A Backpack of Writing Ideas

My last post, Gathering Writing Ideas: 5 Tips to Generate Ideas, really should've been 6 tips because I totally forgot about this idea... A Backpack of Ideas.  This idea is similar to the strategy of using children's literature to generate writing ideas, but instead I use my own personal treasures to stimulate thinking about topics.  It's super simple, but very effective.

All you'll need is a backpack (or a bag or a basket... just something to hold your goodies) and then fill it with items you think lend themselves well to topics that are age-appropriate and interesting to the students in your grade level.  These are examples of some of the things I've had in my backpack over the years:

• my camera ... so I can talk about a favorite hobby

• a tennis ball ... so I can talk about a sport or game I like to play

• a dive mask and snorkel ... so I can talk about something I'm learning how to do

• a dog leash ... so I can talk about pets

• a trophy ... so I can talk about an "I did it!" moment

• a plastic frog ... so I can talk about something I'm scared of

• a picture of my cat ... so I can talk about something sad or something I miss

• a band-aid ... so I can tell the story of a time I got really hurt

• a sand bucket and shovel ... so I can tell about one of my favorite places to go

• a gift box ... so I can share about a special gift I once got

• a book ... so I can talk about things I collect

You get the idea.  The items in the backpack are completely up to you.  Think about the kinds of topics kids like and then gather items that will allow you to share and brainstorm story ideas with them.  The possibilities are endless.

At the beginning of the year, my main goal is to make sure the children have plenty of time and encouragement to collect writing ideas, so I pull 2-3 items out of the backpack during each writing workshop lesson, going through the same exercise as I take each one out:

1.  I make a big deal out of the item... "Oh my gosh, this dancing trophy is so special to me!"

2.  I share my memory... "It reminds me of the time I worked really hard to learn..."

3.  I model jotting this idea down on my Idea List in my writing notebook.  "Wow.  I can't wait to write about this one day."

4.  I invite the children to turn and talk to a partner about a time they worked really hard to do something challenging.  In first grade, that's usually something like riding a bike, learning to swim, or hitting a baseball.  

5.  I ask a few volunteers to share out their ideas with the whole group.  "Oh... that's a neat memory.  I think that will be a great story for you to write very soon." 

6.  I give them a few minutes to jot or draw their ideas on their own Idea List.  At this point, we're just collecting ideas, not actually writing the stories.  

Then I pull out the next item and start all over again.  It can take me a few days to get through the whole backpack, but the kids love it because they're eager to find out what else I have in the backpack... it's a total surprise to them... and they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to talk about themselves.  The collaborative nature of these discussions also means that some children are getting ideas from other children, and that's good because not everyone can think of ideas as easily as others.  

TEACHING TIP:  Consider leaving the items out for several weeks.  Either prop them up on a shelf where everyone can see them or hang them from the ceiling with fishing line.  It can be very helpful to have them displayed so that when you're conferring during those first weeks of school and you kneel down next to that precious little one who cries, "I don't have anything to write about," you can have fun going through the items again for inspiration.  You can even invite them to create their own little shoebox of artifacts to bring to school.  Then, on days when they're stuck for an idea, they can search through their personal items for a story spark. (A family photo album is a great personal artifact to bring to school.  Pictures often lead to powerful memories for children and these are the seeds of stories.)

TRICKY TIP:  Don't worry if your backpack is too small to hold all the things you want to put in there.  You can secretly add more items after school, when everyone is gone.  It'll be like the "clown car" of writing ideas.  By the end of the week, they'll wonder how you got all those items in there!  :)

If you try this idea, leave a comment below and let us know what you put in your backpack.  It's great to get ideas from other teachers!

Happy teaching!  :)


Gathering Writing Ideas

You know, some days are like this... it's just the way it goes.  And it doesn't just happen to kids.  It happens to me, too.  Sometimes, it seems like coming up with a good idea is the hardest part of writing.

Our writing workshop is one of my favorite times of the day, so helping kids generate and maintain a wealth of topics is critical to our success.  No ideas... no writing.  This is what I've observed over the years... children who have a hard time generating ideas to write about are the kids who either:

(1)  NEVER write anything.  Ever.
(2)  Write the SAME story over and over.  

(Like this one boy I knew who only wrote about sharks... every single day.)

And this little thing we teachers sometimes say to kids rarely helps, "Just keep thinking.  Something will come to you."

(It seldom comes to them.)

But these 5 tips really work for my students, even the most hopeless writers.  You need to know, these strategies are taking place within the context of an exciting writing community.  (Or what I hope is exciting.)  If most of your children have ideas and are eager to write, it will create a contagious feeling of anticipation in your workshop... you need that authentic feeling to help bring along your writers who are searching for inspiration.  They want to belong to this "club" of writers, so work hard to make it inviting.

I don't have writing workshop scheduled first thing, but I do manage to squeeze in a little teacher-talk like this on most mornings:  "Oh my goodness you guys... you won't believe this funny little thing that happened to me last night."  Or, "You know, I saw the sweetest little squirrel sitting on my patio last night.  He was trying to crack open an acorn, but he kept dropping it.  I can't wait to write about it later today."  This kind of authentic talk is important for a few reasons. One, I've identified myself as a writer, a person who thinks like a writer and who expects to write about life.  Two, I am constantly modeling the value of small-moments.  Don't underestimate this part.  Many kids think a story has to be grand to be good, so unless they've been to Disney World lately or met the President of the United States, they think they have nothing of value to write about.  This is one of the root causes of why some children won't write.  They don't understand the value of the small moments in their daily lives.  Model your own, no matter how small... the smaller, the better.  Three, most kids, especially primary students, want to be like you.  If writing is what you do, then writing is what they'll do too, especially if you look like you're having so much fun with it!  When you do this teacher-talk in the mornings, be joyful about sharing your ideas, but try not to make up stuff.  Kids can detect mini-fibs pretty well.  Keep it simple, keep it true.  That's the point.

Gathering ideas is a writing habit and, for some kids, it has to be developed over time.  You can help by noticing ideas for kids throughout the school day.  For example, when my kids and I are outside at recess and something funny or unexpected happens and we are surprised or start laughing, you will definitely hear me say, "Oh my gosh, that was so funny!  We should definitely write about that because I never want to forget this moment.  I'm going to put that on my idea list when we get back inside."  Or if a child tells me a story as we're walking back from the cafeteria, it wouldn't be unlikely for me to say, "Wow, that would make a neat story idea.  I think other people would like to hear it, too.  Can you add it to your idea list when we get in the room?"  What this dialogue subtly suggests is (1) writing ideas are all around us, (2) writers notice them, (3) writers collect ideas to write about later, and (4) the ordinary events of our lives aren't so ordinary... they're worth writing about.  

People collect things they value, so let's collect writing ideas... because we value those, right?  That's the message this tip sends to kids.  This is another "writerly" habit... writers keep lists of ideas to write about one day. Because these "light bulbs" sometimes happen in a snap, I let my kids visit their idea lists any time an idea pops into their head (unless we're in the middle of something they absolutely can't miss).  It only takes a minute or two to jot down a quick idea and I want to empower them in this way so they'll develop this habit.  If I don't honor those moments when they happen, I'm sending the message that the collection of ideas isn't that important, plus they might forget the idea by the time writing workshop begins.  I always have Post-It Notes nearby, no matter where I am, so if I can't let a child go to their idea list (or a particular child might take forever and a day to jot down their idea), I'll quickly write their idea on a sticky note and tell them to go put it on their idea list.  That's a good win-win compromise for everyone. To piggyback on this tip, consider having a "Weekend Wrap Up" session on Monday mornings.  This is a good routine to get into to help children process their weekend, mining for ideas.  Also, let children share out their ideas, either in pairs, small groups, or to the whole class.  Kids get ideas from other kids and, often, one child's story will help another child remember something personal from their own weekend.  And last, think "therapy."  Writing can be very therapeutic.  I make sure I model all sorts of topics on my own idea list and I teach the children that I write about things that make me mad and things that make me sad, too.  I let them know that writing about these emotional moments in my life can help me feel better about them, so I make sure to have those ideas on my list, too.

It's common to use children's literature as mentor texts, showing students how other authors begin their stories, use details, and include elaboration, but don't underestimate the power of stories with strong kid-topics to help your writers generate their own ideas. I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year reading literature with topics I think the kids will relate to... fighting with friends or siblings, being afraid of something, learning how to do something for the first time, feeling jealous, being in trouble, etc.  Kevin Henkes is one go-to author for these types of kid-friendly stories, but there are many titles that would work. Gather your favorites and be prepared to use them at the beginning of the year as you're establishing the enthusiasm for your writing workshop.  Keep them displayed near a banner that reads:  Authors get good ideas from other authors, and keep a growing anchor chart of possible topics the kids can write about.  In our classroom, I might call something like jealousy a topic or a theme, but each writer has to claim their own story idea for that theme.  In other words, jealousy is not an idea, it's the overall theme.   My modeling might sound like this, "This Kevin Henkes story about Lilly reminds me of a time I was jealous over my own sister..."  I'll share the story briefly with my children and then write the idea down on my own list for later.  Then, I invite them to share out with a partner about a time they were jealous.  Sharing good literature and making time for them to talk helps them generate a lot of ideas right from the start.  By focusing on this at the beginning of the year, I establish on day one how important I think this writing behavior is.  I could teach anything on the first day of writing workshop... I choose to teach:  Writers collect ideas!

I learned this tip after working with one of my sweet boys who had very little self confidence and a lack of vision for his life's stories. He just needed someone else to tell his story so he could hear it.  So, all I had to do was get him talking about something... his puppy, the bike his cousin gave him, fixing things with his Grandpa... and then just listen, the kind of listening where I watched his face carefully while he talked and imagined being there with him... not the kind of listening where I'm thinking about the 17 emails I need to answer as soon as he's done talking.  (Do you do that, too?)  I'd ask questions when I was confused or curious (that shows true interest) and then, when he was done, I'd say, "I really like that story.  So, when you write it, it might sound something like this..."  I'd start by telling the story a few sentences at a time and invite him to think about how it sounded.  Then, I'd walk away and let him work out getting those beginning parts on paper.  A few minutes later, I'd come back.  "Let's see how it sounds.  Oh, I love it. How do you think the next part might go?  Do you want to practice it out loud so you can see how it sounds with your first part?"  This type of oral rehearsal can really help the kind of writer who struggles to develop an idea and it has the potential to make the story come alive and sound worthy of writing.  He may have thought he didn't have an idea, but once he started hearing it, it made all the difference.  One piggyback thought on this is the strategy of giving a little bit of a boost.  I only do this on rare occasions because I worry about the dependency it may cause, but sometimes it can be helpful to write just the first sentence or two for a struggling emergent writer.  To see their story being physically written can provide the motivation they need to value the idea and continue writing.  One way I do this is by drafting their dictation on a sticky note.  In this way, the words are their own and they maintain a sense of ownership by having to rewrite the words onto their journal page. Some kids just need help getting-going with an idea.

Can you add to this list?  How do you help your writers when they don't know what to write about?

Happy teaching!  :)


Getting Ready to Wind Down

I love collections... books, bags, perfume... but one of my favorite collections is found on my Pinterest page.  I love Pinterest!  It's such a great way to find out what other teachers are doing well and collect ideas from all over the world.

As you're gearing up to wind down, I know you'll enjoy the ideas found on these 5 Pinterest boards... these are my TOP FIVE:  

{Click on each board to see more.}

This board is a good collection of general ideas for helping you end the year in fun and thoughtful ways.  You'll find games, gift ideas for students, and more.

Need a gift idea for your teammates or your own child's teacher?  This board is loaded with cute ideas for the teaching professionals in your life.

This camping theme is one of my favorite ways to end the school year.  Transform your classroom into a super-fun campground... read stories around a "campfire," make s'mores, go on a nature walk, and so much more!

If you're teaching summer school (or your school year runs through the end of June), you may need a few Father's Day ideas.  I just started this board last month, but I'll be adding more ideas to it as I discover them.

The 4th of July is such a special holiday.  If you're teaching summer school or working in a summer camp, check out these fun ideas to help you celebrate this American holiday.

I regularly add new ideas to each of my Pinterest boards.  If you'd like to make sure you never miss a new pin, Follow Me Here.  I hope the end of your school year is going smoothly. 

Happy teaching!  :)

Vocabulary Strategies

I think vocabulary is a big deal.  Not only do I want my kids to love the sound of language and become intensely curious about words, but I actually want them to remember new words and use them.  Sometimes, pre-packaged vocabulary programs aren't helpful in achieving these goals.  I've had to use (or rather I should say I've been given) crazy vocabulary resources where the words were chosen for me and were sometimes so random and irrelevant, the lessons were meaningless.  I don't have time for meaningless.

Plus, I want the kids to like me.  And when "school" doesn't make sense, they don't like me. And then they rebel.  And then I don't like them.  It's a vicious cycle, so I learned a long time ago to say "No" to meaningless.

Now, the kids and I usually choose the words we want to learn.  Tapping into their natural curiosities makes the most sense and keeping the ownership in our hands (vs. the words the publisher thinks we should learn) makes all the difference.

For the most part, I'm talking about our work with literature.  I understand that in science and social studies there are some very specific key vocabulary words the children must understand, but when it comes to literature, some of the choices are more subjective.  When I introduce a new book, I often spend time really studying the words and thinking about the words I can honestly envision us using in the context of our real classroom... words that will have life even after our time with the book is done.  I also think about tricky words that will keep my kids from comprehending the text if they don't understand the meaning.  Most importantly, I wait for teachable moments... moments where I can tell the children are confused or delighted by a certain word.  And these are the words we focus on.

The three strategies we use the most often are pictured on the big book above.  I have them written on large sticky notes so we can keep moving them from book to book until they have become a habit of thinking for us.  When we use these strategies with relevant and interesting words, our vocabulary grows and I begin to notice it not only in our everyday speech, but in our writing, too!




I think the key to these strategies is that they honor kids' interests in active movement, art, and performance.  They tap into what we know about multiple intelligences and are in stark contrast to some of the rote vocabulary activities that tend to come with the big-box series.

You certainly could make an anchor chart that looks just like the sticky notes, but use the sticky notes, too.  Because they're small and portable, you can literally move them from book to book and within the pages of the book, too.  For example, when we came to the word flatter in Mr. George Baker, we decided that "Use It" would be the best strategy for remembering this word.  In pairs, we practiced giving each other compliments and then responding with, "Oh, you flatter me!"  Having the strategy on a sticky note allowed me to move it to the page that had the word flatter on it so every time we reread the story, we remembered to try the "Use It" strategy.  Once the kids became familiar with the word, they began naturally adding word endings to it.

• "Mrs. Knight... Isabella said I'm good at hula-hooping.  That really flattered me."

• "Thank you for flattering me.  You are really nice."

And they work really well with ELL students, too.  (Sometimes I wonder why we have separate ELL strategies.  Aren't these strategies good for everyone, regardless of which language we speak?)  

I think the key is to be intentional about your word choices and then to be a good model, consistently and authentically using the words with and around your students. It's so fun to be a witness to a young child stretching themselves to use a new word. And boy do they feel BIG when they do!  

Happy teaching!  :)


Close Reading: A Chart Collection

Chart paper is expensive... or so I've been told by the secretary who controls everything that comes in and out of the building... and it's a hot commodity to say the least.  You probably know a teacher at your school who hoards pads of chart paper before the children even arrive in the fall.  She's probably the same person who keeps stashing all the new chart markers in her room, too.

Maybe that person is you.  No judgment here.  :)

And so I've learned to keep my anchor charts a little open-ended when possible because you never know when you might walk into the supply closet and "Oh, what a shock," there's no more chart paper because you-know-who has it all in her room and the secretary won't order any more until January.

And it's only October.

• When possible, try to make your anchor charts work for multiple genres, for example both fiction and nonfiction.  The sample charts in this post are focused on close reading which is a reading behavior I want children to do well no matter which genre they're reading.  Throughout the unit, I may need a few extra charts that are more specific to how that's done in a particular genre, like fiction, but if I can design charts that serve more than one purpose, I feel victorious.

• Use removable pieces on your anchor charts, such as Post-It notes.  This allows you to change and add new ideas from year to year or to add pieces slowly as you're building knowledge during your unit.  Post-It notes come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors... they're a fun way to revise your charts and/or make them more interactive.  (Of course, Post-It notes are sometimes expensive too, so your secretary may have a thing or two to say about it... which leads me to Tip 3.)

• If you haven't discovered Elmer's Repositionable Glue Stick yet, go find one.  It's amazing! It's a giant stick of not-so-sticky glue that's designed to be removable. What does that mean?  It means you can make a sticky note out of any paper you have! My favorite thing to do is to use colored copy paper (which there is plenty of in our supply closet... go figure) and make my own colorful sticky notes in any size and shape I need for my charts.

Here are some anchor charts I used when introducing the concept of close reading to my first graders.  These first three teach the children what it means to read closely without being specific about how that's done in fiction vs. nonfiction texts. This way, I can continue to use these charts throughout more than one unit.

• This first one just defines what close reading is.  Using the sticky notes means I can slowly add the pieces to the chart as I teach the concepts... the kids can watch me build (or help me build) the chart over consecutive lessons.  I could also add more notes to the pink and yellow sections of this chart as my students grow and develop an understanding.

• I've seen charts similar to this one on Pinterest, but I changed the last part to show an excavator.  The image of the big machine really helps young children understand the idea of digging even deeper, with more power (brain power) and heavy-duty thinking tools.  Steam is coming out because it's working so hard.  :)

• I made this next anchor chart just before I knew we'd be doing some work in a fiction unit studying character traits and feelings.  It was time to talk about text evidence, so they needed some tools under their belt to get ready to support their ideas.

{A Frog Thing by Eric Drachman}

This isn't realistic fiction, but I always use this book when studying characters because Frankie's character is perfect for little ones starting out in this work.  He's playful (which they like) and he's multi-dimensional (which I like) so there are plenty of opportunities to talk about traits and feelings.  

We worked on these next two charts together and they served as anchors for the rest of the unit, guiding children through future work.

First, we worked on a character map of Frankie, listing character traits and feelings... important things we knew about him on the inside, not physical descriptors like green, animal, or small.  One of my goals while collaborating on character maps is to develop my students' vocabulary.  The words written with a smaller Sharpie marker are my contributions:  frustrated, disappointed, determined, imaginative.  Then, we spent some time grouping similar words together.  They may or may not be actual synonyms, but it gives the children an idea that they are closely related in meaning.

We worked on reading closely and finding text evidence to support our ideas. At the time, we were also working on noticing how a character changes across the whole story.  This chart shows how we used the words from the character map to show how Frankie changed from the beginning to the end.  

• The black part tells something about Frankie.
• The red part is evidence from the text to support the statement.
• And the green part is a bit of elaboration.  

How do I get the students started on deeper thinking?

• After the black part I ask, "How do you know?"
• After the red part I ask, "What do you mean?"

The yellow sticky notes on the bottom of the chart were literally pulled right from the character map we had done earlier.

These are just a few of my odds and ends, but you can find many examples of anchor charts on Pinterest.  If you need more ideas, just do a search.  You're likely to find something you can use right away or the inspiration you need to make something unique for your children's needs.

Happy teaching!  :)


Having Fun with the Famous!

Before I even start, I have to explain the horrible desk arrangement in the background.  Usually, the desks are grouped together in student teams of 4, but it's standardized testing time.

Cue the deep sigh.  And the eye rolling.  

You know the spiel. "The students have to be separated.  Remove any visual aids. Yadda, yadda, yadda."  Our counselor doesn't really say yadda... that's just what I hear.  So the room is super boring and old-fashioned feeling.  I can't stand it.  Neither can the kids.  (Except for this one kid who doesn't like any of us.  He's in his glory right now.)  :)

Our Biography Reports

This was another one of those times when the district road map didn't make complete sense, so we created our own poster-project to coordinate with our study of biographies.  I guess these moments are a blessing in disguise because they usually lead us to some pretty cool projects we may not have otherwise done.  The challenge, as with most of our other units, is finding books (in this case, biographies) first graders can actually read.  I always hunt through our guided reading collections first.  I have to say, a lot of the publishers today are providing really well-rounded sets that include all sorts of genres in both fiction and nonfiction.  I was able to find age-appropriate biographies about:

• Christopher Columbus
• Jane Goodall
• Sally Ride
• George Washington Carver
• The Wright Brothers

All of these titles came from a biography set we purchased years ago from Scholastic.  They're written at a great level for primary children and include many of the text features they've learned about all year... bold words, glossaries, captions, timelines, etc. 

The Rubric:  What are the expectations?
To help guide their research as they worked on their projects, we first developed a rubric for the finished poster and decided to present the projects orally, either to the whole group or to a single partner... their choice.  I think being able to verbally communicate ideas is an important skill, but I do know some children (like adults) have a lot of anxiety about speaking in front of a large crowd, so being allowed to present in a less threatening, more private setting is a choice some kids need.

The rubric is simple, but clear for 1st graders:
As a class, we discussed each point of the rubric so the kids were sure what each meant, or "looked like."  

The Character Map
This feature of their presentation had to include a hand-drawn picture and 3 words that described their person, plus evidence (or an example) of how they knew that or why they picked that word. For example, a student couldn't just write that Jane Goodall was kind... they had to provide an example from the text to support it.

The WOW Facts
The poster had to include at least 2 true and important facts about their person. This criteria gave me a good indication of whether children could distinguish between a simple fact like He was born in Missouri from something more significant like He discovered many different ways to use peanuts.

Vocabulary Words
For this part, each child had to decide on 2 vocabulary words they believed were unique to their person... words they thought were important, but not obvious.  For example, the word man isn't a strong vocabulary choice for Christopher Columbus, but compass, explorer, and jewels are.  It's very interesting to see what children choose for this section of their poster.

Before & After
I love this part... it's analyzing, inferring, and synthesizing all rolled into one.  For this criteria, each child needs to understand the effect their person had on the world... what was their role in history?  They have to think, What was life like before their person's work and how was life different or better because of that work?

The Letter
Each child wrapped up their research by writing a personal letter to their person.  I chose this criteria because we were also working on letter-writing at the same time, but I also wanted the children to identify with these "famous" people as "real" people and writing letters tends to feel personal.  Their letters also had to include at least 2 questions they were still curious about... questions their research didn't already answer.  These were glued onto the back of their posters.

And because timelines are a natural for biographies, I used that feature as a little bonus project for my fast-finishers or for kids who wanted to stretch themselves. These were also added to the back of the posters, if done.

Forming the Research Teams

Then, the children went through a similar research process as they did for their all-about books on unlovable animals.  You can read more about that process in this earlier post:  Animals People Love to Hate.

Each child chose one famous person from the list above and that's how the student research teams were formed.  The purpose of "the team" was to help each other read and comprehend the biography.  They're encouraged to discuss their ideas and questions as they learned about the important role their famous person played in history.  Then, they worked independently to record their notes on research templates that correspond directly to the rubric we made:

Practicing & Feedback

Because the children were going to be orally presenting their finished projects, it was important for me to give them plenty of time to share out with partners.  This time is crucial to help kids understand what's strong and what might still need a little clarification.

Peer Evaluations & Active Listening

Oh, this part was so fun because the kids got to "be the teacher" and evaluate their peers' presentations.  Using our rubric as our guide, the children had to determine if all the criteria had been met for the project, but I also wanted to hold the audience accountable for active listening, so they had to write something they learned from each presenter.  You can facilitate this in several different ways.  I had volunteers present orally to the whole group while the audience listened and evaluated.  (It took a few days because most of the kids wanted to speak to the whole class.)  For kids who didn't want to share out to the whole group, they were paired with a volunteer partner for their peer evaluation.

An Extra Note About the Character Maps

I would encourage you to let the children hand-draw their famous person for their poster.  I definitely use clip art in my classroom, but for a project like this, I love to see what they can create.  (Their parents do, too.)  Take a look at some of these adorable pictures... the details on some of them are so fun:

If you'd like to download the rubric, research templates, and peer evaluation sheets, you can find them HERE.

Happy teaching!  :)


Sweetheart Cakes for Mom

I love traditions.  Several years back, the first grade team at my school started a sweet (VERY sweet, as you can see) tradition for Mother's Day.  And it was all with the help of our favorite grocery store... Publix.  Every year, the lovely ladies from the bakery bring us more than 100 baked and boxed heart-shaped cakes for the kids to decorate for their mothers or guardians.

You can probably guess how exciting this is for the children!  Not only does each child get their own cake, but the bakers bring tubes of icing, bags of frosting, and candied embellishments so the kids can be as creative as they want.  The kids are in Heaven... and it smells like sugar.

Look at these cakes above.  I pray their moms like sugar!

I know Publix is only located in the southeast (U.S.), but you might check with your local grocery store or bakery to see if they'll do something similar with your children. It's such a fun event and the kids are so proud to take their own personalized sweetheart cake home to their mom.

What a love this little boy is.  His mom is one of our Publix bakers.  Can you tell he knows a thing or two about not over-decorating?  

Happy teaching!  :)