Saturday, September 10, 2011

Community Building Week 2: Feelings

Our second week, we talked about feelings. We made a list (complete with pictures) of different feeling words in English and Spanish, and we practiced making feeling faces: happy, sad, mad, scared. We talked about how we can tell how someone else is feeling (eyes up, eyes down, "mouth up", "mouth down", etc.).

Three of my favorite feeling/friendship books:

The Rainbow Fish/El pez arco iris
I haven't bought this one in Spanish yet, but I plan to. It's a great story about this fish who is beautiful with all these shiny scales, but is so arrogant (not that your kids will pick up on that, but you know...) that he's too busy being shiny to have friends. One day a little fish asks him to share one of his shiny scales, and he yells at the little fish to go away. After that, they all shun him (ouch...), and he's lonely (that, your kids will understand). Naturally, he discovers that sharing --> friends --> happiness.

The Scariest Monster in the World
Love, love, love! This book is really cute. The scariest monster in the world runs around scaring the other animals like it's his job (maybe it is?). Everything's fine until one day he gets the hiccups, and can't get rid of them. When the other animals see him crying in frustration, they decide to help him.Turns out that having friends is more fun than being scary.

Yes, We Can!
This is a great one for introducing bullying, and the fact that our actions have an affect on both our own feelings and those of others. In this story a mouse, a duck and a kangaroo start out playing together, and end up making fun of each other. Mama kangaroo comes in and teaches them to encourage instead of tease. Very cute, and a really good jump-off point for discussing how our words and actions affect other people's feelings.

Community Building Week 1: Friendship and Responsibility

The first month of school this year, I decided to try a weekly theme. Each theme is related to building community. Books are fantastic teaching tools, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

The first week of school, our theme was friendship. Here's what we read:

Words Are Not for Hurting/Las palabras no son para lastimar
This book is great because it's full of words phrases that are helpful and hurtful, and some things you can say to fix it when you hurt someone or to defend someone who is being bullied.

Together, we made a chart of hurtful and helpful words, and then used it to make a book called Palabras agradables (Kind Words). Each student made their own page, and I put them in sheet protectors in a three-ring binder, which I then placed on a shelf for them to read at will. They frequently pick it up during their free time.

How to Lose All Your Friends
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! Nancy Carlson is a great author, and this is a really fun "opposite" book. Carlson lists 6 or 7 things you can do to scare away any potential friends, among them being a bully and refusing to share. At the end it's clear that having no friends is not much fun.

Of course, we made a chart of ways to not have friends (hitting people, saying mean things, not sharing, cheating) and ways to make/keep friends (be nice, say nice things, share your toys). We made another class book called Como ser un buen amigo (How to Be a Good Friend). Just like the other book, each kid made a least one page and the pages are now in a binder on the shelf for them to read.

It's Not My Job! 
Another one I absolutely love. It's this great story about a family who never wants to take out the trash, because everyone claims it's not their job. Finally, there is so much trash in the house that it's coming out of the windows! Teamwork and responsibility save the day.

I noticed last year that we had some problems taking care of the things in our classroom. There was always paper on the bathroom floor, and the kids completely destroyed their book boxes by the end of the year, which meant I had to head back to IKEA to buy 25 new ones. I've also had problems in the past with kids ripping my books. So after reading this book, we drew and labeled pictures of things we can do to take care of our classroom, and those pictures are now on the wall in our hallway.

Happy school year!