Wednesday, May 29, 2013

End of Year Song for Graduation

photo of: Kindergarten Excellence "Classroom Crashing" via RainbowsWithinReach

Welcome to Rainbows Within Reach! 
Look at that RAINBOW! 

photo of: "I Am" Bulletin Board in Response to "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement


There is an amazing and supportive network of Kindergarten bloggers who teach me so much. I'm so grateful that  they allow me to be their mascot. I am so motivated to go to their classrooms and visit. Yesterday I was fortunate to make my way to the school of Nancy Messenger and Heidi Feskanin. 

They had a GRAND reception awaiting my arrival. Heidi's class had launched their year by using my picture book, "You're Wonderful" and had this HUMONGOUS bulletin board above their windows for the entire school year. How appropriate that I got to come and visit and they were able to share their amazing classroom creations with me, just before their Kindergarten Graduation. 

photo of: "I Am" Bulletin Board in Response to "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement

Look closely above, their rainbow is made out of colorful hearts. 
photo of: Kindergarten "Wonderful" Mosaic in Response to "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement
"I think you're wonderful"  I am wonderful. 
It's such a joy to visit schools and see how the teachers direct the children in response to my work. My song starts out, "I think you're wonderful." Don't you love this language acquisition exploration? 

photo of: "I am caring" in response to "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement

photo of: "I am special" mosaic kinder response to "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement

Take a look at just a few of the 'mosaics' that were created in response to my book. This is a PERFECT blend of fine motor activity coupled with early literacy! Wonderful and marvelous are vocabulary words from the text of my song and book..... LUV LUV LUV all of these other favorite descriptive words! 

Here's a view from across the classroom, to see just how GIGANTIC this bulletin board really is!!! We're talking super-duper, gynormous, over-sized, incredible HUMONOGO! It literally goes from wall-to-wall! What a great backdrop for an amazing year! 

photo of: Bulletin Board for Kindergarten Graduation at RainbowsWithinReach

The song version in Mp3 format is now in digital form at our 
and also at

photo of: "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement Digital Download Available Now

While we're in Heidi's room, let's take a quick peek around to see some of the other kinder highlights. 
Here's their Chicka-Chicka-Tree! 

photo of: Classroom Tree for "Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom" at RainbowsWithinReach

I had an earlier RoundUP of Trees in the classroom. 

photo of: Trees in the Classroom (RoundUP via RainbowsWIthinReach)

Their word wall. 

photo of: Word Wall for Kindergarten at RainbowsWithinReach

photo of: Word Walls in Elementary School: Sight Word Presentation on Bulletin Boards Round-up via RainbowsWithinReach

Their teacher appreciation quilt!!!! 

photo of: Teacher Appreciation Quilt via RainbowsWithinReach

photo of: Quilts in the Classroom: Art Meets Geometry RoundUP at RainbowsWithinReach

Now, here's the three of us together. 
Left to right: Happy Heidi, Marvelous-MOI, and Nifty-Nancy! 
We're standing in front of their collaboration for my newest picture book, 
"Red, White and Blue."

photo of: "Red, White and Blue" Collaborative Quilt at RainbowsWithinReach

I'll share some close-ups of the art amidst the stars and stripes in my next post. The pencil drawn designs are incredible! 

As always, I'm so grateful for your pin -- that's how people find me! 
-- Debbie -- 
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This article was added to Deanne Davis Back to School Linky for picture books. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Daddy Deploys Today" Memorial Day Tribute

photo of: "Daddy Deploys Today" Memorial Day Tribute at RainbowsWithinReach
"Daddy deploys today." 

Memorial Day Deployment 

Today's Memorial Day. There will be hot dogs grillin' with badminton and 'corn hole' being played all across America. We did all of the above yesterday, because in this home, where we are visiting, "Daddy deploys today." I took the picture above without staging. True glimpse into the life of a pilot in the Ohio Air Guard. Captain Mettle will deploy later this afternoon. At this moment his desert boots are sitting beside the flotsam and jetsam treasures of his Little Red. Later today there will be hugs and squeezes amid tears and then those same boots will move on to the heat of the other side of the world.  

Memorial Day. We honor the sacrifice of generations before us. What does that mean in 2013?  

photo of: Captain Mettle displays Kindergarten Artwork inspired by "Red, White and Blue" picture book
Captain Mettle holds Kindergarten Art Inspired by "Red, White and Blue" 

How did I 'land' in the position of 'suddenly' being surrounded by the military? My husband is a Navy Veteran, having served aboard the original USS John F. Kennedy. He had the responsibility of giving the final signal before the fighter planes screeched off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier and then of tying down those same planes in the middle of oceanic storms, where he saw waves surging over the flight deck some 75 feet above the sea. I have two children. Daughter #1 is married to Captain Mettle pictured above, flying out today. Daughter #2 is also married to a Navy-man, stationed permanently in Annapolis. 

I didn't see this coming. Wasn't I the daisy loving peace-nik? I didn't ever envision September 11th either. 

Remember, Tuesday, 9-11 of 2001? I know you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. My happy little polka-dotted life has had quite an adventure since that crystal clear blue sky day changed everything in our collective history. On Friday of that week, the official national day of prayer and mourning, I wrote a little dittie for the preschool children of the New Albany Jewish Center to sing to their parents and grandparents on the steps of the synagogue as I led that memorable Tot Shabbat. As the protestant P.K. (pastor's kid) leading the assembled in Hebrew every week as the candles were lit, I was well in over my head already. Leading prayers on the day of national prayer and mourning? I wanted to call in sick. What could I possibly do in this setting, under these circumstances that would be appropriate for children? 

Pre-September 11th Fourth Fest

They were mostly three and four years old. What could I do? Brainstorm. I had a flag bag, filled with American flags. By Friday of that week, you couldn't buy the American flag in America -- they were sold out -- but I had a bag of flags from earlier festive Fourth of July fun. Whatever the children would sing had to be simple. It had to be something that I could teach the wee-ones that morning, to sing at noon for the massive number of extended family members who would arrive to join us in worship. 
"Red, white and blue. I love you. Red, white and blue. I love you."
Sufficiently simple. There wasn't a dry eye in the synagogue. I was able to strum my guitar, but I couldn't look at the children for fear of totally, completely and utterly 'losing it.' They sang with innocence, the kind of direct purity that only the tiniest can convey. They waved their flags sweetly, completely unaware of what had happened days earlier. They kept hope alive that we would make it through the coming weekend. Who knew what ledge of destruction we were poised on? Hope won out that day. The children kept the candle light glowing with their sincerity.

That day seems a long time ago now. My daughters are grown, graduated and out on their own. I'm a grandma now.  At the prompting of teachers I ended up developing those two lines into an official Dittie with a capital D. We recorded it in the studio with a full complement of background singers and sweet children's voices adding their clarity and heart. Then piece by piece, year by year later those simple words became the text of what would become my picture book version of the song. (Yes. There is a CD insert of the song included.)

photo of: Patriotic Picture Book "Red, White and Blue" by Debbie Clement

True story.  I had finished piecing together the Thanksgiving quilt that would illustrate the final verse of the song. I had an 'empty chair' in the corner of all of the activity that surrounds a community coming together for a meal of thanks. My daughter Sarah looked at me, and said, "I know what you're trying to say with the empty chair. No child will ever 'get that.' It would have been better if you'd have had Scott coming home in his uniform in time for turkey." At the time she said those words, Scott was literally in Afghanistan and would indeed be returning in time for turkey. {Out of the mouths of babes.} I don't think I have a picture of the 'before' quilt, but this is the amended version, with a 6 foot 4 pilot-in-fabric inserted at the eleventh hour. 

photo of: Quilted Picture Book Illustration for "Red, White and Blue" by Debbie Clement

Once she put that thought into my heart, I realized I finally had the 'solution' for the final quilt I still needed to design and piece together. If Scott was going to make an appearance in the book, then I needed to include my other son-in-law as well. I needed to have Zac in uniform. After a quick look at his Facebook photos, I designed his quartet of trombones within a gazebo, since that was the setting of their wedding. Ta-da. The quilts are finished. The book is printed.  The book wins a national award! Oh happy day! 

photo of: Quilted Illustrations for Patriotic Picture Book "Red, White and Blue" by Debbie Clement

[It's a long story about those last couple of quilts and why it took me over five years to make the needed total of 16 quilts. The short version? I overcame a lot of personal setbacks, side effects and obstacles generated by the return invasion of cancer in my body: Cancer the Sequel. With the help of therapists and an untold number of prayers, I was eventually strong enough to lift a light-weight iron and steam together the final cotton pieces which are now part of my legacy.]

photo of: "Red, White and Blue" by Debbie Clement

Jump ahead in time again. As a result of my book with its patriotic images and now with men-in-uniform 
{{{and the intervention of a committee of angels}}} I am invited to EUROPE to perform and present to the children of our troops stationed abroad. Hubby makes all the travel arrangements and acts as chauffeur with European GPS through the five countries of my tour. I meet amazing individuals. Individuals sacrificing. Separated from their family at times and moving said family from pillar to post, all in the name of service. Always available. Always willing to give their all.  I am humbled to be a part of the "Military Month of the Child." Having a parent in the military is indeed a sacrifice. Participating in the festivities on behalf of the children makes my heart both proud and humbled. 

photo of: Debbie Clement's European Tour for "Month of the Military Child"

As a result of being in Europe, we are returning to Zurich to fly stateside again. While sitting at a charming candle lit dinner in a cafe at the top of a breath-taking switchback peak overlooking Florence Italy, we suddenly realize that there is literally a hole in our remaining self-guided tour and we have no reservation for the following night, the night before Easter. Oh my.

Completely out of left field we 'insert' a day trip to Verona as that is neatly between where we are at the time we realize we have no where to stay and where we need to end up for our return flight and there is room in the inn. Verona was NEVER, EVER on our itinerary. Since we were in Verona on Saturday, we ended up doing all of the tourist-type activities, which led us up into the TOP of their ancient colosseum. As I am happily taking pictures Allen sees that a spectacle is forming below us on the city streets. We can't hear the public speakers from across the square, which doesn't matter anyhow because neither of us can speak Italian. We can however clearly see US Army vehicles forming a parade below us. Everyone is in crisp, but OLD, US military garb and the stars and stripes are waving from every vehicle. Completely confused and clueless we depart the colosseum's many steps to figure out what is happening. 

It is at that point that we wind our way through the crowd and are led to an English speaking participant who as soon as she realizes that we are from America begins to hug us and sob, "You've come!" To capsulize this amazing 'coincidence' (certainly orchestrated by heaven) we realize that we have arrived in Verona at the very moment of their annual observation of our US soldiers liberation of their city during the World War. JUBILEE.

photo of: Enactment of Verona Italy Liberation

We.Are.Heros. We are hugged and held, because we are from America and it was America that saved Verona. She sobs her appreciation to me in broken English -- as though it was I that personally drove this very tank through the streets those decades earlier when she was a child. She sobs her gratitude for America's soldiers who came to her defense as a child. We are revered. We are the bodily representation of her freedom. America did that. America is being celebrated. American soldiers saved her. Saved her city. Saved her country. I had never ever experienced such pride in my homeland, in my people. I stood for all that is good in this world, because I was America to her. I stood as the mother who sent her sons to save her. History. World history. Revered in the face of the heinous. Good wins again.

photo of: Project Based Learning in Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

Which brings us back to Memorial Day and deployment. I know in my heart that America-the-blessed must stand watch in this fragile world of ours. While I want to cover my eyes and just sing "Let there be PEACE on Earth"  I have lived to witness the unthinkable. I have also been personally hugged as the embodiment of the liberator. I know that we must still have uniforms that stand at the ready. I know that means that there must be mothers who say goodby to their children in uniform, spouses who sleep alone, children who are abruptly in one parent households. I know that in my head. 

Observing it up close and personal is a whole different level of truth. 

This is an extremely long ramble I realize. I appreciate that you've taken the time to read it. I am a daisy lover. I also hug my son-in-law goodbye today. Its an amazing quilt of experience this life I'm living. If you see a young mom with three children in tow at the grocery store looking exhausted and alone, realize those could be my loved ones, my WonderPeeps. Smile. Reach out. It takes a village. Actually, it takes a planet. We are all connected. This little planet of ours needs all of us to collectively cooperate and share this place we call home. Until we can figure out how to do that, we will have those willing to sacrifice their all toward that noble end. We have those in our midst who have lost their loved ones in just such sacrifice. 

photo of: Daddy Deploys Today: Memorial Day Tribute

Today we pause to reflect on what that means. I know I've shed some tears already before the sun ever came up as I 'thought' about writing this epistle. I appreciate your prayers of support on behalf of Scott. I also appreciate your expressions of support for Sarah and our peeps. Scott's mission this time is for just over two months. A bite-size chunk in the grand scheme of things. Small potatoes comparatively speaking. Just long enough for him to miss his birthday and Father's day and the fireworks of the Fourth and a season of swimming with his dear ones. The sacrifice is real. The emotions are many. The sincerity is genuine. 

***If you have a couple more minutes, watch as Carie-the-Kindergarten teacher, with her earlier nine years of service with the US Army, including one year of service in Iraq, leads her kinders in the singing and signing of my song. They are standing in front of the colossal quilt they created in response to my picture book.

-- Debbie -- 
I really don't intend for this article to be a "commercial" for my work. 
This is my real life today. 
Not a Hallmark movie.
But I do know that there are people searching for ways to instill a sense of patriotism, pride and respect in children they direct, teach and love. To that end, I will leave you the specific links to these projects so that you don't have to go searching. 

My Pinterest pinboard on ALL things patriotic is just one click away. 

photo of: "Red, White and Blue" Digital Download Available Now

My song is now available as a digital download format at our Early Education Emporium
It is also in a zipped file at TeachersPayTeachers.  

It will be used at a variety of end-of-the-year concerts and graduations across the country and around the world. 

photo of: Field of Heroes: American Flags honor Memorial Day
***If you are reading this in 'real-time' you have the opportunity right this minute to register to win a set of all three of my books over at the blog, Kindergarten Lifestyle, in honor of my launching SKYPE visits to schools. 

Thanks for your continued support. 
Thanks for your pin. 

Follow Me on Pinterest
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Click this link to go there directly! 
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth -
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Excellence in Education: 2nd Grade

photo of: "Classroom Crashing" with RainbowsWithinReach: 2nd grade visit to 'Rockin' Teacher Materials' Classroom


Welcome! I know you're going to have such fun looking over my shoulder today. As I'm out and about traveling the countryside for my presentations at conferences, my favorite thing is to make Author-Illustrator school visits while 'on the road.' 

The world of blogging has connected me to a whole array of excellence in education. Today I want to welcome you to my 'classroom crashing' in Hilary Lewis' Indianapolis 2nd grade setting for her "Rockin' Teaching Materials." You're gonna LUV LUV LUV seeing how organized this brilliant wonder really is! (This was just a blink ago, in the winding-down of the year mode..... not in the school hasn't started yet, look how tidy everything looks phase.) 

photo of: Bulletin Board F.A.C.E. of a Reader (Rockin' Teacher Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

There are so many things to adore about Hilary and her approach to teaching. 
Seeing the student art work EVERYwhere is at the top of my list! 

photo of: Behavior Bucket System in 2nd Grade Classroom (Rockin' Teacher Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

photo of: Beads in Behavior Buckets in Second Grade Classroom (Rockin' Teacher Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

I have had an earlier RoundUP of buckets and the filling of buckets. As you can see -- these are 'behavior' buckets and beads are earned as the week unfolds. The students were so eager to show me the various items that they 'construct' from their bead accumulations. Friendship bracelets were at the top of the list. 

photo of: Kindness Inspiration, Filling Buckets + Emotional Intelligence RoundUP via RainbowsWithinReach

Now let's move around the room and get just a glimpse of how the classroom is set up! Talk about organizing a classroom. There was a place for everything. EVERYTHING was labeled. (This is not an especially large room, by any means.) 

photo of: Organized Classroom Reading Materials (Rockin' Teacher Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

My number two article here on my blog is about classroom organization. I'll be moving several of these images into that HUGE storehouse of organizational inspiration. 

Now on to some of the bulletin boards around the room. Here's one HUGE wall divided into two pictures -- as it relates to "The Daily Five." LOOK at all of these anchor charts! 

photo of: Daily Five Anchor Chart (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

photo of: Daily Five Anchor Chart (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)
Daily Five Anchor Charts in Second Grade Classroom 

photo of: Elbow to Elbow, Knee to Knee with Photos (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

photo of: BOGGLE Bulletin Board in 2nd Grade Classroom (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

photo of: Organized Student Supplies (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)
Organization of Student Supplies: LABELED! 
Now take a look at Hilary's command central and desk area. She had TWO of these labeled teacher supply sets of drawers pictured below, sitting side-by-side. You get the idea from just one. You'll have to go over to her blog and ask the specifics: where she got the drawer system? Ask her about the labels while you're there. I only get credit for taking the pictures -- while I'm running around the room. Again. This is NOT my classroom. I'm just a visitor! 
photo of: Organized Teaching Supplies: LABELED! (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

photo of: Organized Teaching Supplies: LABELED! (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

photo of: Teaching Notebooks at Rockin' Teaching Materials (via rainbowsWithinReach)

My FAVE-FAVE-FAVORITE bulletin board in the room, is the one Hilary directed her students to create in anticipation of my arrival. They prepared this special wonder, in response to my picture book, "Red, White and Blue." Their quilt pieces are a reflection of my own quilted-illustrations. The bulletin board's caption refers to the title of my first picture book, "You're Wonderful." Two for the price of one! BAZINGA! 

This is such an amazing response. Perfect reminder for the Memorial Day weekend at hand. I 'featured' this work in a recent article looking at OODLES of patriotic student artwork created for my arrival. 

photo of: Patriotic Bulletin Board in Response to "Red, White and Blue" Picture Book by Debbie Clement

My picture book words are based on original songs for children that I've written and recorded. So the song lyrics become the book text! The songs are now available as digital downloads, with support materials that I created for the picture book format. 

photo of: "Red, White and Blue" by Debbie Clement (Now available in Digital Download)

I just 'transported' this picture from Hilary's write-up of our time together. 

Let's conclude our 'classroom crashing' with the classroom door: front and back. Here's the side that is facing the interior, toward the classroom. Robots with student photographs. How clever is the caption? "Take Me To The Readers." 

photo of: Decorated Classroom Door with Robot Theme (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

On the exterior of the classroom door is a tree is bloom with spring-time butterflies from coffee filters. My guess is that the tree undergoes seasonal change as the year unfolds! Decorated door and seasonal science all in one! 

photo of: Springtime Classroom Decorated Door (Rockin' Teaching Materials via RainbowsWithinReach)

Much to my continual amazement: the number 1 article here on my blog is a RoundUP of decorated classroom doors! I'm not sure if this is the number one issue in education or if the pin-image was that brilliant, but here's the direct link to all of those earlier ideas. Yes. By all means, go-pin happy with all of these great ideas! 

photo of: Classroom Door Decoration Ideas + Bulletin Board Ideas as well! (series of articles from school visits)

Come to think of it, I also have a RoundUP of "Trees in the Classroom."

photo of: Trees in the Classroom (RoundUP via RainbowsWIthinReach)

Digging around on my memory card for Hilary's photos, I found this image, taken on the same trip. 
The colors of spring are already receding. 
Blink your eyes and its time for the autumn leaves turn. 
Happy memories. 

BLOOM indeed! This has been a big week here at Rainbow-Central. I have fallen in LUV with the technology to offer 'cyber' time together. 

I have had another THREE SKYPE author-visits! This week I virtually-visited in Oklahoma, the day following the devastating tornados.  Next I 'went' to TX and I concluded the week in Nevada. My kinder-blogging friends have acted as the guinea pigs in this adventure. I'm going to do my best to keep track of where I have shared thru these virtual-visits! 

photo of: Virtual Visits as Author-Illustrator on SKYPE! RainbowsWithinReach

My blogging friends are sharing with their readers just how much we have had together!! Maggie started off the reporting from Missouri at "Maggie's Kinder Corner." She created an award, JUST FOR MOI! 

photo of: Maggie's Kindergarten Awards to Debbie Clement

Tiffani followed up with her insight at "Time 4 Kindergarten."   She also captured a bunch of images of our cyber-time together. They teach me so much, my techie friends. I'm guessing that this clever collage was constructed in PowerPoint. I'll have to ask for sure. LUV the rainbow background! 

photo of: Time4Kindergarten has a cyber-visit with author/illustrator Debbie Clement

While I was cyber-zooming thru the country to virtual-visit classrooms, my blog was hitting a new million-milestone. I hit my second million pageviews here at Rainbow-Central! This second million was in six months time. MAKES MY HEAD SPIN!!! It took me well over 4 YEARS to hit the first million. I'm LEARNING! I'm LEARNING! 

Next report was just posted tonight at "Kindergarten Lifestyle" by author, +Jeannie Partin. She has gone the EXTRA mile and has created a 'give-away' to support my projects being seen by the wider world. We are teaming up with an opportunity to win a set of all three of my books, signed and personalized.  

photo of: Blogging Milestone: 2nd Million at RainbowsWithinReach

The VAST majority of my pageviews are as a result of Pinterest people popping over because of a Pin that you've initiated. Readers, I'm so grateful for your pin-support. Thanks -- from the bottom of my heart. 

photo of: "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement Digital Download Available Now

**If you're still in search of an end-of-the-year 'graduation' song, I have the perfect suggestion, "You're Wonderful" is in a zipped file at both our Early Education Emporium and TeachersPayTeachers -- complete with 2 Mp3 versions: both sung and instrumental, as well as a chart for the sign language, to support your performance. 

Thanks again for all of your support. Till next time! 

-- Debbie -- 
Follow Me on Pinterest
I'm now at 121,866 followers!     
Click this link to go there directly! 
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth -
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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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