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Extraordinary! Penny Harrison & Katie Wilson

As we begin this school year, perhaps a little unsettled from the last year and a half, our wonderful superintendent encouraged the educators in our district to ease into this year giving the students time to adjust, to settle in. She charged us with focusing on community building, the social emotional needs of each student.

So many wonderful books that hit our emotional centers head on, but this is the book that came to mind for me. A ‘gentle’ book that encourages us to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, perhaps close to home.

The book begins with visions of extraordinary things that we might wish to witness, but quickly turns to centering and taking a closer look at those things around us in our small spaces.

encouraging students to use all their sense and stop in the moment

One of my practice goals this year is to be mindful of book author’s, motivation, and craft and share my wonderings with students while encouraging their connections and wondering as well. Penny Harrison, the author, grew up on a farm in New South Wales, Australia. She spend her childhood connecting with nature and when she moved to the city as an adult sought out nature in parks. We often speak to students about why an author writes a book and Ms. Harrison says that she wanted to encourage mindfulness, encouraging children to experience with world with all of their senses. You can read more about her motivation and her suggestions of natural follow ups to this text here.

This book is full of wonderful synonyms and other beautiful descriptive words that would be a jumping off point for writing journeys in descriptions. The publisher offers these ideas as a springboard.

My personal choice is to pair this book with the Audubon magazine best photos of the year, which pairs the photo with the photographer’s description of his/her craft as well as a touch of ‘bird lore’. While this might not be available to you, what nature moment could be? A video, a walk near school, a nature table for student to share their extraordinary ordinary things. Bringing nature in now seems like just the anecdote we all might need.

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