Art, Books, Creative Thinking, Education, K-5, Parenting, Student Products, Teaching Tools

Beautiful Oops

Sometimes, like the main character in The Dot, we are paralyzed by the worry that we can’t do something well enough.  And other times, we try to do something well and are devastated when it doesn’t go the way we planned.  Beautiful Oops is a book by Barney Saltzberg that encourages us to make the best of our mistakes.  It is a great book for younger children – full of interactive pages and colorful pictures.

from Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
from Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg


While I was looking for resources to accompany the book on the web, I found a great Pinterest Board from @KirstyHornblow that is full of ideas to go with the book.  For example, I am totally going to try the lemon juice/watercolor idea from


Beautiful Oops is a nice way to talk about Growth Mindset with young students, and I am definitely going to add it to my Growth Mindset Pinterest Board.

By the way, I added a few extra resources to that board this weekend, including several that I found on Larry Ferlazzo’s site.  The one below, tweeted by @BradHandrich, fits the theme of this post quite well!

How Do You View Your Mistakes?

Education, K-12, Motivation, Parenting, Teaching Tools, Websites

Growth Mindset and Why it Matters

I came across this Slide Rocket presentation on If you are teaching older students or doing a professional development about mindset, this would be a great resource.  It includes links to several mindset videos, as well as suggested activities to go along with each one.  For more Growth Mindset resources, check out my Pinterest Board!

Growth Mindset from
image from: Growth Mindset Slide Rocket Presentation from
Education, K-12, Motivation

Courage Zone

I am really working on developing a growth mindset in my students this year.  On Monday I mentioned that I was trying to think of a visual to use in my classroom to remind my students that they should focus more on learning than on being perfect.  This bulletin board is the result.  It is not what I initially had in mind, but I think it gets the message across.  I found this graphic that helped to lay the groundwork.  Apparently, it is based on The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens by Sean Covey.  From that graphic, a 98-cent huge disc and some neon green tubey kind of ribbon from Michael’s, some blue straws from Ikea, and a cute piece of clip art from MS Word, I came up with the bulletin board below.  In case you can’t tell, the student has climbed the ladder from the safety of the Comfort Zone to walk the tightrope of the Courage Zone.  Someone (I can’t remember who, so let me know if it was you!)  gave me the idea to give the students neon-colored post-it notes so they can write something that they have done in the past that was out of their comfort zone and stick it to the board.

For more resources on teaching about a Growth Mindset, here is my Pinterest Board on that topic.

Comfort Zone


Books, Education, K-12, Motivation, Teaching Tools

The Most Magnificent Thing

Once again, circumstances in my life have neatly meshed together without any conscious effort on my part;)

I have been seeing a book called, The Most Magnificent Thing, touted on many blogs.  Not sure I actually wanted to pay for it, I went ahead and requested my local library to add it to the e-books selection, as it wasn’t currently in their inventory.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

In the meantime, I attended a staff development yesterday during which we discussed a book called, Letting Go of Perfect. It’s about how to help young people deal with perfectionism.

When I checked my e-mail in the afternoon, I had a notice that my requested e-book was available.  I quickly downloaded The Most Magnificent Thing, and realized that the main character definitely has an issue with perfectionism, but finds a great way to cope with it.  This delightful picture book portrays a young girl who has an exact idea in her head of what she wants to make, but can’t quite seem to create a tangible version.  She gets quite frustrated, but gets a little distance from the project and then returns to improve it.

This book fits in so well with the message that I am trying to get across to my students about the importance of having a growth mindset and learning from setbacks.  It is very similar to Rosie Revere, Engineer.  Both of these books appear on a wonderful list posted on the blog, “A Year of Reading,” of Picture Books for Genius Hour.  (I recently added that list to the bottom of my Genius Hour Resources Page.)

Even the author’s biography at the end of the book emphasizes the importance of perseverance!

Author's Bio from The Most Magnificent Thing
Author’s Bio from The Most Magnificent Thing

For more great picture books about “doing your own thing,” check out this post from Joelle Trayers.  Also, Dot Day and the Global Cardboard Challenge are two great opportunities for your students to try to make their own most magnificent things!

Education, K-12, Parenting, Videos

Growth Mindset Videos

image from Growth vs. Fixed Mindset video
image from Growth vs. Fixed Mindset video

I’ve been collecting more and more resources on developing a “Growth Mindset.”  Today I wanted to share with you some videos that could be used to teach students about the value of embracing challenges and finding a way to learn from mistakes.

A little bit more advanced (vocabulary-wise) than the book, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, this video from SciShow, “Your Brain is Plastic,” shows the importance of continuing to learn and making connections in your brain.

“Growth vs. Fixed Mindset” has great graphics that highlight the main differences between these two mindsets.

This 10 minute video of Eduardo Briceno at TEDx Manhattan Beach would be good to show older students, parents, and teachers.

Here are some more mindset resources, and a link to the post I did last week  about a lesson I did with my 1st graders about mindset.  Also, here is a link to my Growth Mindset Pinterest Board.

UPDATE 1/27/15 – Here is another great Growth Mindset Video that you might want to show elementary students!

UPDATE 8/16/16 – My elementary students adore this set of short animated videos about growth mindset from Class Dojo!

Education, K-12, Motivation, Philosophy, Teaching Tools, Videos

I Will Be a Hummingbird

image from I Will Be a Hummingbird
image from I Will Be a Hummingbird

Oliver Schinkten (@schink10) recently tweeted, “The message behind this 2-minute video is INCREDIBLY AWESOME. Which of the animals are you going to be?”

Of course, I had to watch the video.

The clip, from Dirt! The Movie, describes the story of a fire in a forest.  As all of the animals stand back, watching the flames destroy their home, only the hummingbird decides to take action.  He picks up water in his beak, and then drops it on the fire.

The hummingbird’s action seems pointless – but is it?

So many times we feel that the problem is too big, and do nothing.  Or, worse, we complain and do nothing.

This video reminds me of one of my favorite inspirational videos, Toi Lead India Tree.  In this video, the “hummingbird” is a small boy.  And, by attempting a seemingly impossible task, he inspires others to help him accomplish it.  People who had resigned themselves to be grumbling bystanders suddenly take action to solve the problem.

These videos, of course, are a great lesson for students.  But we can also use them for self-reflection.  When we, as educators, look at the blazing forest fire that seems to show no signs of abating, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I the hummingbird  – or an animal who chooses to do nothing?”

(For more inspirational videos to use with students, check out my Pinterest board here.)