Tag Archives: teaching

Moving and Learning – Whole Body Learning

One trick of the teaching trade is using gimmicks to get kids invested in the learning process.

One fantastic way to do this is to include movement into lessons. Children especially enjoy this

type of activity when the teacher or parent joins in. When we value the activity, children are

more likely to join in, too. Try the following ideas to help children commit information learned

to their long-term memory. Make sure you, the adult, join in too!

  • Tap, jump, or clap while you count.
  • Dance it out with a song from Youtube, or your favorite children’s music artist, that covers a math concept.
  • Create a scavenger hunt throughout your room, house, or school.
  • Eat foods that represent a concept such as pizza for fractions.
  • Paint or draw about vocabulary words.

  • Act out a story or play.
  • Use baking to practice multiplication and fractions.
  • Set up an obstacle course to bring each word through when writing a sentence.
  • Build a model with blocks, clay, or another medium.
  • Use packing bubbles to pop each time a child says a sound in a word you are breaking down.
  • Draw letters or shapes in a container of sand or rice.
  • Roll a back ball to each student and have them say a new rhyming word.



For evaluations and consultations, contact Melissa, The Reading Coach!

Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed. Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed.
Photograph by Alexandra Islas


I earned my master’s degree in reading and literacy as well as an ESE graduate certificate. I hold a current teaching certificate and am working on my PHD in general psychology. As a consultant and reading coach, I focus on early childhood education, elementary education, reading and literacy, study skills, thematic units, and social skills. Additional services include public speaking, transcript preparation, and more. I look forward to putting my teaching experience and degrees to work for you.

Please contact me with questions or to request services.

You can also contact Melissa, The Reading Coach at


Stop Dilly Dallying! (Read the book!)


 Child Reading

Yesterday my son wanted to read (as usual) so we sat down with several of his favorite books. I asked him a question about the main character and he answered, then excitedly opened the book to the first page of text. I began to read, then paused to ask another question. He became impatient and stated firmly, “Stop dilly dallying. I WANT to hear the story.” I was taken back for a moment. After all, I am a teacher by trade and part of learning to be an “effective teacher” is knowing how to ask open ended questions and help children make connections while reading texts.

Even though we unschool, I still find myself going back to my old ways. Sure, it is okay for me to ask a genuine question for my information. However, my child just wants to hear the stinkin’ book and I really shouldn’t interrupt his enjoyment of reading. If I interrupt often, he may decide that reading is no longer fun or worthwhile. Truth be told, it really isn’t my right to interrupt a story. I would be irate if someone interrupted my favorite story! Why would it be okay to interrupt his favorite story? It isn’t. It just isn’t.

When I interrupt, even with the best of intentions, I am sabotaging a few things. I am breaking my son’s concentration which reinforces a short attention span rather than allowing a longer attention span to grow. No wonder children have such short attention spans even in upper grades. WE, teachers and parents, interrupt them constantly in order to meet our curriculum standards, our schedule, and our goals. (We also tend to use topics not chosen by students which means they may not be invested in learning the information, but that is a topic for another post.)


Children imagination


When I interrupt, I cause a break in the fluidity of the author’s story. How can a child learn the ebb and flow of a story or chapter without hearing stories, or a chapter, from beginning to end? Yes, we can list the parts of a well written story, but children can and should learn to write their own stories through reading and hearing uninterrupted examples of stories. Plus, the author would have noted any breaks the reader should take when reading the text. Besides, it is a reader’s right to use his imagination to help him understand a story. My questions can throw this creative process off balance.

When I interrupt, I take the fun out of the story. My child will ask me if he has a question. He will let me know how long he wants to look at an illustration and when he is ready to turn a page. It is not my job to interrupt. It is my job to be here to read with him, answer his questions, and discuss the information when he wants to expand his knowledge.


This topic is a difficult one for me, personally. I spent many years teaching canned curriculum easily fall to old habits. (Canned lessons are the curriculum for each subject which is pre-written by a large company. Though I could scaffold lessons to meet the needs of all learners, I still had to follow the topics and standards listed in the lessons.) Going forward, I will work to catch myself before I interrupt a story to ask questions. Yes, my child will learn the conventions of language, reading, and writing. No, I will not interrupt his enjoyment of books in order to teach the topics I prefer to teach. I must trust my child to let me know when he has a question. He will learn organically if I step back from the bossy behaviors which have become my pattern and let it happen.

Yes, I will “stop dilly dallying” and read the story.

*If you want to do this, too, but feel you must also interrupt at times, then please read the book aloud at least once before interrupting the story to practice reading and comprehension strategies.


If you want more information or to attend a reading training session or to get more information, please contact me at the link found here. Let me put my experience to work for you!


Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed.
Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Should Teachers Have Guns in Class?

For those new to my blog, I am a former public school teacher and currently homeschool with my children. This range of life experiences puts me in an interesting position to evaluate safety and educational concerns within both of these generalized educational models.
I recently noticed a social media post about guns in schools. The post suggested that teachers should, and in some US states do, have the right to carry a firearm on campus and in class. Let me be clear. I am not pro or anti-gun rights. I am raising questions about the safety of this idea.


gun sense 2


What if someone with a gun comes on campus?
This could be a criminal or a student who was bullied and now wants revenge or protection. I understand this concern. There was a person who ran through and hid on a campus where I worked years ago. He robbed the local bank and because the campus had a wooded area, he was able to hide there after running through our outdoor area. Would I have been safer behind the locked door with my students or would I have been safer with a firearm in hand while standing at the door as he ran by? Would it be effective to bring a firearm every day to class? How would it be stored? Would I wear it while sitting in circle time? Would firearm safety be part of the curriculum in my kindergarten classroom?

What if a student grabs the firearm off your holster, desk drawer, purse, or bag?
I have worked with many students who are living with emotional or social issues. Their special needs mean they often act in ways others find irrational. Sometimes this includes violence. Would I rather be hit by a chair, if thrown, or shot by a bullet? Good question. After all, some children with emotional special needs fixate on an issue or idea and have a difficult time getting away from this hyper-focusing until they do the action they are envisioning. I have had students in class who planned to kill me. Thankfully they did not have access to obvious weapons, but one child did list exactly how it would be done. If there had been an option for a firearm, that child would have taken it by any means necessary. Yes, even if it meant breaking into a locked drawer, climbing the cabinets and bookshelves, or opening my personal bag. The child was not bad or mean, but rather fixated on the compulsion to follow through at any cost. It is highly likely that the child would have felt terrible afterwards, but due to the compulsion to hyper-focus on harming another, the act would still be carried out if the opportunity was there.

bully yell A

What if a teacher loses patience or overreacts?
Stay with me here. Most teachers and school staff are fabulous people who work hard to teach every day. They do not want to harm anyone. They prefer peaceful options if issues arise. Unfortunately, there are always a few teachers or staff members here or there who have anger issues. They may also be racist or hateful toward those who are considered “different”. What if a teacher loses patience, thinks “I’ll show these kids who is boss”, and whips out a gun? Yes, sometimes teachers bully. No, it is not far-fetched to consider this possibility. There are several former co-workers who I would never work with again (on the same campus) if I knew they had a firearm with them. I would not feel safe after hearing the comments some teachers share around the lunch table.

I am not saying that we should repeal gun ownership rights. Also, I am not convinced that we need firearms in every classroom. I do, however, think gun sense is important. We need to get past this idea that everyone is out to get us and foster a rational decision making process.

What I Know About Raising Boys

I’m coming clean. After years of teaching, being nanny, and being a mother, I have to let you in on a secret. Keep in mind that this secret comes in opposition to current marketing schemes for books, toys, clothing, and parenting resources. There are people who do not want you to know what I know.

It’s time for the truth, though.

I have to set a few things straight about raising boys.

  1. Boys can be docile or active. It depends on their personality and on factors like foods consumed, special needs, and how they are treated by others.
  2. Boys can be busy or calm. They may challenge you or be compliant.
  3. Boys need space, time to explore, and patience. (Yes, this is the same with all children.)
  4. Some boys require a lot of sleep, some do not. Individuality rocks, doesn’t it?
  5. Boys can enjoy coloring, writing, and reading. Boys can hate math and science. Guess what else? The opposite can be true.
  6. Boys can like rough housing, running, and other sports. They can also dislike them.
  7. Boys need you to model kindness (because all children need this). Your positive example helps them internalize kind choices and thoughts, then care for others.

individual boyBoys are not a stereotype. Boys are not born to be a certain way. Parenting choices plus the child’s personality make a difference in how the child behaves and which interests the child chooses to study. We need to stop assuming that one child defines them all or that our experience is the experience all others will have. This is what I know about raising boys.

Parenting Tool: First, Then Statements


First, then statements can help clean up messy situations.

This blog post is an excerpt from the new ebook Expand Your Parenting Toolbox: Create a More Peaceful Home which can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Have your days ever been filled with whines, cries, and complaints? Do you ever feel like you may lose your temper and shout, hit, or go hide while eating some chocolate bars? I think all parents have moments of frustration. After all, we cannot control others 24/7. We are bound to have differences of opinion or differences in priorities from others in our lives, including our children.

The good news is that there are peaceful parenting tools that we can use when working through disagreements and conflicting priorities. One of these tools is using first, then statements. A first, then statement is a basic statement that is clear and guides you or others through immediate goals or events. It is important to follow the steps below when creating your statement. A well thought out statement can work wonders.

Keys to a First, Then Statement:

  1. Think it through. There is no shame or harm in thinking about it before proceeding with a statement and solution.
  2. Be sure the statement follows a logical thought pattern regarding why the first issue must be resolved in order to proceed to the second issue (which is often getting the next thing the child wants or needs).
  3. Be clear and make the statement short.
  4. Repeat if necessary.
  5. Answer questions as is necessary, but stay on topic.
  6. Do not attach a punishment.
  7. Help with the task if necessary. It is okay to be your child’s partner or ally. You can always back up and help less, or not at all, as the child learns to help and follow through.

Below are a few examples of first, then statements in use.

“I wanna go to play lego blocks right nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, moooooom!”

“First we must clean up the marbles, then we will have room to play with the lego blocks.”

“Whyyyyyyy do we need space to do that?”

“If we put the legos beside the marbles, we won’t have enough room to sit and build plus we may step on a toy and get hurt. Do you remember how much you cried when you stepped on a lego last week?”

“Oh, yeh, okay. Time to clean up the marbles. Watch how fast I can clean!”


“I don’t want to go to the store!”

“I hear you. I don’t want to go, either, but if we stay home we won’t have food to eat next week.”

“Well that’s okay with me!”

“First we have to pick up groceries, then we will have all afternoon to play with toys and computer games. If we stand here and spend a lot of time complaining, then there will be less time for toys and computer games. First grocery shopping, then home to play.”

“I don’t like it, but I will do it. I want to play later and we DO need food.”

“Okay, how can I help you get ready?”

“I have to brush my teeth, then I will be ready. I can do it by myself.”


“Park days suck!”

“First we have to get ready to go to park day, then we will see our friends.”

“Oh, right, my friends said they would be back again this week. I don’t feel like getting dressed plus I want to stay home and read, but I also want to see my friends and run.”

“So what should we do?”

“We should get ready for park day and play! I can stay in my pajamas and read on Saturday, instead.”

While these are only examples and do not scale the entire range of possibilities, you are able to get a flavor for the first, then statement parenting tool. If your family has a specific issue that comes up often or if you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact me via comments or email. I am happy to incorporate your everyday concerns into blog posts or help you brainstorm in private.



Review of The Explosive Child

The Explosive Child written by Ross W. Greene Ph. D. is not a new book, but is useful for parents and teachers. Greene takes refreshing look at three basic ways parents can respond to their children. Though the book focuses on children who struggle with special needs and who struggle with emotions, all information presented applies to “typical” children as well.
Through his writing, Greene reminds the reader that children who act in ways we dislike do so because they are not able to express themselves in other ways. He notes that many children who are punished DO know what they are doing is wrong or not preferred, but cannot do better because they lack the skills necessary to make wise choices and follow through on those positive choices. This means punishments will only add to the emotional issues, rather than teach solutions to problems.
Greene notes that many parents and teachers focus on the behavior that comes from emotional outbursts or lack of communication skills rather than on the triggers that lead to the negative, and sometimes dangerous, behaviors. He also encourages parents and teachers to observe their behaviors. After all, we model for children every time we move or speak. They watch us and we are the example. If we lose our patience, how will the child or children learn to exercise patience? If we yell or hit to solve our problems, how will they learn NOT to do this?
This book reaffirmed quite a few of my parenting and teaching practices. The Explosive Child also encouraged me to find more resources that support parents as well as those who work with children. I hope you will take the time to read this book and tell me what you think.

A link to Dr. Greene’s website and a link to the book are located below.

Lives in the Balance

The Ethics of Teaching Children a Lesson

From time to time publications suggest that there are “benefits” to teaching children lessons. Apparently there is an idea that children must be psychologically tricked into realizing the severity of some choices they may or may not make as older children and adults. I find this concerning for many reasons.

1. This idea supports the choice of experimenting on children and using psychological tactics to prove a point. This is the direct opposite of what parents are supposed to do. We are supposed to model proper choices, be patient, and discuss issues/solutions.

2. This type of experiment often denies informed consent. No, a parent should not consent to a child being part of psychological trickery in order to prove a point or do research. A child should be able to consent to any such test, but children are not always capable of this. In those cases, no consent can be given and no test or experiment should occur.

3. How would you feel if someone told you one thing, which possibly upset you though you did nothing wrong, then told you it was just a trick? What if the person did this to find out what you would say or do because you “needed” to be taught a lesson or because someone “needed” data?

4. How would you feel if someone thought you were only capable of true critical thinking if you were tricked into it? What if everyone thought you would not understand through modeling, reading literature, listening to and participating in discussions, and volunteering? I know that I deserve more respect than that, don’t children?

5. Do we really need to make children feel bad in order to teach them a lesson? No, of course not. If we feel the need to make someone else feel bad in order to teach them, then we are not a fit teachers.

6. Putting a cause above children’s rights, health, and safety (whether physical or psychological) is evidence that the children are not safe.

7. We are breaking the care giver/child bond when we use trickery to “teach”. This can shake a child’s confidence and affect decision making in the future with regard to friends and also partners. Unfortunately, one very negative experience can impact these decision making skills for life.

Our actions paired with a child’s personality directly affect how a child behaves. Trusting a child and modeling steadfast decision making skills are huge indicators of how that child will behave later in life. Trust yourself and trust your child. We are all inherently good.