On Friday, September 29, 2017 we celebrated Butterfly Day at Mountain View Elementary School in Spearfish, SD. A grant by the Spearfish Foundation for Public Education provided the funds to purchase supplies while the Kenadi Jean Weis Foundation hosted a fun and educational day for Kindergarteners.
The Kindergarten Teachers and Therapists along with Foundation Volunteers presented a cooperative way to help children understand and respect individual differences and enjoy each other’s unique strengths.
The morning began with a welcome and introduction about the day by KJWF President, Kelly Weis-Schultz and some kid’s actions songs led by Foundation Member, Tessa Braddy. The pre-lunch day was full of hands-on butterfly craft projects; books such as We Are All Alike… We Are All Different and Only One You; healthy snack creations and interesting discussion reinforcing multicultural and anti-bias learning and appreciation for children of different abilities.
Gross motor activities like Pillow Case Soccer, Foggy Glasses and Hula Hoop Bubbles were enacted displaying how someone of different abilities might participate in routine play.
Speech and Occupational Therapists demonstrated the use of devices to aid children who might use switch toys or a Dynavox to communicate, having them ask for a tootsie roll or sticker with the piece of equipment and having them use their non-dominant hand to cut out a picture with a pair of table scissors.
Creekside Elementary Special Education Teacher, Karen Kissack brought eight of her students to interact with the kindergarteners and participate in the activities, five-year-old Mary Helen from Whitewood Elementary paid a visit in her wheelchair to make new friends and Kerry Ruth from the SD School for the Deaf came to help with the sensory rotation by entering each child’s name in a braille translator for them to see and feel.
The Kindergarteners take home an informative sheet titled, ‘Ask Me What I Learned Today’ which outlines the morning activities along with tips for parents on how to honestly answer their child’s questions about someone’s differences and conversational ways to include someone with different abilities by simply saying hello or paying them a compliment.
Parents have commented that it is a great class lesson emphasizing how to be a good friend to everyone and that the kids really have fun while learning how to become awesome adults.
It’s really all about normalizing the diversity of the human condition.
The Kenadi Jean Weis Foundation donated three new hardcover books to the school library- ‘Susan Laughs’ shows a happy little girl who’s physical challenges are never seen as handicaps, ‘We’ll Paint the Octopus Red’ depicts the love of a big sister for her baby brother who was born with down syndrome, and ‘Can I Play Too?’ is about how two very different people can be best friends.
It is the hope of the Kenadi Jean Weis Foundation for this day that the Kindergartners learn through play the challenges that some children may face and absorb how to be understanding and compassionate towards them.
We are extremely grateful to Miss Betty, who teaches inclusivity every day and inspired Butterfly Day at school; the Spearfish Foundation for Public Education for the grant; the School Board for their approval, the Mountain View Elementary Staff for their willingness and participation; Principal Nick Gottlob for his acceptance and support; and to the entire Spearfish School District where Empowering All Students to Succeed in a Changing World includes everyone.