Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What's Under Your Cape?

The minute I received the book What's Under Your Cape, by Barbara Gruener, I settled right down to dive into it.  Barbara writes in such an easy to understand way, that this book feels like you are having coffee and a wonderful conversation with a dear friend; a conversation with so many great points that you want to highlight and never forget.  I am so happy that I read this book now, before the start of the new school year, because I am so inspired by it to do even more character education with my students.
Barbara wrote a great post about how her book came to be here at Pre-K and K Sharing.
From Barbara:
Using the word SUPERHEROES as an acrostic, I'm sharing ideas in each chapter to provide ways to engage our little leaders in reaching new character heights. You'll find stories and strategies, ditties and dances, activity ideas and more, all things needed to help our students soar like superheroes. {Think Reader's Digest Condensed version of the Corner on Character paired with a Chicken Soup For The Soul format.} 
The Corner on Character

I'm linking up with Deanna at Mrs. Jump's Class for Book Talk Tuesday to share this great book!
When other people see my class and say, "What a character!" about one of my students, I am hoping that now it will mean that they can't believe the amazing character that my children have developed.  That's the way I am going to take it from now on, anyway.  So I will just say, "Thank you!"

Barbara reminds us that character is learned.  It has to be taught, developed, modeled, and modeled some more, just like any subject that you want your children to really learn inside and out.  We  model reading, writing, even cutting with scissors and how much glue to use. Children are always watching and learning.  They will imitate and learn what they see.  As teachers, we  have the chance to model some very important, life changing behaviors thoughout each and every day.

Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.

In the introduction of her book, Barbara mentions that she grew up working on a dairy farm and was a member of her local 4-H chapter. I have such happy memories of my own from my 4-H days!

Barbara devotes a chapter to each letter of the acronym "SUPERHEROES"and a character trait that each letter represents. This picture of her bookmark is from her post at Pre-K and K Sharing, and shows what she discusses for each letter.

 She begins with "Service," and explains that everyone feels needed while they are filling needs.

 She suggests so many fabulous  and doable service programs that can be implemented in a classroom.  Service projects don't need to be huge undertakings.  Teaching children to reach out to others from an early age is a gift that keeps on giving, farther than we even know.

With each chapter and each character trait, Barbara gives book ideas and activities to help teach the trait in the classroom, as well as some fun songs, poems, and ideas to reinforce the concepts.  I cannot wait to make more positive phone calls home, to set up a "Thank you note" writing station, and to put into practice so many of her other ideas.

She explains well how to help children really understand empathy. That's a hard concept, but sometimes I think children understand it better than adults do.

I love how she explains "Responsibility" to students, teaching them about choices, consequences, chores, and stakeholders.  She teaches children that the choices they make affect others. She reminds us to let children be responsible, so that they can be responsible.  I thought this picture went well with the Superhero theme!

She talks about the importance of encouragement.  I loved this chapter, because the importance of encouragement doesn't end with children.  She mentions how faculty and staff need to encourage each other and be supportive and proud of each other's accomplishments- or to be a supportive friend if things don't go so well.
I don't know why it is so hard for adults to be genuinely proud of and happy for other adults who succeed.  But it is.  I know how much it means to me if someone compliments me or something I have done.  It makes me want to do so much more. If one parent writes a thank you note or appreciates something that I send home with a child, I immediately think of more things I want to do.  The opposite is also true.  When you never hear anything about things you send home, after a while you start to rethink spending the extra time and money on everything that you do.

 I think as adults we sometimes are so afraid that someone will outshine us, and that somehow complimenting others will take away from us. I don't know what it is.  I just really wish we could stop being jealous or threatened, and be happy for each other.  And not stop there- but actually TELL other people why we are proud of them or what we admire about them.
I really believe that our schools would be such a kinder, more positive place if people felt better about themselves and realized that they do make a difference, and that difference is noticed and appreciated. You know how sometimes teachers have everyone in class write down one sentence about something they admire about a student, and then the student gets to keep the paper with all of those compliments on it? Years later, many of those students still carry that paper with them. I always thought it would be neat to do that with teachers and other people we work with each day.  I think it would mean a lot.  

I took away LISTS of great bulletin board ideas, service projects that I want to do with my class, books to add to my Amazon cart (ut-oh...) and ideas to go with those books. I have new little songs to sing, and a renewed focus for my school year to teach and model character traits whenever I can.

Here is a post I wrote with some of my favorite Character Education books that I like to use in my classroom.  Barbara has lots of other great ideas that she includes in her book, too- so I will have more to share once that order comes in... (sorry, Jeff... but it's an investment in the future Superheroes of the world!)

I put together some Character Education videos that I liked.  Just click on the picture below if you would like a copy of this Prezi.  It's free.

I also made a Prezi about the Power of One- which I kept thinking of as I read Barbara's book.
If you would like a copy, just click on the picture below. 

You can get a copy of Barbara's book here. It is such a perfect summer read, because it will inspire you to help your own Superheroes in your classroom grow to be even more super!   I can't wait to get started.
Thanks for stopping by! 


  1. You have rendered me speechless ... which is VERY hard to do ... seriously, I have no adequate words.

    My heart is singing and my soul is dancing with gratitude for you and your heartfelt review. I am honored and humbled. Can I just come to your school and sit with your class one day? Soon!!! WoW.

    Just WoW.

    And thank you.

    Be blessed as you bless.

  2. LOVE all the inspiration here! I saw this book on EduKate & Inspire's page, and immediately added it to my ever-growing wish list on Amazon:) If you would like a chance to WIN 2 other books that enhance Character Ed lessons, and help students develop empathy, please stop by my blog and enter my giveaway..it ends this Friday! Enjoy your week...and thanks for the heart-felt post. Loved it all!

  3. Hi Carolyn,

    This book sounds like a winner! I'm off to buy it online right now, thanks for the recommendation. :)

    Love, Laughter and Learning in Prep!

  4. Thanks a lot for sharing. I would definitely get my hands on this book.


  5. Well another book added to my Amazon wishlist...lol. Great post. I loved all the quotes and the Prezi. Thanks for sharing.

    Luv My Kinders

  6. Carolyn, what a great post! My kids LOVE superheroes. I'm going to have to read this book. I did buy some superhero capes for the children who displayed exemplary behavior each day. I got them from Hatch Early Learning. I also had my daughter's fiance, who is a graphic designer, create for me a set of gentle superheroes that start with each letter of the alphabet. Can you tell that I like superheroes too? :)

    Have a wonderful Wednesday, my friend!

    Sharon Dudley, NBCT
    Teaching with Sight

  7. The quotes are out of this world. This was a way to link the ideas together. I am thankful for your sharing of ideas. I am inspired.


Search This Blog