Monday, September 1, 2014

Mental Floss: Launching an Inspired New School Year

Teacher Mental Floss: Launching an Inspired New School Year {Pep Rally with Debbie Clement}

SEPTEMBER? Time to say good-bye to summer! 
Time to shift our mental clocks a season.
Let the new 'quarter' begin!!! 
[You can get this freebie Subway Art download over at our EEE.]

Fall Subway ART Freebie Download from Debbie Clement

Now! Time for a little *PEP RALLY* 
I honestly do feel that ALL change comes through teachers! 
Think about how you have met any goal in life...... 
chances are good that you've had a 'teacher' involved.
I own this bumper sticker. 
I believe this bumper sticker. 
I fancied up this bumper sticker.
I know you'll appreciate this bumper sticker. 

"Teachers are my Heroes!" Bumper Sticker Inspiration for a New School Year from Debbie Clement's Collection

How many times have you watched this Ted Talk on YouTube? 
September first calls for another (re)visit. 
Seven and a half minutes of a reminder of why we do what we do!
"Every child deserves a champion!" ~~ Rita Pierson 

Maybe you need to pin this post for a reminder, for when the going gets tough. Those days come. The day you're sick, but it takes more work to write up sub-plans that to trudge on through. Been there. Done that. The day your students are responding to the full moon, just as your toughest, most challenging student goes bonkers. {Yes, that is a professional term that we all recognize.} The day your spouse is less than understanding of all of the hours you sink into your profession. 'Nuff said. 

Teacher Quote via Debbie Clement's collection

I've included some of my favorite teacher quotes that I have adorned with some of my favorite photos..... or is it the other way around? Took the photo above in Sedona earlier this winter, just after making an AZ school visit! Went searching for the perfect quote! Think I found it!!! YOU. You are a compass. You activate magnets! {Note-to-self: When in doubt use magnets!} 

We all need bumpers stickers and buttons as talisman of our calling.

Teacher Quote from Debbie Clement's Collection

Swim. Keep swimming. Paddle. Keep paddling. Fake it till ya make it. 
Pithy is good when you're having a tough day. 

Teacher Quote from Debbie Clement's Collection

Teacher Quote from Debbie Clement's Collection

Teacher Quote from Debbie Clement's Collection

Teacher Quote from Debbie Clement's Collection

Here's an entire article on this very same theme: "Imagining the First Day of the Best Year Yet" the empty canvas!

Last month I took a poll on my FB page, asking teachers to respond with a prompt/a suggestion that they wish parents would say to their child the night before school starting. There are poingant responses and nitty-gritty ones too. They make me sigh. Here's the RoundUP of those thoughts.

What Teachers Wish Parents Said to Their Child (the night before school starts) via RainbowsWithinReach

I culled through my own blog and put DOZENS of my RoundUPs with literally THOUSANDS of photos into this encyclopedia. 

Back to School Resources with Debbie Clement at RainbowsWithinReach

School Bus as Art Project and MORE at RainbowsWithinReach

As the buses begin to roll in earnest, it is fun to let the children capture their shapes and form. 
I have a RoundUP of arts and crafts in response to all things bus, over at my blog. 

Bringing the 'real' world into your classroom is always a goal. 
Creating more green space is a suitable way to reach that goal. 
Here's a RoundUP of 133 different 'trees' in the classroom! 

133 TREE Projects in the Classroom at RainbowsWithinReach

This summer I embarked on a lark. 
A lark embarkment if you will.
Twitter. The final frontier. 

I was bound and determined to help some educators make the leap. 
We have continued our leaping ever since! 

Tuesday Teacher Twitter Chat PRACTICE with Guests and PRIZES!

If you 'really' have no idea what Twitter is all about, 
show up at 8:30 EST and we as moderators and hostess' folk will help you navigate. 
At 9:00 the crowd arrives and our guest and it starts moving FAST! 

This week our #EduCelebrity is our own "Dr. Danny Brassell." 
That's the two of us out in Vegas last year! 
He is huggable! 
He is knowledgable! 
And he is an EXPERT! 
You can chat directly TO HIM! 

Dr. Danny Brassell #GuestEduCelebrity on #TeacherFriends PRACTICE Chat!

As if that's not exciting enough? 
We have guests committed for the coming six weeks! 
Look at this stellar line-up! 

Are you as thrilled as I am? 

#TeacherFriends Twitter Chat PRACTICE: Guest List for September

The whole 'point' to Twitter, IMHO, is that your have immediate access to peers who can support your efforts, answer your questions and steer you in the right direction! Come practice a time or two so that you have it down pat, by the time Steve Spangler arrives! He has prizes and MORE! From the 'Ellen Show' to our humble PRACTICE Chat!!! 

I'll leave you with a few more upbeat quotes. 
This next one is very dear to my heart. 
It's from my MOM! 
And the image is of a collage I create that hangs on our FL entry-way wall! 

"Seek beauty & Create beauty" quotation from Debbie Clement collection

Creativity Quote from Debbie Clement Collection

Imagination Quotation from Debbie Clement Collection!

What ever your role with children. 
Be a champion. 
Be a children's champion! 
Have fun. 
They notice. They notice when you smile. 
They notice when you laugh. 
They notice when YOU are enjoying YOURself! 
Here's me. 
Having a good time! 
Pictures I took of pictures hanging in the hallway of the year's HIGHLIGHTS! 
I LUV me being a HIGHLIGHT! 

Author-Illustrator School Visit with Debbie Clement

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Labor Day Salute to Some of the Unsung Heroes of Our Economy

For my entry this month, I am deferring to my supervisor, colleague, and friend of 19 years, Dr. Ellen Abell. Dr. Abell is an Extension Specialist and Associate Professor in the College of Human Sciences Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn University.

Labor Day is a day to celebrate the labor movement and the workers in our nation’s labor force who keep our economy, education system, government, and country moving forward. On this holiday weekend, as you are relaxing and, perhaps, grilling up a tasty feast, here is a little food for thought:
Question: Who are the workers on whom families depend to enable them to go to work every day?
Clue #1: Work is an essential part of family life that is usually done outside the home.
Clue #2: In 65% of two-parent families with children under 6, both parents work outside the home.
Answer:  Child care workers. Without the women and men willing to undertake the challenging work of caring for other people’s children, parents would be unable to work. So, one can reasonably argue that child care workers are the unsung heroes of our modern-day economy.
Child care options for families can vary from a traditional child care center to a group or family child care setting based in the caregiver’s home. Expectations about the quality of care our children receive have grown as we understand more about the importance of the earliest years for a person’s positive growth, learning, and life-long health. As a result, the skills and training required of providers have increased. However, the average annual wage of a child care worker in Alabama remains low at $18,390 (U.S. average is $21,320), well below what it takes a family to thrive in our economy. We depend on people who earn low wages for us to be able to go to the jobs that support our own families.
According to data compiled by Child Care Aware America obtained from a the nationwide network of child care resource and referral agencies, in the U.S., just over 15 million children under the age of 6 were in some kind of child care because the adults in their families worked. About 2.2 million people earn their living caring for these children.  In Alabama, almost 225,000 children require child care because their parents work, and there are 11,000 child care workers in centers and an additional 1000 family child care homes.

So, on this Labor Day, let us salute

those who make going to work possible and who dedicate their labor to supporting our children’s healthy growth and development.
For additional information about quality child care, visit the eXtension’s Alliance for Better Child Care. To access additional information and resources for families, go to our Families and Children pages and/or visit eXtension’s Child and Family Learning Network.

Originally posted on and used with permission.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It's Not a Box

It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose.

I love to repurpose. Sometimes I think it's a sickness. In fact, the other day we went to Sam's and ended up with this at my house.

I debated and debated about putting it in the trash. It's still sitting beside the trash can (but not tossed out just yet). I keep thinking about things we could do with it.

We could paint with marbles or golf balls. It's a great size for paper to fit in and the sides are tall enough to make sure the marbles or balls stay inside.

We could build inside it. My kids enjoyed building in the blocks bin a while back. I think with some smaller blocks and this box, we could have a great time creating.

We could use it for sand. We used trays once to have more individual experiences with sand. But this box has taller sides. I think it would be great for exploring sand (or barley or other sensory materials).

We could fill it with shredded paper and hide names or words or letters for kids to find.

We could use it for a portable writing center or art station. Put a few pieces of paper and markers or other art materials in it. Place the box in any area of the room so materials are ready for use at a moment's notice.

We could use it for a doll bed. Can't have too many places for our dolls to sleep.

We could play games in it (especially ones that toss dice) or work a puzzle in it.

We can use it to contain counters or letter tiles....

Hmm. Guess I need to retrieve that box and put it in a safe place!

What ideas do you have for my great box?

P.S. One of my favorite books is Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. Read it with your kids and then let them decide what that box really is.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Educators Who Care, Share: Singers, Sites & Songs - Part II: Midwest & Great Lakes

©2014 Brigid Finucane -
Chinese Lanterns
Special Note: It's impossible to limit this post to two parts, as originally planned. The richness of Heartland talent necessitates a Part III! Today’s alphabetically arranged post ends with K for Kate Kuper.  Part III will open with Bruce O’Brien and conclude with Barb Tilsen.  Stay tuned!

Hello, everyone. Ms. Brigid here, from Merit School of Music  in Chicago, IL. Thank you for joining me.  

This post takes up where my July 18, 2014 entry, Educators Who Care, Share: Singers, Sites & Songs – Part I: Midwest & Ontario, left off, and continues the mission of listening locally – highlighting musicians from the Midwest and Great Lakes region who write or perform for the EC population (though some also write for and work with older children). Many are teaching artists, conduct residencies, and present workshops. All are musical treasures.

I’m focusing on artist’s whose work I  use consistently. You'll notice that specific songs are mentioned with ideas for use.  Sound sample links are provided when available. Please remember that this list is intended to be a gateway and is in no ways exhaustive.

Karen Banks-Lubicz
1. Karen Banks-Lubicz, IL.
About Karen: “Music has always been a part of Karen’s life, and she’s grateful to be able to share it with people of all ages as a Wiggleworms teacher…” at Chicago’s beloved Old Town School of Folk Music (OTSFM). She also teaches in Ravinia’s outreach program, Reach, Teach, Play.

Kiddo Faves: From Karen for Kids
Back and Forththe perfect rocking song, either alone or with a partner. The melody and lyrics are enchanting, and invite one and all to “make music a part of your day.” Linda Robertson, also from OTSFM, recorded it on her lovely CD – so you can listen to a bit!
Hush Little Baby  - performed in a minor key. I use it as a comparative listening example after my classes have learned and sung the song along with Marla Frazee’s book of the same name. I wrote briefly about this process in a previous post.

Bom Bom Biddy a nigun, or song without words, is a surefire hit with little ones, and uses tempo as a driving element. The ending (“shhh”) can also be used additively. For those of you with older kiddos, here’s a challenge! (Note: the tune is a different tonality, but it’s essentially the same song – on steroids). It's amazing how complicated a few syllables can get!

Of Note: If I Were a Bird, the lyrical tribute to the power of imagination, co-written with Amy Lowe,* provides intriguing writing prompts for older kiddos. It  could even be the inspiration for a class book with illustrations contributed by students. *Amy Lowe also teaches at Merit!
Joanie Calem
About Joanie: “I am a musician, singer/song-writer, and teacher.  I have been creating music and teaching people of all ages since 1983. My goal in both my performances and teaching is to invite my audiences and students to share a sense of creating community through singing and playing together.”

Wintertime - Joanie paints evocative pictures with her lyrics, and after this year’s polar vortex assault, I so appreciate her poetic approach to winter! I partner this song with the exquisite book, WINTER’S TALE by Robert Sabuda, which explores animals in their winter habitat though magical pop-ups (the crowd goes wild!). I move the verses around to pair with Sabuda’s images, and use the chorus to transition between images: “Wintertime is cold time, slow time, snow time. Winter is the soft time of the year.”

Snow is Falling - I love scale songs. This song goes from high to low, with the class moving as the words suggest. A glockenspiel is the perfect accompaniment. It’s short, whimsical, allows for whole-body movement, and is sing-able (the key to success!). “Snow is falling down, down…”

Spring is A-Comin’ is piggybacked on to the melody of Train is a-Comin’ –and invites children to say and sing simple phrases relating to Spring (rain is a-fallin’, birds are a –singin’, etc.). The repetition of single phrases is great for ELL and our younger kiddos. Create your own class verses for other seasons!

Of Note: Joanie’s has two other CD’s: Shanah Tovah, Shanah M'tukah – A cycle of songs for the Jewish year (traditional and original songs) and But First Do No Harm, original songs writtenfor parents, family members, therapists, and teachers of children not on the neuro-typical path.”

3. Laura Doherty, IL
I'm a Little Fish
Laura Doherty
About Laura: …a nationally touring children's recording artist and award-winning producer with an ear for a catchy melody, she’s launched three CDs with child-centric themes, and like Karen (above), she’s affiliated with OTSFM.

Kiddo Faves:
Laura’s videos are fantastic art collaborations – and never fail to delight my kiddos. Here are two:
I’m a Little Fish. I’m not sure which is more amazing - the banjo-playing octopus, or the crab walking down the sand bank!
Wheels in the City

Wheels in the City. “Let’s go looking for wheels in the city, rollin’ rollin’ round and round…” is a celebration of urban transportation and all things round.
Goodbye Song
Goodbye Song- This song is not a video, but it’s the perfect way to end a class or day. “It’s time, it’s time, it’s time to say goodbye. A kiss, a hug, a wave – we’ll see you next time…” Picture everyone smiling and swaying while singing! Cha cha cha!

Of Note: I just saw Laura at my local Skokie Library. From past experience, I knew that she would beautifully engage the crowd with her songs and props, but I was unprepared for her artistry in another area - creating sound effects. A revelation!

4. Jim Gill, IL
Jim Gill
About Jim: Jim Gill is a musician and author, (and)… a child development specialist, having completed his graduate studies in child development at the Erikson Institute of Chicago with a special emphasis on the study of play. Jim has numerous CDs, but the songs I bring to my classroom, are often the ones I sang with my then small (now 21 year old) daughter. They have staying power!

Kiddo Faves:
Silly Dance Contest is a freeze dance, ideal for embracing then shaking sillies out when kiddos must remain inside due to inclement weather (too common in Chicago!). "Dance any way you want to, dance any way you please!....But stop when I say freeze!" 

May There Always Be Sunshine, is a lovely, composed, Russian song, which has become a signature piece for Gill. Years ago, with help from illustrator Susie Signorino-Richards, he turned the song into a book. The illustrations are based on suggestions offered by children he’s sung with over the years. The end page of the book lists hundreds of ideas!* Both songs are on Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and other Contageous Tunes.

Two for Tea
Two for Tea, a new song I heard recently a Solomon Schechter Pre-K concert, is charming update of an old song, and great for dramatic play and math! "...add one more, and that makes four."

Of Note: *This year, after singing May There Always Be Sunshine and sharing the  book with my Merit families, I invited children to draw their response to “May there always be…..” and made my first class e-books from their artwork – a resounding success. The drawings, ranging from tender to hilarious, clearly expressed each child’s personality!

5. Kate Kuper, IL
Kate Kuper
About: Kate is a professional dancer, musician, and “…a Teaching Artist, working with children, from preschool through 8th grade. All her materials are kid- tested, and evolved from teaching to and creating with children over many years."

Kiddo Faves: From Alpha Beat – Songs, Dances, Poems, and Imaginary Journeys for Children.

The “Gentle Warm Up” section is lovely, and very singable. Tracks 3-5 reference the melody “Old Joe Clark.”
Action Dance – Verbs are our friends. Over thirty of them are used in this guided, stay on one spot, movement piece! Locomotor Movement  "goes from one place to another."

Swirl and Twirl, evolves, using spoken and “instrument only” tracks, into The Snowflake Dance.  The clearly designed Companion Guide can be downloaded from her Home page under AlphaBeat, and contains substantive material related to each track.

Of Note: Kate is a master rhymer and wordsmith, with a pocketful of great classroom management directions, e.g., “Stand tall, one and all.” Her blog, Let’s Talk Creative Dance, further amplifies how movement, music and literacy can support learning.

©2014 Brigid Finucane
I am continually inspired by the Children’s Music Network (CMN) community. an international group of socially conscious musicians, educators, librarians, families, songwriters and good people, who “celebrate the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas, and creating community.” Please visit CMN, and find a gathering in your region. 

©2014 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *

Blog History: December 2013 – Present
          Staccato & Legato/ pt. 1
          Staccato & Legato/ pt. 2                             
         Garden/ Teaching & Typographic Art Apps
         Midwest & Ontario - Listening Locally

©2014 Brigid Finucane - Thank you for reading!

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