Reframing Our Words

Reframe Our View of Behavior journeyintoearlychildhood.comREFRAME OUR WORDS for POSITIVE OUTCOMES

We can reframe the way we view behavior to look through a lens that all behavior is a form of communication or a need for skill fluency practice (need for the behavior to be explicitly taught with precise language and practiced multiple times in multiple situations).

We also reframe our requests to students to specifically teach what we DO want students to be doing. We are teaching the correct behavior instead of giving attention to the incorrect behavior.

Using positive, precise language to help support the development and practice of social and emotional skills.


Don’t run. Use walking feet to stay safe.
Don’t yell. Use a quiet voice to be ready.
Don’t touch the wall. Keep your hands locked in front of you to stay safe. (behind you). (make sure students understand the vocabulary of in front and behind)
Walk nice. Walk on the line a shopping cart length behind your friend to stay safe.
Listen to me Eyes are watching me, ears are listening to my voice, hands and feet are still to be ready.
Put away your coat. Hang up your coat on the hook in your cubby to be responsible. (remember that “put away” at home might mean throwing the coat in the corner)
Stop playing with your mask. The mask needs to stay on your face. We are being kind to ourselves and each other by wearing our mask. We will go outside soon for a break.
Don’t grab it from your friend. Everyone has their own supplies. Please use the items in front of you or raise your hand if you can’t find yours.

Many children need explicit, direct teaching of skills. Below is a resource that may help.

Two Versions- click on the links to view them at TpT- then sign up for my blog and send me an email at and let me know which version you would like to use. I will send it to you at no cost.

I Can Be an Incredible Friend Social Story

I Can Be an Incredible Friend- tools to stay safe when I want a toy

Social Story for tools to use when I want a toy or item

I Can be a SAFE Friend Social Story
Uses the word SAFE to teach tools for when a child wants a toy or item. Send an email to and I will send you this resourse at no charge.

Learning at Home: More Dramatic Play Ideas

Why is play important to your child?

Play is a vital part of your child’s development. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.  For young children, play and learning are one and the same, they cannot be differentiated.

Through play, important brain development is established. Play is not a break from or a reward for learning- Play is Learning!

Dramatic Play

There is documented research that demonstrates

the high level of cognitive, social, and emotional benefits

from children’s engagement in dramatic play.

Children learn through imaginative play- more skills 

(see post on April 1st for the first list)…

Social/Emotional Skills:dramatic play learning at home journeyintoearlychildhood

  • Negotiating
  • Compromising
  • Self-control
  • Managing feelings

Critical Thinking Skills:

  • Problem-solving
  • Predicting

 Academic Skills:

  • Storytelling
  • Increasing vocabulary



MORE Dramatic Play Ideas for Home that

Include VERY Little Set-Up or Supplies…

(see post on April 1st for more ideas)

  • Airplane or Train:
    • Supply Ideas:
      • Put 5 chairs together (pairs side by side and one in the front).
      • Paper, crayons, markers
    • Suggestions:
      • Help your child design tickets and travel brochures.
      • Have your child take on the role of pilot, flight attendant or passenger.
        • Where are you going?
        • What will you see?
        • Are you flying to Africa and can see the giraffes and elephants as you travel across the safari on a train?
        • Or maybe in Australia and can see the koalas and kangaroos?
        • Or to a big city?
        • What will you do when you arrive?
        • Where do the passengers store their luggage? How do they get their luggage when they arrive at their destination? How to they tag their luggage?


  • Hairdresser
    • Supply Ideas
      • Comb and brush
      • Barrettes and other hair accessories
      • Hair Blow dryer (not plugged in)
      • Straighter (not plugged in)
        • Suggestions
          • Allow your child to pretend to cut and style your hair.
          • Add in some additional literacy by remembering to call to make an appointment so your child can keep a schedule of appointments.
          • Don’t forget to have your child write a receipt and for you to pay.


  • Trudging through the Rain Forest, Woods or Jungle
    • Supplies Needed
      • Pillows
      • Blankets
      • Toilet paper cardboard tubes
    • Suggestions
      • Have your child help you set up obstacles that you might face in one of those environments such as pillows that you have to step on to cross the marsh, trees (stairs) you have to climb to see to the other side, a blanket across a chair and couch or a table that becomes low hanging branches that you have crawl under.
      • What animals do you see? Do you need binoculars to see the animals? (make some from two toilet paper cardboard tubes taped together)
      • What supplies might you need?
    • Carry a picnic with you and stop at the “clearing” (kitchen floor) to eat your lunch


  • Movie Theatre (Do you already have plans to watch a movie together? Turn your living room into a movie theatre.)
    • Supply Ideas:
      • Tickets, brochure, money, and concession signs and prices- allow your child to make. Only need paper and crayons or markers
    • Suggestions:
      • What roles will your child play? Ticket taker, concession stand clerk or is it a dine-in theatre and he/she needs to take your order and deliver the snacks?
      • Have your child name the theatre and make a sign, make tickets and make signs for the concession stand- how much will popcorn, pop, apple, chips, candy bar, etc. cost (whatever you are willing to serve at your theatre!) Cut apart some paper and write a number on it to use as money. Allow your child to “make change” for you.
      • Have your child make a movie brochure by drawing pictures of 3-4 movies and then collecting a vote from each family member. Show your child how to make tally marks to show each person’s vote.
      • Office
        • Supply Ideas
          • Keyboard
          • Clipboard
          • Phone (not plugged in)
          • Paper
          • Pens/pencils
          • Phone book
          • Notepad

Open-Ended Questions to Expand Children’s Play in a Dramatic Play Center:

  • What do you need to…                             * How is it different than…
  • How is it the same as…                             * What else can you do with…
  • What would happen now/ next if…       * What is your plan…
  • How would you describe…                      * How many different ways…
  • I notice…. Tell me more….                       * How does someone know…

Home Learning – Dramatic Play Suggestions: PRINTABLE VERSION fREE DOWNLOAD

Learning at Home: Teaching the When and the How of Taking Deep Breaths

Teaching Your Child When to Take a Deep Breath (noticing signs in their bodies)Variety of Ways to Teach Deep Breathing

and How to Take Deep Breaths

We, most likely,  all need some deep breaths right now.

Sit with your spine in a line, feet flat on the floor, inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.

Repeat 3 times.

Why- there is scientific evidence that taking deep breaths truly slows down our stress response- it is like slowing but firmly stepping on the gas pedal. It also produces a feeling of calm, it is relaxing, we don’t need any equipment, it provides more oxygen to the brain which improves our thinking and we can take deep breaths anywhere!

Children need to be taught when they need to take deep breaths and how to take deep breaths. If a child is already escalated and upset, this is NOT the time to start teaching how to take deep breaths. It would be like someone telling us to slow down, stay calm and take deep breaths when we are out camping and running from a bear that just spotted us! If your child is upset, let them see you taking deep breaths- gift them your calm BEFORE you tell them to take deep breaths. After they see and respond to your calm, then you can gently encourage them to breathe like a bunny or smell the flower and blow out the candle.

Remember to gift your calm – when you exhibit calm behavior and slow, even, deep breathing, the child will start to mimic. An escalated adult cannot deescaluate a frustrated child.

Teach different ways to take deep breaths when the child is calm. Have fun! Make it into a game.

How to Teach Deep Breathing:

  • Choose one metaphor or way of taking deep breaths that your child can relate to, when your child is calm and in a good mood.
  • Show a visual of the method and hang it on the refrigerator, in the play area or in the child’s sleeping area.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice at all times of the day. Students need lots and lots of practice so that the techniques can be used automatically in times of stress. It takes LOTS of practice to become an expert.
  • Teach your child to recognize signs of stress, frustration, and anger such as face getting hot, clenched fists, heavy breathing, crying, sweating, scrunched eyebrows, pounding heart.
  • Teach your child the difference between short, quick, shallow breaths and long, deep, calming breaths. We want students to be using deep breathing since short breaths can actually make anxious feelings increase.
  • Model and role-play different situations practicing self-talk such as “I am upset that he took my toy. I can breathe like a bear 7 times.” “I am nervous about your mom working at the hospital today. I can take 7 bunny breaths.” “I’m frustrated that I don’t know what to make for dinner but I can take 7 deep breaths and that will help me think better.”

I have opened my packet of 11 different ways to teach deep breathing as a FREE DOWNLOAD. I hope the visuals and ideas for different methods of teaching deep breathing are helpful for both you and your child.for blog


Building Friendships through Interactive Read Aloud with Purposeful Talk

                          friendship books with compelling questions

Aristotle once stated, “who would choose to live, even if possessed with all other things, without friends.”

Many of our students struggle with the basic components of building friendships such as asking to join in play, suggesting play “Let’s…”, sharing, taking turns, changing perspectives, cooperating, and using respectful language.

We, therefore, must directly teach friendship skills through intentional, deliberate discussions and opportunities throughout the day. These opportunities can be embedded into the activities and work that is already occurring in the classroom setting.

Intentionally Choosing Literature to Discuss Friendships during Interactive Read Aloud with Purposeful Talk:

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfisterrainbow fish

Compelling Questions to Explore:

  • Do we always need to share to have friends?
  • Why does sharing help us have friends?
  • What are ways that we can share in the classroom? How does it make our friends feel when we share? How does it feel when we don’t share? (have students show the feelings on their bodies and discuss how our bodies feel physically when we are happy and when we are upset)

Set up intentional opportunities for students to share such as limited supplies in small group activities, math and literature centers and free choice play centers.

our treeOur Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel

Compelling Questions to Explore:

  • What are the qualities of a good friend?
  • What qualities of a good friend do you think we should demonstrate in our classroom? How can we use those qualities?


sandwich swapThe Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah

Compelling Question to Explore:

  • Should we have just one friend or lots of friends?




Reread the book and explore one or more of these compelling questions…

  • Should we always tell the truth?
  • Should we take sides when friends are arguing or stay neutral?
  • Should we have friends that like different things than we do?

two of a kindRead Two of a Kind by Jacqui Robbins

Explore the same compelling questions as The Sandwich Swap through the experiences in this book. Compare and contrast.



note: book titles are linked to


Building Friendships through Intentional Design of Centers

friendships centers

Aristotle once stated,  “who would choose to live, even if possessed with all other things, without friends.”

Many of our students struggle with the basic components of building friendships such as asking to join in play, suggesting play “Let’s…”, sharing, taking turns, changing perspectives, cooperating, and using respectful language.

We, therefore, must directly teach friendship skills through intentional, deliberate discussions and opportunities throughout the day. These opportunities can be embedded into the activities and work that is already occurring in the classroom setting.

Intentional Design of Free Choice Centers and Small Group Learning Centers:

  • To encourage sharing, do not provide materials for each student. For example, if 5 children are working on a project that requires glue sticks, only provide three. Teach the students how to ask for the glue sticks instead of grabbing and model how to share.self reflection form FREE DOWNLOAD
  • Have students complete a self-reflection sheet on friendship skills following center time. Example of a Self-Reflection form. (FREE DOWNLOAD)
  • Designate students who are the distributors of certain materials. For example, in a small group, Carlos has all of blocks, Juanita has all of the magnetic letters and Ian has all of graphic organizers and pencils. Each student must ask their friend for the materials needed by using the student’s name and by using kind words.






Intentionally Designed Environments: Pictures of Classrooms Intentionally Designed EnvironmentsWOW! Teachers in the Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK are incredible. I recently had the opportunity to visit some of their classrooms. They so graciously allowed me to take pictures to share with you the intentionality of their classroom design.

The environment in which children spend their day at school needs to support developmentally appropriate practices that allow children to freely move, to explore with hands-on opportunities, to engage in dramatic play experiences, to build social/emotional skills, and to develop their symbolic thinking and cognitive flexibility among others.

Learning theories from constructivism to social learningintentional design of environments
to experiential learning underscore the importance of
active and inquiry-based learning, knowledge construction
through interaction with the environment, social contexts
and meaningful experiences.

-“Most Influential Theories of Learning,” Unesco Education


Intentional Design for hands-on exploration while encouraging symbolic thinking, problem solving, and cognitive flexibility.


Intentionally Designed Art Centers that encourage the process of art instead of the product,  and free exploration of creative ideas instead of template art.


Intentional Design of the Classroom Aesthetics so that the students can live and breathe in a beautiful space. Use of natural colors as we use in our homes for a calming effect.

Intentional Design of Student Contributions, the classroom belongs to the students. It should be a reflection of the students instead of the teachers passions or “cutesy/pinteresty” type themes.

Intentional Design to Include Dramatic Play. Students require dramatic play experiences to build executive functioning skills.

Greeting Students Each and Every Day

TOP 10 Reasons Why to Greet Students at the Door  Each and Every Morning

Daily Greetings- The Importance of Greeting Your Students Each Day
• Provides a smile and a reassurance that the teacher is glad the student came to school today, which sets the tone for a positive day
• Promotes a strong relationship between the teacher and student
Enhances a positive classroom climate
• Provides a moment of connection when you greet them by name- young children love to hear their name – let’s use them in positive statements
• Assists children with letting go of issues that may have occurred on the bus or at home- they are being welcomed to a new start to the day
• Promotes a sense of belonging and trust that school is a safe place
• Provides social and emotional support
• Demonstrates and models of how to greet others, how to use kind words, and how to be respectful
• Provides a proactive, preventive technique to reduce challenging behaviors
• Starts the day for the teacher with LOTS of smiles and positive interactions!


  • Greetings must be delivered with sincerity and genuine care for the students. If you rush through greetings, the students will not feel valued or respected which may lead to challenging behavior.
  • Use the student’s names
  • Provide options that include touching as well as include no touching to meet the needs of all students
  • Use eye contact


Click here for two versions of greetings

Click here for additional versions of greetings

(note: If you send me an email stating that you have signed up to receive my blog each week, I will send you the seven different versions for free.)

Incorporating Intentional Teaching of SEL throughout the Day

Intentional Teaching of SEL

To be intentional means to act purposefully with a goal in mind and to have a plan for accomplishing it.

Intentional teachers set up experiences where they present information, model skills, and guide the learning toward a specific developmental standard or learning target.

BELLY BREATHING art:                                                               (teaching how to take deep breaths during a small group art project)

Straw Painting

  • Place a piece of paper in a tin cake pan.
  • Squirt some paint on the paper.
  • The student takes a deep breath in through their nose (pretending to smell a flower).
  • The students blows out through their mouth and the straw blowing around the paint.

Social Studies:                                                                                                                            Sounds Around Us/ RULES FOR LISTENING

  • After completing a lesson on how to sit at circle time- body calm by having a quiet voice, listening ears and eyes that are watching:
    • Take children on a listening walk
    • During the walk, cue children by saying, “Body Calm.”
    • Students stop and hug their bodies.
    • Point to your lips, the corner of your eye and cup your ears.
    • Students remain quiet to listen.
    • Call on a student to tell you what he/she hears.
    • Ask, “Is it a noise made by people? A machine? Or an animal?”

Moving to the music/beat during gross motor/ HOW OUR BODIES FEEL with DIFFERENT EMOTIONS:

Following a lesson on how our bodies feel when we are feeling:

  1. Brainstorm ways our bodies would move to music that is sad (slow, 60bpm music such as Baroque), excited or worried (fast temp, lively), angry (hard beat) and ready to learn (classical, New Age or alphabet or number song)
  2. Play the different types of music in the gross motor room and move to the beat.

Nurture a Community of Kindness


When children give each other a compliment or perform an act of kindness, they can tie a ribbon, bead, or other objects on a heart, a dream catcher, or a big piece of cross fencing.


At the end of the day have each student write or draw on a sticky note a compliment to another student. You can have the students give any compliment or have them focus on the specific social skill being taught that week.

gif_120The students can also share the compliment of another student during an end-of-the-day class meeting.