Hello everyone! Sorry for my late post (I usually post my weekly OLLI on Monday) Hope you all had a restful weekend and enjoyed some time with people in “your bubble”. Report cards finished? Well done!
Thank you for the positive responses to my weekly OLLI posts “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“. I’m happy that you are finding them helpful for your distance and in person lessons.
Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books:
OLLI#1 (The Hike)
OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)
OLLIE#3 (Mother’s Day)
OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)
OLLI #5 – (WANTED: Criminals of the Animal Kingdom)
OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)
OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)
OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day)
Last week, I came across a lovely quote on Instagram (forgive me, I did not record the source so unable to credit). It read: “I used to think that when it rains, it pours. But now I think – when it rains, it grows.” What a lovely way of shifting our perspective from the negative to the positive. I often refer to this purposeful action as “practicing happy”. While we could spend many hours discussing the negative things that might be “pouring” on us at the moment, instead, we could be “practicing happy” by choosing to focus on the new “grows” in our lives.
Let’s face it. It’s been a challenge “practicing happy” during these past few months. Many of us can connect with that feeling of doom and gloom, negative energy, the dark cloud hanging over our heads… the “If only…s”. With Covid, the recent protests, the stress of school, family, finances, and so many unknowns – it’s all been a bit much! Being happy is hard work some days! But it’s so important that we each try to “practice happy” even for a few minutes each day and encourage our students to do the same – helping them understand that being happy is a choice we all need to make for ourselves. Instead of wishing for what you don’t have (or don’t have yet), we should make the most of what we do have.
Happy Right Now – Julie Berry
What can you do when things sometimes don’t go the way you want them to? You have a choice, you can either let it get you down, or choose to be happy in the moment. This inspirational tale gives the reader some insight on making their world as best as it can be and embracing the circumstances we find ourselves in each day. What I like about this book is, while its main message is the importance of focusing on happy, the author also explores the notion that its okay to feel sad sometimes too. This book is a perfect choice for exploring emotions and how we deal with them, as well as choosing happiness, even on bad days!
Before reading the story, I like to introduce the concept of “practicing happy” by first exploring the question – “Is this glass half empty or half full?” If possible, bring in a glass half filled with water to start the discussion. (If you are doing distance learning, you can do show the glass half full/empty when you are zooming with them.) Ask the students how they would answer that question.
Explain that some people may look at the glass as being half empty – and wish they had a full glass (negative mindset); others see the glass as being half full – and are grateful for the water they have (positive mindset)
Explain that how someone views the glass, the perspective they take, determines how they feel. Being happy about a half glass of water is a choice. Wishing you had more is also a choice. But which feeling do you want to carry inside you? If you always look for what you don’t have, then that negative feeling fills you up. If you choose to “practice happy”, you will feel more positive inside.
Read the story “Happy Right Now“ – or show the story on YouTube. Invite the students to think about the glass question while they are reading/listening to the story.
After sharing the story with students, discuss the fact that the girl in the story was “practicing happy” , making a choice to be happy for things she had, rather than wishing things were different. She was working on being “happy about right now”! Explain that this can be helpful when we are feeling like things aren’t working out for us or we are feeling like life just isn’t fair! “Practicing happy” means not wishing your life away but making a choice to appreciate what we have “right now”.
Choose a few of these and invite students to “practice happy” with these scenarios.
- I’ll be happy when the coach picks me to be in the starting line up! But I’m happy right now because…
- I’ll be happy when it stops raining! But I am happy right now because…
- I’ll be happy when my ice cream cone stops melting! But I am happy right now because…
- I’ll be happy when I can see all my school friends together! But I am happy right now because….
- I’ll be happy when I win the World Mine Craft Championship. But I am happy right now because…
- I’ll be happy when my baby brother stops following me all around. But I’m happy right now because…
- I’ll be happy when I’m allowed to walk to school by myself. But I am happy right now because..
Invite the students to make up some of their own:
I’ll be happy when….. But I’m happy right now because…
If you are working in your class, create a “Happy Right Now” collaborative poster in the Ask students: “What makes you happy right now?” Model your own (ie – being your teacher, my morning coffee, the smell of my shampoo this morning) Invite them to add and record their own ideas onto the wall poster. Encourage them to focus on specific small, personal things that make them happy. This would be different from, for example, Earth Day or Thanksgiving when you might be saying “I’m thankful for the sun. I’m thankful for the forest”. Students working from home can contribute by telling you during a zoom conference or emailing it to you.
Read any of the additional anchor books to continue exploring this theme of “practicing happy”. Invite the students to complete the “Happy Right Now” template. (see below)
ADDITIONAL ANCHOR BOOKS: Below are other books about happiness, mindfulness, appreciating what we have, and choosing to “practice happy”!
Rain Brings Frogs – A Little Book of Hope – Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Saturday – Oge Mora
The Three Questions – Jon Muth
Hap-pea All Year – Keith Baker
Layla’s Happiness – Maria Hadessa
Here and Now – Julia Denos
I Think, I Am – Louise L. Hay
Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy – Scott Menchin
The Wrong Side of the Bed – Lisa M. Bakos
Good News Bad News – Jeff Mack
Thanks for stopping by this week. I’m wishing you all many happy moments and many opportunities to “practice happy”. See you next week!
For more lessons on emotions, hopes and dreams, and mindfulness, see my book Powerful Understanding.