Mother’s Day is on May 12. And although it’s typically celebrated with flowers and brunch, did you know this holiday actually began as a peace movement after the Civil War? Julia Ward Howe, who was famous for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, was the first to appease mothers everywhere to join together for world peace. In 1870 she wrote a Mother’s Day Proclamation in which she asked mothers and women to honor their sons lost in war by standing up for peace. This year, consider honoring mothers everywhere by stepping back in time to the holiday’s origins and taking steps towards peace by participating in the 17th annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.
The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is held annually to benefit the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute. The Peace Institute is an organization in Boston that has its roots in offering resources for those families whose lives have been affected by violence. They’ve developed a peace curriculum that they present to area schools, raise awareness in local communities, and provide supports for families and individuals. It was only natural, then, that they initiated the idea of walking for peace on Mother’s Day.
The Walk for Peace already has over 5,000 registered walkers, many of whom have lost loved ones to violence. Some walk in honor of those they knew personally, while some walk in hopes of spreading peace and making positive changes in the world. The walk takes place 8:00-10:00 a.m. in Dorchester on Mother’s Day on a 3.6 mile course near Town Field Park. Walkers can register individually, in teams, or virtually. Registration is free, though walkers are encouraged to raise $100.00 in pledges per walker. There are also multiple volunteer opportunities both the day before and the day of the walk. After the recent Boston Marathon events, as well as the tragedy in Newtown, spreading peace and supporting those in need of healing seems like a wonderful way to honor mothers everywhere.
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As we enter into Spring–even if there is still snow on the ground–our thoughts naturally turn to the outdoors: green grass, sprouting daffodils, the return of the robins and other songbirds, and mud puddles through which the kids love to stomp. How appropriate, then, that April is Environmental Education Month! And to help school us about the environment, we are going back to learning our ABC’s.
A is for Awareness and Action. The first step to make kids more aware of their environment is pretty easy–GO OUTSIDE! How can they be encouraged to nourish and nurture the environment if they never spend time in it? Read a book in the shade of your favorite tree in the yard. Take a family walk at Grassy Pond or join a guided hike at various trails with the folks from Westford Conservation Trust. Rake leaves together. Sketch an outdoor scene. Put out a blanket, lie back, and listen to the birds singing their Spring songs or see what shapes are in the passing clouds. Whatever it is that you choose to do, children will learn to appreciate nature more when they spend time outdoors in it!
Once their awareness is raised, brainstorm some ideas of ways to take action to help the environment. Read Hoot, Where Once There Was a Wood, or Earth Book for Kids or watch The Lorax or for ideas on how other kids stood up for the environment. Research environmental issues online to stimulate conversations and learning. Some great starting points are: EPA Students for the Environment, Kids Planet, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Set an example at home about your own personal commitment to the environment by monitoring water usage, using flourescent light bulbs, recycling, and cleaning up litter in the community. Work together to take action on an environmental project and make sure it’s ongoing, as environmental issues are ongoing as well.
B is for Birds, Bees, and Butterflies. Encourage your children to spend time in nature and take care of it! Get your hands dirty by tending a garden, planting a tree, and composting together (for a great list of composting items, click here). Hang bird feeders and houses to invite feathered friends to your yard. Design a wildlife habitat with these ideas from the National Wildlife Federation. Keep a journal–photo or written–to document natural events in the world, like when the first tree buds appear or when the last leaf falls from that same tree. Your children will love these first hand nature experiences that will nurture an appreciation for the cycles of life on Earth.
C is for Caring for and Conserving our Classroom Earth. Nature wastes nothing, so why should people? Make your kids aware of their carbon footprints so that they can strive to make it smaller. Have your children carry a grocery bag around for the day and instruct them to collect all their trash for the day in it. At the end of the day, see how much has been collected–did they have any idea that they consumed so much? Also, sort through the trash (with gloves, if necessary) and see what can be recycled, composted, or reused (think plastic baggies). Find ways to conserve energy, water, and materials at home–turn the lights off when you leave the room, limit shower time, use the back of paper for drawing or printing on the other side, use linen hand towels instead of paper towels, and set up a rain barrel or water collection system. Instead of buying new toys and books, arrange for a swap with other families, borrow items from the library, and donate some to others for their use.
Remember, working with your children to help the Earth can be as easy as A, B, C!Parents | Comment (0)
March brings Spring, and with it all the tell-tale signs of the season: the sight of children running free after shedding their jackets at recess; the taste of the first sweet, ripe strawberry of the season; the feel of the warm sun on your face in the late afternoon; the smell of freshly sharpened lead pencils; and the sound of rustling test booklet pages. That’s right, folks; spring also means it’s MCAS time.
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, affectionately known as MCAS, measures the students’ achievement in relation to specific standards in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Students will complete a battery of multiple choice and short answer questions; in addition, the students in the fourth grade will also complete the long composition writing session.
Parents, have no fear, your children are ready for these tests. They have participated in various activities, learning opportunities, and practice sessions throughout the year to gain both the knowledge and the strategies they need to perform their best during the testing season.
What are the best ways for you to help? Parents Place, a Massachusetts based parent information center, offers pointers on a variety of topics, including the following testing tips:
- Be positive when referring to upcoming tests.
- Encourage your children to do their best.
- Remind your children of their strengths.
- Let your child know that there are many measures of academic performance in addition to these tests.
- Promote good sleeping, physical fitness, and healthy eating habits during testing times.
Be sure to visit the Parents Place site for more in depth tips and information. Also, visit the Massachusetts Department of Education to review the MCAS parent guides and information. Looking for something more lighthearted and fun? Read “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!” by Dr. Seuss, which is a great book about a “different-er” school’s response to a big upcoming test.
Take a deep breath, have your children take a deep breath, and good luck!
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When ringing in the new year, people often make resolutions; one of mine this year was to continue to teach my own daughters about the value of community service. While we donate regularly to the food pantry, now that they are a little older, I’d like to have them experience some hands-on service. If you’re like me and are looking for a starting point, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is that place.
Rather than seeing it as a just a day off, a movement began several years ago to see MLK, Jr.’s birthday as a day OF–of service, that is. What better way to honor a man who once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” than by giving back to the community?
In my classroom guidance lessons with all three grades, we’ve been discussing the idea of fostering a welcoming and inclusive school community. Third graders have been working on a welcoming acts paper chain. Fourth graders, who are focusing on peaceful problem solving, have begun designing “Keep the Peace at School” posters. And fifth graders, for whom friendship and peer relationships are quite important, have participated in a variety of activities that promote inclusion of all students (such as using their critical thinking skills to address hypothetical situations during our blogging adventures). For the students here at Abbot, the first step in giving back is creating a school community in which everyone feels valued, safe, and cared for.
Want to deepen your child’s experience with giving back? Find an opportunity to volunteer as a family. The first step is to find a common interest and see what you can do in that area. For example, if your son loves animals, check out the Lowell Humane Society’s Kids 4 Paws program that offers educational and fun opportunities for kids to work with the dogs and cats one Sunday a month. Maybe your family is more committed to the environment? The Nicodemus Earth Project is a service learning program that encourages kids to participate in environmental stewardship projects. Or is your family an advocate of the performing arts? The Lowell Folk Festival is a great opportunity to expose your family to a variety of cultures and their music and arts, and your help would be appreciated during their annual celebration. To help you begin finding the right experience for your and your family, VolunteerMatch is the best place to start looking.
The sky is the limit–find your family’s place to shine and share!
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Want to know what your fifth grades students have been learning in our classroom guidance lessons? Then check out the blogging pages to see their comments, wisdom, and wittiness…blogging, Fifth Grade | Comment (1)
In my small group sessions, one of our most common topics of conversation is friendship: how to be a good friend, what to look for in a friend, etc. Recently, we created Word Clouds using Wordle and we’d love for you to view our hard work. Click on the link and enjoy!Parents | Comment (0)
Here is a repost from last year with some timely MCAS tips:
And so yet another season of MCAS testing is upon us, bringing with it new pencils, brisk morning walks, special snacks, and a fair amount of anxiety.
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), measures the students’ achievement in relation to specific standards in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Students will complete a battery of multiple choice and short answer questions; in addition, the students in the fourth grade will also complete the long composition writing session.
The American School Counselor Association has an article offering tips to parents to help ease their child’s test anxiety, and About Our Kids offers a similar test tips guide with specific recommendations for both physically and emotionally preparing for a test. And, of course, you can always refer back to the MCAS post from last year here at Ms. Moreau’s Musings to find great tips as well.
The most important thing to remember is to covey to your child positive thinking and reassurance, so that s/he comes to school feeling relaxed and ready to tackle anything. Believe in your child, and your child will believe in him/herself!
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Check out our fifth grade blogging pages. You’ll see that the students are starting to comment on our classroom guidance lessons. Enjoy!
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A new year, a new you. How often have we heard that expression, and jumped on the wave of making resolutions, only to have our enthusiasm flatten out over time? We often associate the new year with an opportunity for bettering ourselves. Perhaps making a commitment to change might be easier to keep if it’s done with a partner: your child. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when thinking about how to help children set goals for themselves in the new year:
* Sit with your children a guide them through a self-assessment. Is there an area that your child has made an accomplishment in the previous year? How did that accomplishment happen–was one skill focused on, was more time given to that skill, was it developmental and something just “clicked”? Celebrate that acheivement by using it as an example or model for how to work on a goal for this year. Make sure to go through the same self-assessment process for yourself, and compare ideas for goals to be worked on.
* Focus on the positive. See this goal as a chance for positive growth and change, not for nitpicking at negative things. Use positive language when stating your goals as well.
* Make the goals realistic and specific. Instead of broadly saying that she’ll do better in school, maybe your child can say she’ll practice math facts for 15 minutes each night until they’re mastered. Help your child keep track of her progress as well, either on a chart, calendar, or journal–whatever works best for her particular goal. Keep track of your progress, too, and encourage each other to keep working at it.
Want some more ideas? I came across some great online resources on the subject for you to read at your leisure. Education.com gives some nice ideas on not only having your kids making resolutions, but helping them to stay on track with them; the American Academy of Pediatrics offers resolution ideas by age group; or you can search through this list of books on perseverance from Barnes and Noble to share with your child. (My favorites on the subject, besides the traditional The Little Engine that Could, have always been Katy and the Big Snow, Brave Irene, Amazing Grace, Leonardo’s Dream, and biographies about Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Thomas Edison.)
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