Kindergarteners have just wrapped up their “Being a Good Friend” unit. During our time together, students read stories, did some activities, and discussed qualities they think makes a good friend. Our Kindergartners believe good friends are people who: Share their toys, take turns, play by the rules/are fair, are kind and respectful, include others, are helpful, and listen. What a wonderful group of K-Friends we have in our school :-)
First grade has been learning about feelings and emotions. We talked about using our social detective skills to be able to tell how others might be feeling by looking at faces, hearing tone of voice, and using smart guesses based on the situation. We also had some review about expected and unexpected behaviors. Now we are thinking about how our brains and bodies might be feeling in certain situations. This is the first step in self-regulation as students have started learning about the ZONES OF REGULATION. The hope is that students are able to identify which zone they might be in, think about whether that is expected or unexpected, and use a calming or alerting tool that helps them get back into the green zone or learning zone. We are also making a feelings book! Lots more to explore with our ZONES!
Second grade has been reviewing Zones of Regulation and are starting their Self-Control unit. Both classes have audaciously completed the “Bubbles Challenge” where they were challenged to not move a muscle when bubbles were blown at them, proving that they absolutely have the ability to control their bodies and impulses (with previewing and coaching!). We talked about their older less evolved part of their brain, the “Chimp Brain” (amygdala/emotions and instant gratification) makes us want to act on impulses and how their newer more evolved “Professor Brain” (prefrontal cortex/executive function and self-regulation) helps us to STOP, THINK, ACT, and REFLECT about our choices (STAR Power). This can be really tough! Especially when sugar is involved...We will continue to work on noticing when our Chimp Brain is trying to get in the driver's seat and practice letting the Professor Brain be our chauffeur (they are likely the one that passed the road test at the DMV anyway…)
Third graders have started a Mindfulness unit - we started off participating in some team building challenges and seeing how our performance and experience changes based on our focus, breathing, and kindness towards our team. We are learning ways to help calm and focus our attention to aid us in our daily lives. We will be doing some mindfulness centers to explore these skills and strategies.
I have had the privilege of venturing out into the vast Lyme wilderness during Forest Fridays with Fourth grade. I’ve been inspired to connect my background in outdoor education and wilderness survival from my time with them. We’ve talked about the three essentials to surviving any type of survival situation, whether stressing out about a math test, having a hard time with a friend, or finding oneself lost in the woods: Positive Mental Attitude (things can and WILL get better), Getting Found (communicating/letting someone know you need help or are “lost”), and Staying Healthy (taking good care of yourself in the process) - all three can be aided by “FIRE”. We also just started a new SEL program! GO STRENGTHS is an evidenced-based Social Emotional Learning curriculum. The program is skill-based and focuses on goal-setting, problem-solving, resilience, optimistic thinking, character strengths, emotional intelligence, social connections, and self-confidence. We explore modules together through video clips, discussion, and activities. Students are really enjoying it so far and I am learning a lot too!
5th Graders have been exploring problem-solving and communication through team building initiatives. Last class, students had to get their teammate through a minefield of objects blindfolded - the catch was that the student guiding the blindfolded person with their voice could not see the obstacles and those who could see the minefield could not use their voices to communicate. Needless to say, these students had to employ a lot of trust, cooperation, and clear communication to be successful - not an easy task, but I appreciated and was impressed by their engagement, effort, and positive attitudes in the face of these challenges. More challenges await and they are ready to rock!