#ToteChallenge: Students investigate the problems caused by plastic shopping bags, then propose solutions they can take to address the problems. They brainstorm uses for plastic bags and design a reusable shopping tote out of an old T-shirt using engineering, problem-solving, creativity, and communication. They take action for the common good by using and sharing their homemade totes and by educating the community about problems and solutions to the plastic bag crisis. 

At the beginning of the year we get to create our classroom community. We get to decide how we will learn and grow and play with each other for the rest of the year. This is a new beginning for all. As we start to decide what kind of classroom community we are going to be, we begin by thinking about the importance of the words we use with each other.

Building a caring and inclusive classroom begins with an understanding of where students are at not just academically, but emotionally. Many students today have been exposed to adverse childhood experiences that affect their ability to regulate their emotions. By teaching children positive behavior and self-regulation, teachers can help improve outcomes for all students. This lesson will introduce students to mindful activities and the use of gratitude journals.

In this lesson, the students learn to use their voice to say something to make the world a better place. This is an opportunity to demonstrate and feel the impact of kindness, inclusion, and listening on a caring community. Students learn from a community helper about the needs they observe in the community. They make and donate a "calming box" so the tool may help youth calm themselves. Use this at the beginning of the year to set a tone and learn skills of effective language that are good for all. 

Students examine things they fear and how they feel about them. Then they talk about moving beyond fear by learning more about something. They analyze quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr, about being open and inclusive. They design posters to teach others about what they learned. 

“Today, more than 1 million students are trapped in an education system that wasn’t built for them. That system wasn’t designed to accommodate their disabilities—the kinds of intellectual, cognitive, communicative, and physical conditions ... Many of the public schools they attend rest on the...

Students learn about food choices as needs or wants. They read a book and discuss healthy choices. They discuss why is not always good to have everything you want. They discuss the foods we need to have healthy bodies and minds. Students create healthy food choice plates and share them to encourage healthy eating. Students may choose to share a healthy recipe to donate a cookbook or host a healthy food or recipe drive. 

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