31 Dec

TBT: Talk About Frustrating!

This frustrating post is a throw-back of mine from February 2011.

On Saturday I attended the Hooked on Books event in my town with my son. It was phenomenal! There were so many hands-on activities for children to experience and enjoy, including a few ‘meet and greet’ opportunities with authors.

We spent the full amount of time allotted at the event – 3 hours. We raced minnows, said hello to the “reading dogs”, decorated (and ate) a cupcake, while reading the book If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, watched dancers from the adaptive dancing program, had a free lunch/snack, made Oobleck while listening to the story Bartholomew and the Oobleck, chose a free book to keep, did some weaving on a large loom, and much more!

One of the highlights of the day for my son, was by far the “author and illustrate your own book room”. It was enjoyable for me to watch patiently as he made decisions about his creation. He learned so many concepts (ON HIS OWN) during the 45 minute process. The end result – a beaming young boy, proud of his accomplishment and very excited to read ‘his book.’ In case you’re curious, he entitled it “All About Me”, in which he discusses his favorite things. I’ve included a pic below.
All About Me- my not so frustrating experienceYou may be wondering…what was so frustrating? The people (mom) sitting directly across from us. Her poor daughter (I’d guess about 5 or 6 yrs old) had a very different experience. Her mom started out well, allowing her daughter to talk about ideas for her book. The girl decided on the front page she wanted a house and began drawing a house. Her mom stepped in and said, “Oh, but don’t you want your house to be made from one of these pretty papers? You could cut out a house.” “Okay,” said the girl. “How about a red house?” “Okay,” said the girl as she continued on to draw a door in the red house, talking about all the people that could/would come through that door. “But don’t you want a purple door?” Asked the mom, handing her some purple paper. “Yeah.”

Once the house was finished, the little girl lit up as she talked about the princess that would live in the house. “I’m going to put her in a pretty blue dress!” She exclaimed with excitement. The mom said, “First, you need to cut out the girl.” “Nah, I’m cutting out the pretty blue dress first.” “No, you need to cut out the girl first.” The girl began to cut out her ‘pretty blue princess dress’. The mom actually grabbed the scissors from her hand as she said, “How will you know how big to cut the dress if you don’t yet have the girl cut out?” With a defeated look, the young child began to cut out a little girl. The mom continued to interject her opinion about the child’s progress. Finally, the girl said, “Mom, can you just do it for me? You do it better.” And so it went, with each page, the mother choosing/doing her entire book.

Meanwhile, the child was getting more and more frustrated. At the very end she said, “I can’t do it” in reply to her mom who said, “You do it. You’re doing just fine.” I had forced myself to keep quiet throughout the entire process, although it was painstakingly frustrating for me.

When the child threw down the scissors in utter frustration, I had had enough. I spoke to the mom in a joking (but not really) manner. “Mom, it’s my book”, I said. “I know”, she replied, but it didn’t seem to help. She continued to dictate each and every flower and did most of the work herself until the book was finished.

The mom held up the book and proceeded to say, “Wow! It’s absolutely perfect!” What did the child learn from that experience? Ugh…so frustrating! Why do some people assume that children can’t do their own work? Please remember that it’s about the process, not the product (end result).

I’d love to hear about similar experiences that YOU have had. Would you have intervened? How can we support these children when they’re in our care and want us to do things for them because of experiences like this? Comment/Reply below.

29 Dec

Bam!Radio: Teaching Students Who Face Adversity Beyond Your Experience

Rae Pica with Sara Langworthy, Ross A. Thompson, Heidi Veal

picHow do you build relationships with students who face adversity  that extend beyond anything you’ve experienced.  How can your bridge the reality gap?  Our guests provide a useful road map.

Follow: @bamradionetwork @raepica1 @DrLangworthy @vealheidi @RedleafPress

#edchat #edreform #ece #earlyed #AskingWhatIf


This post was created by Bam! Radio and used with permission

28 Dec



Carlson,Stephanie_hsWhat researchers call “executive function” and most parents call “self-control” encompasses everything from paying attention in class to resisting the impulse to punch someone who gets in your space to managing frustration with a difficult project. However it shows up in daily life, executive function is key to school success and positive relationships. So how does executive function develop in children and what role do we play as parents in promoting good executive function? Dr. Stephanie Carlson, professor in the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development (College of Education and Human Development), has been studying this important aspect of child development and brings helpful insights and practical tips to her discussion with Marti and Erin in this week’s Mom Enough show. TUNE IN HERE!

Whatever the ages of your children, what examples do you see of their growing “executive function” or self-control? In what situations do your children seem to lack (or struggle with) self-control? Based on what you heard in this Mom Enough discussion, describe two or three things you could do to support your children’s development of executive function. Comment/Reply below.


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24 Dec

TBT: Language/Literacy Activity Ideas

This language post is a throw-back of mine from January 2009.6ab5ab17881c674bd1a45087566e73de

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for simple activity ideas for children. It’s important to make sure that they are developmentally appropriate and safe. (Ex: Marbles would not be a developmentally appropriate activity for infants/toddlers). The activities should also be educational in some way. What’s the purpose of the activity? What will the child learn or ‘get’ from completing the activity. Of course, the activity should be FUN and enjoyable for the child as well.

Today, I’m going to focus on language/literacy activities for preschoolers. These are quick and easy activities that don’t require a lot of extras. Use a box lid (shoe or larger) to create a writing slate. The child can add a bit of salt or sand into the lid. (You can reinforce edges with ducktape/booktape, if desired) Make sure he/she pours in enough to cover the bottom of the lid. The child can then write their name, draw shapes, and letters in the salt/sand. The child can gently shake the lid side to side to ‘erase’ their work and begin again.

Another fun activity is called Add-On. It usually works best as a one-on-one activity. You’ll need a tablet and pencil. Draw simple objects with obvious missing parts. Encourage the child to add on the missing part. (Ex: Rectangle with one side missing, Car with no wheels)

Here’s a simple writing activity using page protectors and crayons. Write child’s name on piece of paper. Put paper in page protector. Encourage child to trace name with crayon. Using a cloth, etc. child can erase crayon name and begin again.

What simple DIY language/literacy activities for preschoolers do you use? Comment/Reply below.

22 Dec

Another Semester Down…Almost

grading papersThe end of the semester has come. As I grade through the seemingly never-ending pile of papers, I reflect. How did the students respond to the textbook and certain activities this semester? How engaged did they seem during class? I consider the success level on student assignments and how that success was determined. Should I modify the assignment? The rubric? Do I allow for students to “show what they know” in a variety of ways, depending on their personal preferences and learning styles? Although the semester is over for students, my learning continues.

In fact, I learn quite a bit each semester. Did that new approach produce the desired results? Was that structure a headache or worth it? Were there student needs I was unprepared for? How can I better set each student up for success, while still allowing them to meet high standards?

One of my favorite reflection tools at the end of the semester is the exit ticket. Each student completes one, whether in a face-to-face or online course, before they leave the course. It’s their final task. The exit ticket provides me with student insight for the course but also assists me in learning more about each student. Although I modify it slightly every semester, here’s what the exit ticket entails:

When answering the following, reflect on the entire course.

  • Top 10 takeaways
  • Favorite aspect or activity
  • Talk about the textbook
  • Syllabus assessment
  • Personal growth/new insights
  • Do over- what is something you’d do differently?
  • Greatest achievement
  • Anything else you’d like me to know…

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to semester break like the next person, but I also recognize the importance of reflecting during those final hours. In fact, this is a crucial step in reflective practice. According to Educational Psychologist, Dr. Kenneth Wolf, “Reflection is what allows us to learn from our experiences: it is an assessment of where we have been and where we want to go next.”

After the final grade has been entered, I will take a break to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. This short break provides me with a much needed breather so that I can return next week, ready to apply what I’ve learned and move forward in planning the next semester.

What tools do you use for self-reflection regarding your teaching practice? Comment/Reply below.

21 Dec




Kurcinka,Mary Sheedy_book spiritedLet’s face it; some children have us walking on eggshells. They get rattled when something interferes with their usual routine. If we try to rush them out the door in the morning – or if they’ve missed a couple hours of sleep – they may go into a complete meltdown. Parent educator and author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka calls these children “spirited” and, in her popular book, Raising Your Spirited Child (just released in its 3rd edition), helps us understand what’s going on in the brains and bodies of these children. In this week’s Mom Enough show, Mary offers practical, concrete tips for helping a spirited child adapt and thrive. Marti & Erin have some stories and insights about the spirited children in their own family, too! TUNE IN HERE

How does this week’s guest, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, define what she calls the “spirited child”? Do you have or know a child who fits that profile? What in this Mom Enough discussion helped you better understand that child’s behavior and think about what you can do to help that spirited child (and those around him or her) be more comfortable and adaptable? Comment below. For Mary’s resources, click here.


This post was created by Mom Enough and used with permission

20 Dec

Bam! Radio: Common Core

Squeezing Social-Emotional Learning into the Common Core

Rae Pica with Maurice J. Elias, Ed Dunkelblau, Melanie Link Taylor, Jason Flom


Our guests argue that social and emotional learning must precede numeracy and literacy. Tune in as we talk about how teachers can find ways to balance these needs in the current educational climate. TUNE IN HERE.

Follow:  @mzteach @JasonFlom @bodymindchild @bamradionetwork

This post was created by Bam! Radio and used with permission