THIS is How You STOP Bullying!

It’s anti-bullying week. Let’s keep the conversation going!

Lana Button Blog

STOP Bullying?

Willow Finds a Way

Stop bullying. Stamp out bullying. Stand up to bullying. We all want it. The Ontario Ministry of Education declares the week of  Nov. 15-21st to be Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/safeschools/prevention.html During this time we are sure to see lots of slogans and calls to action to ‘stand up to the bully’. But if we really want to stop bullying, here’s where we start-

Stop Labeling Children-We need to ban the bully label in our schools! A child will become the label you give them. When examining an inappropriate social situation, we need to look at what has happened and who is involved. But when we label a child, “You are a bully,” that child can take on this character, and live up to that expectation.

Yes- we need to stop hurtful behaviour. Yes- anyone who is victimized absolutely needs to be heard, understood…

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Age appropriate Remembrance Day activities for young children

Lana Button Blog

 

Remembrance Day is a tricky topic that can be difficult to broach with young children.  Throughout my 20 years working in early childhood education, I’ve been in centers where worksheet poppies were completed by children, but conversation about what and why never took place, because ‘They won’t understand.” And at other times I’ve seen children scared and brought to tears with way too many details. How do you help children develop an understanding of this very important day, in a way that’s developmentally appropriate and within their realm of proximity?

I rely heavily on picture books (what a shocker!) to guide us through.

 

This year the conversation of Remembrance Day came up in my full day kindergarten class when a 4 year-old girl said, “Why do you have a red flower on your coat? My mommy has one too.”

 

We opened the conversation up to the class…

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THIS is How You STOP Bullying!

STOP Bullying?

Willow Finds a Way

Stop bullying. Stamp out bullying. Stand up to bullying. We all want it. The Ontario Ministry of Education declares the week of  Nov. 15-21st to be Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/safeschools/prevention.html During this time we are sure to see lots of slogans and calls to action to ‘stand up to the bully’. But if we really want to stop bullying, here’s where we start-

Stop Labeling Children-We need to ban the bully label in our schools! A child will become the label you give them. When examining an inappropriate social situation, we need to look at what has happened and who is involved. But when we label a child, “You are a bully,” that child can take on this character, and live up to that expectation.

Yes- we need to stop hurtful behaviour. Yes- anyone who is victimized absolutely needs to be heard, understood, and protected against further abuse. But in order to stop conflict from re-occurring we must recognize that each child in the scenario is an individual who is struggling.

I’d like to point out that my picture book; Willow Finds a Way (Kids Can Press, 2013) is often described as an anti-bullying book. It is on Publisher’s Weekly’s List of Anti-Bullying Books and is on the Canadian Children Book Centre’s List of Books for Pink Shirt Day. But the word ‘bully’ is never used in the story. You can acknowledge inappropriate actions without placing labels on a child.

That kid you are calling ‘a bully’ needs help-If we want to stop bullying we need to acknowledge that the child acting aggressively or in a hurtful manner to others is an individual who needs and deserves help in recognizing their behaviour as hurtful and then given tools to help change that behavior. If we label a child as a ‘bully’ and teach everyone else how to stand up to that child and stay away from that child, we are giving up on that child. The bullying will only continue because that is what that child knows. This is not only hurtful to that child’s peers but is also hurtful to the child who needs and deserves guidance in acting appropriately. We are constantly preaching to children how to put out the fire of bullying, without trying to figure out where the fire is coming from.

If we are successful in helping a child understand that in a particular situation, they acted inappropriately, and we then give that child tools to change that behavior, strategies to try, different words to use, then we stop bullying.

In “Willow Finds a Way”, Kristabelle creates a list of all the children who can come to her birthday party. Everyone is invited. But then Kristabelle begins ruling the class, crossing names off her list if anyone crosses her.

Why? Kristabelle is a child desperate for friends. But she’s going about it the wrong way. She needs help. Whenever possible, we need to find out why a child acts out in a hurtful way to others. Is it because they lack impulse control? Does it stem from anxiety? Or is this child’s ability to perceive how others are feeling (empathy) not as developed as it should be? These are not easy fixes. They require dedication, commitment, understanding and consistency on the part of adults working with young children. But if you can help a child act in a more socially acceptable manner you not only stop the bullying, you also help that child lead a more successful social life.

Find the Root Cause According to Robin Rettman, Director of Research and Communications for CPI, an international training organization committed to best practices and safe behavior management methods that focus on prevention, and the editor of the Journal of Safe Management of Disruptive and Assaultive Behavior and the Supportive Stance, bullying is a learned behavior. In his article, “What to Say to Stop Someone From Bullying” http://www.crisisprevention.com/Blog/October-2015/Stop-Bullying Rettman states that, in every situation there is a root cause for inappropriate behavior. It’s our job, as educators, to figure out what that is. In Willow Finds a Way, Kristabelle wants friends.

What is the Child Gaining from This Behaviour? There is a function that this behaviour is serving for the child, according to Rettman. They are getting something out of it. Is it a feeling of control when they often feel out of control? Whatever it is, we need to find out. In Willow Finds a Way, everyone is doing exactly what Kristabelle tells them to do when she threatens them. She perceives this as having friends.

Develop Replacement Behaviors– Children are developing social skills as they mature. It is common for children to have an immature perception of what they need. Sometimes they learn inappropriate behaviours that appear to be helping them succeed at reaching their perceived need- their goal. If a child has learned an inappropriate way to get what they want, and doesn’t or can’t acknowledge that it is wrong, that these behaviors are harming others, then we need to step in and help them establish different behaviours. Rettman refers to these as replacement behaviors. In Willow Finds a Way, Willow gets the message across to Kristabelle that when she acts in a mean, threatening, demanding way she won’t have friends. But when given the chance, Kristabelle learns new behaviors that include genuine apologizing and inclusion, that allow her to experience the rewards of true friendships. As educators we need to allow children to move past their inappropriate behavior and help them develop new words, new actions and new behaviors that help them achieve healthy social goals.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could solve every problem within the pages of a picture book. This is not easy work. In my more than 25 years as an educator I find teaching empathy to a child who does not naturally obtain it to be one of the biggest challenges- but one of the most important! Picture books, like Willow Finds a Way, can help in this effort, as they speak to the child in a scenario they relate to. They can spark conversation, can be the springboard for setting new goals, and can inspire a feeling of hope and a desire for change. Every child is worth the effort.

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https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/willow-finds-a-way/9781554538423-item.html

Tips for Timid Trick-or-Treaters

Lana Button Blog

Tips for Timid Trick-or-Treaters

Admit it. You’ve been counting down the days to Halloween ever since you bought that perfect costume for your preschooler. You’re drooling over the picture taking possibilities!

But as an early childhood educator who’s worked with preschool children for more than 20 years, I am here to warn you: I’ve seen many children decide that, come the big day, they want nothing to do with Halloween. And I’ve seen shocked and disappointed parents caught up in a power struggle.

She may have loved the whole idea of Halloween a few days ago, but come October 31st, your little one might decide she’s not ready.

So prepare yourself with a couple of back-up plans so you and your timid trick-or-treater can enjoy the festivities.

  • Don’t be shocked if your trick-or-treater decides his costume is too itchy, too hot, too heavy or just too freaky. Maybe…

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Packaging Inspiration, Literacy and a Little Magic for Rainforest of Reading

It was my first packing party, so I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the warehouse in Bolton early Friday morning. I’d been invited to help pack books and supplies headed for Saint Lucia and Grenada as part of the Rainforest of Reading Festival.  http://rainforestofreading.org                 logo_ror

The Rainforest of Reading is an annual children’s book festival run by OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation http://oneworldschoolhouse.org. This amazing program, which is the largest literacy initiative for this underprivileged and developing region, invites 8,500 students in grades 3 and 4 to read 12 Canadian books and attend a national celebration.

The goal of the program is to transform lives through literacy. OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation believes that literacy is deeply connected to individual success, empowerment, and prosperity, and that reading can activate social change. Their simple but profound mission statement is: “Books can take you places you’ve never been before. Imagine That!”

During the Rainforest of Reading Festival these Eastern Caribbean children are encouraged to envision a world of possibilities beyond their classroom. With their very own Rainforest “passport” students take a literary journey through the Rainforest of Reading, earning stickers for each book read. And on the last day of the festival, the children enjoy a national celebration that includes a parade, literacy based games, activities, songs, Bananagrams, and even opportunities to meet and chat with some of the authors and illustrators.

I’m so sad that I won’t be there, but am incredibly proud and honored that Willow will. Willow Finds a Way is one of the 12 books chosen by the festival organizers to be boxed up and sent so far away in an effort to inspire and educate young children.               books

I cannot thank OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation enough for this opportunity. As I wrote this story, about a little girl’s challenge to find a way to speak out against unfair treatment of her friends, it was my hope that it might both entertain and inspire young children. I love nothing more than to read this story out loud to children, but the true magic of picture books is that Willow’s story can travel to places beyond my reach, and can hopefully provide inspiration to children I will never meet. The OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation is made up of incredibly hard working dedicated volunteers who believe in the power of picture books. I was so inspired by their dedication as we spent the day packing up these very special boxes. And although I can’t be there to meet the children taking part in the festival, I’m so very proud that, thanks to The Rainforest of Reading, Willow Finds a Way gets to be!

 

The 12 lucky books taking part in the 2014 Rainforest of Reading Festival are:

  • Unknown-1Don’t Laugh at Giraffe by Rebecca Bender (Pajama Press)
  • Unknown-2Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button, Illustrated by Tania Howells (
Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-3Skink on the Brink by Lisa Dalrymple, Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo (Fitzhenry & Whiteside.)
  • Unknown-4Postcards from Space: The Chris Hadfield Story by Heather Down (Echo Books/Wintertickle Press)  
  • 1554552508Gabby by Joyce Grant, Illustrated by Jan Dolby (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
  • Unknown-5And the Winner is…Amazing Animal Athletes by Etta Kaner, Illustrated by 
David Anderson (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-6Pterosaur Trouble by Daniel Loxton, illustrated with Jim
W. W. Smith (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-7Mr. Flux by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Matte Stephens (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-8Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior, Illustrated by Laura James (Tradewind Books.)
  • Unknown-9Kenta and the Big Wave by Ruth Ohi (Annick Press)
  • Unknown-10My Name is Blessing by Eric Walters, Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Tundra Books)
  • cover_lrg Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot? by Beryl Young, Illustrated by Jason Doll (Peanut Butter Press)

 

You can donate to The Rainforest of Reading at canadahelps.org

One World Schoolhouse Foundation
 can be contacted at: (519) 316-0059


Their email: sonyawhite@oneworldschoolhouse.org

Their website: http://oneworldschoolhouse.org

Their address: 40 Woodland Court Caledon, ON L7K 0C2

Picture Books that Can Start a Conversation about Depression

Like the rest of the world, I am so saddened by the death of Robin Williams. He brought us so much joy and laughter. It’s heartbreaking to think of the suffering he endured through his battle with depression.
What more can be done to help people overcome this silent torture? For those of us who suffer, please try, a little harder, to talk about it. Your loved ones want so badly to help you. We just can’t see the inner torture that you are sometimes so good at hiding.
And for the rest of us, we need to listen- harder. We need to empathize. We need to rid the world of the negative stigma attached to mental health issues.
Let’s raise a generation who doesn’t judge and ridicule those who suffer, but strives to lend support and understanding. Here is a collection of picture books that can open the doors of communication with young ones dealing with depressed feelings, or living with someone who is feeling depressed.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear (Kids Can Press, 2012 )     Unknown copy
is an incredible story about Vanessa and her sister, Virginia, who is in a ‘wolfish mood’. The story, loosely based on the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, not only illustrates the strong hold that depression can take on an individual, it also describes the desperation others feel in an effort to ‘cheer their loved one up.’ Vanessa says, “the whole house sank. Up became down. Bright became dim.” The words and the illustrations provide literal and metaphorical glimpses into the effects that real depression can have on an individual and on those who love her.
Kirkus said in its review that the story “works beautifully as a bad-day/bad-mood or animal-transformation tale, while readers who know actual depression will find it handled with tenderly forceful aplomb.”

Frog is Sad by Max Velthuijs (Random house UK, 2014)       076457499X.01._AA100_PU_PU-5_

Frog wakes up one morning feeling sad, but he’s not sure why. His friends try a variety of things to cheer him up, and eventually his sadness is gone. This story acknowledges that when a person is depressed there often isn’t a ‘reason’ for them being sad. They just are.

When Sophie Gets Angry by Molly Bang (Scholastic, 1999)              Unknown-1
In this story Sophie isn’t sad, she’s really, really angry. The words and the illustrations do a terrific job in getting these powerful emotions across to young children. What I love about this story is that it doesn’t apologize for raw emotions. And eventually Sophie is able to get ahold of those emotions. She’s given time and space to work through the emotions. And her family is there with love and support when she is able to return to them.

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard (Scholastic, 2007)                 Unknown-3
Bird wakes up grumpy. Too grumpy to eat, play—or even fly. “Looks like I’m walking today,” says Bird grumpily.”
His friends join him in his walk. And somewhere along the way Bird realizes that his friends have stuck with him and his grumpy mood is gone. I love that the friends in the story don’t try to ‘fix the problem’ with a variety of suggestions or reasons for Bird not to be grumpy. They just walk with him, supporting him until the mood lifts.

It’s not our job to make children sad. It’s not our job to overwhelm them with scary information on a disease they can’t fix. But it is our job to teach our children that our emotions can be very powerful. And we deal with those emotions by both seeking and giving understanding and support. And I believe a great picture book can help start that conversation.

What’s in Your Lunch?

What’s in YOUR Lunch?

We’ve had two exciting inquiries pop up this week, both relating to what the children are eating. A child, who was enjoying snack with a group of children, brought to our attention that there was a seed in his orange. “That’s very interesting! Does anyone else have a seed in their food?” That’s all it took! A book was soon being constructed, and the children were eager to add a page to “I Have Seeds in my Lunch”. Our Health and Nutrition strand definitely came into play as it was determined that any food that contained seeds was a healthy choice.

After a quick trip to our library, we soon had lots of reference materials regarding fruit and seeds and our science table was transformed with donations of seeds found and labeled.

And things really got interesting when it was discovered that some seeds were on the inside of the fruit, while others were on the outside! Extracting those strawberry seeds took a great amount of patience and concentration! (pic)Image

Our light table made a perfect spot for displaying baggies of seeds. The children organized the seeds from biggest to smallest. We will soon discover what happens when those seeds are planted in soil! I can’t wait to share with them the beautiful picture book If You Hold a Seed by Elly MacKay Image

I also shared Karma Wilson’s beautiful Mortimer’s First Garden with the children, and we discussed the miracle of growth from one little seed.Image

And it just so happens that another child brought in chopsticks to eat his sushi. The children were amazed by this utensil, which got us talking about how we eat our food. The story, Maggie’s Chopsticks by Alan Woo came to mind, Image

so I quickly ran back to our library. It wasn’t available (heading to the public library this week!) so I was introduced to a new story, Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal Image

We began charting information about whether we prefer to use a fork, a spoon, or chopsticks with different types of foods. 

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The next day, upon further reflection, the children realized that there were lots of foods they ate using just their hands, so we added a column to our chart. Image

During lunch, the conversation was extended as we observed how our friends were eating. We decided to take a survey,

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And it was determined that most of the children ate their lunch with their hands. This brought on the conversation about the importance of washing our hands before lunch!

All this talk about food inspired a change in our dramatic center. There’s now a bustling restaurant set up, complete with signs and a menu. The cash register is being put to great use and the children are doing a terrific job regulating who prepares the food, who delivers the food and who will be the customers.

Through a lot of exciting exploration we covered every strand of learning with these two inquiries. As Elly MacKay so beautifully illustrates, “It truly is magical what can come from one little seed!”