Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution

January 28, 2013

Dear BONS,

It’s January and I have been thinking about goals, a New Year’s resolution of sorts. I know Ruth has shared her goals with us. Any others? Me – I’m going to set a time limit for myself to write daily instead of just being arbitrary about it. So I find it fitting that the book Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller happened to catch my eye. It’s super cute and Tammy, I think your first graders would like it. Tam, your gran kids would enjoy it too.

Squirrel wants to know what a resolution is, so he goes to the best place ever to research it – the LIBRARY. Of course, my favorite place! The definition he finds is as follows:

A resolution is a promise you make to yourself to be better or to help yourself.

As squirrel thinks of resolutions for herself, she helps others along the way. In the end, her friends remind her of how she helped them in their time of need.

Isn’t this a great book to share with a class and talk about community building and how each person in the class can help support the goals for the class? I also thought of you with the encouragement to keep writing. So hooray for writing!

Resolved to create,


Savorings for reading and in writing for Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution:

  • Bucket Filling -“I resolve to help someone every day!
  • Apostrophe usage – contractions vs. possessive
  • Narrative weaving of thoughts/feelings
  • Community Building
  • Library reference 🙂

Bucket Filling Philosophy

December 4, 2011

The other day, I posted about bucket filling. After some lovely comments (thank you, thank you! comments fill my bucket!), I decided to post how I learned about the bucket-filling philosophy.

In the fall of 2007, our school staff read the book, How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and for Life by Tom Rath with Donald Clifton. The theme is focusing on the positives in interactions with others. I try to be positive and look at the good, but this book really helped me to see how even the littlest smile can affect others and “pay it forward” to others. As a staff, we began to intentionally fill each other with positive actions and comments.

The spring of March 2008, I went to the Michigan Reading Association Conference (MRA) and attended a session on bucket-filling for kids. The room was packed. Carol McCloud shared how to teach children to be bucket-fillers. She read her book, Have You Filled a Bucket Lately? and I was hooked.

Carol presented at the AllWrite!!! Summer Conference in June 2008 and then came to our school on October 31, 2008. Our school was filled with excitement and children went away with smiles. We continue to share the philosophy each year by reading the books and talking about how to fill each other up. Kids get it. It has helped decrease bullying issues as well, another positive effect. 🙂

To stay current, I receive weekly newsletter from the Bucket Filler Team. You can sign up for it on their website. Short articles of slice of life moments encourage you. When I first began to practice this philosophy, I shared a story with Carol via email, which then was published on June 15, 2008. During the Slice of Life Challenge, I posted a story that warmed my heart.

Dear Fellow Bucket Fillers, 

Daily bucket filling is the simplest, easiest and most important part of bucket filling.  This holiday season, be sure to spread extra holiday joy by filling buckets with special acts of kindness – and it will fill your bucket too!

 The following link will download our latest e-newsletter:    Week of November 27, 2011

To end, I encourage you to read, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. The following link is a video clip of Hector Elizondo reading the book on Daily Motion. Although a picture book, the message will touch students and adults of all ages.
I look forward to hearing about your bucket-filling experiences.


Hero Dreams

August 9, 2009

When I read the author, Caralyn Buehner and illustrator, Mark Buehner, I knew the team was creating another ‘wow’ book.  Rich is the word I think of when I hear their names.  Rich meaning beautiful language mixed with stunning illustrations.  Their story, Dex:  the Heart of a Hero, sticks in my mind.  Dex: The Heart of a HeroI think of the words, the message, the inferencing long after reading the story.  I have recommended this book to our principal to read to the grade levels at at he beginning of the year.

Dex:  the Heart of a Hero is a story about determination and a dream.  Mixed in is bullying and bucket-filling.  Dex is a dachshund, small in stature but big at heart.  Listen to the way Caralyn invites the children in to visualize her character.

Dexter was a little dog.  His legs were little, his tail was little, his body was little.  He looked like a plump sausage sitting on four little meatballs.

‘Poor Dexter’ is your first thought when you read about how he is often overlooked, … except when the very large tomcat, Cleevis, decides to pick on Dexter.  Kids will relate.  I have shared other bullying books.  The topic needs to be discussed over and over in order for the message of kindness to sink in.  Kids relate to stories and the authors know how to draw children in.  They synthesize the message and relate.

But beyond the bullying, Dexter has a dream.  He dreams big.  He wants to be a HERO.  But Dexter doesn’t just want to be a hero, he acts upon his dreams.  First he reads (yes, I love the illustration of Dex reading in the library with a stack of books next to him).  Then, he exercises.  When the exercises become too easy, he sets more challenges ahead for him.  Finally, the day arrives, suit on and confidence high, Dexter ventures out to help the world.   A point to make with the children is to notice that Dexter doesn’t just wait around for something to happen; he acts.  He begins to look to help others.  What a message for the students in our class – to look to be kind, helpful, considerate to their classmates.

Throughout the scenes, Dexter is still tormented by the tomcat.  His problems don’t go away.  He chooses to focus on others instead.  In the end, Cleevis needs the help.  Dexter does not choose to retaliate, but rather helps the tomcat and makes a friend in the end.    Once again, what a great message to teach your students.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Dex:  the Heart of a Hero:

  • Character lead (see above quote) with Magic of 3 and parallel sentence structure plus a simile – WOW!
  • Community building – Everybody counts! – “… after a while they forgot to invite him at all.  No one really seemed to notice him,…”
  • Hybrid text – inserts of a comic scene with the story line boxed in (very unique and will grab the attention of the boys)  “Faster than a rolling ball, stronger than the toughest rawhide, able to leap tall fences in a single bound!”
  • Semi-colon (used several times) – He could run like the wind; he felt as if his legs had springs!
  • Parallel Sentence Structure – they use the same words in predictable groups – Dex loved the way it felt, he loved the way it looked, and he loved the feeling he had when he put it on.

Slice of Life 15: Noticing the Little Things

March 15, 2009

Slice of Life Challenge Hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I’m sitting in the hotel lobby right now using the complimentary guest computer.  I was beginning to write about boy readers when I noticed a lady cleaning the lobby area nearby.  Bucket filling has become part of me.  I enjoy noticing the good people do.  We have such busy, demanding lives that the little things often get overlooked.  A kind word goes a long way – and it doesn’t take much time.

So, I’m sitting here thinking of how to share some information when my eye catches the lady bending down to dust the pots of the plants.  She wipes down the railing, top and bottom.  She straightens and picks up some lint on the floor.  The lady saw me noticing her and came over to empty the trash can nearby.  She smiled mannerly.  “You are doing a wonderful job keeping this place beautiful,”  I commented.  The lady’s smile spread wide with teeth showing.

“Oh, thank you.  You like it?” she replied with an accent that made me listen more closely.

“Yes.  You’ve done a wonderful thing!”  I stated again.  She then pointed to her name tag and introduced herself.  She added, “If you like, please let the manager know.”  I wrote her name down and plan to do so.  She left with a smile on her face.

Noticing the good job she was doing didn’t cost me anything extra.  In fact, I’m smiling and feeling better.  Think of how much better you would work if someone noticed the little things you do in your work or at home.  It would have a positive affect on you.

As I return to school, I want to remember to notice the little things the students do.  A simple noticing may boost a child’s mood.   A simple noticing may encourage a child’s effort.  A simple noticing may reciprocate a simple noticing.

Somebody Loves You

February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Eileen Spinelli shares a Valentine wish that can be given throughout the year in her book, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch.  The reader can identify with Mr. Hatch; we’ve experienced times in our lives when we have felt unappreciated.  Through a unexpected kind deed, Mr. Hatch changes from an inward, depressed-like person to an interactive, intentionally helpful person.  Our students can learn from this book.

Carol McCloud, otherwise known as the “Bucket Lady”, shares the concept of being a bucket filler.  The philosophy is that we have a choice – to fill a person’s bucket or dip in it.  By filling a bucket, you bucket is filled.  The reciprocal does not happen; if you dip in a bucket, yours does not get filled.  I have had the privilege of hearing Carol speak and the stories she shared touched and changed my life.  Each day I seek to fill a bucket(s).  It makes our world a better place.

While reading this book to a class, I realized that a theme from Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch is bucket filling.  Because “someone” sent Mr. Hatch a chocolate-filled heart, he began to fill other people’s buckets – shares with his coworkers, watches the news stand for Mr. Smith, searches for Mr. Todd’s daughter.  The entire story is one bucket filling act after another.  In the end, the community people realize how much Mr. Hatch has been filling their buckets and making their lives better.  They express their appreciation for him.  Won’t you fill a bucket today?  Read Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch.

View the video clip of Hector Elizondo reading the book on Daily Motion. The narration is about 11 minutes long, but well worth it. You get to see and “read” the entire book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch:

  • Interweaving of detail
  • Character change
  • Problem/solution
  • Community building
  • Showing apprehension with puctuation – “I made a mistake some time ago.  My supervisor is very angry with me.  Do you…do you…”  “Yes, Mr. Goober?  What is it?”