Friday, June 29, 2012

Free Safety Resources

From dogs at the park to a friends new puppy, student's will inevitably come in connect with a dog. Would your students know what to do if a stray dog ran onto the playground?

Teaching our student's to treat animals properly is just as important as teaching them how to teach their classmates with respect.  It's a lesson I teach every year and I am proud I do. The summer has given me lots of free time to play around online and find lots of fun new resources I can't wait to use and lots of them are FREE!

Dr. Sophia Yin, veterinarian and behavior specialist, has some wonderful and colorful resources.
Parents should watch the Dog Bite Prevention PSA and share it with fellow parents. Once the PSA reaches 20,000 views on YouTube, we will release a FREE educational, kid-friendly, animated video on how to greet dogs correctly.

I love the way she compares the similarities between interacting with people and with dogs. We wouldn't let our students run up to complete strangers, so why would we let them run up to a strange dog without asking?

Appropriate and inappropriate greetings: Although you’ve probably heard that you should greet dogs by letting them sniff your hand, reaching out to their face is actually pretty rude, especially if you’re facing them or staring. Imagine if someone was standing near you and they reached a hand out towards you. It’s best to let the dog approach at his own rate and avoid putting pressure on him by reaching out.

You can download the How To Greet A Dog poster FREE!

C  Users Melissa Desktop greeting

Here are more free posters available for download:
Body Language of Fear in Dogs Poster- I want to compare how body language in dogs is similar to humans. What a great social skills lesson for all of students.  I think it will be fun to compare and contrast body language and greetings in dogs and humans with the two posters above. After we discuss them we can practice the skills on each other and if my dog trainer can come back this year we might even be able to practice on a real dog.

More FREE posters!

Kids and Dogs Posters:

Lili Chin has done some amazing graphic arts and a few of her masterpieces are also free for download. To view and download (FOR FREE!) large high-resolution versions of the posters below, visit
I love Lili's work and I am going to have save my money to get a portrait of Brooklyn done. 

My favorite poster is "How Not To Greet A Dog". There is a kid-friendly version available on Zazzle for purchase. I can already feel my room account slipping away!

For all of you Kindle users Lili Chin and Dr. Yin have partnered to created an adorable book that is only $0.99 for the Kindle. I plan to share this with my parents since I know many of them are e-book lovers.
How to Greet a Dog and What to AvoidThis book may seem simplistic to some, but for our young students I think it's perfect. They need clear "rules" on how to greet a dog and I think it's easy for younger students to understand. Additionally, as a dog owner I can't tell you how many adults don't know these simple rules. We are working hard to teach Brooklyn not to jump and yet people still try to pet her without asking or say "it's ok I don't mind" when I tell them to ignore her or turn their back to her if she jumps and licks. You might not mind, but I have spent hundreds of dollars on training so help a girl out.

So there you have it more free resources for a dog safety lesson, so I hope each of you plan to incorporate it into your lesson plans.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Madness

Now I need to create one just as funny. Help me caption some photos!

Parent Workshop - Summer Reading Success

You know I love my co-workers and brag on them all the time. Well today's post is no different.

I knew I wanted to do my last parent workshop of the year on something parents could do with their student(s) during their summer. I was a huge reader as a child and I remember doing the Pizza Hut Book It! program and loving it- I dared myself to read every book at the library one summer. So summer reading seemed like the perfect workshop. I asked our amazing librarian, technology teacher, and FOCUS/Intervention teacher if they wouldn't mind teaming up to do the workshop, and less than a month later I had my most popular workshop yet.

What made this workshop so great? Let me show you.

Tips For A Successful Workshop:

1) Ask parents to RSVP. It gives it a sense of urgency and that space is 'limited.' Even if you don't have limited space the RSVP really excites parents. Last year the workshops where I requested an RSVP had double the attendance of those where I did not ask for an RSVP. We used Google Docs to make a sign up sheet and set a deadline. The link to our doc went out in the PTA newsletter, was put on our websites and the school's main website, and was sent to teacher's to pass along.

2) Feed Em'!  Each teacher set up a table with their favorite books and 'must read' books for the summer. As parents entered they could browse the tables and get coffee and breakfast goodies set up by our amazing PTA. We started the workshop as soon as school started, so after parents dropped off their student(s) they could come straight into the library and begin browsing.
 3) Keep them entertained!- Our parents spent the first few minutes eating, chatting, and browsing books. We quickly had them sit around the library for three presentations. Next year I am going to make this a two part workshop because our teacher's had so many amazing things to share. This will also allow me to offer two dates and times. From writing down book titles and to sharing sites on the SmartBoard our parent's didn't have time to stop.

 4) Give them something to take home- don't let anyone leave with empty hands. On our signup sheet we asked parents to list the names of their children and then the team made custom reading log packs.

Using colored card stock, paint chip strips, and ribbon my amazing co-workers put together these great reading packets. Our librarian found a  free template online to make the pocket sleeves so all we needed was colored card stock to make the packet holders.

Pink, yellow, and purple for the girls.
Blue, green, and yellow packets for the boys.
Each pack included a bookmark, reading log list, place for students and parents to write down favorite titles and a 'wish list' of books, and some yummy book worms.

4) Provide a way for them to get the information later- websites, blog, printed copies, make sure they have easy access to the information.  After the parents had an opportunity to eat, drink, and catch up each teacher gave a presentation about summer reading programs.  Mrs. Bunyi discussed summer writing through blogging. What a great way to incorporate social media into our lessons! Read more about her presentation on her Scholastic Blog and visit her website.

 I put copies of the handouts distributed in the parent library so parents that were unable to attend could easy pick them up later.

 Mrs. Svarda, librarian extraordinaire, discussed local book programs offered, such as the Barnes and Noble reading programs, and how to pick a good book. More information is available on her website.

 Our tech-savvy, crafty, incredible Elizabeth Shepherd shared with parents fun crafts and games they could play with their kiddos in the summer that would encourage reading. See her favorites on her Pinterest page.
Summer reading gameFree tokens at Chuck E. Cheese! reading tent

So there you have it! It was an incredibly successful workshop and I can't wait to do it again. What workshops have been your most successful? What tips do you have for increasing parent participation?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Personal Safety and Responsiblity With A Twist

Personal safety and responsibility lessons are a huge parent of any counselor's curriculum.
"Since dogs are a big part of our society, the American Kennel Club® believes every child should be taught how to behave safely around them. From the family’s own to the neighbor’s dog; from
the dog running loose in a park to one sitting in its owner’s car, dogs provide us with clues on
their disposition or mood. Understanding those clues or body language will help children avoid dangerous situations." (American Kennel Club) So, last year I got the idea to include dog safety into my program, and now it's become a must-have lesson!

When I got the idea I wasn't even sure where to start, but a friend of mine happens to work at the Murfreesboro Kennel Club, and shared the contact information of a local therapy dog trainer. A phone call later we had a parent workshop scheduled. It turned out to be the second most popular workshop I offered last year.

She was sweet enough to bring two of her dogs so the kids got a real hands-on experience. We discussed how to approach dogs, appropriate behavior around dogs, and how to be a good dog owner.

I know my kids are always begging their parents for an adorable pup, so many of our families came to get the scoop on what it takes to be a dog owner and the kids heard and saw first hand the commitment it takes.

I also visited the American Kennel Club website. They host a Responsible Dog Ownership Day every September, so guess when our parent workshop was!  They have a full list of free resources that you can download and order. You know I got them all! The parents that came to the workshop left with handfuls of brochures, activities, book marks, and workbooks.

They also have lesson plans and educational kits! I mean can you get any better than that. So in September I visited my 1st-3rd grades where we discussed dog safety. First, we watched a very entertaining video, "The Dog Listener," which discussed how to approach stray dogs and appropriate ways to behave around different dogs.

The student's really enjoyed this video and afterwards we practiced the methods, such as 'make like a tree,' that were discussed in the video.

 We then completed the safety activity sheets together on the SmartBoard. The "Dog Listener" workbook is yet another free PDF available thanks to the AKC. When the students were all done (and if they participated and behaved) they became official "Dog Listeners" complete with this adorable certificate they took home to share with their families.

It was a super fun lesson to teach, and I swear to you less than three days after finishing my 'rounds' teaching this lesson a stray dog wandered onto the playground. It was better than any post-test I could have given! The kids swarmed me questioning and accusing me of planting the dog to test them, but shear coincidence was at play. Of course the students that remembered what to do found me as soon as possible to brag on their success and to tell on the majority of the students that ran, screamed, and forgot everything I taught in the moment. This friends is why I will be doing this lesson year after year.

I also put copies of the resources and video's in our parent library for checkout. Every time a parent or student says "we are thinking of getting a family dog" I hand them the information!
The Right Dog for YouBefore You Buy a DogChildren's Education Catalog Canine Summer Safety Tips