Behind the Blog

Behind the Blog
My name is Cindy Kruse and I've been learning from elementary students for the past 16 years. I enjoy discovering new technology and implementing it in the classroom, absolutely love literacy, and am passionate about Responsive Classroom. I am constantly striving to learn new and innovative ways to teach students in order to provide authentic, interesting, and joyful classrooms.


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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Intentional Traditions

As I sit here writing this, the stockings are hung over the fireplace with care, the Christmas tree is twinkling across the room, Christmas cards are addressed and waiting to be mailed tomorrow morning, and "Butt Ugly" - the snow woman is seated in her place of honor on the kitchen windowsill. This addition to our family's Christmas traditions was totally unintentional and really quite a funny story...

One Christmas, my loving and thoughtful husband wanted to buy me a snowman to add to my extensive snowman collection. Proud of his purchase, he beckoned my daughters upstairs to secretly share his find with them on Christmas Eve. When they saw the snow woman they both roared with laughter exclaiming, "That is Butt Ugly!" I was given the present Christmas morning as my husband sought to gauge my enthusiasm with the newest addition to the collection. He wasn't convinced of my sincere appreciation - mostly due to the snickers from my daughters. Although I assured him of my affection for the carved snow woman, proudly cradling her basket of fruit, he stated that we'd see what I really thought of the gift next year (certain that the snow woman would simply "melt away"). Next year, I made sure that "Butt Ugly" (nicknamed by my daughters) assumed her rightful place of honor over the kitchen sink. This became a tradition in our home as my husband bought a uniquely carved snow woman for each daughter for their own homes as their first married Christmas gift. (These are all referred to as "Butt Uglies") In true Kruse tradition, one has not decorated the house for Christmas until their own "Butt Ugly" is proudly displayed.

Our traditions this time of year are many...these traditions are what defines the season. They make us smile and laugh as we form a special bond strengthened by shared memories. Many of these traditions are formed unintentionally. Now that we are at the half way point in the year, it is the perfect time to think about the traditions we have formed with our classroom families....

Kids are such creatures of habit. I am certain that we have all formed traditions or routines unintentionally in the classroom. Many of these traditions are not realized until they don't happen - such as the day a "guest teacher" is called in to teach the classroom and the students complain, "But Mrs. ___ doesn't do it that way."

However, research shows that rituals or traditions serve to create a sense of community within our classrooms, making them a safe and joyful environment for children to learn. Here are some ideas for traditions that you can intentionally begin to establish with your classroom:

1. Begin or end your day with choral responses or songs that the class enjoys.

(check out the Responsive Classroom tab in this blog for ideas)

2. Read stories that students enjoy hearing over & over again.
3. Story Bits (treasures) or Reading Souvenirs - collectibles that help students remember a story
3. Use celebrations to acknowledge large or small accomplishments.
4. Cheers or songs to acknowledge birthdays.
5. Songs or chants to help ease transitions - to Morning Meeting, Lining Up, etc.

What traditions have you created in your classrooms?


Cait Jensen said...

LOVE this post and love that "butt ugly" will always be a family tradition of ours :) I think all kids need routine, inside & outside of the classroom. If I am learning anything while nannying these next few years, it is that routine is necessary for the day to run smoothly.