September 8, 2021
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Community Resources
DIAMOND BAR, CA-- As students return to in-person classes after more than a year of pandemic isolation, it’s important that they feel safe and supported in school.
Quail Summit Elementary capped off a virtual assembly by “Catching Thoughts” author Bonnie Clark with a balloon art lesson to support children whenever they have unwanted feelings.
Elementary Learning Specialist Leann Legind visited classes to expand on Clark’s August 26 message of acknowledging or “catching” negative feelings and embracing colorful thoughts they can actively seek.
“We thought it would be a nice way to start the year for our sweet students!” Legind said.
During Zoom assemblies, Clark shared that the idea for her book came from a time when she had an anxious thought that “wouldn’t get out of my brain.”
She read the “Catching Thoughts” story of a girl that learned to fill her mind with positive thoughts, represented as balloons, that could push old thoughts aside.
“The negative thought is still there hanging out and gets smaller as she fills her mind with beautiful thoughts,” Clark explained.
“We can choose the thoughts we think!”
Later that day, third graders in Criss Sykes’ class took out watercolors and brushes with the music from the Pixar movie “Up” playing during the social emotional learning (SEL) session guided by Legind.
She directed students to write a word that brings a sense of happiness, joy, or calm inside their balloon drawing.
Then they chose a favorite color to paint the artwork using a shadowing technique.
“My word is Kindness,” reported Wyatt Huey holding his blue balloon picture.
“I picked Drawing - it makes me happy!” shared classmate Linda Li.
“My word is Hope,” added Scott Zhou showing off his red balloon.
Others selected Family, Gardening, Piano, Love, Art, School, and more as their positive thoughts.
“What a gift that these beautiful children are learning skills to manage their emotions at an early age!” Sykes said.
“I’m grateful to teach in a district that supports a child’s need to feel safe and cared for.”
Every student on campus will be painting a balloon with a positive word to be included in a schoolwide collaborative display.
“All of us, at one time or another, have negative thoughts that are hard to let go. Focusing on positive thoughts is a life skill that we all need to learn and practice,” said Principal Frances Weissenberger.
“Seeing our students create balloons with happy thoughts warmed our hearts and spread joy across our campus!”
Quail Summit is making it a priority to address social emotional needs by uplifting students and giving them tools and strategies to navigate the emotions that they might be feeling due to the pandemic, Legind said.
As one fifth-grade student shared while painting and listening to music, “I just feel so calm right now!”
“We need to be the calm for our students creating a positive space,” added Legind.
Catching Good Thoughts! Quail Summit Elementary third graders choose positive words during SEL balloon art lesson on Aug. 26.
Quail Summit Elementary teacher Criss Sykes observes students choosing positive thoughts during SEL art lesson.
Second-grader Luca Gonzales poses with new Catching Thoughts balloon art display on Sept. 8.