Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Simple Acts of Kindness

This felt like a natural follow up to my last post. How can you send kindness into the world--both to people and the environment? Use this Sketchnote created by Dr. Hayley Lewis as a springboard to come up with even more ideas to brighten both your and others' day!

Image from

Sunday, November 26, 2023

From One Holiday to the Next

The frenzy is upon us. That super tight window of time between Thanksgiving and the December holidays. In our house, that holiday is Christmas. Of course, in the retail world, the aisles were rivaling each other with the trifecta at the end of October. In a few stores I went to, the Christmas goods were far outnumbering the Halloween items!

I'm definitely a fan of one holiday at a time. When my daughter was younger I had to enforce the "no Christmas music before Thanksgiving" ruling. Some years that was harder than others. This year, for Thanksgiving, we had a table set for 18, making it very necessary to stay singularly-focused on Thanksgiving. Works that way when you are hosting! But now that Thanksgiving has now passed, the table has been stripped, the fall autumnal colors have been replaced, the tree is now up in a bit of a whirlwind. As a teacher with a 5-day Thanksgiving break and the supreme gift of time, the timing just seems to work out well to transform the house into the winter wonderland. [Though, even with that, I am always keen on making it so that all the decorations can go up (and ultimately come down at the end of the season) in roughly a 24-hour time period.]

I've long had a complicated relationship with Christmas. I suspect many parents do. The memories of the seasonal childhood magic gives you a definite eye-opening when you see how much work goes into making all that magic happen for children. There's a lot of moving parts, changing wish list items, shopping, decorating, outings, shopping, spending, more shopping, and "extras" that come during this time of the year. I can get exhausted and/or overwhelmed pretty darn easily. (Doubly harsh when I'm not a born shopper or spender.) I'd imagine I'm not alone. I think as an elementary teacher (where classrooms and bulletin boards also rotate seasonally, and kids' eyes sparkle in the hopes of all that's ahead), it adds to the tight timetable and the magical demands of this time of the year.

Additionally, I know that it can be a difficult time of the year for many in other ways too. The longer we spin on this planet, the more we live, love, and face loss. That can also bring hard emotions upon the season. Memories and merriment at times can counter each other.  Like I said, Christmas can be complicated.

This year, our halls got decked in a timely and patient manner. (I can't always say this.) I did it around naps and with the proper balance of sanity and serenity. I'm hoping to approach the entire season semi-holding on to this sentiment. One way I'm hoping to go about this mindset is through this advent calendar that I purchased from Sharing Kindness--one for me, one for a friend. We can be in sync with each other, and hopefully too it will soothe my tendency toward Christmas chaos during this in between season.

Hopefully you are managing the flip from one holiday to the next with the right energy and joy levels.  May you share kindness, compassion, and warm spirits along the way...even when the lines are long, the nerves are frazzled, and your over-packed schedule starts tipping your scales. 

Video from and pics from my home.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

Having a little fun with the Canva Magic Tools, I created this graphic as a sticker for some candles I'll be placing around my house for Thanksgiving this year when we host our family gathering. Seemed also like the perfect one to share here today too.

Here's a little poem, in honor of the season, that ChatGPT crafted and I modified to round out my full sentiments of the season. 

In the amber glow of autumn's embrace, 
Hearts gather together, full of love and grace. 
A tapestry of love, woven tight and strong, 
A symphony of gratitude, a heartfelt song.

Nature's palette, a canvas so divine, 
Golden hues in the autumn sunshine. 
Beneath the boughs where the leaves surrender, 
Friends and family, a bond to remember. 

Grateful hearts, like leaves in the wind, 
A celebration of love, where memories begin.
Laughter dances in the crisp, cool air, 
A harvest of blessings, more than a feast we share.

So on this day of thanks, let's raise a cheer, 
For the bonds we cherish and hold dear;
In the company of family and our friends,
A Thanksgiving bounty that knows no end.

May you all have warm memories of Thanksgivings past, hearts full of love for friends and family, and loads to be thankful about this year. 

Image created on using their Magic Media tools.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Thanksgiving Tech 2023

It feels like it was just summer and Labor Day, but already Halloween is in our rear-view mirror and Thanksgiving is ahead in a week.

Might be time for a little bit of Thanksgiving Tech. Especially if you are struggling to try to come up with what to do the short week of school, right prior to Thanksgiving. (Those days sometimes are the longest days of the school year.

Here are some great edtech finds:
  • Turkey Templates for Thanksgiving Creativity and Writing--From 2017, but this is a perennial favorite that never gets old. Eric Curts of Control Alt Achieve shares some great Thanksgiving Google Slides template activities including these two: Build a Turkey & Disguise a Turkey. Fun creativity for your younger Google-friendly students.
  • TCEA's 11 Thanksgiving Activities for Joy & Learning--Written by Peggy Reimers here in 2023, this TCEA Tech Notes blog post. It includes Thanksgiving trivia & "Would You Rather" games, along with links to story starter spinners, giving thanks word walls, a Gobble Gobble break out room, Wheel of Thanksgiving, Thankgiving Madness Bracket, and more. It is a somewhat updated version of her 2020 post, with some new ideas and some repeats.

  • Best Free Thanksgiving Lessons and Activities--This Tech Learning 2023 article by Diana Restifo has focused lessons on perspective (taking us away from the long ago Pilgrim-centric "first Thanksgiving" stories to look at all of the parties involved--including the indigenous people. Looking at history through the lens of multiple perspectives is vital for building compassion and empathy AND learning the past. Here you will find lessons and links to about 18 different learning websites to enrich student knowledge on the history of Thanksgiving. 
  • This Wixie board of Ideas for Thanksgiving has a multitude of cross curricular ideas for the season. It includes some design thinking activities in addition to digital ways to bring gratitude, creativity, and more together.
  • For a compilation of just about anything else you can think of, check out this Thanksgiving Tech Activities Board from All Saints Episcopal School. It's definitely a cornucopia of computer activities for all grades.
From the looks of all of these activities, no one will go bored while they are getting their Thanksgiving tech activities all in order!!

Main photo created in Other Photos screenshot from,, and

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Happy Veterans Day 2023

Veterans Day has been a major ceremonial event at both my current school and my previous one. I've spent at least the last 17 years honoring the men and women who have served our country and the gratitude we have as Americans. I've annually shared that moment with school children and our school community. Highlighting the importance of those who have served for our American freedoms to our youngsters is wonderful way to showcase the beauty of that sacrifice. It truly is a uniting holiday... and one divisive politicians should honor more often.

Earlier in the week, I shared this video with our 5th grade students who were our Lower School leaders for Veterans Day school community assembly. For the last month these students had been compiling research on the 6 branches of military and the history of Veterans Day to be our resident experts. By the time we'd watched this video, they were already well-schooled in the information so it served as a reinforcement for all that they had already learned. For those of you who might need to brush up on your Veterans Day history, today's a good day to do it. 

Thank you to those who have fought for our freedoms. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Animal Loving

Who doesn't love animals? 

I ran across the website Switchzoo while looking for some elementary STEM activities for my Tech/Maker Lab classes. This website ended up being a Mecca of all sorts of free online activities and teacher resources, all related to Animals. While not a new website (it's been around in different degrees since 1999), it was new to me and has some valuable resources and some striking reviews.

Some of the great finds you will find there:

Logo from

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Nature Journaling

This weekend has been a pretty one. Sunny leaves all a rainbow of crisp fall colors. A little warmer than normal for the first weekend of November. Downright idyllic.

For our house, we have a big playoff ahead and will be spending the day outdoors. Couldn't have asked for a better day for it.

While I'll be knee deep rooting for the home team, others will be taking advantage of the beautiful day in other ways. Some will be meandering in downtowns, weaving in and out of cute shops. Some will be hitting up apple, pumpkin, or other fall festivals. Still others might be hiking about in the woods, watching squirrels frolic in the leaves or searching for nuts.

And others might be following in Eriko Kobayashi's footsteps. Encouraging others to grab paper and pens and bond with nature in another way. Eriko Kobayashi is Japan's sole nature journaling instructor. She encourages folks (largely those who busily live in the city) to get outside and connect with both themselves and nature by guiding them to journal and take notice of what surrounds them in the great outdoors. 

The practice of nature journaling started in the United States, and gained popularity during the pandemic. Not only was it a way to create space outdoors during social distancing times of Covid, but it is also a great way to decompress--an outdoor meditation time with surrounding nature sounds. Additionally, it stimulates your brain through observation and concentration, while also adding a hands-on component with the journaling.

Nature journaling is credited to Clare Walker Leslie, a self-taught naturalist from the United States. "Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You," one of the nearly dozen books written by Clare Walker Leslie (this one in 2003). Over the years, nature journaling clubs have gained momentum world-wide. Kobayashi has stated that there are more than 140 that span the glob.

To read more about Eriko Kobayashi's nature leadership through journalling, check out this article in The Japan Times: "How a Notebook and Some Pens Can 'Connect Yourself to Nature' by Niko Nojima. Likewise, check out Clare Walker Leslie's website.

To find a Nature Journaling Club, check out these links:

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

The Beauty of Each Season: Fall

I've had the opportunity to be outside quite a bit this fall. A couple of festivals. Walks in the park with friend. A hike or two. And just being out and about and paying attention on pretty days.

We all should make the time to do all of that!

As the calendar shifts to November, and we dive deeper into fall, and as I look outside my window and see the sun dappling on the leaves that are changing daily, I'm taking a pause. Each season certainly comes with its own beauty. Let's all make time this November to get outside and take notice of the beauty that surrounds!

Image created on with my own photos.