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Kid President’s Letter To A Person On Their First Day Here

August 19th, 2014

Kid President videos always make me smile.  Check out this one that he made:  Kid President’s Letter To A Person On Their First Day Here

Save the Date: RAGSDALE & SAYLOR AUTHOR EVENT

August 19th, 2014

Join Susan & Ann, best-selling authors of Great Group Games for their new book release

Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms:

The Essential Handbook for working with Youth

October 4, 2014

2:00 p.m. at Parnassus Books

3900 Hillsboro Pike.  Nashville, Tennessee  37215

Find other books by Susan Ragsdale & Ann Saylor at www.TheAssetEdge.net

Summer Days 3

August 18th, 2014

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude -  so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

 

In the previous two blogs, the life lessons taught by Summer, our beloved canine Happiness Teacher, were to show love first thing each morning and be joyfully exuberant when you get to do the things you love. Closely connected to her teaching of lesson two is lesson three which is:

Delight in the now.IMG_2467

Now, I have to admit that I’m a poor student at times with this particular lesson. I think my husband does a much better job at this one. I too often am thinking about what needs to be done for tomorrow, next week, next month – and I’m ashamed to say – even next year. I often miss the importance of now.

But Summer? She has the “now” down pat! When we’ve gone on walks, it isn’t just a walk. It’s an adventure. On any given said walk, there is a constant shifting of how she stays in the now by sniffing, exploring, showing curiosity toward sights, cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, birds or humans. She has always been on the move engaging all her senses to see what can be seen, smell what can be smelled and play with what can be played with.

IMG_3957Summer has shown a tendency for creating her own form of “play” while we walk. She has stalked the path’s edges to catch or sniff out crickets; she’s hunted for bunnies; she’s stuck her nose in water holes to push at frogs and has even pounced on water to make waves.  All games – never for harm. (It’s true! No bunnies have ever been hurt in the making of our walks. She catches and releases.) Her choice of play has depended on the season of the year.

And all of her actions she repeats every single day, every single walk. Every day that walk is fresh, new, delightful and well, now. It never gets old to her and she approaches each one with the same joyful exuberance and appreciation.

Do you find that you tend to think about the past or the future instead of the now? Are you able to take any given moment and be fully present in it savoring all the sights, smells, tastes and feel of the present moment? What happens when you do? How do you feel inside when you fully immerse yourself in the present moment?

Pick several moments today and try to be as open as you can to everything that’s going on in those moments. Savor them. Experience them fully. Give yourselves to now and live your life in this moment. Make it count.

Your Tax Deductible Car Donation Helps Make Children’s Wishes Come True!

August 12th, 2014

When you donate a car, truck, motorcycle, SUV, RV, or boat to the WHEELS FOR WISHES program, they turn your vehicle into wishes. Proceeds from the sale of your vehicle donation benefit your local Make-A-Wish and help grant wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening medical condition.

I haven’t had experience with them personally, but according to the website, they offer:

  • Fast, free pick-up and towing from anywhere
  • Professional service & easy donation process
  • Maximum possible charitable tax deduction

If you have a vehicle to donate, I hope you’ll check them out!

www.wheelsforwishes.org

Summer Days 2

August 11th, 2014

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude -  so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

Summer, the four-pawed Gratitude Coach, who came into our home over a decade ago, has taught us many lessons in being happy every day. Last blog we shared her value in showing love first thing every day (lick, nuzzle, thumping of tail in pure excitement . . .) with greeting and showing affection.

IMG_2245Lesson #2 as we look at a chronological snapshot of her day is this: Be joyfully exuberant when you get to do the things you love.

I’m not sure why, but Summer chose the act of me brushing my teeth to be her signal that we were going to get ready to go for a walk. I can’t begin to tell you how tough that choice has been. Why not when I put on my running shoes? Or pick up her leash? But, brushing teeth in the morning?

Philosophically, I could read into that choice as her nudging to say, “You’ve got your teeth done, now it’s time to take care of the rest of your body. Good choice! Let’s go for a walk.” I could but . . .

Whatever was going on in that doggie brain, the fact remains that she has always LOVED going for a walk. When she knows we’re going, she talks, she dances around and it’s the only time she EVER shows impatience. Once the decision is made, she is simply mad to get going and is so excited she’ll run from human to human to dog . . . or from dog to human to human – depending on where one is standing.

In other words, she is joyfully exuberant and shows extreme gratitude for getting to do the thing she loves.

What do you love to do? Do you include it in your day? Do you take it for granted, or do you show gratitude for “the thing” you love doing facially, verbally or with full body wag and dance?

Today, remember to express thanks in some form (we recommend the full body wag just for the heck of it) for the things you do that you enjoy. Those things – be it sipping coffee, drawing, running, building, making a pie or shooting hoops on lunch break – are the very things that add life to the day and are worth noting and giving thanks for every time. . . because you just never know if some day they may slip away from your life and then you’ll miss them.

If you missed the first lesson, click here to read about the importance of showing love first thing each day.

Resource for Substitute Teachers

August 9th, 2014

One of our educator friends emailed us this note about our best-selling books Great Group Games.   It made us smile, and we thought it might give you an idea to encourage youthworkers and educators in your life:

“I led the Human Treasure Hunt with a 2nd grade class last week and they had a blast!!  Susan and Ann – you girls have made my substituting days SOooo much easier and so much fun!”

Find out more about the book here or at your favorite online reseller.

Ten Ways to Fight Hate

August 7th, 2014

 

  1. ACT     
  2. UNITE      
  3. SUPPORT THE VICTIMS      
  4.  DO YOUR  HOMEWORK      
  5. CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE TO VIOLENCE
  6. SPEAK UP      
  7. LOBBY LEADERS               
  8. LOOK LONG RANGE          
  9. TEACH TOLERANCE          
  10. DIG DEEPER      

See the full article with more details on each step at http://www.wsu.edu/PHRC/fighthate.html 

Inspire My Kids

August 6th, 2014

“Kids can change the world. All they need is a little inspiration!”  That’s the tagline for InspireMyKids.  They provide ideas and resources to inspire parents and educators to inspire children.  The site is full of easy to navigate stories, quotes and other cool stuff.

You can sort by values:

Or topics:

And you can even sort by subject or age.  So cool!  Check it out and see how you can inspire kids around you at: http://inspiremykids.com

Summer Days

August 4th, 2014

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude, so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.

When it comes to gratitude and living a joyful life, I’ve had a constant teacher for 12 ½ years.  In my own home, she has daily modeled what it looks like to embrace each day with joy. Her age? 84. Her background? She faced abandonment and trauma as a little one; overcame fear and timidity; found her voice and learned to look for and discover joys in every day living. She turned her life from that of victim and being afraid of adults to one of fearlessly choosing good, living in the moment and enjoying each day.

Summer, my border collie/lab mix, has been “the” teacher to show what it means to choose happiness and gratitude. From her, my husband and I have learned many lessons that we could benefit by if we, too, (the humans) would simply apply that learning to our everyday existence. We want to share those lessons with you in a blog series, we’re calling Summer Days.

IMG_2201Lesson #1: Always begin each morning by showing affection to the ones you love.

Summer puts major emphasis on the “pack” and its happiness together. If she’s up first, she comes over and greets us to help us wake up by either nuzzling a hand or giving a single lick to a forehead. And as our eyes open, we see a happy grinning dog wiggling her whole body saying hello. If, on the other hand, we are the ones who are up first, then as we walk past her, her tail begins an instant thumping staccato beat of joy before she gets up to come over for “lubbings” (love + rubbings).

How often do you start your day with a kiss, a hug or with a cheery “good morning, love!” and a smile? If you’re a morning person, you may very well do this. If you’re not a morning person or if you have kids to get ready or are running late, your morning start may be more like this: “Uhmmm” (unintelligible greeting) Where’s the coffee?” (the non-greeting) “Kids, you’re going to be late!” “Don’t forget to pick up something for dinner on your way home.” “Sorry, I don’t have time for breakfast – see you this evening!” And with these words there is rushing around grabbing items before running out the door to catch the bus or the car to get to where you need to be and any true connection gets lost in the busyness of getting on with the day.

How different would your day be if you started it off showing affection and gratitude for the ones you love? What if you invested the energy into expressing cheeriness, love and warmth and started their day off right? We emphasize breakfast; why not love?

Today, don’t take your pack for granted but be deliberate in expressing love, affection and gratitude. Done on a daily basis, it can build up lots of good juju on one’s inside. Trust me  – I know.

Serving at the Community Garden

July 21st, 2014

garden signs group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took a group of girls from the Harpeth Hall School Care Bears Volunteer Camp to volunteer at the Nashville Food Project’s community garden this summer.  It’s a huge garden that is so well-cared for by community volunteers.  We took a tour of the garden and learned about the plants growing there.  We sampled some of the herbs and learned about their partnership with a local restaurant that uses their herbs in exchange for compost.  We even learned about kiwi trees – I didn’t know they grew in Tennessee!

Then we settled into a shady spot to paint signs for their garden.  After painting, we learned about the importance of eating the colors of the rainbow, including specific ways that each vegetable/fruit is important for our health and specific food items that we enjoy ‘across the rainbow’.  It was a great day of service and learning!

 

What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind

July 15th, 2014

Greetings from Barbara at The Corner on Character. During my thirty years spent teaching and counseling (all grades preK through 12th) in public education, I have been encouraged time and time again by colleagues and friends to write a book. Since I’d been sharing my ideas for character integration online since 2000, my pat answer was always that I’d posted enough content for a book online, for free. But still, character educators seemed enthusiastic about and eager for a book. Then, one day in early October 2103, I got an email from a cyberspace collaborator in Florida with the word PROMISE in the subject line. Here’s what it said:

Can you promise me one day when you consolidate all of your amazing posts into your future best-selling book that I can get a signed copy? Your posts belong on a bookshelf as well as your blog, especially in libraries everywhere. Dream big, God has incredible plans for you. Love you sweet friend, Tamara

I received the gift of encouragement, from Tamara, that day and shortly afterward, I met Marian from Nelson Publishing and Marketing at the Character Education Partnership National Forum on Character Education where she saw me speak. Before I knew it, I was sending a signed book contract off to Michigan.

contract

Using this guiding question as a focus – What do workshop participants typically leave my sessions having enjoyed and wanting more of? –  the answer, character-infusion stories and strategies, became the basis for What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind. It’s a quick guide to character development, aimed at educators and caregivers who have a hand in helping our future leaders crusade for good. Using the acrostic SUPERHEROES to layout the eleven chapters, I’ve infused inspirational interactions with innovative ideas to help develop eleven of the virtues that we can nurture in our caped crusaders as we empower them to soar.

WUYCcover

Here now, an excerpt from Chapter 3 – P is for Perseverance:

So, how do we get our superheroes to stay the course? They have to have permission to fail. They need to know that not only is failure okay but that, according to author Paul Tough, it might be the key to success. In his research, Tough found that grit, resilience, and perseverance were key ingredients in the success stories of their test subjects.10 Kids who don’t give up when they encounter obstacles in their way, who don’t quit when they hit a pothole in the road, and who don’t abandon ship when the winds shift and steering their vessel seems all but impossible are the kids who find the greatest success through their school years and beyond. As we coach these learners, we must encourage them to take risks and to be okay with messing up. They need to know that mistakes are opportunities for reflection, improvement, and growth. We must help them strive to do THEIR best, not be THE best. We have to change the mindset that the silver medal is somehow losing. Silver isn’t losing. It’s coming in second. That’s all. When did silver get so tarnished? Is it possible that we’re raising kids to quit when they think they can’t attain the coveted gold at the end of the rainbow?

When my daughter started in the marching band, she had high hopes for them at the State Marching Contest. They were marching a clean and elegant show with strong music, and they ended up fourth in the State of Texas out of 250 bands their size. Two years and lots of growth and improvement later, their band came out of the preliminary competition number one. But there were still finals with new judges and a clean slate. The students marched their hearts out, and they came in second. They were devastated. Crushed to have gotten so close to gold and yet so far. Second place out of so many bands is good, no doubt, but they set their standards high. They worked hard, and there was a lot of disappointment.

But here’s what superheroes know: winning is a state of mind. There were thousands of students who didn’t even get a trip to the state competition because they didn’t advance out of their district or their area, so just getting to state made them winners. The way that the 271 members, musicians and guard members, together created magic with their music made them winners. Leaving it all on the field, heart and soul, made them winners. It shouldn’t matter, if they worked hard, persevered, and gave it their best, and earned second or fifth or tenth.

 *******

Thank you for your interest in my new release; author-signed copies of the book are available for purchase at The Corner On Character.  For superhero activity ideas, visit my Pinterest page and to come along on our What’s Under Your Cape? book study that starts July 12, check out the book’s Facebook page

See schedule below and check out the first chapter review at http://curlsandasmile.blogspot.com/2014/07/whats-under-your-cape-book-study-and.html

 

 

Volunteering at a Community Preschool

July 14th, 2014

We took a group of girls from the Harpeth Hall School Care Bears Volunteer Camp to volunteer at the St. Luke’s Community House preschool this summer.   It was such a great experience!  We divided up into groups of 2-3 volunteers to assist in the various preschool classrooms.  We took a few fun props like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a ball, and pinwheels to play with.  Some of the highlights of the day included reading with preschool children, splashing with toddlers during water play, making a train with riding toys in the gym, hula-hooping with 4 years olds, building a huge block tower that was taller than the children, bouncing balls in the gym, playing a spontaneous animal game with a young boy, and creating a dinosaur land with preschoolers.   Then to close the day, we heard the story of St. Luke’s and took a tour of their comprehensive facility.  So many great memories! We can’t post pictures, because we need to protect the little children, but hopefully this gives you a glimpse into our day, and gives you may ideas for volunteering in your favorite preschool.

Volunteering at the Animal Shelter

July 7th, 2014

animal shelter signs humane assoc boxes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took a group of girls from the Harpeth Hall School Care Bears Volunteer Camp to volunteer at the Williamson County Humane Association this summer.  With 14 young girls ages 10-13, we had to get creative with projects they were allowed to do according to the site rules.   We spent some time talking about pets, pet care, choosing the right pet, and vaccinations.  Then we divided into small groups for service projects:

we decorated 14 picture frames for people that will adopt animals

we assembled 170 kitty litter boxes for the shelter

we colored and hung 28 “adopt me” posters on dog cages

we walked a few dogs, and visited many dogs in their cages

we played with cats

It was a lot of fun for the girls, and some volunteer said it was the highlight of their week!

Animal Corners from “Great Group Games”

June 26th, 2014

“Hey!  I wanted to tell you that I used the Animal Corners activity on page 54 of the Great Group Games book today in my girls’ groups.  The discussions were FABULOUS!  That’s for the work you do!”

Elizabeth Parrot, MMFT
Middle School Counselor
Wanna play the game with your group?  Here are the instructions.  It’s so simple to play, but can lead to great discussions.

Animal Corners

Time 10–20 minutes

Supplies :  Four sheets of paper, Masking tape, Marker

The Game Label each sheet of paper with one of these titles: “Lion,” “Deer,” “Fox,” and “Dove” (you could also use “Mountain,” “River,” “Ocean,” “Meadow,” or “Piano,” “Guitar,” “Drum,” and “Flute”). Tape one sign in each corner of the room. Ask players to stand under the sign they are most like when part of the group.

 

Going Deeper

Why did you choose this sign?

What choice would you make (and why) if you were with friends? Family? By yourself?

How difficult was it for you to choose?

How is taking a stand important for each of us?

 

Asset Categories Social Competencies, Positive Identity

 

 

Cyberbullying Resources

June 24th, 2014

Know a child that is bullying or being bullied in cyberspace?  Check out this article (http://www.parentfurther.com/high-risk-behaviors/bullying/cyberbullying), which has action steps if your kid IS the bully or is being bullied.

You can also look at this site:  www.cyberbullying.us