Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kindergarten, Behavior & Buckets

My very first Florida Kindergarten author/illustrator visit!!

I walked in the door knowing that I wanted to be a sponge and soak up as much as I could. I knew that I wanted to take oodles of pictures to share: of the kindergarten walls, the kindergarten artwork, the kindergarten classrooms, the kindergarten organizational systems, the kindergarten smiles. I also knew walking in the door, that I wanted to contribute to Krissy's linkie party about behavior & kindergarten.

The "bucket-filling" concept was in full bloom at St. John's and I LUV'd seeing the various ways that teachers were working with the students to reinforce positive behavior. I especially appreciated this anchor chart which so delightfully captures all manner of positive interactions. (It went on and on at length, but this picture conveys the essence.)

What a great method of capturing what we want! LUV the way that the individual names are high-lighted in green. Once upon a time a gazillion years ago, I remembering hearing someone say,

"The bridge to reading is through a child's name."

[While the person who shared the power-of-the-name concept escapes me all these years later, the concept itself resounded so strongly with me at the time, that it has stayed with me over the long haul.]

How truly wonderful to see your 'name-up-in-lights' with positive behavior. ~~~~BINGO!!!~~~~

Now let's all look over kindergarten teacher, Mrs. McClain's shoulder. This chart above was right behind her teacher-desk. Each child has a little individual bucket, labeled with their name and then affixed to a 'library pocket' where the amazing Mrs. McClain can then leave a little note on behavior that she's observed and wants to re-inforce. SUPER BINGO!!! [Editor's note: Each of the classes at St. John's have twenty or twenty one children, so I've cropped the bucket chart so you can see a large enough portion for her system to make sense.]

I took the liberty of peeking into the buckets of Yosef and Miles to see their messages. WOW!!

These were a few of my observations PRIOR to my Artist-in-the-Schools visit begining in earnest with the students. These peek-a-boo glimmers made me all the more eager to have my opportunity to work with my audience.


I sculpt each of my presentations from the 'optimal behavior' stand point, based on the variables for that specific visit. (Now granted I probably don't make a typical author visit, because truly I'm an Arts/Music/Movement person, but having said that,) I plan our time together to go back and forth between UPbeat, moving, dancing portion to more stationary, sedentary, thoughful segment and ying/yang between the two, for as much time as we have available. Think: CLASSIC A/B pattern! Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down.

I always get us underway offering the children  a chance to dance their heartbeat to a new level, filling their brains with oxygen in the process to my original children's song, "All Together Now." The song is designed to 'do-and-review' and includes everyone's favorite verse SHAKE IT DOWN. We then conclude with the directions: 'Everybody, sit back down' which are the lyrics of the last 8 beats of the song. Now that we're focused and alert, we're ready to take a look at my newest picture book, "Red, White and Blue."

This is what 60 kindergartners look like at minute #10. I've asked for volunteers to hold the original mini-quilts which became the illustrations within my book and we're captured in the picture above, working on our sign language for the lyric "I love you." So even though they are now seated, my expectation is that they are engaged. Including sign language for a hearing audience has so many benefits. The kinesthetic learners are delighted to have a job for their fingers. With this effort to be inclusive we also garner the benefits of fine motor development and all sorts of crossing the mid-line opportunities as the song unfolds.

Having been seated for several minutes, its time to get to "Jumpin' Jiminy" where we literally jump for 30 seconds and then freeze frozen, controlling all of our energy for 30 seconds. If you're freezing frozen you might as well make funny faces, right?

Freezing frozen is all about positive behavior and learning to control your own energy, your own body, your own enthusiasm, your own excitement. Now that we've had some time to jump + freeze, and jump + freeze, guess what comes next? You got it. Sit back down.

That's a pretty great picture of the quilts and their companion picture book windows for my first book, "You're Wonderful."

So back to Krissy Miner's question about Kindergartners and behavior. I do everything in my power to take advantage of the energy of five and six year olds and channel it in the direction that I want it to go. Having an invitation to a school where there is already a focus on positive behavior makes my brief time together all that much easier. This is more evidence from the classroom -- of the sort of perspective I observed yesterday. Last spring I wrote a post here about the 'rules' of kindergarten and if I do say so myself, it was a great post! (Click here to go there.)

These were all ideas observed in Kindergarten-land. If you've landed here thru Pinterest and want to see another AMAZING idea for building kindness -- I just saw another 'concrete' manner to encourage kindness in your classroom. Click right here to see the Kindness Wreath from a preschool setting.

If this is your first visit here to Rainbow-Land I'd be most grateful if you'd officially follow my blog and tell your friends. You're never certain what I'm going to share here, but I do work really hard to make it upbeat and encouraging, full of color & enthusiasm, polka-dots, daisies + the Arts, sharing from my amazing travels and invitations + the creative process that makes it possible.

********Speaking of SHARING......... We've just begun a collaborative blog earlier this month. It's filled with an amazing array of contributions from professional speakers, authors, performers, teachers, counselors, mental health and brain insight specialists. While you're blog hopping come on over and take a look at what's happening at PreK + K Sharing and be one of the first hundred followers there.
PreK + K Sharing

Edit: I woke up this morning and found a blog hop entitled "Thankful Thursday" and they've asked you to link to your favorite post of the last week!!! I am indeed thankful for everything I've learned about blogging in the last several months.

Another Linkie: I've  now added this post over at "I Can Teach My Child" for their weekly Show & Share hop.


  1. Debbie, AwESOME link up! Great energy and excitement- looks like a super, fabulous time had by the kids (and you-key in spreading fun and energy!).
    Mrs.Miner’s Monkey Business

  2. Krissy!!!! Thanks so much for the inspiration for my post. Setting the tone and having a plan for fun go along way in creating a positive environment, in my experience. We need to do everything we can to share what we know & these linky parties are the best thing since sliced bread, as far as reaching a wider audience!!

  3. I am new here and in just the few minutes I've spent, I would say that you succeed in your goal up making your space upbeat & encouraging!

    Anyway, I'm stopping in because I am new to We Teach and just joined the "We're Bloggers" group. When you find a moment, I would love for you to do the same. You can find me at

    Sofia's Ideas

    BTW, I would love to oblige by officially following but I don't see a GFC widget so I'm subscribing via Reader. I hope that will suffice?

  4. Sofia. I'm so glad that you took the time to leave a comment!! WeTeach is absolutely amazing!

    Thanks for pointing out that my GFC got lost in the shuffle. I think when I added my blog roll it must have gotten deleated. I'll see what I can do to get that back.

    I'll pop over to your 'house' shortly!!


  5. I love what those kids said about each other. The bucket idea is terrific!

    1. Jessica, just finding your comment all these weeks later. I'm glad that these photos have given you some new inspiration!

  6. I'm a real fan of the "filling buckets" concept! I love the positive energy you bring to your work, Debbie! I pinned your post to my Kindness Projects Pinterest board ( and Word-Art Inspiration Pinterest board (

    1. DEB!!! You are the best at filling the buckets of others! Thanks so much for pinning from this article. I know that it will increase readership on this topic that is significant -- whatever the age of the student. I appreciate your continued support and am grateful for our working together on behalf of children.


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Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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