Join Peekapak’s #Perseverance2021 Challenge

Undoubtedly, 2020 has been a tough year for many. Our ability to practice what we preach to students — optimism, courage, empathy,…

The Importance of SEL During the Second Wave

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on each and everyone one of our lives causing stress, worry, and uncertainty. It…

Social-Emotional Learning and the Covid-19 Pandemic

As schools reopened amid the pandemic, many educators continue to remain uncertain about the future. This unpredictability is especially true for social-emotional…

Peekapak’s Feelings Check-in Tool

Through Peekapak’s Feelings Check-in Tool, teachers are provided with a Mood Board of student sentiment data allowing them to gain insight into…

How Peekapak aligns with CASEL

The year 2020 has brought many uncertainties to different facets of the world. The pandemic has moved us from a physically connected…

Join our #TreeOfGratitude Challenge!

We’re excited to announce it is time to join our #TreeofGratitude Challenge for the month of November. The challenge is easy to…

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Meet the Peekapals: Nick Clayton

At Peekapak, we celebrate educators. These amazing, passionate, and dedicated individuals bring joy to learning every day. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have a special group of educators supporting our growth – The Peekapals: Our Peekapak Ambassadors! Our Meet the Peekapals series showcases their personal achievements, thoughts on education and SEL, and more.

Peekapal: Nick Clayton

Nick has been training educators for nine years. Currently, he is a Special Education and Technology teacher for grades 4 – 6 at Puesta Del Sol Elementary School in Victorville, CA. He lives with Amanda, his wife of thirteen years, Mia, his eight-year-old daughter (who started the NPO: @MiasBoxesofLove) and Griffin, his five-year-old son. Nick loves sharing his passion for education and EdTech and loves being a Peekapak Ambassador as it allows him to share his SEL adventures in the classroom. Check out what’s happening in his classroom on Twitter

 

PEEKAPAK: Tell us about what you are most proud of accomplishing while working in education? 

NICK CLAYTON: One of my most memorable moments was taking fifth-graders on a virtual field trip to Switzerland. I facilitated a connection with Google to talk to the creators of Solar Impulse, the first and only solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. The students that joined in were disadvantaged and many have never left their city. But here, they had the opportunity to talk to scientists and were interviewed like there was no one more important on the planet. It was amazing to participate in.

 

P: What do you find the most challenging about teaching? The most rewarding?

NC: My biggest challenges come when I am not able to reach a student. I pride myself on building relationships and getting to the root of what may be going on. I try to help my students with their baggage so that they may be able to learn more confidently. My most rewarding experiences come from the toughest students. When I finally reach through their hard, protective shells, it is so rewarding to watch them grow.

 

P: In your opinion, what is the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL)?

NC: Social-emotional learning allows students to understand their feelings and emotions to help them learn in a more effective way. It removes the stigma from social settings.

 

P: What do you envision for the future of education and how do you suggest we get there?

NC: The future of education is one where students are given the opportunity to learn no matter the bounds of their financial situations or baggage. Social-emotional learning will help these situations as generations progress. When students are aware of their emotions and taught how to properly socialize, they will be more effective in helping to fix the inequalities of society as the policymakers of tomorrow.

 

P: Tell us about your experience with Peekapak.

NC: My students benefit from the interactions they engage in when discussing the stories and reading letters from the characters. The Kindness unit was particularly helpful with my older students who struggle with understanding the importance of kindness as a tool for effective communication. The Peekapak Pals book “Season of Kindness” was such an amazing story that my students related to on a very personal level. They ended up becoming more helpful to each other and use some of the kindness examples from the book in their school lives. We also completed a sock drive for “Socktober” as a class each year that they coordinate with 15 schools. I’ve found that the Peekapak lessons are so helpful in giving meaning to their actions; it has helped them understand why it is important to volunteer and take action in their community.

 

Are you an elementary educator or leader interested in becoming a Peekapak Ambassador? If so, please read and fill out this form

Successfully Navigating Growth
EdTechTO: Fireside Chat with John Carbrey, Founder of SharpSchool

On September 19, Peekapak hosted an EdTechTO Meet Up for EdTech leaders in the Toronto area. John Carbrey (Founder and CEO) and Joshua Auslander (CFO) shared the story of SharpSchool’s growth and acquisition by SchoolMessenger. Carbrey and Auslander discussed what they did to set up SharpSchool for growth and success and how they navigated the selling process. Here are some of their insights based on their story.

Build an Advisory Board

As your business grows, you’ll find yourself facing issues you’ve never dealt with before. Finding veterans who can provide guidance and advice can help you successfully navigate decisions and roadblocks. When putting together your Board, you should approach people who:

  • Have a broad network of contacts that you will be able to leverage
  • Have experience in growing a business
  • Can deal with a variety of issues in different functions of the organization

Hire Fractional Executives

Evaluate your org chart. Are you missing any key roles? As your business grows, you may find that the CEO has too many direct reports or that there are certain roles filled, like a Marketing Manager, but not an HR one. Maybe the CEO is managing both the Marketing and HR departments.

To help set your company up for growth, consider hiring fractional executives. These executives can provide leadership and guidance in certain areas of your business for just a few days a week. For example, you could hire an HR Manager who works for two days/week. Fractional executives can also help you identify and train potential future leaders within your company by providing them with professional development opportunities.

Define Your Vision, Then Transfer Its Ownership

A company is created by the vision of the CEO and this vision guides the business through its initial development under the CEO’s watchful eye. However, if growth is to happen, the CEO must take a step back and allow the rest of the team to take ownership of the vision.

When this occurred at SharpSchool, it was a pivotal moment for the company. During an off-site workshop, SharpSchool’s leaders gathered, identified what they wanted their respective teams to look like in the future, and put together plans of how to get there. This was all done with little input from Carbrey,  outside of setting the vision, though he was present at the event. This helped transfer accountability for executing the vision from Carbrey to the rest of the team and helped empower them to perform more independently. This process helped identify the leaders in the organization. There were even some surprises, as new, unexpected leaders emerged.  

Businesses are Bought, Not Sold

Your goal when building your business should not be to sell it, it should be to build the business. When planning and making projections, think long-term. Having these plans will also help a lot if you are approached by a potential buyer. It will help show them the value of your business which may help convince them to buy!

 

Join us for our next EdTechTO event!

Peekapak hosts regular meetups for EdTech leaders in the Toronto area. If you are interested in joining our invite list, send a message to hello@peekapak.com and we will be sure to invite you to future events! Our next meetup will be on October 16th.

Coronavirus Lesson 7
Coronavirus Lesson Plans – Lesson 7: Our Elders

Lesson 7: Our Elders

7A: Letter from Cody

Hi friends! It’s Cody here. 

My family and I are still at home. Are you? Yesterday, I wore my pajamas the whole day. It was awesome! But then I felt sleepy all the time. Zzzzz!

I heard on the news that the Peekaflu is dangerous for older people. Most of them can’t have visitors and must stay in their rooms. I’m pretty lucky that I get to be with my family. I can imagine that it’s a bit lonely and scary to be alone.

I want to do something for the older people in my community. I think maybe I’ll write them letters! I could add in some pictures, funny jokes, and a cool comic. Maybe they’ll even write back and we can become peeka-pen-pals! That’d be awesome.

Will you help me write some letters?

Your friend,

Cody

7B: Questions + Letter to Elder

  • Parents/guardians, read the letter from Cody with your child(ren).
  • Ask the following questions:
    • How is Cody feeling?
    • Why does Cody want to write letters to the elderly/senior citizens?
    • What types of things can Cody include in his letter?
    • Why do letters help show someone we care?
  • Help Cody by writing a letter to a senior citizen, or elder, in your community. Use our template attached or create your own letter! Either mail the letter or take a picture and email it to a relative or to your local senior citizen center. How many can you write?
  • Take a photo/video of your child’s letter(s) and post it on Twitter (tag @Peekapak). Cody may see it and respond!


SAMPLE:
Dear friend at <NAME OF CENTER>,

My name is <FIRST NAME>. 

Include a story, some interesting facts, a joke, a picture! You choose!

I hope you are staying healthy and safe!

Your friend,

<FIRST NAME>

7C: What is Wise Dialogue

Dialogue: Read the conversation between Cody and his dad. Act it out or maybe even use puppets.

Cody: Dad! Dad! Dad! I sent a letter to Kenji’s granny and she sent one back to me. She’s my first peeka-pen-pal! 

Dad: That’s wonderful Cody. What does it say?

Cody:  She said that she liked my comic book and all the fun facts I taught her. 

Dad: Are you going to write back?

Cody: Yes! I’m going to teach her all of the things I know, like who the coolest superheroes are right now and…and…the best strategy for winning berryball!

Dad: Hmmm… Instead of you teaching her. Maybe she could teach you?

Cody: Huh? But I’m the one in school.

Dad: That’s true, and you’ve learned a lot there. But elders are wise. 

Cody: What does ‘wise’ mean?

Dad: Being wise means you have experience, knowledge and good judgement. Wisdom comes with age. They’ve seen a lot more, met a lot more people, and had some big life experiences. 

Cody: That is true. Kenji always says he has a lot of respect for his granny because of the life she’s lived.

Dad: Exactly! We need to respect and listen to our elders. I think we should all go to Elder School.

Cody: That’s it! I’m going to ask Kenji’s granny to teach me something or tell me a story about her life. I could become wise too! Maybe I can even interview her on the phone?

Dad: Great idea Cody. I’ll sign up for Elder School too!

Inspired by the following story (great read for the adults!):  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/opinion/covid-home-school-grandparents.html

7D: Elder School Activity 

  • Senior citizens, or elders, have a lot of wisdom. They have met interesting people, visited fascinating places, and learned many life lessons along the way. 
  • Reach out to a grandparent, senior citizen from the community (get help from a parent), or your new peeka-pen-pal and ask them to teach you something interesting! 
    • Example topics: 
      • A life lesson
      • What life used to be like (a typical day, their childhood, their job)
      • An interesting story from their past
      • An observation about life today
  • Schedule a time for the activity (give them time to think about their topic!). 
  • After your activity, write down (or draw) what you learned, have your child send in their summary or picture to their teacher and take a photo and post it on Twitter (tag @Peekapak). Cody may see it and respond!
  • Write a letter of gratitude to your elder for giving you wisdom!

Download and review activity materials 

Continue with the Peekaflu Unit:

More Peekapak lessons to support remote student learning:

Districts, schools, educators and families impacted by health-related closures can access Peekapak’s entire platform for free. To sign up, visit this link: https://www.peekapak.com/schoolclosures

This will allow schools to provide lessons, at-home activities and interactive learning games for all affected families with children between Pre-K to 5th grade. Our resources promote literacy skills while helping families remain calm and practice social-emotional learning skills like self-regulation, empathy, and perseverance.

If you represent a school or district faced with school closures, please complete the below form. You will hear back shortly from our team with the next steps. Please note, if you are a parent, you can still sign up as well.

More Remote Learning Resources:

With the recent turn of events and the resulting school closures, we’ve been so impressed with the number of education technology organizations offering their resources.  To help districts, schools, educators, and families, we’ve put together a list of recommended free at-home learning. See our list of recommendations here. 

EdTechTO: Are EdTech Tools Providing Real Value to Students?

On August 8th, Peekapak hosted an EdTechTO meetup for EdTech leaders in the Toronto area. The focus of this month’s discussion was on private schools and international schools. We were joined by special guests Lavish Bangia of MaRS Discovery District and Andrea Fanjoy of Kingsway College School. We had an insightful conversation around what EdTech tools various private schools are using, and what problems some of these schools still have with using various technology solutions. Here are some of the key highlights from the event.

EdTech tools need to provide real value to students

When deciding on which tools to use, Andrea Fanjoy explained that “whatever brings real value to the needs of the kids is worth it to us.” She spoke about how at many schools it is a challenge to meet the differentiated needs of all of the students. An EdTech tool is incredibly valuable if it is capable of solving this issue by offering means of personalization and adapting to the needs of each individual student.

Lavish Bangia expressed that for many international schools, there is a hunger to associate with North American curriculum and brands. “Canadian education carries a lot of capital across the world,” says Bangia. He also emphasized the big challenge that international schools have with handling the volume of students and any tool that helps to augment the administration process is incredibly valuable, as well as any platform that offers strong curriculum enhancement.

Concerns over screen time a big barrier to implementing new technology

Barriers to bringing in a new technology solution were discussed and the big ones mentioned were cost and concerns over how much time students are spending in front of screens. While many private schools do not have the same financial barriers that a public school might have, there are still many, especially internationally, that do not have excess funds in order to implement new educational technology programs and tools into the curriculum.

Furthermore, Fanjoy discussed the concern that her school has with young children spending far too much time in front of screens. “We must be careful and make sure there is still face time, or even tech tools that inspire more socialization,” expresses Fanjoy. Her and Bangia both felt strongly that EdTech tools are great, but the concern over excess screen time does give reason to want to consider how much technology is used in the classroom.

EdTech has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go

Going forward, both Bangia and Fanjoy think that there is a lot of improvement and innovation coming in the world of education technology. Bangia believes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be key as it is currently starting to change the face of technology as a whole. As well, Bangia believes that since technology comes naturally to the current generation of students, the friction to accept technology in the classroom and on the whole will decrease as the children of today become the educators of tomorrow.

Fanjoy is very curious to see what research comes in terms of determining the appropriate amount of screen time for children to be having every day. She is also quite keen on finding new ways for technology to help facilitate learning and socialization. “Tech tools that help inspire real authentic learning, getting kids out of a textbook world, unleashing their potential to engage in real problems is possible, but no one has taken advantage yet,” says Fanjoy. It will be exciting to see how classroom technology develops and grows moving ahead.

Join us for our next EdTechTO event!

Peekapak hosts regular meetups for EdTech leaders in the Toronto area. If you are interested in joining our invite list, send a message to hello@peekapak.com and we will be sure to invite you to future events! Our next meetup will be on September 19th and we will be having a fireside chat with John Carbrey, founder of SharpSchool.

 

Looking for a technology-based platform to teach empathy and other social-emotional skills for elementary aged children? Look no further than Peekapak. Peekapak is an award-winning, social & emotional learning (SEL) platform that leverages engaging lessons, stories and digital games in the classroom and the home. Developed by education experts, Peekapak’s innovative curriculum teaching skills like gratitude, empathy, and self-regulation within literacy, reading, and writing based learning curriculum.

 

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Join Peekapak’s #Perseverance2021 Challenge

Undoubtedly, 2020 has been a tough year for many. Our ability to practice what we preach to students optimism, courage, empathy, kindness, respect, teamwork was put to the test as we faced the onset of a global pandemic and all of its drastic changes to the way we educate students.

So naturally, all of us let out a big sigh of relief and celebrated as we watched the clock turn from 11:59PM, December 31st, 2020 to 12:00AM, January 1st, 2021 and welcomed a brand new year.

However, it’s important to remember that the turn of a new year can’t magically make everything better. In 2021, we still have obstacles to overcome and areas in which we can all still grow.

The Challenge

Hence we invite you and your classroom to join us in our #Perseverance2021 challenge and learn more about how we can show perseverance in the new year. There are three simple steps to the challenge:

1. Read The Peekapak Pals and the Sounds of Music from our Perseverance Unit & discuss the story with your class.

Perseverance is being steadily persistent and willing to continue on with a task or goal despite challenges or a delay in achieving success. Peekapak’s perseverance unit is all about helping students learn how to set goals, overcome obstacles and have a growth mindset. If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.peekapak.com.

In The Peekapak Pals and the Sounds of Music (found on our website), students learn how different characters in the story reach their goals. Here are some great prompts to drive discussion:

Pre-Story
  • This story is called The Peekapak Pals and the Sounds of Music. What do you think this story is about?
  • This is a story about perseverance. What comes to mind when you hear the word “perseverance”?
During the Story
  • Cody dreams of being a rock star, but he doesn’t know how to play an instrument. What should he do?
  • How did Menka and Leo the Hedgehog show perseverance?
  • How does Cody show perseverance? How does he feel?
  • How do Katy Bearry, Justin Beaver and Wolf-gang show perseverance?
After Reading the Story
  • Why is it important to set a goal and to keep trying until you achieve it?
  • Share an example of a time you achieved a goal. What was your goal? How did you achieve it? How did you feel when you achieved it?
  • How did Cody feel when he achieved his goal? 

2. Have your class create a story of perseverance in any form you’d like short written stories, plays, comics, videos, animations, or a picture board are all accepted!

Get your students’ creative juices flowing by having them create their own story of perseverance using their favourite Peekapak Pals. Click here for printable images of the Peekapak Pals and backgrounds!

3. Share your class’ story with us through social media (Twitter, Instagram or Facebook) or email us at hello@peekapak.com to join the challenge and gain an entry for a fun prize!

We’ll be sharing your classroom’s creations on social media to celebrate moments of perseverance in our Peekapak community. Every story sent to us with the hashtag #Perseverance2021 and @Peekapak tagged, will win one entry into a special raffle for a $50 Amazon Gift card and a Peekapak individual book-set.

Every retweet or person tagged on your post will give you a bonus entry for the raffle!

All submissions must be sent in by February 7th, after which will be randomly selecting and announcing three winners of our challenge!

We’re so excited to see your classroom’s wonderful creations and we hope you enjoy participating in our challenge.

Looking forward to a wonderful 2021,

Ami & The Peekapak Team

The Importance of SEL During the Second Wave

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on each and everyone one of our lives causing stress, worry, and uncertainty. It is important to remember that children are also experiencing this, and often need help in learning how to deal with the emotions that they are facing in a healthy way. This is where the importance of SEL (social-emotional learning) comes into play, as it helps students to understand and manage their emotions to navigate these difficult times. 

The Impact of the Pandemic on Children

Even before the pandemic began, almost 1 in 4 young children in the U.S. were found to be living in poverty, which is an issue that also disproportionately affects minorities. With mass unemployment and job loss due to the pandemic, the number of children facing significant adversities continues to increase. The pandemic has led to traumatic experiences for many families which result in children experiencing traumatic stress, which has a negative impact on behaviour, self-regulation, and academic achievement. On top of this, uncertainty is at an all-time high, and children may feel increased anxiety due to a lack of information about the drastic changes that are occurring in their lives. 

This increased fear, anxiety, and toxic stress can translate to issues in the school environment, as children can’t focus on learning if they don’t feel safe and supported where they are. Furthermore, remote-learning is challenging for many students, and students who are struggling academically are often the most impacted by these learning environment changes. 

The Benefit of SEL Right Now

SEL can foster a sense of safety and be used in conjunction with trauma sensitive practices to best suit children’s individual needs. SEL helps students to manage their emotions in a safe and supportive way, which sets them up perfectly for learning success. It also helps to build positive connections and relationships within the classroom, which school closures and remote learning have made much harder to do. These relationships allow students to develop socially, and contribute to laying the necessary foundation for academic learning. Furthermore, SEL can teach students skills that are needed for successful learning like self-regulation or problem solving, which can help address learning inequalities created by an online school environment. 

Although we often think of SEL in the context of how it can benefit children, the importance of SEL to educators and other members of the school community should not be overlooked. SEL helps to support teachers and staff by helping them to manage stress, and build trust amongst their colleagues and students. Overall, this serves to strengthen the school ecosystem and results in a better learning experience for students. 

Peekapak Coronavirus Lessons

If you are looking for ways to incorporate social-emotional learning into your classroom in the context of the pandemic, look no further! Peekapak has created 8 specialized SEL pandemic lessons, that teaches children about the pandemic and helps them to address feelings of worry, frustration, boredom, and much more. These lessons can be found here

Acknowledgements

This article was based on a presentation by the Committee for Children, an organization that strives to promote the safety, well-being, and success of children in school and in life. A link to the presentation slides can be found here, and a recording of the presentation here


Looking for a technology-based program to teach empathy and other social-emotional skills to elementary aged children? Look no further than Peekapak! Peekapak is an award-winning, social-emotional learning (SEL) platform that uses engaging lessons, stories, and digital games in the classroom and at home. Developed by education experts, Peekapak’s innovative curriculum teaches skills like gratitude, empathy, and self-regulation using literacy, reading, and writing based learning curriculum.

Social-Emotional Learning and the Covid-19 Pandemic

As schools reopened amid the pandemic, many educators continue to remain uncertain about the future. This unpredictability is especially true for social-emotional learning (SEL), a relatively new development in education. While there is uncertainty all across the globe of how schools will continue to function, it is essential to address the importance of incorporating SEL into these future education models. Not only does SEL provide an opportunity for students to develop crucial life skills, but it has also been proven to provide a plethora of lifelong benefits. This is why, as educators, we must strive to incorporate sustainable SEL models into our classrooms, even during the pandemic.

What Is Social-emotional Learning?

Before we can understand the importance of SEL, we must first understand what exactly SEL means. In essence “SEL is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions”.

In other words, it is a form of learning that emphasizes the importance of good citizenship. It teaches students valuable social skills that are crucial for being a responsible and empathetic human being. It focuses on understanding emotions and decision making, rather than traditional forms of academics like mathematics or science.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), SEL can be broken down into five core components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Each of these components is focused on an essential aspect of social and emotional development.

Here at Peekapak, we align with the CASEL model in a very unique way. Rather than focus on each of the five components separately, we have adapted our units so that students can learn to draw from different components simultaneously in a dynamic and digestible manner. This is because our units focus on subjects that tend to overlap between these five components, such as honesty, self-regulation, empathy, and teamwork. Our model is presented in more detail in the table below.

Peekapak Alignment to CASEL

Why Is Social-emotional Learning Important?

SEL has been proven to benefit students in a number of different ways. As the CASEL points out, these benefits range from a wide variety of different areas including both academic and non-academic improvements:

  1. Academic Achievement

A study in 2011 found that students who were engaged in SEL programs showed an 11% point increase in academic achievement.

2. Improved Behaviour

Various studies have shown that SEL leads to “decreased dropout rates, school and classroom behavior issues, drug use, teen pregnancy, mental health problems, and criminal behavior”.

3. Improved Life Outcomes

Lastly, studies have also shown that SEL can lead to better life outcomes for students: “SEL decreased the likelihood of living in or being on a waiting list for public housing, receiving public assistance, having any involvement with police before adulthood, and ever spending time in a detention facility”.

What Will Social-Emotional Learning Look Like In The Pandemic?

While the pandemic does present new challenges for SEL, these challenges can be overcome with enough determination. Firstly, educators have the ability to move their lessons to a remote learning environment. This will allow students to be able to learn about important concepts such as empathy, respect, and self-regulation while also social distancing from other students.

Secondly, teachers can also try to implement SEL in family households. Here at Peekpak, for example, we embed various SEL activities in our lessons for parents/guardians to try with their children. These activities are specifically designed for fostering social and emotional maturity, while also allowing students to practice the concepts that they learn online.

How Is Peekapak Responding To Covid-19?

Here at Peekapak, we are committed to promoting SEL to the highest degree possible. This is why are happy to announce that we have adapted our program to fit all formats of learning including:

Synchronous online learning through our new series of 50 remote learning presentations to support online lessons per grade level.

Asynchronous online and family learning through our new video lessons and myPeekaville, our learning game.

In-class learning through our 80 classroom lesson plans per grade level.

While we have put extensive and careful effort into making these resources the best that they can be, we understand that the transition to either full or partial remote learning can be difficult for students. That is why we have also worked closely with our educators to design an entirely new product to help ease with this transition: The Back to School with The Peekaflu Series!

The Back to School with The Peekaflu Series!

To find out more about these individual products, please check out the following link. Have a question or want to learn more? Request information here or send us an email at hello@peekapak.com.

Peekapak’s Feelings Check-in Tool

Through Peekapak’s Feelings Check-in Tool, teachers are provided with a Mood Board of student sentiment data allowing them to gain insight into their students’ well-being. Such a tool is powerful, especially during these times when students are likely to experience many new changes and unprecedented challenges. In order to provide guidance to our teachers, we have created a “how-to” on implementing, responding to, and supporting this data. Please note, this tool is available for our Classroom PRO and PRO trial users only.

Implementing the Feelings Check-in Tool

First, explain to your students that when they log-in to myPeekaville, they will be prompted to check-in with how they are feeling. The first time a student uses myPeekaville, they will be asked to name how you are feeling and there will be a 10-second countdown. Instruct students to use this time to take deep breaths, close their eyes, and think about how their mind and body feel. Some strategies that you can follow to do this are:

  • Reassuring students. “We feel a lot of different feelings throughout the day. You could be excited to go to school, nervous for reading class, angry that you didn’t get picked for the science experiment, calm during math class and so much more! That is all okay! It’s important to name our feelings to help us get back to calm.” 
  • Modeling for students how to name their feelings by also closing your eyes and taking a deep breath.
  • Encouraging students to try this together. “Close your eyes and I am going to count to ten. I want you to take 5 slow breaths during that time and think about how you are feeling. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … think of a word in your head that describes how you feel.”    

On the screen, there will be different feelings that students can choose from. We advise you to go through each feeling with students so they understand it, and emphasize that it is important to take their time and answer honestly. Every time a student logs-in to myPeekaville, they will complete a Feelings Check-in, which will generate the data provided on your mood dashboard.

Responding to and Supporting the Feelings Check-in Data

You can use the Mood Board to see trends with student feelings in your classroom and for individual students. You can find this dashboard under “Reports” and “Moodboard” under your teacher settings.

These trends will help you gauge your class’ wellbeing and also provide an opportunity for you to guide your students through different calming strategies that tie in directly with our self-regulation unit.

Self-regulation is a skill that helps students manage their behaviors and express emotions in constructive ways. This happens when students are aware of their feelings, able to articulate them (e.g., “I am feeling sad because…”), and can make decisions about how to respond to stimulation. Most importantly, naming our feelings is crucial to self-regulation as it is the first step in helping students reach a calm state that is optimal for learning (Shanker, S. (2012). Calm, alert and happy. Retrieved August 19, 2015.).

On their own, students can explore some of these calming strategies through:

  • myPeekaville games related to the self-regulation unit;
  • Through our lessons, you can guide them through these strategies (“Take a Deep Breath”, “Feelings Dance”, “Is this a calm body?”) and;
  • The context of the story “The Peekapak Pals and the Classroom Chaos”.

Some other strategies that you can try to help bring your students back to calm are:

  • Guiding angry students through a breathing exercise “take a few deep breaths to pause and reflect”
  • If a student likes to write, suggest them to reflect on their feelings and write about them in a journal
  • Ask your student to close their eyes and visualize a happy or relaxing place. Have them name the sensory details related to this place, like what they see, what they hear, what they can touch, and what they smell in this place.
  • Do a little shake! Having your students jump in place 10 times, jog in place, roar (if appropriate), or just wiggle can help release any excess energy and release feel-good endorphins.
  • Help your students change their negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Brainstorm together encouraging and empowering statements they can use as positive self-talk (this is also explored in our optimism unit!).
  • Be a role model for your students. Your students will mimic how you cope with stress and so the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, use that as an opportunity to demonstrate positive self-talk.

More Resources

If you would like to learn more about social-emotional learning, self-regulation, and how to support students through their learning journeys, check out these short, but helpful videos:

Thank you for reading our article! We hope you have found our “how-to” guide and Feelings Check-in Tool helpful in supporting your student’s development of their self-regulation skills. If you have any questions or want to contribute your own tip or tool, feel free to share it with us at hello@peekapak.com and we’ll add it to our list!

      

How Peekapak aligns with CASEL

The year 2020 has brought many uncertainties to different facets of the world. The pandemic has moved us from a physically connected world to a digitally connected world. Changes have been made in government, businesses, and education. Powerful movements such as Black Lives Matter have inspired the world to be more diverse, inclusive, honest, empathetic, kind, and respectful to one another. 2020 has inspired us to be a better society, and raise a better society for the future, and this is where social-emotional learning (SEL) comes into play. In this article we discuss – How Peekapak aligns with CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

What is Social Emotional Learning? 

According to CASEL, “SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions”.

In other words, it is a form of learning that emphasizes the importance of good citizenship. It teaches students valuable social skills that are generally not taught in classrooms but is crucial for being a responsible and empathetic human being. It focuses on understanding emotions and decision making, rather than traditional forms of academics like mathematics or science.

What is CASEL? 

CASEL is an acronym for Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. “(CASEL) is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL).” Their mission is to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of education from preschool through high school. 

According to CASEL, SEL can be broken down into five core components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Each of these components is focused on an essential aspect of social and emotional development. 

To learn more about CASEL, click here

How Peekapak aligns with CASEL

Here at Peekapak, we align with CASEL competencies in a very unique way. Rather than focus on each of the five components separately, we have adapted our units so that students can learn to draw from different components simultaneously in a simple, dynamic, and digestible manner. We offer 10 lessons per grade for PreK-5 and these lessons cover self-regulation, respect, gratitude, kindness, empathy, honesty, perseverance, teamwork, optimism, and courage. Each of these lessons aligns with different areas of CASEL’s 5 competency model and the relation is outlined within each lesson plan. Here is an example from our COVID-19 lesson plan: 

How peekapak aligns with CASEL
CASEL Competencies learnt from Peekapak’s COVID-19 lesson

Using Peekapak to Support SEL Development

Interested in using Peekapak to support SEL development of your students? You can sign up for free at peekapak.com/signup or request a free 30 day PRO trial by emailing hello@peekapak.com.

Join our #TreeOfGratitude Challenge!

We’re excited to announce it is time to join our #TreeofGratitude Challenge for the month of November. The challenge is easy to get involved with, open to ALL (New users, Basic and Pro) and has many exciting prizes, including a Grand Prize of two $100 Visa gift cards!

The #TreeofGratitude Challenge

Our challenge invites classrooms to share their ideas of gratitude with the Peekapak Pals. Expressing gratitude, especially during unprecedented times like these, can help students be more optimistic and cope with unexpected challenges.

There are 3 activities for the #TreeofGratitude challenge. You can do 1 or all 3 activities and each activity completed will give you entries for the Grand Prize of two $100 Visa Gift Cards! For each entry make sure to tag us @Peekapak and include the #TreeofGratitude on your entries!

Join our #TreeofGratitude challenge

The #TreeofGratitude is a yearly tradition in the world of Peekaville, where all the characters of Peekapak live. Every year upon the first snowfall, the residents of Peekaville gather around the tree to write messages of gratitude onto tags and hang it up on the tree. This serves as a reminder to be thankful for the people, places, and things in our lives, through the good times, as well as the bad.

This challenge brings to life this experience and we hope you can get involved! Below you’ll find more details on each of the activities, the prizes, and how to enter:

Activity 1: Letter to Cody  

For this activity, read The Peekapak Pals and The Tree of Gratitude with your students. In this story, the Peekapak Pals are in a grumpy mood, but a surprising turn of events helps them realize that there’s a lot in this world for which to be thankful.

After reading the story, read the Letter from Cody, have your students write a class letter back to Cody sharing their ideas on practicing gratitude. 

To access the story and the Letter from Cody, head over to Peekapak.com to create a free account (or log in if you already have an account). After signing in, go to lesson one of the ‘Gratitude’ unit where you will be able to access the book, as well as the Letter from Cody.

Entries: This challenge will give you one entry for the Grand Prize!

Activity 2: Gratitude Tags 

After reading the Peekapak Pals and the Tree of Gratitude, we learned that we can be thankful for many different things. We can be thankful for people, like how Cody was thankful for his friends, we can be thankful for places, like how Lucia was thankful for the sky, or we can be thankful for things, like Mr. Baker’s bread. 

For this challenge, have your students create gratitude tags. On a piece of paper, have students write down and/or draw any one person, place or thing they are grateful for. 

Students can print out the tag here or create their own gratitude tag! 

To submit your response, have all your students hold up their tags to their webcam and send us a screenshot (student’s faces are not required). If you are teaching in person, send us a picture of their tags! 

Entries: This challenge will give you two entries for the Grand Prize!

Activity 3: Class Letter of Gratitude

For the last challenge, have your class play together Lesson 5 of our special COVID-19 focused Kahoots and write a class letter of gratitude to someone they consider a superhero in your community! Superheroes don’t have to be just healthcare workers, other examples include, but are not limited to, writing to a teacher, teacher’s assistant, police officer or firefighter.

Tip: If teaching virtually with access to a polling feature, for the classroom letters, consider creating a poll of different options that the students can choose from so that there is an agreement on who to write to or what to say! 


Entry: This challenge will give you three entries for the Grand Prize!

Prizes

For the #TreeofGratitude challenge, there are three tiers of prizes.

The Grand Prize will be two $100 Visa gift cards (perfect for the holiday season!), along with one of the following items: sticker sets, a print copy book set (3 books) or a life-size Peekapak Pal cardboard cutout.

The second prize will be two $50 Visa gift cards (perfect for the holiday season!), along with one of the following items: sticker sets, a print copy book set (3 books), or a life-size Peekapak Pal cutout.

The third prize will be one $50 Visa gift card (perfect for the holiday season!), along with one of the following items: sticker sets or print copy book set (3 books).

How to Join our #TreeOfGratitude Challenge

Join our #TreeofGratitude Challenge by sending us a photo of your classroom’s response via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram by tagging @Peekapak and using the hashtag #TreeofGratitude. You can also email us your response at hello@peekapak.com.

For bonus entries:

  • Follow @Peekapak on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • Entries through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram will get a bonus entry.
  • Each retweet of your post by a friend/fellow teacher will receive a bonus entry, and for each friend or teacher you tag on Instagram you will also receive a bonus entry.

On November 30th, 2020, when the challenge ends, we will be randomly picking winners and will direct messages or email our winners (please make sure that you are following us so we can message you for the prize).

We’re so excited to hear your classroom’s ideas on practicing gratitude and we hope you enjoy the story and lesson.

With gratitude,

Ami & The Peekapak Team

Subtitle

COVID-19

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7 Days of Teaching Gratitude

Two words, eight letters …

Words we say to our children when teaching gratitude from the moment they learn to speak. Can you guess what they are? Yup: Thank you!

teaching gratitude

Every language has their own way of saying “thank you”. For me, in Vietnamese, it sounds like cam on. For you and your child, it might sound like merci, xia xia, arigato, or gracias. (For a list of how to say “thank you” in different languages, visit: http://bit.ly/1Q56BGi). But saying “thank you” is only the first step to feeling thankful. Research suggests that children who practice thankfulness or gratitude on a regular basis are happier and enjoy better social relationships.

When our children are down, we encourage them to remember the positives – the people, places or things that make them feel grateful and happy. But, according to research, it is just as important to practice gratitude when things are going well, too. Translation: We should practice gratitude all the time!

Here are seven ways to get you and your child started on a fulfilling journey of teaching gratitude!

Day 1: Practice breathing and thinking happy thoughts. Research shows that focused breathing and thinking about things that bring them joy helps children calm their minds and bodies, and process their emotions. For breathing exercises, click here. Remind your child to think of happy thoughts while concentrating on their breathing!

Click below to download some example breathing exercises from Peekapak’s Self Regulation Unit!

Day 2: Create a gratitude list. While eating dinner with your child or lounging on the couch, engage them in a discussion about things you both are grateful for and write these down. Use sentence starters like: “I appreciate …”, “I am thankful for …”, “I feel happy about …”. Post this list in a visible place to remind your family about being grateful, and continue adding to it. Soon you’ll be doing it so much that it becomes a family habit!

Day 3: Write letters (or send a text). Ah, the lost art of letter writing … the excitement of receiving a handwritten letter never gets old. Introduce letter writing to your child by asking questions like: Who is someone you feel thankful for? Why? Does this person know that you are thankful for them? What would you like to say to them?

Or keep with current trends by sending a selfie with your child to a loved one, accompanied by a short text message of thanks!

teaching gratitude

Day 4: Keep a journal. Studies have shown a happiness increase in children who write about things they are grateful for at least three times a week. Unlike a diary, these don’t need to stay under lock and key. Bind together some paper and have your child spend a few minutes of their day writing about and sharing what made them feel grateful that day.

Day 5: Read stories. Pick a variety of stories with characters demonstrating grateful behavior. Use these stories as a starting point to begin the conversation. Log into Peekapak’s platform and read The Peekapak Pals and the Tree of Gratitude … for free! Sign up here.

Day 6: Explore surroundings. Walk around your community with your child and point out the things that make you both happy. These can be appreciating a budding flower, or a beautiful park, or the people in your community.

Day 7: Reflect. Help your child practice reflecting upon what they’re thankful for by guiding them to connect their feelings of appreciation to their senses. Ask questions like: How does it sound to be grateful? How does it feel? What could it look like? Why is it important?

teaching gratitude

We have one day a year dedicated to being thankful for what we have in our lives (Thanksgiving Day!). What about the other 364 days? I’ve given you some ideas for 7 days. You and your child can work together to fill in the rest. The opportunities to show gratitude are endless – be creative!


Looking for a technology-based platform to teach empathy and other social-emotional skills for elementary-aged children? Look no further than Peekapak. Peekapak is an award-winning, social & emotional learning (SEL) platform that leverages engaging lessons, stories and digital games in the classroom and the home. Developed by education experts, Peekapak’s innovative curriculum teaching skills like gratitude, empathy, and self-regulation within literacy, reading, and writing-based learning curriculum.

Teaching Courage at Home

When teaching courage at home, it’s important to provide as many opportunities as possible for children to see courage being modeled in everyday situations. Children need to learn that acts of courage can be big or small, and can be demonstrated by anyone. More importantly, they need to learn that you don’t need to be a superhero to show courage.

Courage, as explained by researcher Brene Brown in her book Rising Strong, happens when we bounce back from failures and feelings of shame or guilt, and face things head on (Brown, 2015). This may mean being brave enough to stand up for what we believe is right even if our friends disagree, or doing things that most view as difficult.

Here are a few easy ways to help your child learn about courage:

  1. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Children may not feel comfortable confronting the feeling of fear. Let them know that feeling afraid is okay and that we all experience it from time to time. When trying to confront a fear, help your child make a list of their feelings before and after they face their fear.

Take away message: By knowing what we fear, and accepting that it’s okay to be afraid, we can start to find solutions to overcome this feeling.

Tip: Use books about courage to support your discussions. Read a free digital story about courage with your child by signing up or logging into www.peekapak.com.

  1. Help your child think about different ways to show courage. Courage manifests in different forms. Work with your child to sort through actions that are typically associated with courage. For example, think about someone who climbs a mountain and someone who admits to not always knowing the answers. Both individuals show courage, but in their own way and in response to a different situation.

Take away message: Courage can be shown in many different ways. Teach your child that there’s no “one way” to show courage.

Tip: At dinnertime, go around the table and have each family member describe a way they showed courage that day or week.

  1. Teach your child to use language that supports courage. Children learn from what they see and hear. It’s important to show that being vulnerable is valuable (and respectable). For example, when we need help, we show courage by asking for help. When we feel scared, we say we are feeling scared even if we worry that others may judge us.

Take away message: Help your child understand that asking for help and admitting when they are afraid is normal, healthy and encouraged.

Tip: Practice talking about what your child is afraid of by using these sentence starters: “I am afraid of …”, “… scares me”, “I need help to …”

  1. Observe examples of courage with your child. Acts of courage are not limited to superheroes we see on TV. Everyday heroes can be people like police officers and firefighters, teachers and parents, and children themselves! Courage can be seen in different ways, everywhere!

Take away message: Help your child see that acts of courage and everyday heroes exist everywhere they look.

Tip: Interview friends, family and local community members to see how they define and exhibit courage, or search through the newspaper and highlight examples of courage.

We hope these tips will inspire you to get the conversation about courage started at home.


Login to Peekapak now, or sign up for a free account here!

Defining Courage for Children

Why is it important to teach children about courage?

Throughout the early years of a child’s development, parents and teachers support and protect children as they encounter fear. It is our role to model the power of courage and act optimistically in the event of a risk or adversity. As children develop a sense of independence, they begin to notice the impact of acting with courage and can acknowledge acts of heroism displayed by others. To support this awareness, children need to participate in activities that encourage risk and help them practice managing their fear. Tip: For classroom activities and home discussion questions about courage, log in or sign up for a free Peekapak account at www.peekapak.com.

What does the research say?

Research suggests that students who are open to taking risks and challenging their boundaries are more likely to succeed academically and socially and to develop a sense of confidence. According to Erik Erikson’s stages of psycho-social development, children are learning how to develop mastery of the world around them … and it is through this need to experience mastery and seek out novel tasks (with the risk of failing) that children develop courage, confidence, and independence. Through learning about the impact of courage, children also learn the skills necessary to show compassion and care for themselves and others.

Linking courage with perseverance, mindfulness, and optimism

At Peekapak, we selected courage as our last unit of the year because it’s a great opportunity for students to put what they’ve previously learned about perseverance into action. After all, courage is persevering despite adversity and thinking mindfully about our fears. Courage isn’t something that suddenly materializes when we need it. It’s a choice that we are capable of making and part of a mindset that we can all adopt. It involves teaching children about perseverance, mindfulness and optimism!

When children persevere, they begin adopting a growth mindset – an understanding that it is okay to fail and that challenges can be viewed as learning opportunities. There are opportunities for us to foster this every day with children of any age. For example, when your child knocks over his or her tower of blocks, notice the feelings of frustration that may be triggered and provide support and encouragement on how to continue on with the task. Instead of hearing: “I can’t,” or “I’m too scared,” encourage your child to say: “I’ll try again.”

courage

Mindfulness happens when we focus on the present and develop an acceptance of our feelings, thoughts, and bodies. When children think mindfully about their fears, they are able to manage their emotions from a place of alarm back to a place of calm. Additionally, they develop a sense of self-awareness where they are able to independently see the value in their fear and respond appropriately. For young children, this could mean identifying a feeling and the physiological body changes that come with it.

Understanding courage helps children do what they feel is right (even when it conflicts with the opinions or actions of others) and try new things, despite fears and reservations. It’s important for children to understand that courage can be seen in the actions of everyday individuals (not just superheroes on TV) and that it’s okay to feel afraid!

The next time your child is contemplating whether or not to face a fear, remind them about the skills we’ve discussed today! It’s worth taking the risk!


Looking for a technology-based platform to teach empathy and other social-emotional skills for elementary-aged children? Look no further than Peekapak. Peekapak is an award-winning, social & emotional learning (SEL) platform that leverages engaging lessons, stories and digital games in the classroom and the home. Developed by education experts, Peekapak’s innovative curriculum teaching skills like gratitude, empathy, and self-regulation within literacy, reading, and writing-based learning curriculum.

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