Sunday, March 15, 2015

pet linky

There are more pictures of my dog on my phone than my three children. There are several reasons for that:

     1. My children are over the age of 2.
2. I have a beagle.
3. We've had Bentley less than a year.
4. I have a beagle.
5. He doesn't argue, make a mess, complain about what I feed him, or need to be driven anywhere.
5. I have a beagle.
6. He's the cutest dog ever- he's a beagle.

By the way, did you know that a beagle won the Westminister dog show? Snoopy used to be the world's most famous beagle.

Now that title goes to "Miss P."

"Miss P" beat out 2,711 other dogs in 191 breeds to win the most prestigious award in the dog world.  Isn't she gorgeous?

Bentley knew all along she "had it in the bag."  Bentley is my "best in show".  He is a 2 year old beagle maybe mixed with something else but we just call him a beagle.

I know exactly what you are thinking.  He should have won.  I know, I know. I get it. I feel your pain.

My husband is a cat person. I'm a dog person.  It took me 4 years to convince him to get the dog I always wanted.  Wait for it......Yes, a beagle.

We rescued "B" from a shelter where we live in Massachuetts.  Apparently, he was a Canine Companion, raised in a prison by an inmate in Kentucky.  He is the best, most well-trained dog I have ever owned.

He's a beagle.  And because he's a beagle. He does this...

and this....

Oh...and this....
and of course this....

Once in a while Bentley is really useful and helps out around the house like this...

If you are looking for a mellow, quiet, lazy, sweet, cuddler a beagle is your best bet.  Bentley is an expert, professional sleeper and most of all...cuddler.

(once in a great while he manages to stay awake for Scandal).

When he is awake he's on a mission for one of two things:  bunnies or food. And he works every angle to force get you to feed him what is yours and give what he wants.

And if all else fails he'll make his needs known quite clearly (just like everyone else in this house)!

We aren't allowed to have class pets at my school so it's a good thing that Charlie isn't real.  He isn't real in the sense that he can breathe and eat but he's  every bit as real to us in room D156.

Charlie is our classroom mascot. I bought him from Amazon for about $15 and he is one of the best investments I have made in my classroom.

He sits with kids when they are feeling sad, happy, angry, and when they are "on task." He sits with kids when they are "off task" to help them regulate.  He is often visited by students in other classes who need a hug and a cuddle.  Have I mentioned that beagles are great for that?

Even the parents love him. All of these dog supplies were donated by a family who wanted to foster the gift of imagination.

  We read to him, talk to him, and even walk him when we need a break. He is in every way our classroom pet and we love him.

Sometimes the kids ask me if Charlie is real. My answer is always the same.  "To me, he is."

Over the years he has heard the kids talk about their weekends, their disagreements with peers or siblings, how their parents are getting a divorce and how awful that feels. He has given a struggling reader the confidence to read aloud for the first time. He has helped many a nervous and scared first grader on the first day of first grade. He has sat with a first grader and given them confidence when the work seems too hard.

I could go on and on.

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words...

Charlie's favorite spot is in our classroom library. We call this Peaceful Pet Place. Students are able to go to Peaceful Pet Place when they need a hug from Charlie, a quiet place, to take a break or to utilize a calming strategy.

In the past, I had a tool kit of sorts, for a student or students when they become dysregulated and I would break out the squeeze ball or the sensory bottle when it was needed. Over the years, I have seen the need to make these materials accessible to all of my students.

Are even your best classroom management strategies no longer working because the social/emotional needs of students is so significant it is robbing you of effectively running your classroom?Students are able to use the Peaceful Pet Place as a way to self-regulate, manage, and maintain their own behavior in the classroom as needed with less classroom disruption, leaving you free to be able to conduct the class as you need to be.

After modeling the care, use, clean-up, and storage for each of the tools in the Peaceful Pet Place the students are able to access the calming strategies as needed. 

And you know what I have found?  My students have become better students. When they know they have the ability to take a break when the need to, when they feel a part of a classroom where are feel safe, valued, listened to, and cared for….they actually work harder and more efficiently. They are invested and they want to do well.

Here are some of the calming tools I have in Peaceful Pet Place:

Teach kids how to self regulate their behavior

The sensory bottle is very easy to make. All you need is a Voss water bottle (available at most grocery stores). I used inexpensive V05 shampoo and marbles (since I had them in the house).  The Thinking Putty I found at a local gift store and probably paid WAY too much for it. It is available on Amazon in all kinds of varieties and colors.

Some other things you can include are:

Coloring books with crayons or colored pencils, an iPod with classical music, squeeze ball, bubbles, a variety of sensory bottles...the possibilities are endless and really depend on your class.

The calming cards and breathing box are great visual tools and strategies to help students pick a strategy that suits them well.  I keep these in the Peaceful Pet Place.

Here is a close up of what Peaceful Pet Place looks like:

The activities are meant to be short and calming and non-disruptive.  Here's some examples of a few of the calming strategy cards:

Another strategy that I have found effective for students to self-regulate is to write letters or maintain a journal. I have students that have brought in a special decorated notebook/journal from home for this purpose, or they have made one with our school counselor.  I have students keep a journal in their cubbies if they need one.

When a conflict arises, especially with another peer and it has been discussed and worked out but the student is having a having a hard time letting it go, sometimes I will suggest “Write it down and then leave it be."  This way, students who are particularly expressive or emotional can get their feelings out, write it down, and then.....let it go.(sing it now....)

Students often need help using words to describe their feelings. I love this activity to help them develop and review the language to express themselves.

Teaching students the vocabulary to express their emotions is important.  It can very enlightening for a 7, 8 or 9 year old child to learn more words beyond "I'm mad" to express frustration.

Equally important, is teaching young child to recognize what defines a good choice or a bad choice and why. Perhaps most important, is for them to understand how it makes them FEEL when they make these choices.  It is like their conscience and it will govern how they act or react in your classroom, towards their peers, and with you, as their teacher.

It is also important for students to develop empathy for others. Role playing social/emotional scenarios is enormously helpful, especially for younger students who are so concrete.  Morning meeting is the perfect time to role play one or two playground, cafeteria, or hallway scenarios.  Choose student volunteers and role play one of the thousands of conflicts you have heard, seen, and witnessed in your teaching experience (you know you have them....).

Here are a few to get you started...

What do you do to help your students who are struggling with stress, sorry, anxiety and emotional discord in your classroom?

I was walking through Barnes and Noble one Saturday morning and literally shrieked out loud when I found this book.

Because you know what I thought of.....

Charlie!  Could they look any more alike?!  Of course Charlie makes me think of...


So of course I had to snatch up a few which has led to this collection of books all in honor of my dog our class pet mascot, Charlie.

The kiddos LOVE these books. I love how they are both read-alouds and leveled readers!

One of our favorite close reads is on...wait for it.....


We break out our close reading toolkits and enjoy looking for details in the text.

The close reading toolkit featured above is not my original idea.  I learned about it from Leslie Ann of Life in Fifth Grade.  Her close reading toolkit is a freebie in her store. It includes the close reading toolkit topper and close reading symbols chart. You can find it here.

I adapted the kit to fit my needs in my first grade classroom. Using Leslie Ann's topper and close reading symbols chart, I added a pen, sticky notes, highlighter, a fingerlight, a googly eye ring (well....because it's fun) and a dog themed bookmark to my close reading toolkit. 

You can find the dog themed bookmarks for FREE here.

If you are looking for a close reading resource on dogs (including the beagle reading passage above)you can find it and 7 other breeds including Golden Retrievers, Basset Hounds, Poodles, Great Danes, Huskies, Newfoundlands, and Goldendoodles in my Close Reading: Dogs product which is in my store and on sale this week.


  1. Julie SmithMarch 15, 2015 at 8:35 AM I want a Beagle!! Your pics are PRECIOUS!!!!! Loved reading about your pups :)
    The Techie Teacher

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:30 PM

      Ha! I highly recommend beagles but then....I'm a little biased. :)

  • MelissaMarch 15, 2015 at 8:44 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • MelissaMarch 15, 2015 at 8:47 AM

    Julie I LOVE your class pet! I never thought of having a "faux" class pet. The idea of having Charlie in a real dog pet, with his own leash, and bowl is BRILLIANT! I'm sure the kids are dying to walk him or even have him come sit with them. I like how you treat his as if he were a REAL dog :0)
    ... and Bentley is adorable! I always thought beagles were super hyper yet intelligent dogs, but B looks so calm in all the pics. B eyes look so sweet and tender, reminds me of my Jeter's look!
    :0) Melissa
    More Time 2 Teach

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:41 PM

      I will say that the class "pet" is awesome. The kids LOVE him. It is so cute to see them read to him and cuddle. Thanks so much for your kind words. You are sweet. Bentley is soooo mellow, we joke about it. Jeter and him have that similar handsome and sophisticated look. Clearly, they get this from their owners. :)

  • JaymeMarch 15, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    Bentley is so sweet and adorable! Roger definitely gives beagles a bad name with his amount of energy but when he wants to cuddle he's such a little love bug! I think your stuffed animal Charlie is the perfect idea for a class pet! Your kids must love to read to him and write stories for him. Great idea! I have really just started using close reading in my classroom and I know I need to do it more often. Thank you for the great ideas!

    Teach Talk Inspire

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:42 PM

      Your Roger pictures are cracking me up. I think he's awesome. It's what gives him such personality.

  • Neat Sweet and Hard to BeatMarch 15, 2015 at 10:15 AM

    Bentley is so sweet! It makes me so happy to see happy dogs in their forever homes after having been at a shelter! I love your class pet! That is such a great idea! My students love all of the Charlie books too! Charlie has the best personality in those books and those books make my students laugh every time! :)

    Neat Sweet & Hard to Beat

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:43 PM

      Rescues are awesome. I have a great dog without having to go through puppy stage. Win, win! :) Thanks so much for joining us!

  • Juliana SuarezMarch 15, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    Ohhh I love Bentley! :)

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      Awwww shucks. Thanks so much. He's pretty swell :)

  • Tales of the Sassy TeacherMarch 15, 2015 at 11:10 AM

    Love this post!!!your fur baby is so cute!

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      Thanks so much. We'll keep him :)

  • RachelMarch 15, 2015 at 11:10 AM

    I have never been a dog lover (though I am a HUGE Snoopy fan), but your sweet Bentley makes me want to run out and adopt a beagle right now! Charlie is a fantastic idea. I have lots of stuffed animals in my library area, but I love the idea of having a special one. I actually think I might do a pet theme next year, and so I might use your Charlie idea!

    Thanks so much for putting this linky together! I am having a great time reading posts, finding new blogs, and sharing my love for my fur babies too! :-)

    Mrs O Knows

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:47 PM

      Thanks so much! You are so sweet. Bentley is a champion cuddler. He literally squeals when I get home from school every day because he is so excited. I love how low maintenance he is. Or's because I have 3 boys that he seems low maintenance. :)

  • Quinnessential LessonsMarch 15, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    Bently is so adorable. I have always wanted a beagle....maybe someday.

    I love how you adapted the close reading tool kits. We have our state testing coming up and these kits would definitely help motivate my students as be dive deeper into preparing. Thanks for sharing.

    Quinnessential Lessons

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:48 PM

      I have always wanted a beagle. I had to wait until I was 40 to get one! He was worth the wait. He's the best cuddler ever and I love how he squeals with happiness when I get home from school. Good luck with your testing! :)

  • Linda Nelson @ Primary InspirationMarch 15, 2015 at 12:33 PM

    Charlie is so sweet, and having the Ranch Dog book to go along with his class pet status makes it all even better. We couldn't have pets in the classroom because of allergies, so I had a stuffed Fluffy, and a basket of his books sat on the shelf right by his cage. He even had wood shavings, a food dish, and an empty toilet tissue roll to crawl through ... I'm all for "fostering the imagination", as you said! When a visitor would come to the room, a child would often take them by the hand and escort them to the cage to meet our pet. You should have seen the faces on some of those adults! :)
    Thanks for hosting this linky!
    Primary Inspiration

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:49 PM

      Linda that is soooo cute! I love it! Priceless!

  • Amy LabrascianoMarch 15, 2015 at 1:36 PM

    Do you LOVE beagles? I would to if I had a cootie patootie like Bentley. Thanks for hosting a fabulous link up. I had a great time writing about my fur babies.
    xoxo, Amy

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:51 PM

      Ha! I love dogs in general, but this guy melts my heart. He gets away with everything. He's not spoiled though. He's well-loved and...."big boned" (not fat) :)

  • KarynMarch 15, 2015 at 11:35 PM

    Bentley is so adorable! Thank you for sharing him! I love the Charlie idea too! I actually follow The Pioneer Woman;s (Ree Drummond) blog and she shares stories of Charlie (and Walter, her other Basset Hound) often. So cute!

    1. afirstforeverythingMarch 16, 2015 at 6:52 PM

      I love her blog and I follow her too! I love her writing style and that Charlie....he cracks me up!

  • Melanie JordanMarch 28, 2015 at 7:42 AM

    Hi Julie, I love your blog! I'm currently hosting a giveaway and was hoping you would be so kind to donate a product. It's a fundraiser for Autism that will take place from April 1 -30. Please hop on over to my blog for more info.
    Teacher’s Lounge


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