Thursday, October 6, 2016

October 2016

October 2016

I just finished reading Dan Harris's book, 10% Happier.  His book focuses on taming the constant narration that occurs in peoples' minds day to day, looking for strategies to create more space for happiness.  My big take away from reading his book is the concept of "Purposeful Pauses".  By taking thoughtful pauses throughout the day one become present to the moment. The effect is amazing! By doing so we boost the muscle of focus in our prefrontal cortex, we reduce the frazzle feeling that can be a constant state in our lives, and allows us to take a step back to regroup.  Now that fall break is here, enjoy your long pause from your work lives. Take some days to treat yourself well, focus on anything but work, and rest.  If you can, take a few purposeful pauses to soak it up and enjoy the time you are so worthy of! Hopefully when you return, you can incorporate a few purposeful pauses into the work you do.

Grant Opportunity

Local schools will receive up to $3,500 each to enhance academic or extra-curricular programs. It could be your school! For eligibility, click the "Nominate Your School" link. Students or teachers should write a short essay specifically detailing how your school would use $3,500 to enhance education and where the money would go (I.e., toward a new facility, new equipment, teen education program or disability program). Students, teachers and administration are encouraged to participate in Groove Auto's DRIVE for education® program.

February Grant Awards (selected schools will be awarded in February)

  • Submissions open September 1
  • Submissions close January 1
  • All selected schools will be notified by January 15
  • Award ceremony will be held in February

Technology Ideas

Improves math operations, speed and number concepts. And it's FREE!

Get your students moving with this online program that guides students through moderate to vigorous physical activities in your classrooms. There is a free aspect to the program, as well as a teacher price of $6.99 per month which I think any PTA would love to support ;-)!  

Physical Activity Ideas

1. Secret Password: Every day establish a secret password activity such as 5 jumping jacks, stand on one foot for 5 seconds, hop three times, etc. Then establish when the student needs to use the secret password - i.e. after a drink of water, before receiving a hand out, when entering the classroom, in between subjects, etc. 
2. Walking Worksheets: Tape worksheets on wall, easel and chalkboard. Students move from worksheet to worksheet and answer the different questions. 
3. Opposite Hunt: Divide the class in half. Half of the class write a word on an index card. The other half writes the definition. Shuffle the cards and hand one card to each student. The students must move around the classroom and match the word with the definition. For younger students match up sight words, letter or numbers. Try math problems and solutions. 
4. Pencil Jumps: For a quick movement break in between lessons have each student place a pencil on the floor. Jump over the pencil a designated number of times. 
5. Race in Place: When reviewing material, have the students stand up and run in place by their desks. On the teacher’s signal, student stops running in place, listens to question and writes down the answer on paper. 
6. Daily Rule: Establish a new daily rule every day that includes physical activity. I.e. walk backwards to water fountain, tip toe to the bathroom, stretch before sitting in chair. See if you can catch the students forgetting the daily rule.

Mindfulness Moment

Marble Roll: A Cooperative Game for Teaching Mindfulness

Materials: empty paper towel or toilet paper roll for each child, one marble for the group

Directions: The children stand in a line, close together. Each child holds an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll. The child at the head of the line puts the marble in her paper towel roll and tilts it slightly so that the marble rolls into the roll of the person next to her. 

The object is to try to move the marble from the first person in the line to the last person without dropping the marble. No catching with hands allowed! If someone drops the marble, she must start over again at the beginning of the line.

This activity increases focus, impulse control, and cooperative skills.

Marble Roll is a sample activity from the book Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children, and is reprinted here with permission from publisher Parallax Press. 

Unified Champion Schools Program

Special Olympics Unified Schools brings youth with and without intellectual disabilities together through education and sports to create school communities of acceptance and respect. The Unified Schools resource pages serves as a portal for youth, programs and educators who are looking to become more involved with the Special Olympics movement. This amazing program is a wonderful way to get students moving together, providing opportunities for leadership skills building, community involvement, and opportunities for students to belong to something bigger than themselves.

Healthy Recipe

Tuscan Vegetable Soup
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional

1. In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside. 
2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes more.

Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.
recipe link

Community Partners

American Heart Association closes its registration window at the end of October. Last year DCSD had over 22,000 students and families participate. Let's beat that number! I strongly encourage you to share 10-15 minutes of your time with Morgan to hear about these programs and how they can enhance the wellness of your school community. You can reach or 623-340-1364. Thank you in advance for your support.

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend our Fall Healthy Schools Workshop at the Highlands Ranch Mansion. The positive energy and thoughtful participation made it an incredible day for everyone.  Please let me know how the Healthy Schools Department can support you and your school in any aspect of the Whole School, Community, Child model.

Please leave a comment on this blog, it helps me improve what I include. Maybe you have a great idea to share with those who subscribe.

Enjoy your break!


  1. Love the marble roll idea! I am going to use that activity with my health classes, I am trying to incorporate more mindfulness activities into my daily classes- can't wait to try this one, thanks!

  2. The Unified champion program is a great program and can be led by a teacher but run by student leaders or a student led health team. Great program for all students involved.

    1. As a SSN teacher I love to hear about unified sports!! I would also love to see more adapted specials like PE, art and music is more of our schools. Students with exceptial needs sometimes needs a little more help in these areas but resources are very thin to support them!

  3. Just finished making the veggie soup! It was delicious! I did the marble roll using various lengths of pvc pipes hooked together and that worked out great as a teambuilder/mindfulness activitity.

  4. I'm interested in the lending library. It would be great if there were picture books for students in the primary grades and preschool. Perhaps you could notate which books would work for these grade levels.

  5. Really like the Mindfulness activities. I will pass them on to our teachers!!

  6. I love the marble idea. And k me that is something that even my kiddos can do! I love that idea!

  7. I love all of the physical activities and the marble activity. I can't wait to try them. Thanks for all of your hard work and for publishing such a great blog.


  8. I love having examples of ideas to use in the classroom. Keep them coming!!

  9. Can't wait to try the marble activity with students at TTE! Thanks for the ideas!

  10. Thanks for all the great ideas! I will use the mindfulness activity with my kids in Kindness Club!

  11. Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies!