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November 29, 2016

Book Buzz: Building Confidence in Young Learners

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Kids are resilient. I’ve continually heard that since I started teaching and I’ve seen that it’s true for a lot of kids. Unfortunately, we all get kids in our rooms that have already learned the words, “I can’t,” or “It’s just too hard for me.” As educators, when we hear those words it can break our hearts. Still, we must move beyond our emotions and teach that child to have confidence in their abilities or they will struggle to learn any of the academics that we are trying to teach them.

    Below are some of the book titles and a few activities that I use to help my students realize that they are stronger, they are smarter, and they are more resilient than they ever believed they were. I hope they give you the confidence to build your kids up. Please note that Happy Dreamer is not out yet, but will be well worth the wait when it is released in 2017.

     

    Books

    So many of these books are very well known and have been written about ad nauseam (including posts by yours truly!). If you don’t know A Bad Case of Stripes by my favorite author Shannon, then you really just need to order it and know that you will LOVE it. The Dot by the truly wonderful Reynolds has its own international day so I feel like that has been covered. I named Penguin’s Big Adventure by the amazing Yoon and Red: A Crayon's Story by Hall two of my "Top Ten Books of 2015" so if you don’t know them, be sure to check them out. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by the famed Willems is a great story about having confidence in yourself and letting it show through. Finally, It's Okay to be Different is what I have always felt like Parr’s message to the world has been. If you don’t know his work, you need to hunt his books down with a white-hot intensity. 

    Don't Worry Bear CoverDon’t Worry Bear is part of a wonderful series by Foley. Bear finds a caterpillar while he is making his cocoon. Bear begins to worry that his friend won’t make it through the night, the wind, the rain, or cold. While Bear is the main character and I use this book for my little worriers, I use Caterpillar to help my kids find the inner confidence to weather anything with the promise that they will come out more beautiful for the journey.

    The Most Magnificent Thing CoverThe Most Magnificent Thing by Spires is a wonderful yarn about a girl who sets out to make the most magnificent thing but gets discouraged along the way. She quits but begins again and succeeds. The message that I make sure my kids walk away with is that the most magnificent thing is that she found her confidence and did what she thought she couldn’t.

     

     

    A Unicorn Named Sparkle CoverA Unicorn Named Sparkle by Young is, in my humble opinion, a new classic! Sparkle is a goat with a unicorn’s horn attached. The little girl really wanted a unicorn so of course her expectations are not being met by Sparkle, but Sparkle is who he is and the ending is just a touching sentiment of acceptance. I make sure that the kids in class know that they are valuable and should believe in their abilities because A Unicorn Named Sparkle is about how you should be yourself and how being confident in what you are good about is the most important thing.

     

    Happy Dreamer CoverHappy Dreamer is quite possibly the world’s most perfect book for promoting creativity and self-confidence. It says all the things that I have ever wanted to tell my students and my own daughter. Be yourself and be really, really good at being you! This book comes out March 28, 2017 so mark your calendars because you will want — no, you will need — this book in your library!

     

     

     

    Activities/Ideas

    Positivity Sticks!

    One activity is to create an uplifting bulletin board. With the simple words “take what you need” and some sticky notes, when a student starts to feel a little blue, they can go and get just the right words that they need. For younger students, the emojis work perfectly! I found this great idea in the School of Education at Lenoir-Rhyne University so it works for all ages!

    Take What You Need bulletin board

     

    Watch Me Art!

    To remind my students that they are talented and worth more than they realize, I ask each of them to create a piece of art of something that they love. I give them choices of several mediums to use and let them create. Then spinning from the idea of Reynold’s book The Dot, I have created art galleries for my classes. I make a simple sign that says Room 103 Art Gallery of Wittenburg and hang their art pieces around on the wall. I replace the art as they bring me new pieces or create new pieces in class. The best place to make your signs is at Scholastic's Word Workshop. It's free and has tons of options for different sizes and looks for your signs and labels.

    Watch Me Art IdeaRoom 103 Art Museum of Wittenburg

     

    The Biggest Loser!

    So many of my kids struggle with not just the idea of not winning but also of not being first. They want to be first in line (even if you have a very practiced and consistent “special line order”), they want to be the one to open the door, the first one to finish a sheet, or even the first one to get to the classroom in the morning. I have one little guy who comes in every day right before the morning bell and asks, “Am I first?” One morning he had a doctor’s appointment and got to school around 10 a.m. He still asked, “Am I first?” as soon as he crossed the classroom threshold!

    I say all of this to make the point that what kids hold as important can be very inconsequential to adults. If my little man is never the first to come to class, will it begin to take a toll on his confidence? I would never suggest that all my kids wait in another room just to make him first, but what I am suggesting is that we as teachers need to recognize these needs and find a way to help our students work on having confidence even when you don’t win.

    DiceOne way to do this simply is to get your kids in groups of two or three and introduce quick games that can be played over and over. Give each child a pair of dice or a spinner and the highest number wins. You can’t play the next round until the child with the lowest number congratulates the other child for “winning.” This quick activity helps build that resiliency that all kids are supposed to possess!

    I hope that you have found something helpful and are willing to share your favorite book or activity that teaches confidence with me in the comments below.

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    Kids are resilient. I’ve continually heard that since I started teaching and I’ve seen that it’s true for a lot of kids. Unfortunately, we all get kids in our rooms that have already learned the words, “I can’t,” or “It’s just too hard for me.” As educators, when we hear those words it can break our hearts. Still, we must move beyond our emotions and teach that child to have confidence in their abilities or they will struggle to learn any of the academics that we are trying to teach them.

    Below are some of the book titles and a few activities that I use to help my students realize that they are stronger, they are smarter, and they are more resilient than they ever believed they were. I hope they give you the confidence to build your kids up. Please note that Happy Dreamer is not out yet, but will be well worth the wait when it is released in 2017.

     

    Books

    So many of these books are very well known and have been written about ad nauseam (including posts by yours truly!). If you don’t know A Bad Case of Stripes by my favorite author Shannon, then you really just need to order it and know that you will LOVE it. The Dot by the truly wonderful Reynolds has its own international day so I feel like that has been covered. I named Penguin’s Big Adventure by the amazing Yoon and Red: A Crayon's Story by Hall two of my "Top Ten Books of 2015" so if you don’t know them, be sure to check them out. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by the famed Willems is a great story about having confidence in yourself and letting it show through. Finally, It's Okay to be Different is what I have always felt like Parr’s message to the world has been. If you don’t know his work, you need to hunt his books down with a white-hot intensity. 

    Don't Worry Bear CoverDon’t Worry Bear is part of a wonderful series by Foley. Bear finds a caterpillar while he is making his cocoon. Bear begins to worry that his friend won’t make it through the night, the wind, the rain, or cold. While Bear is the main character and I use this book for my little worriers, I use Caterpillar to help my kids find the inner confidence to weather anything with the promise that they will come out more beautiful for the journey.

    The Most Magnificent Thing CoverThe Most Magnificent Thing by Spires is a wonderful yarn about a girl who sets out to make the most magnificent thing but gets discouraged along the way. She quits but begins again and succeeds. The message that I make sure my kids walk away with is that the most magnificent thing is that she found her confidence and did what she thought she couldn’t.

     

     

    A Unicorn Named Sparkle CoverA Unicorn Named Sparkle by Young is, in my humble opinion, a new classic! Sparkle is a goat with a unicorn’s horn attached. The little girl really wanted a unicorn so of course her expectations are not being met by Sparkle, but Sparkle is who he is and the ending is just a touching sentiment of acceptance. I make sure that the kids in class know that they are valuable and should believe in their abilities because A Unicorn Named Sparkle is about how you should be yourself and how being confident in what you are good about is the most important thing.

     

    Happy Dreamer CoverHappy Dreamer is quite possibly the world’s most perfect book for promoting creativity and self-confidence. It says all the things that I have ever wanted to tell my students and my own daughter. Be yourself and be really, really good at being you! This book comes out March 28, 2017 so mark your calendars because you will want — no, you will need — this book in your library!

     

     

     

    Activities/Ideas

    Positivity Sticks!

    One activity is to create an uplifting bulletin board. With the simple words “take what you need” and some sticky notes, when a student starts to feel a little blue, they can go and get just the right words that they need. For younger students, the emojis work perfectly! I found this great idea in the School of Education at Lenoir-Rhyne University so it works for all ages!

    Take What You Need bulletin board

     

    Watch Me Art!

    To remind my students that they are talented and worth more than they realize, I ask each of them to create a piece of art of something that they love. I give them choices of several mediums to use and let them create. Then spinning from the idea of Reynold’s book The Dot, I have created art galleries for my classes. I make a simple sign that says Room 103 Art Gallery of Wittenburg and hang their art pieces around on the wall. I replace the art as they bring me new pieces or create new pieces in class. The best place to make your signs is at Scholastic's Word Workshop. It's free and has tons of options for different sizes and looks for your signs and labels.

    Watch Me Art IdeaRoom 103 Art Museum of Wittenburg

     

    The Biggest Loser!

    So many of my kids struggle with not just the idea of not winning but also of not being first. They want to be first in line (even if you have a very practiced and consistent “special line order”), they want to be the one to open the door, the first one to finish a sheet, or even the first one to get to the classroom in the morning. I have one little guy who comes in every day right before the morning bell and asks, “Am I first?” One morning he had a doctor’s appointment and got to school around 10 a.m. He still asked, “Am I first?” as soon as he crossed the classroom threshold!

    I say all of this to make the point that what kids hold as important can be very inconsequential to adults. If my little man is never the first to come to class, will it begin to take a toll on his confidence? I would never suggest that all my kids wait in another room just to make him first, but what I am suggesting is that we as teachers need to recognize these needs and find a way to help our students work on having confidence even when you don’t win.

    DiceOne way to do this simply is to get your kids in groups of two or three and introduce quick games that can be played over and over. Give each child a pair of dice or a spinner and the highest number wins. You can’t play the next round until the child with the lowest number congratulates the other child for “winning.” This quick activity helps build that resiliency that all kids are supposed to possess!

    I hope that you have found something helpful and are willing to share your favorite book or activity that teaches confidence with me in the comments below.

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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