Sunday, August 14, 2011

Classroom Library and Safe Place

Considering this is what my room looked like just a few weeks ago....

   ...I can say that this is basically my PRIDE and JOY!  I'm not even going to pretend that I am humble about it because I am not.  I LOVE the safe place that my husband and I made together.  I LOVE the barn owl stuffed animal that I put in the top.  I LOVE that I only spent $18 to make it.  I am so excited for my new little darlings to see it on the first day of school!     

I used:  branches found at the community compost pile, peacock feathers, white netting used at my wedding (purchased at IKEA in the curtain section), a barn owl stuffed animal, floral moss, pillows, screws, and pieces of ply wood.

We made a base for the branches to be screwed into through the bottom.  We figured out the angle of the branches and then cut them at that angle so that way when they were screwed in they would be at the right angle.  Hope that makes sense?!

Figuring out the angle for the branches.  After it was all screwed together I covered the base with fabric using a glue gun so that my students won't be able to get slivers even if they tried!  Ha!

I tied the white netting on just how I liked it.  Then I used the floral moss to cover up the screws and for decoration.  I added the feathers and owl for the final touches :)

The library baskets are not sorted yet.  I work at a charter school and a part of our charter is parent volunteering.  I am going to have one of my parent volunteers sort them by genre.

So you may be wondering... What is a safe place?

Well a Safe Place is something that at our school is a requirement for every classroom.  The main things that distinguish a safe place from any other spot in a classroom would be:

*  A safe is a place where students can go to when they feel the need to remove themselves from the group.

*  This is a place that is NEVER to be used as a punishment.  (You would never tell a student to go there.)

*  Students are still responsible for their learning and work.

*  It is meant to be a special place.  It can look like a  chair, couch, rug with pillows, tent, tee-pee, etc.  It's a location in the room where they can go and not be bothered.

*  It is a place where students can go to practice self regulation strategies like using a mantra to calm down.  Feather breathing, yoga, thinking happy thoughts, etc.

*  There should only be one student in the safe place at a time.

The students should have some input in making the safe place special.  So this year my students are going to write/draw about a time when they felt happy and/or safe.  Then they will crumble them up and put them in a plastic egg.  Together we will make a "birds nest" since we have an owl themed classroom this year and put all of the eggs in the nest.  The nest will be placed in the branches at the top next to the barn owl.  

Some other ideas to make your safe place special and kid included would be to have them bring pictures of their family.  Make class expectations together for the safe place.  

Do you have a safe place in your room?  Can you think of another way to have the students contribute to the safe place?

PS This is how the white netting was used at my wedding...  We were married under my favorite tree in my parents back yard.    

Training at Tavaputs Ranch

Well it has been one busy summer for me especially July and August!  When we came home from our trip to New Mexico our house had been flooding for a few weeks.  Sooo... we have been doing a complete kitchen renovation and today my husband and father-in-law are doing a complete bathroom reno!  So, I am finally finding some time to blog.  Not that I haven't been blog stalking! Trust me I make time to check up on all of you, and have found many new ideas and tools for this coming school year!

I just came back from a three day, two night school training that was held up at Tavaputs Ranch in eastern Utah.  It was about a two hour drive from where I live.  You can check it out here:  It is a beautiful fifth generation operation.

That's me driving, next to me is one of our SPED teachers.  In the back is my partner teacher in the green and next to her is one of our kindergarten teachers.  We had a fun ride up together!  

Check out that view!  From the top where we were to the bottom of the valley it is deeper then the Grand Canyon!

This is the main cabin.

The help!

We had a blast and it was a very informative training.  I just love the first of the year trainings that our school does.  They are very focused on the idea that to be able to work together we first need to be able to play together.  We think that is true for our kids as well.  That is why during the second week of school all of the grades go on different field trips that focus on bonding and team work.  It has helped to set a good foundation of a community of caring that carries us for the rest of the year!