How to Handle Squirrely Kids More Gently


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ADHD tips kids teaching

I worked very hard on this Minds in Bloom guest blog post. It’s VERY close to my heart! Enjoy :-)

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Fixing the Wrong Kind of Rain – #supportDPSteachers


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mlk post quote
I’m plopped on my comfy couch. Our sweet town of Sonoma feels very soulful this time of year. I hear pretty pitter-patter of soft rain upon my windows. It makes me happy - hearing the rain. Endorphins abound. It’s a perfect sound. Like music, but kind of even better. Plip-plop. Pitter-patter.

I believe it’s time for a mocha possibly. I ponder this choice, remembering the calories involved. Tricky decision. I’ll make it later maybe…

I get on facebook, believing I will just pitter-patter myself around the latest cute cat photos, strongly stated political opinions. There was a debate yesterday. I figure it’s a day off from doing much of anything but messing around, I’m planning to seriously do nothing. But then…

I discover a post from a dear friend that makes me sit upright, in shock, and ask, “What in the world? How can this be?” I watch a heart-wrenching video sharing ridiculously horrible conditions sweet students and kind teachers have been dealing with in Detroit. I am flabbergasted. I also discover an IM on this topic from another dear friend. A trio of hearts are breaking, but what can we do?

So much for my day of doing nothing.

I realize it’s MLK Day. Eeks. Now I really have to do something – or I’ll feel so guilty!

I love “guilty” when it motivates one properly – don’t you? It can get a lazy person off her couch. It can force one to blog – even when one finds blogging super painful… because honestly, who can ever get it right for all those grammar Nazis? But whatever. Today – who cares? The world needs to be saved. These kids need help. Their teachers need help big-time. And maybe we can help.

Please watch this video and then do something yourself. Sign the petition , write a letter to any big cheese you or can contact, blog and pin a whole bunch. I’ve heard there’s this thing called Instagram, and there is twitter. Share information - inform others. Look for and share these hashtags: #supportDPSteachers and #dpsteachersfightback. Do something to add your own prayer in the form of an action. Because honestly? We must all take action!

The cruel kind of rain is storming down on these poor kids and their teachers, not the lovely kind. The kind of rain they are experiencing is flooding their lives with frustration and awfulness. And it’s simply NOT okay anymore – now that we all know about it. We can FIX this. We can tend to this nasty sort of rain. We can offer up an umbrella - an army full of umbrellas created by our love, our caring, and our actions! It takes a village – so let’s be the best village possible. Let’s get to work.

Mochas will have to wait.Detroit schools linkie


Lyrics, Life Skills, and Kids Who Crumble


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The following post is dedicated to Kylie. She’s is sweetheart and genius teacher at Ripper Resources. Her blog is great! Check it out sometime.

Crumble

Ten-year-old Carolina  plops down on my couch and presents her social dilemma. “I could have just crumbled!” she emotes. I can’t help but notice this little munchkin appears to be crumbling inside my fluffy couch.

Amused by Carolina’s colorful use of language, I smile and realize ‘crumble’ is a great word. A really great word! *light bulb* My goodness – it could be a song hook!”

I share my thoughts with Carolina. She concurs. She claps her hands joyfully. She giggles. On a scale of one to ten, her reaction is an eleven.

I end up writing a song around the word ‘crumble’ which, wouldn’t you know it, becomes a hit at the local high school. Crumble chorus:

teen bravery song lyrics

A teen boy walks up to me and requests I write a Crumble song for boys. “We get shy too!” he confesses. “We need a Crumble song also!” A full grown man discovers my song on the internet and writes me, “It takes me back to high school! I love it!”

Be still my heart, I took a full grown man back to high school.

Words are powerful. They initiate feelings, take us back in time, and can make or break our day. I make a habit of pointing this out to all my kiddos. I honestly believe we might save the world with better vocabulary choices.

Scruffy Pirate Rhymes

Teen Rachel and I are not discussing pirates. We’re discussing appropriate singing vowels and not-so-appropriate singing vowels. Somehow, the word ’ship’ shows up.  A moment passes. One of us points out that ‘Depp’ and ’ship’ rhyme when we sing them. They share the same vowel. We are highly amused.

Teacher and student fall to the ground in stitches. After we recover, we decide there must absolutely be a song written that contains the words Depp and ship. Yet another song is born:creative writing blog

Our new song inspires a homespun music video. We film at the harbor in Santa Barbara. We also film on the steps of the local mission. We use my little photo camera. My girls deadpan intentionally. Why? Because they are serious about what they are singing. Scruffy boyfriends often create social dilemmas. Everyone teenage girl knows that.

We are NOT how we dress

I love how this new little ditty of ours contains a subtle life lesson. It may not one of my deepest songs, but the message is solid; we are not how we dress. We are not how we look. Never assume and never judge!  Our hearts are who we are.

Organic Writing Rocks

I often pen songs on the spot - right in front of the kids who are destined to record them. Whatever shows up in real life becomes our dilemma to be solved with a fresh set of lyrics. I choose key concepts carefully. I then wrap sweet melodies around a student’s unique spirit. Our songs are nothing if not organic – penned in the key of life.notes 200trcopy

Retta’s Own Crew: an Up-date

A gifted teacher named  Retta London (Rainbow City Learning) stumbles upon my material on a teacher website and takes to it. For an entire year, the kids in her fourth grade classroom take to it too. Her students become magically calm, cool, and productive. They begin to behave like little happy Yodas. Why do they begin to behave like little happy Yodas? According to Retta, this happens because my songs had become “the sound track of their lives.”

And even better?  For the second year in a row now, Retta and another fabulous forward-thinking teacher run a popular after school program based on Bullyproof songs. Does teaching get any more powerful than that? Yes it does.

Retta and I have joined forces now to create an year-long behavior management program that combines literature, writing prompts, lyric art, and social skills songs provided by yours truly. Quite noteworthy, don’t you think?

And please don’t be fooled by this light blog post. Our material goes much deeper than the  playful songs like Crumble and Johnny Depp shared here. Our lead teaching tunes cover courage, empathy, sticking on task, appreciation, and world peace. And  classroom peace! Bullies don’t stand a chance.

Video Lessons

Here is a full page of kids teaching life lessons. Some of these kids are from my side of the woods, some are from Retta’s side.

bullying prevention lesson videos

A little jump-start

The other day, I thought up a 3 word writing prompt unit to inspire colorful word choices. The way I see it, if I can write an entire song around a single word, young writers can certainly come up with something fabulous using three words! Just ask them, please, not to use Depp, ship, or crumble. Those are taken.

writing girl small

To conclude

I hope this little post hands you some fresh ideas as a teacher. Reluctant writers very often just need a new door into their imaginations. Sometimes it really just takes an unusual word to get kids going. Sometimes it just takes a thoughtful and relevant-to-one’s-life song.

Song lyrics make excellent writing prompts. They can also help kids ponder more deeply around social situations. Use a song with your kiddos once in a while and you may just end up with a classroom full of little happy Yodas!

lessia bonn

Scary Business – Ghouls, Fairies, and a Song


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Halloween Song

One of my music publishers specializes in holiday material. A few years ago, he let me know he was looking for Halloween songs to pitch. “How fun is that?” I thought. “I can easily come up with a scary song.”

I sat down, picked up a pen, and began playing around with traditional Halloween themes. The dilemma at hand was clear - should I trick, or should I treat? Determined to come up with a catchy tune, I was on this. I had it. I could nail this to the wall!

Those Darn Fairies

But then, as often happens when I scribble, my lyrics took on an opinion and life of their own. Completely off-plan, little words and phrases began to land on the page saying different things than I’d originally intended. I guess there was something I just needed to take note of, I hadn’t realized I needed to take note of. Darn those lyric fairies – they were at it again!

Lyric fairies: little creatures that tap one on the shoulder and whisper better ideas in one’s ear than one already has planned.

I meet up with them often. Good news: they are creative and intuitive little creatures. Bad news: they often have their own ideas of what a song will be about.

 Our lead singer dressed as a fairyzocool

Scary Business

So in the end, I wrote about a scary guy who was not just a grumpy ghoul, but an annoying bully. My grumpy ghoul, you see, represented every mean person who’d ever squished my heart, every kid in school who’d ever teased me about anything, every friend who’d plopped their bad attitude down on top of me, and every negative comment I’d ever made to myself in my head without policing properly.

When the song was complete, polished up, studio recorded and very ready, I submitted it to my holiday publisher.  And can you guess what he said?

“It’s an awesome song,” he said, “but it’s definitely not a Halloween song. It has a message, a point to it,”  to which I answered in a hopeful voice, “So what’s your point?”

Well you guessed it. His point was he’d just wanted a traditional Halloween ditty.

Oops.

Scary Uses

So in the end, I just kept Scary in my own song library, and YAY for that!  I now use Scary to lead kids towards positivity throughout the year. After all, everyone knows negativity ghouls lurk everywhere – they don’t just come out on Halloween. We must stay vigilant.

Scary uses humor to remind students that bullies are often just bores - easily ignored.

Lyrics encourage students to scrutinize the company they keep, pointing out that positive friends are much more fun.

Scary reminds kids to police their own heads. After all, passing negative thoughts can darken our day if we don’t catch on!

Lyrics can help students catch themselves at iffy moments. When faced with the choice of being dumpers of ill will and negativity, or remaining up-beat? No one wants to be Scary. Bad form. Kids are more likely to choose an up-beat attitue after absorbing the humor and message of this song. They sing along!

In Conclusion

I’m truly glad I didn’t just write a generic Halloween ditty. I hate to say it, but the fairies were right!

halloween positivity song

Below is a music video we filmed by the railroad tracks and under the freeway in a fun tunnel full of graffiti. This was after we studio recorded Scary using Justin Timberlake’s drummer. As you can see, we have been having a lot of fun with Scary. Hope you do too!

A Very Scary Music Video

Feel free to share this music video  with your own kids around Halloween. You can also bring it out if and whenever your classroom atmosphere starts to droop. We all know that can happen sometimes, but no fears – Scary is here! This shivery song has proven itself an instant pick-me-up. I’m guessing it’s the quirky irreverence. Kids like that.

Halloween song music videoHere’s the song as a freebie - to add some wicked wonderful-ness to your classroom playlist!

halloween song positive attitude song

Here’s an awesome positivity unit that poses the question: To be scary, or not scary? It poses many more interesting questions too. It’s a real treat, we promise!

positivity unit that rocks

And may we all remain cheerful – forever and ever! Amen.

Yours always,

lessia bonn
  And now for something completely different *drum roll!* please check out more fun October Teacher Talk. Speaking of treats…

Teacher Talk October.002


Rachel Bloom – link to my second blog post! Videography with heart!


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Songs that Teach, Students who Sparkle


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Ms. Kylie was barely nine when we first met up. Cute as a button, often dressed in Stevie Nicks attire, this girl left fairy dust trailing behind her most everywhere she went. You just had to hug her, she was that squeezable. And bright. Oh, was she ever bright. Guess that’s why I ended up featuring her in so many of our BP videos.  Kylie’s full of sparkles. Her middle name should really be “Pizazz.”

singing student blog teacher music

Busy

But then Kylie became “kid busy.” You know how that goes; lots of sports, heaps of homework, and suddenly, there’s just no more time left for fun singing adventures. When days get too crowded, kids  can often go *poof!* And sure enough, one day, sweet Kylie disappeared into the land of  *Poof.* But to be clear - this special girl never disappeared from my heart.

Time passes. More time… and she’s back!

It’s the Songs

Eleven years old, much taller and way more grown up, I am graced with Kylie’s presence once again.kylieAnd I must confess, it would have been nice if Kylie had said, “I missed you SO much. Your counseling is brilliant, and I do so adore how you teach me to sing. I missed the “ney neys.” And I just had to come back to YOU YOU YOU because of YOU!”

.. but this isn’t at all what Ms. Kylie says. What Ms. Kylie says is, “My mom said I could try out a new teacher if I wanted to mix things up, *raises eyes,* but I told her I missed your songs! I had to come back, because I so LOVE your songs! They’re so special! I need to be singing them again. I really do!”

Kylie holds her heart to illustrate her enthusiasm and, as you can well imagine, my own heart gets totally full and mushy. I do the teary thing, I am so touched.

Isn’t it Heavenly

I’ll take that. I can die now, or maybe I have, because this is feeling very heavenly! Why? Well, hello there, because this is proof. It’s proof  I’ve made my little bit of difference in someone’s young world. I’m sure you know what I mean if you’re a mom, or a teacher, or a songwriter.cute

Songs are Funny Things

Songs are funny things, at least in my experience. A person can write them, but one never really feels like they belong to you. It’s more like a fairy taps you on the shoulder and says, “Here’s a song to solve your situation.” And then you share it around to help others solve their situations. And, this time around, it seems my songs are helping Kylie with her personal situations! And I’m realizing, at this moment, that  by letting me know I’ve given her a gift, she’s giving me a giant one back. Kylie has handed me the awesome gift of appreciation. How cool is that?

Semi-live from Detroit

Here are some precious ponderings on the topic of appreciation from Detroit’s Bullyproof Rainbow kids. Their enthusiasm for this music and lyrics illustrate the point I was trying to make about penning tunes. You see, I wrote my Gift song assuming it was more for tall folk than for kids. Little did I realize at the time how deep fourth graders can run. Boy, was I surprised! What a wonderful batch of young critical thinkers Retta has in her after school club. Giant oowah. Impressive. Can’t help wondering what they eat for lunch.

Kids on appreciation:

The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

And may you enjoy the gift of this present.

Lessia Bonn

 

 

 

 

What are some of the gifts in your life? Feel free to share.

Friendship minus Drama is a good thing


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They say middle school is hard, but I discovered, through my munchkins, that upper elementary can be the social pits too… especially for girls! There’s just so much DRAMA in caps, so much “she said this, she said that,” and so much evaluation of what behavior is okay, and what is not. The stories alone exhaust me, even when they’re just second hand. Even when I’m just an adult hearing about it..

It wore me out just to type that paragraph.

But here’s the good news. My young friends Kolbe and Taty offered up some fresh little insights on what it means to be a truly good friend a while back. Yes, it’s them again.. smiling brightly at my little photo camera that also takes videos. And so.. without further ado.. *giant drum roll* Here are Kolbe and Taty on friendship:

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More film on this subject:

I am quite inspired that our Got Your Back music video has received so many encouraging hits on Youtube. This makes me feel that there is hope. Could be, kids really do want to learn to be more supportive of each other, less harsh in their modern approach. Maybe, some day soon, we can all get over commenting, rating, and over-discussing the flaws of others on the internet and in life, trading all that nonsense in for an outpouring of happy faces, hugs of encouragement, shared giggles over just about anything, and honest and sincere appreciation of each other’s special-ness. A teacher can dream! And now wouldn’t that be the day..

This is my most awesome student, Rachel, making friendship happiness with her friends. It’s her voice on the song. And, as usual, that’s Justin Timberlake’s drummer.

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FYI: Rachel is now at Dartmouth. She’ busy studying to be a doctor, but she also wants to act. Rach wants to do everything, bless her sweet soul. Oh, and she’s a math genius. And beautiful. I have to honored to have worked with so many amazing kids.

I so love her the-opposite-of-slacker motivation, don’t you? I’m sure she will do it all!

A most giant and friendly hug,

Lessia Bonn

 

14 Life Tips – Common Sense for Kids


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I take no prisoners when I dish out common sense. I may toss a little humor a student’s way, I may offer up a maternal counselor smile, but still, in the end, I say what I say- I spill all my beans, and I get to the point. And over the years, I have noticed that kids really do appreciate my honesty.

It’s highly rewarding helping mopey little caterpillars turn into cheerful butterflies. Sometimes all it takes is handing a student one powerful, yet potent, observation. Sometimes it takes a long conversation where we dig deep, and then, more deep! I have discovered that kids love “deep.” From one tender munchkin: “I can really use this! It’s so DEEP!”

I get that a lot.

Common sense is my secret weapon. Why? Well, for one thing, kids don’t find common sense preachy. In fact, quite the opposite is true- they often they find it funny. I get called “Yoda” sometimes, and I have to laugh. “I’m not Yoda, I’ve just read a lot of books and been on the planet longer. Of course I have more wisdom.”

More laughter. Kids love that kind of common sense, and usually answer something like: “Okay, that makes sense.” Then they lean in and listen.

bullying blog teacher musicBelow: common sense advice I’ve dished out often to young people of all shapes and sizes. These life skills tips have helped many a mischievous munchkin, dreary goth, surfer boy, and drama princess find their way. I hope you can use my common sense with your own students whenever you need persuade them to act sensibly.

Tips in a nutshell:

1. Be yourself. It’s so much simpler! It makes no sense not to be your authentic self. If you’re always worrying about what other people will thinking about you, you’re always worrying. Worrying is depressing. Who wants to be depressed? So be brave and let your “weirdness” show. In the end, you’ll be much happier and much less stressed. Bonus result: Kids who don’t care what other kids think of them usually get the most respect. be yourself

2. Appreciate your gifts. When you’re good at something, be sure to notice, dig down and enjoy the “happy.”  Think: “YAY! I’ve got a gift!”  Gifts are special, magical, and worth taking note of. Say “thank you” for using your gift frequently. It feels good to do things we’re really good at!

3. Appreciate your challenges. If you’re not so great at something,  even if you horrible at something, this doesn’t mean you are a hopeless person in a hopeless situation!  Work hard in your challenging area until you do get better, and don’t give up.

After all, isn’t it fun to, all of a sudden, be good at something that once you couldn’t do at all, all because you worked at it? And wouldn’t life be a snore if everything came easily to all the time? Challenges give us goals that spice life up, they help us grow as people.

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4. Bless your mess. You can’t make yourself perfect. Remember that. Nobody’s ever perfect! You can’t make the world perfect either. It’s not going to happen, so get over it. Surrender to those little things you can’t do much about. Chances are, that same whatever that’s really  bugging you today won’t matter a week from now anyway. So go have fun and forget about it!

Bless your mess, then clean it up piece by piece at your own pace if you’re inclined to. But whatever you choose to do about the situation, don’t fret over little things that don’t get fixed right away. That kind of mindset will just make you crazy. Learn to embrace the messy situations in life with a whole heart. Learn to enjoy the wisdom you can absorb from each “mess.”

bless my mess5Think for yourself. Every culture, family, and peer group create have their own belief system built in. Sometimes you will agree with the attitudes being handed you. Sometimes- not so much. It’s best to check all facts- making sure they are facts, not just another’s agenda, then make you own mind up. Learn to ask: where did this information come from? Do I agree with this point of view? Absorb all the good stuff, but don’t be a sheep. Staying awake is so important these days, as the media bombards us with air brushed photos, reality shows that are half-staged, and pitch corrected singing!

Sub-topic: Who gets to decide what is “cool?”

Example: If blue hair is “in,” and you love blue hair a whole lot, it’s no biggie to color your hair blue. But don’t go blue because Katy went blue. That’s just you being a copycat. Also, please remember: What’s “cool” today is often “un-cool” by tomorrow. So make your own cool!

6. Look for the funny side. ”Whatever” feels better, and a sense of humor saves the day. Learn to say “whatever” more often so you can and feel better right away. Drama is for people with no imagination.

Ponder this: Aren’t funny people the ones you like to be around? Well, hello. You’re around yourself more than anybody else. So make yourself laugh, not cry! Take control of the moods. Because.. whatever!teaching kids grit7. Pick friends wisely. Negative friends will bring you down. Positive friends make supportive comments, and give you hugs- way better.  Take note: If you always feel bad around a certain person, maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe they are in the habit of throwing around critical little statements that sound innocent but somehow dampen your mood. Watch out for those kinds of friends who aren’t really friends. If you hang out with happy people, their glow rubs off, and you get get happy!

8. Do Jumping Jacks. This sounds silly but it works. If you’re feeling down, get up and do ten jumping jacks. If that doesn’t work, go hug a tree, because getting physical changes up energy. Dance around,  get off your bottom and on your feet! Singing does something awesome to brain chemistry. So sing a happy song!

9. Give others the benefit of the doubt: If someone says something to you that stings, but then explains they didn’t mean what they said the way you took it, give them the benefit of the doubt. Words mean different things to different people. Don’t hold on to hurts that shouldn’t be there in the first place. That’s just your mind playing games looking for drama. Holding a grudge will just leave you mopey and miserable.

10. Collect life wisdom. The more you learn, the more empowered you are, and the more choices you actually end up with. Deeper wisdoms allow a person to understand life better, to understand other people and themselves. Feeling like we “get it” and totally understanding  complicated life situations helps us forgive others, forgive ourselves, and plan what to do, if needed, to allow us to fix the problem or just move on and enjoy our day. Understanding others better also helps us know what to say to another person to communicate more clearly. Wisdom rocks- so study up!gri blog kids11. Be generous with praise and forgiveness. Tell a friend her dress is pretty. Forgive your brother. Like your face.

12. Stay away from sugar. It will make your moods weird.

13. Police your head. Our mood is dictated, pretty much, from the last thought we had. Often we forget this and think lazy thoughts that bring us down. Not because we want to feel sad or un-brave, just because we have a lot of mindless chatter going on in our head saying things like: “I’m dumb,” “I’m fat,” “so-and-so said something about me to so-and-so, I’m sure of it!” Oh please. There are better places to place one’s brain. So police your thoughts.  Always make sure what you’re thinking is the truth, don’t just go along with any silly blah blah running around in your head.

14. BE NICE! I saved this for last because it’s extra important. Here’s why: When you are kind, nice, giving, thoughtful, helpful, positive, loyal to your friends, and generous with others, the world reflects your charity right back at you. Think of the world as a giant mirror- what you give, you get! It’s as simple as that- so give a lot. Kindness is powerful!fearless quote

Bonus tip: And don’t forget to notice every miracle. Life is a present.

This freebie empowerment poster lists all the tips above. Remind students they have the power to fill every day with common sense!life skills tips for kids blog

This poetic freebie inspires students to be themselves. Seize the day!

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Have a magical new school year!

Fearlessly yours,

lessia bonn

I am Bullyproof Music – Where it all began


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beautifulI was recently asked to guest blog at Edutopia. The powers that be liked my songbird history and asked if I’d mind sharing it. They also asked if I’d write about how I connect with other teachers on the internet. I love how it all turned out. I must admit, having the help of three editors was a treat. Hope you like it!

Click to visit my post on Edutopia!

“How to Teach With Lyrics” — Minds in Bloom


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Please visit Rachel’s marvelous website “Minds in Bloom”.  I absolutely ADORE her! I’m sure you will agree with me that everything she touches and creates for teachers rocks big time. Just sayin’…

I am honored to be a guest blogger today at “Bloom” –woot toot! My article is entitled “Teaching with Lyrics”. If you’d like to learn a bit about how to add sweet harmony to your classroom, please visit Minds in Bloom soon!

See you there!

Click to view my post!

 

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