustration with growing tips.  This will be an inspirational guide for us to try; carrots, radishes, potatoes, zucchini, and beans.


Our School Garden by Rick Swann is a hodgepodge of all things garden.  Its poetry and informative with how to while sharing tidbits of school garden history.  The Author's Note is just fantastic and probably one I will read at a staff meeting - "School gardens are, in fact, libraries full of life, mystery, and surprise."  Found in How to Grow a School Garden - isn't it wonderful when a book sends you to another book for more learning?


City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan was technically found in the fiction section of my school library.  I'm sharing it today because it shares the story of a community coming together over an empty city lot and how they create a beautiful garden together.  I love the purpose of city gardens and how people can come together.  Another story done in watercolor and pencil creating soft warm illustrations to enjoy.


Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner is the perfect book for second graders in Ohio learning about animals in a garden habit.  Kate provides a pattern; above the ground and below the ground.  The below the ground pages are fascinating.  I didn't realize there were so many creatures living and working within a garden community.



Yucky Worms by Vivan French is a must have to children.  I've studied worms before with students and they LOVE it.  This book has guidance for being a wormologist!  Sign me up!  This book blends genres.  It's a conversation between a grandma and a grandchild filled with facts.  I love the subtle nonfiction features which might help reluctant nonfiction readers.




Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass is a book for emerging readers and a simple text for older readers that introduces them to expand their thinking.  For example; "Corn is yellow.  It is also blue." Then a page follows with what else is blue.  Did you know there are blue pumpkins, squash, and potatoes?



Compost Stew An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals is a good reminder how informative an alphabet book can be!  The author shares 26 items we can use to compost and enrich our soil while saving our landfills.



First Peas to the Table by Susan Grigsby teaches the reader about Thomas Jefferson's love for gardening and how a classroom replicates Thomas Jefferson's "A First Peas to the Table Contest."  This book is filled with growing tips, readjustments needed, and a story format with an invitation to garden.  I immediately want to read this book during our history standards and grow peas with my students.  There's also a book about by the author and illustrator due titled, In the Garden with Dr. Carver.


(I might have just snuck in an 11th title - thank you for stopping by and fostering #booklove)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Lemonade Hurricane by Licia Morelli {Mental Wellness}

The Lemonade Hurricane by Licia Morelli is a book to guide readers through their emotion mind moments.  Emotion mind moments are when your thinking and behaviors are controlled by your emotions.  Emma and Henry are brother and sister.  Emma begins the story by sharing her days are busy and she likes to stop and rest.  Readers see Emma sitting on a pillow, legs crossed, eyes closed in a class for meditation.  Then we meet Henry at home who has the living room turned upside down.  We follow Henry's day and see just how too busy it and he is.  Emma refers to Henry as a hurricane.

The next day Emma tries to share some of her stillness practices with Henry.  These practices would be great to have students move to; making this truly an interactive read aloud.   Eventually, Henry tries to sit still and pretend he is riding an elephant.  His breathing slows, his thinking slows, and his body slows.  

The Author's note is not on to miss.  She shares the background information for the title and how lemonade is a metaphor for mindfulness.  There are how to notes for practicing mindfulness and meditation for young and old.



"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental health.gov) I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (dictionary.com)  Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.