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!


Working on Working Together

This week we had a class meeting and identified some tricky parts our class was having.  I HATE to admit that the list was really long.  Like 4 post-it notes long.  Big post-it notes. 😦

Well, because we have growth mindsets at our school (and in our room!), and because our tricky parts are things we can TOTALLY fix, we started spending some specific time on Friday working on figuring out what to do.

First we took all of our trouble spots and put them into categories.  We quickly realized we had many things that were similar and fit into four categories.  Then we saw that in some way these were all related to not following directions. (And I feel like I must say, when I first saw our list I had a bit of trouble with it because it felt a little like our classroom was always in chaos.  I promise these things happen in bits and pieces, not all at once, all the time.  And honestly, some of them are just what happens when you put lots of 6YOs together in a classroom.  But they are indeed things we need to work on, and for which we can find a solution!)


As we continued through the day (and we will continue on Monday–well and probably beyond that, too!) with the focus on both following directions as well as thinking of others.  This second focus came because we had had a heart-to-heart about how so many of us of just thinking of ourselves, and so that’s why we’re not following directions in the first place.  For example, we are interrupting because we think our ideas are more important than our friends’, we’re leaving messes because we don’t care about our room and our friends, we are making noises during learning times because we are thinking more about ourselves (and what we want to do) than about our friends and their learning environment.  You get the idea.

We added that last bubble after we had had a chance to check out a couple of Class Dojo videos to get our minds thinking about how we might fix up our troubles.  We even tagged the day “Fix-it-Up Friday.”  Here’s one about making mistakes:

And another about having a growth mindset:

Another important part of our day was when Mrs. Cohen came back to our room to teach a lesson.  Because she and I had already chatted, we agreed that her lesson about following directions fit in PERFECTLY with what we were already working on.

First she talked with us a little bit about the work we had already done, and we explained our mistakes web to her.   She talked a little bit about why following directions is so important, and kiddos shared really smart ideas like how doing so keeps us safe and helps us learn.  Next, she gave us a challenge.  Everyone got a piece of paper and a crayon and set to listen to her directions.  They had to both HEAR and SEE in order to make this happen.  I only got part of the activity on video, but you’ll get the idea.  And what it showed us when we were finished was that we can, indeed, follow directions!  Pay attention to how well friends are listening, looking and quietly working!

Pretty great, right?  Look at al those cat pictures!

Well since they proved they could do that amazingness, she gave them another challenge.  Only this one wasn’t individual–we would all have to follow directions together to make it work!

They did it!  It wasn’t silent, and it wasn’t perfect, but they did a pretty good job, right?  We will definitely build on this learning (and progress) as we come back together on Monday.  We have work to do, but we know we can do it!

Meet Mrs. Cohen!

We have been lucky to have Mrs. Cohen at our school for many, many years.  I have actually been lucky enough to work with her when she was a teacher’s assistant in my 4th grade classroom, then I worked with her as a parent (I had her daughter in 5th grade!), she was most recently an administrative assistant in our office, and now we’ve the most blessed that she’s moved up to be our school counselor!!  What great fun to experience so many dimensions of a person and be so encouraged by their work in so many ways.

Well…since my first grade friends were in our school last year, most of them already know Mrs. Cohen.  But since they know her from the office, it was really important for them to be reintroduced to her in her new role.  In order to do that, she spent the last week or so visiting each classroom, bringing with her a really great lesson (differentiated perfectly for each level of kiddos) about what they can expect from her this year.

Our lesson involved a magic bag.  Kiddos got to pull things out of her bag and we’d guess (then she’d tell us) what each represented about her job, or how she’d use them throughout the day.

It’s a little hard to see all the things being pulled out of her bag, so I’ll tell you about them…

  1. Tissues–because some times you might have emotions that make you cry, happy or sad!
  2. Book–often reading a book with a kiddo is a great way to work through things
  3. Foosball–Can you believe Mrs. Cohen has a FOOSBALL table in her office??  Need I say more?
  4. Lunch boxes–sometimes Mrs. Cohen has lunch with friends; I want to be so lucky!
  5. Bouncy ball–sometimes Mrs. Cohen spends time at recess with Robinson kiddos!
  6. Ear–a great counselor like Mrs. Cohen has super listening ears and wants to hear what Robinson kids have to say (she brought that ear from her Mrs. Potato Head, which is how she introduced herself to our kindergarten friends)
  7. Heart–she’s got a big one with lots of love to share!
  8. Smile–who doesn’t love someone smiling at them and sharing a kind word?
  9. Hand–she gives GREAT high-fives!
  10. Feet (not pictured)–sometimes a kiddo might just need to take a walk, to burn off some steam, to calm down, to think through things, or just to talk.  Mrs. Cohen is available for those kinds of times. 🙂

WOW–what lucky Roadrunners we are to be able to have such a caring, thoughtful, resourceful, creative and FUN counselor to take care of us. 🙂  I’m glad I get to spend everyday at Robinson with my friend, Mrs. Cohen! How about you??