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How to get 5 year olds talking about identity

Hi y'all!
I am so excited to share with you one of my favorite classroom lessons,
Star of the Day!



Today I want to talk about identity and how to get your kinder darlings talking about themselves in positive and thoughtful ways.
I've done this activity with my students for the past 10 years. Each year I change something or add something new but at it's core, it stays the same.
I'm sure many of you do a Star of the Week or Student of the Week activity.  These moments serve as an opportunity for students to discuss what makes them special and gives the class community a peek into their family life.


The interview portion of Star of the Day focuses on a variety of simple questions:
My name is ____.
I am __ years old.
My favorite food is ___.
My favorite color is ___.
I have ___ brothers and ___ sisters.
I love ____.



My questions vary from year to year but more often than not these are the top questions.
Each Star gets to sit in a chair at the front of the class next to me.  Before I begin, I remind students that they need to be respectful participants.  I remind them that part of the excitement of being Star of the Day, is getting to know one another.  We practice whole body listening, and when the Star thinks everyone is ready....we begin.

I ask each question in style similar to Oprah! I really try to act as if I don't know any answers to the questions, I am intrigued with their answers, and ask additional questions to find out more about our Star.  I try to model inquiry and interview behavior for students.  I really feel that students do not have many opportunities to learn how to effectively present information to a group.  The Star of the Day interview is an opportunity to practice.

My most favorite part of the interview is the very last question.  In my silliest but also very serious voice, I ask my Star...What do the loooooovvvveeeeee, more than anything else in the whole wide world?
And  the answers my kiddos give me.
Oh how they warm my heart.
Sometimes I hear, "I love my family" or "I love my friends". Sometimes I hear "I love helping people" or "I love learning"! I melt!!

After the interview, I sit and draw a picture of the Star of the Day.  As I get the color crayons I need to make my very best picture, I talk about the color choices I've made.  I hold up a purple crayon and say, "Ok, time to draw Bobby's eyes purple.  That's my favorite color so it's ok!"  My kiddos shout, "NO! You need to make the picture look like the person". It's an idea I've hammered into their heads since the very first interview.  When we talk about each other's identity we always mention how we need to respect the individual whose portrait we are creating.  Their skin needs to be the right color, their eyes should be they right color, their hair should match what it looks like in real life.  When we talk about portraits and identity we talk how how we look in the mirror is a representation of what the world sees.  And while we are all different (and similar), we all have an identity that is important to us.  We must do our best to represent the identity of our Star in their portrait.

I'm always the first Star of the Day.  This portrait is on point!


Y'all, I know it seems simple- Vera, you're just having them pick a color that matches their skin tone.

You're right. I am.  But in that matching process, there is conversation.
"Hey Bob, are you this color brown or lighter?"

In those conversations there is respect.
"Please don't color my eyes blue. My eyes are brown.  Can you fix it?"

With respect, we learn empathy.
"I have the same eye color as you, but I am different skin color."
"I also love playing with Legos, do you want to play Legos with me during centers?"

It is that easy...but as the teacher you must facilitate conversation.  You must get your students thinking beyond a crayon color choice...and thinking about the identity of their peers...and the importance of respecting that identity.



Our Classroom Library


Y'all know how much I LOVE books!
I am so excited to share my classroom library with you.
It is one of my most favorite parts of my classroom!
Let me know if you have any questions regarding set up or organization!


The Tutu on YouTube

Did you know I'm on YouTube now?

This venture into the world of video is something I've been working on for awhile now and I finally got my act together.

If you want to learn more about, get some teaching tips, and have a little fun, click the pic below and subscribe!

Why I bought a microphone for my classroom. And why you should too!

The Tutu Teacher


Yup.
About a month ago, I bought a karaoke mic from Amazon and it is hands down one of the best purchases I've ever made.
This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links.

This mic was the life of the party during my travels to Vegas and Los Angeles (it also works as the perfect way to annoy my husband).  When I found a similar mic on sale during the Amazon Prime day sale, I scooped it up right away!
One for school and one for home.

Let me tell you a little about this mic.  Everything you need comes in the box! You won't need to purchase anything else to make this mic "work". My mic needed about 2-3 hours to charge before it was able to work out of the box (the charging cord comes in the box).  The mic is bluetooth enabled so you can connect it to your phone or speaker system.  You just need to connect the mic as you would any other bluetooth enabled product, but in case you're not sure, directions come in the box.  You can choose to use it with or without music, which makes it even more perfect for the classroom!

I shared my purchases on my Instagram and Facebook page and folks had lots of questions!
So, I decided to blog about some ways I plan to use the mic in my classroom.

1.  Morning Meeting
At the beginning of the school year, we sit in a circle and take turns talking about ourselves.  We introduce ourselves and name a few of our favorite things.  This mic will be a great way for students to introduce themselves, while making sure everyone is heard!

2. Calendar Helper
After my students are finished with their Morning Work, we roll right into Calendar Time. I don't know about your classroom, but some days I STRUGGLE to hear the calendar helper led the class in saying the days of the weeks. I try to encourage them to speak up and use a strong voice...but OMG some days all I get is a whisper.  This mic is going to be the perfect way to get my introverted or shyer speakers to use their quiet voices, and still be heard.

3.  Retelling
Retelling stories is a great way to strengthen reading comprehension skills.  Using popsicle sticks, I'll choose a student to retell our read aloud using this mic.  It will be a great opportunity for me to informally assess a student while they practice their listening skills!

4.  Singing of course!
We sing ALL THE TIME in kindergarten! Like, everyday...and sometimes multiple times during the day.  This mic is going to be the perfect addition to our singing time. Again, I'll randomly choose a student to lead us in a song and let them use the mic to belt their heart out. If you're looking for a great resource to incorporate singing into your classroom, check out this resource.

5.  Fun!
Just plain fun! We only have a short time with these kiddos...it's so important to spend as much time with them having fun! We have spur of the moment dance parties on a regular basis in our classroom.  This mic is going to up our fun game by 200%!

Check out my videos on YouTube!

What other ways would you use a mic in your classroom? 
What's the first song you plan on singing once your mic arrives?

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

Diversity Matters: The Graphic Novel Edition

Dear reader,
I am so sorry for my absence...
I've been spending A LOT of time reading and I recently fell in love with graphic novels.
I've always loved comics...well, mostly Archie comics.
I started with El Deafo and my collection has slowly and steadily grown.
I want to share a few books I've added to my collection recently.

If you have questions on how to take advantage of these (and many other books) wonderful books during the entire school year, please email me at vera@thetututeacher.com...we can chat!
This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links.




And here's how I score the books:




I think technically this is a comic and not a graphic novel, but it's great nevertheless. Kamala Khan is a typical teenager until one day, she suddenly isn't typical anymore. I think this comic provides an opportunity for an avid comic book reader to see a new spin on a classic, while simultaneously providing new readers an exciting and fresh experience.wWhile, I don't know if this book is appropriate for the early childhood classroom, but I could easily see ways secondary teachers could incorporate this series into their teaching.  







Ben Hatke is an amazing author/illustrator. He is also the author/illustrator of the book Little Robot (another graphic novel). Zita the Space Girl is a quick read and a great edition to any early childhood classroom. Zita is a rambunctious girl who quickly gets herself into trouble.  What I love about this book is how easy it will be for our students (especially our girls) to identify with Zita. There are more books in this series, so once your students fall in love with book one, you may want to grab all the others!








                                                       Persepolis by: Marjane Satrapi
This is one of the best graphic novels I've ever read.  This story opened my eyes to culture and history I knew very little about.  While it isn't appropriate for an early elementary classroom, I am sure secondary teachers could definitely use this in their classrooms.  I would HIGHLY recommend this book for any teacher. Persepolis is a memoir of Marjane's childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  I was captivated by Marjane's story and could not put the book down. 


This book is just incredible. I can't begin to imagine the pain and hard-ache that the residents of New Orleans went through during hurricane Katrina.  Don Brown does an incredible job recalling the inhumanity and humanity that comes when a natural disaster strikes. Although this book is not appropriate for elementary students, I could see teachers making some amazing connections with secondary students.



What a great beginning graphic novel for elementary aged students.  Jaden is a five year old on a mission, to get more screen time. This quick paced novel is perfect for kindergarteners or first graders.  There are so many ways for students to connect to Jaden.  This is the first book in the series, and again you will want them all!



Another great graphic novel that may not be appropriate for early elementary but would work perfectly for upper elementary and secondary classrooms, is Amulet.  This brother and sister team suffer a major loss and have to work together to rescue their mother.  There's emotion, adventure, and fun throughout this book. Again, this is one in a set of series. Another quick read, but your students will definitely be hooked.











Ok real talk. I bought this book because I was hoping to entice some of my girls.  Babymouse is all about the glam; singing and dancing and excitement.  I have a few girls in my class who are all about the glam and I thought this might be a great hook for them.  And while I didn't LOVE it, many of my girls did enjoy it. And really that's all that matters.  Babymouse is another book  in a set of series, and I will definitely purchase the next couple of books for my kiddos.








COULD NOT STOP READING THIS BOOK! It's so good. It's such a great story and provides a window to a cultural celebration some readers may be unfamiliar with. I saw myself in this book and learned so much at the same time.  I think this book is perfect for upper elementary and most secondary classrooms. I was left wanting more, I really wish it was a series because I want to gobble up more of this!






Hopefully you found a few new books to add to your classroom library! 
What other graphic novels would be a great addition to this list?



This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

Tutu Time

Hello!

Please join me every Sunday for some Tutu Time!
Each Sunday, you choose which story I read aloud on IG Live.
I try to feature new and upcoming stories, so you can see the latest in Children's Books.
I'll keep a running record of the books I've featured you so can always check them out here. This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I earn a small amount each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which allows me to continue to buy more books for my kiddos!
Click on the pictures to grab yourself a copy.


Here's what we've read so far:

February 28th





March 4th









March 12th











This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.

Diversity Matters: Diverse Books for Winter

Hello!
I know it's been awhile since I've done a Diversity Matters post, but I wanted to be sure to start out new year right!
This posts features books all about winter.  I don't know about you, but winter is my LEAST favorite season.  I hate the cold, the snow, and the ice! It's terrible.  But there's nothing like a great book to make those winter blues melt right away!
If you have questions on how to take advantage of these (and many other books) wonderful books during the entire school year, please email me at vera@thetututeacher.com...we can chat!
This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I earn a small amount each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which allows me to continue to buy more books for my kiddos!








When  I saw this book on Here Wee Read's insta feed, I knew I had to have it for my classroom! There aren't a ton of books that discuss the Winter Solstice, so my library desperately needed this extra addition.  This book covers the science and cultural celebration of Winter Solstice.  I think this is a great book to add to your library especially for an early childhood classroom.





Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

This book is so fun. It's a great play on the traditional tale.  Little Red decides to enter an ice skating competition because she really wants to win the prize, a new pair of skates.  But she needs a little help in order to be number one! I would definitely recommend this tale to classrooms K-5. Extra bonus, this book is available through Scholastic Reading Club, so you can buy it with your points (only 80!!)!









So, as I was looking for books on Amazon, I was taken down a wild, wonderful rabbit hole of books I had never seen before.  I FELL IN LOVE with the description of this book. Immi is a little girl who finds fantastic treasures when she goes ice fishing.  One day she gives back, adding her own treasure to the water...
 THIS BOOK IS MAGICAL! It's about how we are all connected, how we need to take the time to make connections with people we don't know. Such a much needed book for any classroom!





This is another book I found down the Amazon rabbit hole, and it is REALLY good!  When This World Was New is a story about a little boy whose family recently immigrated to America.  They moved from a warm country, to the cold, snowy North.  The story touches on the little boy's fears of being a newcomer along with his fears experiencing his first snow. It is a great book for winter, but another great book to help kids talk about the feeling of being "new".




What an incredibly adorable story perfect for Valentine's Day! I had the chance to read this book when I went to the NTCE conference this fall.  The simple pictures captivated me and the story won me over.  Elephant is doing all he can to fall in love.  He tries going on a diet, but ends up finishing the cheesecake.   I want to tell you more, but I know you'll fall in love with this book once you read it. There's a very strong message of loving yourself for who you are, and others will fall in love with you.





I've had this book in my classroom for awhile now. I remember buying it because it reminded me of my childhood.  My  grandmother's birthday is on December 31st and each year she'd cook black eyed peas for us to eat.  And now, I cook a black eyed pea dip for our family to eat for New Years! This is a great book to show students other ways people celebrate the New Year.







The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

I'm pretty sure you have a copy of this book in your classroom.  And if you don't, go get it now.  I'll wait...
Ezra Jack Keats was an amazing author and illustrator.  He was so talented at bringing a story, setting, and characters not typically seen in children's books to life. He tells stories in such a wonderfully simple way, which makes it easy for children to relate to his stories. I LOVE Snowy Day.  If you're looking for more in depth ways to integrate this book into your classroom, please check out my blog post here.








A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney

This book is everything.  It's such a beautiful tribute to Ezra Jack Keats and Peter.  I just can't say enough about how great this book is.  I think if you were to integrate it into your early childhood classroom, you'd need to be sure to scaffold a lot of the history of Ezra Jack Keats, WWII, and Civil Rights.  There are a lot of issues discussed in this book but in such a beautiful way.  The beautiful imagery of snow is woven throughout...oh I could go on and on.  Even if you don't use this in your room, this is a book you just NEED to purchase for yourself!







The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming

This is such a fun story to read, especially right after the holidays.  The story is told in the same manner as the song  "Twelve Days of Christmas".  The story presents different materials for the friends to use to build a snow...person together.  Your students will truly enjoy this book as will you!








Hopefully you found a few new books to add to your classroom library! 
What other winter books would be a great addition to this list?



This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. For more information about my Disclosure Policy, please visit this link.