Mrs. Cohen: Personal Space Camp

Mrs. Cohen came back to visit us this week and again brought along a book (yay!) and a smart strategy for our toolboxes. 🙂

The book was Personal Space Camp and was a very timely story for many friends in Rm. 111.  If you haven’t read it, it’s about a boy named Lewis who has a hard time understanding that Personal Space Camp is NOT about outer space but how your body moves in your own space and how to make sure that you give people bubbles around them instead of getting IN their space.  (Wow–that was a weird sentence and you probably could’ve figured out the plot without my telling you, but hey…)

We took some time to experience what that book meant with the help of a hula hoop.  She used our very own Louie to demonstrate how much room around your body you should have when you are sitting down.


Then she demonstrated what that hoop (his space) looked like when he stood up.  All of a sudden it was much bigger and so they tried to see how many more kiddos they could squeeze into it.  Man…

They all agreed that it was NOT better when they were all in there together, and that they were squished and uncomfortable.  And after that last picture I’m pretty sure they fell over. 🙂

So they tried that original personal space again and Louie, at least, agreed that that was the way it should be.  We talked about how respecting everyone’s personal space is an important part of working together in a classroom, as well as a crucial step in keeping us all safe and happy.


After this, Mrs. Cohen taught us about shrug-it-off breathing.  It’s similar to the two techniques she had already taught us, and really just involves pulling up your shoulders close to your ears while you inhale and then exhaling slowly and pressing your shoulders down as far as they can go (sorry–I didn’t get a video for this one!).  We tried it and just like the other ones, it helped us feel calmer and more relaxed.  We will be applying these very soon, I’m sure!

Oh, and here’s just a quick sneak peek of something we did the other day.  Remember the toolboxes that I mentioned Mrs. Cohen always talked about?  I had kids draw them and explain what they looked like in Seesaw.  And I feel like I must tell you that we had to have a little discussion before hand about how they are imaginary toolboxes.  Many friends were adamant that they didn’t have one. 🙂    I am only sharing a couple that came up first in the feed, but don’t worry–the rest are equally AWESOME!  (If you’re connected to your child’s Seesaw learning journal, you’ll be able to see theirs if it’s not here. 🙂 ).

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P.S. I love Seesaw.  🙂

Our Friend and Counselor, Mrs. Cohen

Last year we were blessed with a new counselor at Robinson (well, she wasn’t new to Robinson, but she was new to this particular job at Robinson!), and she has in many ways become our friend as much as our counselor.  Mrs. Cohen does so much to help kiddos when they are upset, to teach us what to do to help ourselves when we’re upset, to listen when we need an ear, and to be supports for teachers in LOADS of great ways.

Last year I believe she came to visit the first time with her Mr. Potato Head–this time she brought her toolbox.  It’s big and black and yellow and full of so many amazing tools.  Her goal in coming to visit us each week is to share those amazing tools with us and teaching us how we can put them in our OWN toolboxes for when we need them!

This was really her second visit this past week, but I didn’t get a chance to post about the first one, so today I’ll share two of the things she’s taught us. 🙂

One of the first things we talk about on her visits is what our toolboxes look like, and GOODNESS there are some fancy ones in first grade!  This time she read us a story, as our focus was on kindness and how to treat everyone in a kind a caring way.  We LOVED the story of Nerdy Birdy, and how the characters learned that there are ways to be friends with people who are not just like you.

The tools she’s helped us learn about (and that we are using!) are Take 5 Breathing and Balloon Breathing.  There are times in our day when we get upset (for loads of different reasons) and might need to be able to have a way to feel better so we can get back to learning.  We are also working on a Peace Place for our classroom so that when a friend needs a quiet, still, peaceful place to be for a while, there will be one!  Right now we’re deciding where it should go and are working on what we should add to make it “work” for us.  Can’t wait to share it with you once it’s all finished!

For now, I’ll share two videos so you know what we’ve been learning:

And this one is balloon breathing, which is a new one we’re hoping to put into action soon:

I haven’t done it yet, but I’m thinking that maybe I’ll have kiddos make or draw their toolboxes so we can show them to you.  Ooohh…what a great idea for a post in Seesaw!  Maybe we can share those soon, too.  In the meantime, if you know a Rm. 111 friend, ask them about how Mrs. Cohen is helping them be a better, calmer learner!


Mindfulness in the Classroom

Over the past weeks, one of our counselors, Ms. Howe, has been walking Rm. 202 kiddos through several lessons in being mindful learners.

The first step in the process was to help my students understand what in the world “mindfulness” was. She showed them this video, about a book called Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda.

In the weeks that followed, she led the class through how the brain works (and she tied this to Star Wars!), then how each sense can help you be more mindful, present and in the moment to help your brain do its best work.  We talked about how stress affects learning, and she showed us two apps that we can use to help us when we need to be calmed down.

Another thing she introduced was using coloring activities to help us calm down and we’ve begun to use them both in transition and in listening situations.  The images she gave us are very detailed and required us to really focus in.   A couple of times a day (like when we’re coming back from lunch or specials) we color for a few minutes to get us ready for quieter learning in our room.  Many kiddos also get them out during Read Aloud now, too, and color while we enjoy a story together.  The challenge is to get as many colors as we can in as many tiny spaces as possible.  And when someone finishes it’s a big deal.  So celebrate with us. 🙂

I am not entirely sure yet how these lessons will work for us.  There are definitely parts that help us transition and I have already been able to remind them to be present, to think about what we’re doing at that moment–not about something that happened (that maybe made them upset), or something that will happen (that may be distracting them).  There are many upper grade levels doing this same work, as well, and it will be interesting to see how this knowledge helps as they grow as people and as learners.

How do you use mindfulness in your life? How does it help you to be calm, present and focused? What can you teach us? Please leave a comment and tell us your story or advice!