It’s All In A Name

Last week we participated in No Name Calling Week. The free lessons that I downloaded from the website were fabulous and engaging to all the children. I was able to lead the same lesson (on different days), It’s All In A Name, with both the Magellans (2 & 3) and the Armstrongs (4 & 5).  Below is the listed objective from the lesson plan

OBJECTIVES: To gain group knowledge of what each person’s name means to them. To reflect as a group on the importance attached to names and the different feelings brought up when names are used as Put-ups or Put-downs. To empower each person to assert what they do and do not want to be called in the classroom. To create an atmosphere in which students seek to use names that make others feel good.

The children were paired and had to interview one another about their name:

  • Who gave you your name?
  • Why was it chosen to be your name?
  • What do you like about your name?
  • What nicknames do you like to be called


The children then came back to the group and shared what they had learned about their partner’s name. Among our group, we have Juliana  who was named after the first woman author of a fly fishing book; Levi, who was named after Leviathan, the Mythological creature who guards Atlantis; India who was named after a character in her Mom’s favorite Movie, Gone With The Wind; Juve who was named after a TV show character, and Sophie and Sadie who were named after their grandmas. Some kids have nicknames that only their families are allowed to use.

We then talked about “Put Down” names- ones that make us feel bad. Many of the kids spoke of  negative spins on their names, that others had called them and why they didn’t like them. Some kids were surprised to hear that these names weren’t welcome, because they sounded cool. The kids also spoke of general words that are put downs- stupid, lame, idiot were a few, but they also spoke of phrases that hurt like, “you’re not my friend”, and “I don’t like you.”.

We then spoke of “Put Up” words- encouraging words- and brainstormed ones they liked to be called, ones that are spins on their names and general ones. “Nice job, good try and awesome”, were a few.

We talked about standing up for ourselves when someone calls us a name but we also talked about standing up for others when we hear it happening to others.

We intentionally played non-competitive games during our recreation time at 4:30 this week, to encourage team work and the use of (hopefully) “put up” words. On Thursday, the Magellans worked together to get a hula-hoop around the circle without breaking their hands. I heard a lot of put-up words, including “go, go go” and “you can do it!” and the kids were proud when they had accomplished this. We talked about how it felt to hear those words of encouragement from one another.

Wow. A moment of accomplishment for me!

And then we played another team game that involved trying to keep a ball in the air as a group. How many times in a row could 25 kids hit the ball without it hitting the ground? They tried it many times.



But we did have the contrasting moment to discuss as a group. Why couldn’t we accomplish more than 5? Why were there so many kids who never even hit the ball once?

We’ll have to give this one another go sometime. 

Until then..



We’re all different alike

That’s the title of the anti-bullying week lesson I am using with my group today in Bright IDEAS.  Thanks to Tracey’s dedication to finding us wonderful resources to use this week!  And where did my mind take the lesson?  Mother of a 6 1/2-year-old?  Woman who works with sometimes 90 kids a day?  I went directly to crayons.  I am sure that I have little bits of colored wax running through my veins.  Or at least I will, by the time I am 50.  (not THAT far away, people.)

Why crayons, you might ask?  Well, it began when my little nugget got the crayon maker for Christmas.  You take all your broken bits of crayons and melt them down and make new crayons.  Color medley crayons.  That is what I have been doing this morning.  Making crayons for my group.  I think that it is the perfect symbol of who we are as a human race.  We are all human.  (we are all crayons).  We all come in different packaging.  Some of us are tall (whole crayons), some of us are less tall (pieces of crayons).  Our backgrounds are diverse, so are our cultures.  But we are all crayons.  and these crayons are so cool, because they are swirling mixtures of all different colors-writing differently depending on how they are held.  Some have yellow on the inside.  Some have red on the outside.  Some are dark colors, some look like sunshine!  But they are all crayons.  made of basically the same elements.  But they are all unique.  They are all different alike.
crayon maker crayons


Wow, we have been off the blog for a while.  Tracey Whitehouse and I think about it all the time.  We talk about what we need to post.  What we want to post.  and then work, children, challenges with children, sickness, and life just get in the way.

We said goodbye to some beloved staff in December.  Janna McIntyre is off to Senegal very soon and this past Friday, we skyped with Patrick Frame from his new digs in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik.  We have missed their daily presence, but are so happy for them to be having these incredible experiences.  Even though our kids were suffering from a severe case of challenging behavior crammed into the project lab like sardines on the last day of a long week of no outside recess—-you could see that talking about another country with Patrick while he was sitting there, 5 hours ahead of us, in complete darkness of night, getting to ask him questions about life made more of an impact on them than any pictures or videos we could show them of a country.  It made it real.  It made it tangible.  A good learning for us staff.

Making experiences tangible for the kids is our daily challenge.  In fact, that was a large part of a 3 hour meeting that Ms. Lewis, Tracey and I had yesterday.  We have kids from all socio-economic backgrounds.  We are reaching some and we are light-years from others.  How to plan for groups that include kids from the entire socio-economic spectrum and engage them all?  Add into that mix that these are individual humans who are so much more than the sum of their socio-economic parts.  Our goal is to inspire them, help them learn to make good choices-not just to satisfy us-but so that they grow up to be contributing, interesting human beings engaged in life.  engaged in the world.  engaged in LIVING-not existing.

How do we positively contribute to their growing up process and inspire them and engage them and keep them safe AND keep our program evolving and moving forward as a whole?!?!  One way is a 3 hour meeting on a beautiful Saturday.  Another is the valuable resource of our teachers and staff at Dickson.  We so appreciate their willingness to hold counsel in the hallway or to share strategies and plans with us.  We are a stronger program because of them.  We are also so appreciative of the parents of our kids.  You support us, work with us and trust us to be a part of your kids’ lives.  Bright IDEAS is becoming more than the sum of its parts as well.

This is far from where I started this blog entry, but oh well.  It’s Sunday morning and I have only had one cup of coffee.

We have a lot coming up in BI.  This week is anti-bullying week.  We have new units of study for the weeks and months to come too.  Weird science, volcanoes, Senegal, the earth, character building, water, galaxies and stars to name a few.

Session 3 clubs start the week of February 4.  BI is in full swing between now and then.  I really need to go help that coffee pot by reducing its load……happy new year.  happy Sunday.  happy life.  amanda

What Happened To October?

Time flies when you’re having fun, right?

And so it goes at Bright IDEAS. We have been busy learning, cooking, playing, cooperating, storytelling, stamping passports, corn mazing, snacking, crafting, puppeting, dancing – the list goes on and on.

The dedicated staff of Bright IDEAS is constantly reviewing and tweaking how we serve our kids. How we teach them, empower them to make good choices, encourage them to be good citizens, guide them to be persons of character.

In that light, we decided to take a different approach with our older children- the Armstrong group. We held a series of meetings with them and let them shape what they do with their time with us. They had some good ideas, several of which we have implemented already. Once a week, they chose to help younger children during their regular homework time, 3-3:30 pm and then work on their own homework from 3:30-4.

They also enthusiastically agreed to design, bake, build their own gingerbread house with the goal of being accepted into the Gingerbread competition at the Grove Park Inn. They had about 30 ideas of what kind of structure they could create but in the end voted to build Isaac Dickson (with UFO being a distant second).  I have been quite impressed with their cooperation so far and look forward to seeing how the story unfolds as they make the template and bake the pieces.  I’ll try to post pictures here to keep you (our three readers) up to date.

Until then, here are pictures from our week:

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Wow, this month has flown by!!  We are in the short week between club sessions.  Since the last time I posted, we have studied Samoa, storytelling and now we are on dinosaurs.  Not to mention that registration for Session 2 has come and gone and new clubs start next Tuesday the 30th!!
Samoa was so wonderful.  We have a family from there and they kindly came and brought photos, clothing and artifacts from their time there.  We learned what life is like for them, what they eat, where they live, what they study in school.  Thanks to Molly and her 3 kids for sharing everything with us!

Storytelling week was also wonderful.  The BI kids learned the different ways we tell stories.  Why we tell stories.  We wrote family stories in pictures and words in the journals we made.  We did story circles and created our own stories.  Miss Pat from the Pack Place library came on Friday the 19th and enchanted the kids with stories.

On Monday the 22nd, we took 25 kids to the Eliada Corn Maze.  It was a BLAST!!  We spent 3 hours combing over the maze, relaxing in a large rope spider web, blasting corncobs out of cannons and over pumpkin scare crows.  Sliding down 3 wild and fun slides, AND had a hayride in the pumpkin wagon.  But before we went there, we had Ms. Cari Snodgrass working with 3 groups of kids on storytelling thru treasure maps and puppets.  While 25 went to the corn maze, we had another group that stayed behind at school and made the playdough we needed for the dinosaurs sculpting craft.  On Tuesday, we had kids working on masks with Jenn Goff.  Drawing projects, games to play, fun free time in the computer lab.  The list goes on and on!

THEN, yesterday, we were on to dinosaurs!  The Cousteaus crafted some really wonderful dinosaurs out of our homemade playdough and then went out to the sand pit on the big kid playground to play palientologists.  We dug up ‘baby’ dinosaurs and ‘dinosaur bones’.

It has been an exciting few weeks, even thought our blog has been rather quiet.  Clubs next session are going to be great.  And the Explorers Club is starting Session 2 by studying Transylvania and planning a Halloween party for Wednesday.

It’s a busy time, but isn’t it busy with BI all the time?!?!


Can you believe it is time to register for 2nd session?  Registration paperwork will go out later this week and registration will begin Monday, October 15.  We will be set up in the hall across from the main office, Monday-Friday October 15-19 from 7:30-8:30 am.  There will be no afternoon registration times.  (because we are IN Bright IDEAS every afternoon starting at 2:30 pm!) If you have any questions, come see us.  We can’t wait to get started!  It is going to be awesome!!


“Here’s looking at you, kid…..”

I am positive that the kids who actually did go home and say that phrase to their parents were greeted with some pretty interesting looks.  But how else could you possibly begin a study of Morocco than to watch the last 2 minutes of such an incredibly famous movie, a Bogie movie nonetheless, that takes place in Morocco’s most exciting and mysterious city!?!? It is cinematic history.  an icon.  a landmark.  an institution.

Of course, if you ask the kids, the video clips of the snake charmers in Marrakesh’s famous or infamous market, Djemaa el fna far outweighed a silly black and white movie.  Don’t get me wrong, watching King Cobra’s ‘dance’ is pretty amazing.  And all of the performers who frequent the market.  Dancers, storytellers, vendors of fruits and veggies, sellers of cloth and trinkets.  Jugglers.  It is a circus.  It is a street fair.  It is a madhouse.  But this staffer would rather endure a root canal than an up close and personal interaction with a snake.

We also looked at some of the amazing mosques and mosaics that call Morocco home.  The kids made drums and attempted to cover them in personal mosaic designs.  We listened to fables from Morocco, and talked about storytelling.  We are going to do a unit soon on storytelling.  Can’t wait for that!

Again, soccer is the game of choice.  They play a lot of games we play.  Marbles too.  Since this week is a short week, we did our foodal journey of discovery on Thursday rather than waiting until Friday.  The Armstrong group (grades 4/5) made couscous with onion, red pepper, cucumber and carrots.  We made mint tea as well.  It was beautiful in the glass jars!

The younger kids got the chance to draw some snakes on our smartboard, while we looked at the different perspectives of seeing an object, in this case a coiled snake like the ones in Djemaa el fna. They did a great job. Then we practiced doing the cobra yoga pose and then they drew chalk snakes outside.  You could say do math with chalk outside on the basketball court and they would think it was the best idea ever!  Enjoy the photosssssssssssss.