These are 2 skills which are so important for children to learn. They are also the most challenging. A friend sent this letter to a grade 3 student, knowing I would appreciate the sentiment and raw emotion behind it.
I cried, then decided to share it with Daisy as she prepares to enter Grade 2. I replaced the names in the letter and printed it out ready to read the day before school starts.
It got me thinking about compassion and empathy, skills I hope I am building in my children, as surely as they are constantly developing in myself. I firmly believe it is our responsibility as educators to help build compassion and empathy in our children and students.
The Fill a Bucket Series is a great way to introduce a class or even school wide initiative to promote kindness and compassion on a daily basis.
Choices of age appropriate books are now available, thanks to the author Carol McCloud, and we even offer a ready made pocket chart for the classroom.
Appreciating what makes us different is also important to building compassion and empathy.
Our Multicultural World Series of books introduce children to the major world religions and cultures and help to build appreciation and respect for other’s beliefs and customs.
Addressing some of the issues raised in the letter I talk about in the first paragraph, is The Juice Box Bully.
Bullying and the job of bystanders to act are addressed in this text. As always, using story to introduce the issue gives more children an opportunity to empathize without feeling threatened.
There are so many opportunities to encourage our children and students to develop their compassion. We just need to take them!
How do you help to develop compassion?
This art activity is inspired by two books ‘The Tear Thief’ and ‘I Took the Moon for a Walk’.
After reading and discussing these beautiful books we talked about the moon. How it has creators and often looks like it has a face.
Using oil pastels the children drew a moon and stars, some even included comets.
They added glue to their moon and stars. The craft cups I used for the glue were great and I didn’t worry about washing glue down the drain.
Here you can see the importance of a good demonstration. I partially coloured my moon and added glue and salt to only a part of the outline. The children followed and outlined rather than filled in their moons. Or is this a developmental concept like outlining the sun in paintings?
The eagerness to move on to the more messy parts of the process may have resulted in semi completed moons!
Messy trays did a great job of containing the salt.
Next came the process of adding tears to the moon. This is inspired by ‘The Tear Thief’. The tears were Liquid Watercolours and they were added using pipettes.
This process seemed to be the highlight for most of the 14 children taking part.
A set of pipettes for $3.45 is a super investment.
Watching the salt absorb the paint was a thrilling experience!
The weather has been horrible here so we decided to start our camping season indoors.
Smores were prepped with chocolate covered biscuits and leftover peeps.
30 seconds later the peeps were giant! This caused lots of excitement.
We pretended to roast our marshmallows and ate our smores.
The fire was made from blocks and a flashlight. These blocks would give even more light:
The teepee was set up with sleeping bags inside.
The flowers hunkered down for the night, after a story around the campfire.
How do you make your indoor camping experiences fun?
Rose is gaining an interest in letters and working with the letters of her name seems to be the most logical place to focus.
Drawing letters on card with markers, gave the flowers a starting point and I showed them how to find colours and keep a pile ready to stick. The rest was up to them.
I demonstrated how to add glue to a small section and focus on that area before the glue dried. We used glue sticks for ease of clean up but white school glue may have stuck even better. Rose enjoyed working on large areas.
While Daisy focused on a smaller area and worked with order.
“Look what I have done!”.
Losing patience and deciding to randomly glue and stick for the background. Playing with the mosaic squares was a highlight.
When the girls were happy with the final product, we sealed the full piece of card with podge. Name letters signs which now adore the bedroom doors.
I couldn’t resist making my own, one for Freddy and the bathroom. It was very relaxing!
The mosaic squares we used are coloured on both sides and made from heavy card. This made them quite easy to sort, lift and stick. Have fun creating!
I have been slack with blogs posts but with very good reason…
Frederick Rowan (aka Freddy) joined us on April 2nd.
He is a joy to us all and much loved.
The flowers love him to pieces.
Thanks to Carolyn of CueLife Photography for the wonderful photos of our beautiful boy. A photo shoot with our newborn and his two big sisters was made stress free by this talented photographer!
Just one more gorgeous pic:
Light tables and light play ideas are as popular as ever! With great new products and ideas the options are endless. I have been asked what to do with the light table or panel and my answer is always “The options are endless!”
Light tables/panels/pads can be used:
- to explore materials for opacity, transparency, translucency (science)
- to add an extra sensory experience (make regular activities that little bit brighter)
- to enhance art (painting, drawing, tracing, printing, colour mixing)
- to enhance language activities (using letters to make cvc words, practice sight words, recognize names)
- to enhance math activities (sorting, counting, shape exploration)
- exploring and observing anything (science experiments, nature, mirrors)
We got the opportunity to play with this great Ultra Bright LED Light Panel from Quality Classrooms. It is beautifully bright without being too much. Light weight and portable means you can quickly set it up anywhere in the classroom. If you don’t want to invest in a large light table, a light panel or pad is a great option. It measures 18-3/4″ x 14″ x 1/2″ which is good size for little hands and bevelled edge makes the light seem almost magical.
I set out Light Table Numbers and gems from the Manipulative Kit for the Light Table and let Daisy play.
She organised the numbers in order and sorted the gems by colour.
Rose was also excited to play!
She was more content to enjoy the feel of the gems and the colour, letting them slip through her fingers and drop gently onto the light panel.
Remembering to use the light table for variety of structured and unstructured activities is important. It never fails to add to the activity.
Here are some past activities where the light table has added dimensions:
Light table colour bags to practice letter formation.
Sorting fruit by colour and working on that pincer grip.
Counting with transparent chips and sorting by colour.
Open-ended play, with the First Look Light Table Kit
For more ideas check out our Pinterest board here.
We refer to our laminated wall map at least a couple of times a week and have completed activities using it including Where does our food come from?
We find having a map close to the dining table means we can refer to a country or town named in the news or general discussion. This helps Daisy in particular, locate an area in the world and often helps us increase our geographical knowledge.
We have noticed that locating the continents are still a struggle so an activity that focuses just on continents was needed.
Rose loves puzzles and will sit for an hour doing puzzle after puzzle. Referring to the box for help is a new concept to her and she enjoyed matching puzzle pieces to the picture on the front of the box.
Learning to complete the outside of the puzzle first, is a reminder I often give when I can see frustration beginning. This puzzle is aimed at age 6+ but with Daisy`s help Rose was able to participate too.
Standing on the world!
When the puzzle was built we identified each continent and talked about some characteristics and countries within the continents.
The World Map Floor Puzzle has 33 pieces and covers 2 x 3 feet when assembled. It is made of sturdy card, is easy to clean and includes an illustration:
I can see this being copied and used as Daisy’s geographical knowledge develops. The puzzle is available from Quality Classrooms and another option is the Canada Map Floor Puzzle if you want to focus more locally.
What ways do you teach geographical knowledge and understanding?