Authentic Children’s Work

To me, one of many things that separates the pros from the joes is if they can distinguish authentic children’s work. Can you? πŸ™‚

Contrast these images with an image search of “authentic children’s bulletin boards” Indeed, the bulletin board is the worst offender. Usually completely designed and conceptualized by the teacher, the child simply paints his or her circle green and the teacher assembles it into a caterpillar, plant or leprechaun. The child has absolutely no idea why he is glueing cotton balls onto lambs or cutting strips of paper for a lions whiskers….

So let’s take a look at some ACTUAL work of children….
At first glance, the taping of the doors makes you mad. “Who taped the doors?” you want to say. But wait a minute and look at the larger picture. This is a fully purposeful taping. They are taped to prevent them from opening and so to keep the tension on the rope tight.

β€” Heidi Echternacht (@hechternacht) December 11, 2014

I think they were measuring the length of the cabinet and realized they couldn’t hold two rulers there so they taped it. Totally logical.

Contrast this completely student created center on “Horses” with the former science curriculum consisting of guessing how many seeds were inside the pumpkin and then counting them. Do we care?

This student included skeletal models of horses, research books and a book she wrote with a partner. A teacher never would have thought to include horse jumps in a science center on horses….

Making a “soup”. We later noted that the beans puffed up when they were in the water, but the popcorn did not.

When you lose it behind the bookcase, it’s lost. Unless you can devise a system for retrieving it… πŸ™‚

What does this say about this student in math?

This child’s self-designed project simply involved folding paper and counting the squares. Wallah, multiplication.


Social Studies
So this child made the flag, now how to get it to stand up? Well tuck it into the tape dispenser, obviously….

When teachers say they “have the students come up with the class rules” at the beginning of the year, do they look like this?

Art The scrap box is a fantastic source of art.

I just have to include this because I think its absolutely incredible

This is a whole ‘nother topic I’ll leave for a next post, but here’s a related project

Well taped to the wall, this authentic student work lays out the plan for how to get a turn (you only get one) and write your name on the piece of paper. The student also has started to list the individual classrooms by grade (1C, etc)

This student driven project blurs into STEM as we work to design “non-fiction” centers. The ballet studio was a busy hub for weeks.


Authentic student work is completely driven by the student. The teacher is there to guide, question and help form the habits of mind and culture that takes the child to the next level of wherever it is that they are.

Can YOU recognize where students are? Can YOU discern REAL authentic children’s work?


Kids Can Change the World!

Ok, hello friends!

This is a project that’s been turning over and over in my head for a few years now, though I hadn’t connected it to kids until this past weekend. A few years ago, I had the idea to brand sports mascots to efforts to save real animals and their habitats. Now it all seems so obvious to me, but at the time it was like a gigantic lightbulb that went off over my head.

I’ve tried for years to contact the Princeton University Tigers, Detroit Tigers, the Cincinnati Bengals and Michigan on twitter to no avail. I’ve tried contacting various wildlife agencies, sports branding people, lawyers, and other people who always seem to know stuff. No help. So now, I go to the people I know best. Teachers and kids.

The idea is simple. A persuasive writing assignment for any kid who can write or draw. The objective? To get their team or business of choice to support their animal of choice. For example, Β a kid likes tigers, she can choose any one of the teams, universities or businesses using the likeness of an animal to donate annually towards preserving that animals natural habitat and efforts of life and conservation.Β 

Companies, schools, sports teams use an animal’s likeness without paying any royalties. It is only right and fair that schools, sports teams and businesses fight to preserve the real world environments of their mascots.

I’ve listed here multiple animals facing near extinction or threatened status. There are many others I didn’t include and many other teams, mascots and businesses I didn’t include due to sheer overload. (really can you imagine all of these people, industries and schools WORKING TOGETHER to help animals facing extinction?!) Β Please email me, with additions and I will add them to the mind map.

Will our future planet only be filled with people in polar bear and wolf costumes and the distant memories of the wild tiger, wolverine or panther? I BELIEVE that kids can change the world. I BELIEVE that together we can make a difference. I BELIEVE that schools, business and sports stars and fans will DO THE RIGHT THING and make contributions towards supporting the REAL animals they use each day to further their brand. I BELIEVE if kids STAND UP, write to the people in charge at that organization and raise awareness for this cause, WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.

Please contact me with any questions. I am slowly adding the industry contact numbers and color coding (red=NFL, yellow=schools, etc) but I really need YOU to google the address info and have the kids address their letters or emails accordingly.

Thank you so much,


Link to full size, clearer image



Pumped about the Popplet

Well, sometimes it doesn’t take much. Been exploring new options for a Job Chart. Tried making a popplet. Am still uploading the videos and images but I think it’s a go! I assigned each student a number and that is their job for the week. I chose a number to start bc of privacy issues. Am still experimenting! I can eventually teach the kids to update the popplet as the numbers rotate throughout the various jobs.


Job Chart