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It’s been almost a year since I first met the third graders you see pictured above, and if there’s one thing they’ve taught me it’s that each and every kid is special. Each and every kid brings a unique set of experiences, memories, abilities and dreams to a class, which in turn becomes its own laboratory of learning. In the hands of a teacher like Tammy Massman, it’s a chance for each child to evolve, explore, practice real-world skills and learn the all important lesson that no one is perfect. Or, as my friend Rylee likes to say, “You can only be perfect at being yourself.”
Yesterday, something extraordinary happened as a result of our work together on the Not Perfect Hat Club in Tammy’s class. You can read all about it in the terrific article written by Teresa Wood at The Daily Freeman Journal entitled, ” NEH third-grader’s project, blog capture national attention.”
It goes without saying that we are proud as punch of Rylee, but it wouldn’t be fair not to acknowledge and celebrate the teacher and classmates whose laughter, tears, and unflagging joie de vivre made it possible for Rylee to shine. Each and every one of Rylee’s classmates is extraordinary in his or her own way. Each and every one has touched my heart and challenged me to keep working on my own dreams. By way of illustration, I like to tell the story of logging onto Twitter to find a Tweet from the class. “Is your new book done? Can you send it to us? We want to read it!”
Unfortunately I am still in the process of writing and raising money to complete the book and make the related teaching materials available, so I had to tell the kids there was no book to send yet. Undeterred they immediately offered to help, typing “YOU CAN DO IT!” all in caps.
If you’d like to know more about the Not Perfect Hat Club, and the remarkable projects the kids have be been working on, just follow the links below. Better yet, please consider supporting our crowdfunding campaign by hosting a Not Perfect Hat Club Day of your own.
The Not Perfect Hat Club: http://notperfecthatclub.com/
NEH Pinterest Board: https://www.pinterest.com/n3rdgrade/neh3rd-14-15-critterkin/
The NEH Kindness Quilt: http://critterkin.com/2014/12/ho-ho-ho-from-iowa/
Schedule a Not Perfect Hat Club Visit
Contact Karin Lippert
Phone: (647) 478 – 5618
Rylee and Opie
We’re excited to report that Not Perfect Hat Club member, Rylee Keehn, has been featured on the ELLEN show’s website! The article is based on the blog Rylee wrote for the Not Perfect Hat Club’s Kid Blog on February 26, 2015. Entitled, “You Can Only be Perfect at Being Yourself,” the blog talks about the importance of seeing yourself as awesome, as opposed to perfect, and tells the story of Rylee’s new project – making clothes for homeless dogs.
We could not be happier that the Not Perfect Hat Club has begun its global journey via the ELLEN show. Helping children understand that no one is perfect, and to think of themselves as awesome, is at the heart of the Not Perfect Hat Club mission. We want every kid to have a place to hang a hat and give them entertaining and fun ways to explore differences and learn empathy, compassion and kindness.
To learn more about how you can earn rewards and support the Not Perfect Hat Club, visit: https://pubslush.com/project/4118
“There’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams
Three years ago, while sipping a grande Americano at my favorite table at my favorite Starbucks in Cary, North Carolina the word “CritterKin” popped into my head. As a writer, words pop in and out of my head all the time, but this one was different. I liked the meaning – animals (critters) are family (kin) – and the childlike, playful sound it made as I whispered it aloud to myself. Here was a word that had lots to say, and I could hardly wait to get started.
Writing each of the books in the CritterKin series (there are four now with a fifth on its way) has been a conscious act of kindness. Every time I sit down to write a new book, I give my characters another piece of the kindness puzzle to figure out. Kindness, you see, is a catchall word. It’s used so much and in so many situations that its meaning gets watered down. Ask any elementary school student what kindness means and you’re liable hear meaningless cliches like, “Nice, good, neat,” or as one creative second grader put it, “nice means I can’t hit my brother.”
To really get myself and kids thinking about what it means to be kind, I started writing stories that would let us explore why people are unkind. I wrote about Ricky Bobby, a paralyzed puppy mill survivor whose life was saved by an act of kindness. I based another book on an exuberant dachshund who can’t stop digging, and a third on a big black pit bull who experiences prejudice and fear because of his ferocious looks and size.
Then, after reading the stories, I started looking for ways the kids and I could use our kindness to make a difference. We drew pictures and wrote stories to get homeless dogs adopted. We created Kindness Quilts, Kindness Gardens, Kindness Blogs, and even a kindness newspaper called “The Des Moines Doggy Daily.” Then, about six months ago, I came up with my best kindness project yet – The Not Perfect Hat Club!
The goal of the Not Perfect Hat Club is to give every kid a place to hang a hat and help them understand that no one is perfect. Or, or as my little, third grade friend Rylee likes to say, “You can only be perfect at being yourself.”
Rylee is one of 18 students in Tammy Massman’s third grade class in the tiny town of Blairsburg, Iowa. I’d been visiting Tammy’s class – reading, writing, drawing and creating kindness projects – for almost a year when I thought of The Not Perfect Hat Club, so it was a logical place to take the idea for a test drive. Little did I know how quickly and creatively the kids would embrace the idea. They took one look at my Not Perfect battered green sun hat and started making hats of their own – Ninja hats, rainbow hats, hats shaped like trash cans, ski masks and baseball caps. There was even an invisible hat that its creator swore gave him superpowers. Best of all, every time we donned our hats, we gave ourselves permission to make mistakes and have fun while we learned.
In the latest iteration of The Not Perfect Hat Club, Tammy’s students are working on blogs that describe what makes them each perfectly Not Perfect. The first to complete her blog and have it published on the CritterKin site was Rylee. Rylee wrote about her three passions – sewing, animals and art – and how she is using them to make clothes for shelter dogs.
I am delighted to report that Rylee’s wonderful project is the subject of this terrific an article on the Ellen Degeneras Show web site: http://www.ellentv.com/2015/03/04/third-grader-finds-perfect-way-to-help-rescue-dogs/ where she shares her Not Perfect Hat Club wisdom, saying “We can’t do everything right, so it’s good to keep trying.”
Scott Adams got it right when he said, “Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Every day a ripple created by the kindness inherent in the CritterKin books and projects like The Not Perfect Hat Club touches more and more people, reminding us all that the future of our complex, confusing and conflicted world depends on teaching our children empathy, compassion and kindness.
To learn more about the Not Perfect Hat Club and how you can become involved, visit: http://wp.me/P5CFVj-jC
N: Not Perfect
O: Opinions of mine aren’t always right but I don’t care as long as I am having fun
T: To be Not Perfect means that I can’t do everything
P: Perfectly NOT perfect
E: Even if I get a great score at gymnastics it is still not perfect
R: Really great times aren’t even perfect
F: Fun times means not being perfect but you still get excited
E: Even sometimes I get things wrong
C: Cause I’m not perfect makes me happy
T: The Not Perfect Hat Club is something to show people you can’t be perfect
My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said either something that has to do with designing or animals or art, because they are my passions, and mom thought we could find a way to put them all together. That’s how we started making dog clothes for shelter dogs. I wanted to pick shelter and rescue dogs because they don’t have owners or families to take care of them yet. Shelter dogs have to be shaved sometimes because they can be dirty or their fur is ruined and they will need to keep warm. The problem is, neither of us knows how to make dog clothes. But the dogs don’t care if the clothes are perfect, they just want to be warm.
For Christmas I got a sewing machine from my grandma and my other grandma taught me how to use it. We made a practice shirt for our dog Opie. Opie is a rescue dog. We made the shirt out of my brother’s old onesie. We are collecting more onesies to keep making clothes.
One day when my mom and I were home alone we made more clothes. They are not perfect. It took a lot of tries to make them, but we did it. The sewing machine kept eating the shirts and making holes. We kept getting fabric and thread stuck in the sewing machine. We had to re-thread the sewing machine, so we used YouTube to tell us how to fix the bobbin. We just have to keep learning. The shirts are not perfect. We tried the orange one on Opie, and told him, “Sorry for the lace on it!” We added the lace to the shirt to make it look pretty and to cover a hole. We’re going to keep working on our designs.
My favorite quote I found on the internet says, “Don’t judge me. I was born to be awesome, not perfect.” Even though I am not perfect I can still do awesome work and help animals who need someone to love them. Being able to make something for the animals makes me feel helpful. Everyone should find a way to use their passions to keep learning, keep trying, and keep helping others.
Rylee is in third grade. She loves animals, sewing, gymnastics and helping others. To read more about Rylee’s perfectly Not Perfect world, visit: http://ryleebrianne.blogspot.com/
The Not Perfect Hat Club is raising funds to complete the Not Perfect Hat Club book and make visits to classrooms like Rylee’s possible around the world. Please click on the link above to support our efforts and see the wonderful rewards your school and classes can receive.
To learn more about Not Perfect Hat Club fundraisers, please visit: http://notperfecthatclub.com/crowdfunding/raise-funds/
If you would like one your children to be featured in the Not Perfect Hat Club blog, please contact: JenaBall@CritterKin.com
Click on image to read article
There’s nothing quite so rewarding as seeing the results of your hard work and dreams reflected in the smiles of kids. Today, the very first official Not Perfect Hat Club launched in Whitehall, New York as Deb Aubin’s 12 “Special Ed” kids proved once again that they are VERY special indeed. Watch this amazing video that is airing on CBS 6 news in Albany, New York. Then read the inspirational story that appeared in the PostStar, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009.
Please help us make the Not Perfect Hat Club and related teaching materials available to schools and students around the world by supporting our fundraising campaign. You can learn all about it by watching the video below and visiting our crowdfunding page: https://pubslush.com/project/4118
Click on the image above to play the video
“Kids Weigh In,” is a a series of blog posts by students from around the world who are participating in CritterKin’s Not Perfect Hat Club project. In the spirit of the Not Perfect Hat Club mission – to give every kid a place to hang a hat – we will be sharing the many and varied ways participants express their understanding of what it means to be perfectly Not Perfect. Want to start your own Not Perfect Hat Club project? Contact: JenaBall@CritterKin.com
Part I – Brent International School in the Philippines
So proud of my 5th grade students as they describe what it’s like to be perfectly not perfect. Love the creativity they illustrated in the drawings they created in Google Drawing. They learned that it is okay not to excel in everything. We all have unique qualities to offer and that’s perfectly not perfect.
NOT PERFECT by Ana B.
“Someone” (she’s just one of those people who’s never my favorite)
problems (not the math ones,the other ones they say)
the ”Someone” (needs to be mentioned twice)
It’s ok to be imperfect (though this ”Someone” is WAY too much) because there IS something you are really tops at. Like one of the people I met is great at chess but not so great at drawing. Everyone is imperfect anyway. Everything is. So it’s actually perfect to be imperfect!
Not Perfect by Nasif A.
BEFORE THE VIDEO
- Not the best
- Not good at sport
AFTER THE VIDEO
- Not the worst or not the best
- Not awesome
- Not the first
- Not so smart
I think being not perfect means to me is ok, when they fails a lot of time, not really the best, always stay normal, not really good at sports, not so smart or not so best, not so awesome, always hope, not the first, the last not so smart .
NOT PERFECT by Alex B.
I realized even if there are a lot of things I am good, at there are things that I just can’t get good at such as tennis. I’m really good at badminton but whenever I try tennis I just end failing, which I don’t always mind, but gets annoying. In basketball I’m good at shooting the ball, but I keep on fouling or doing something wrong. Baseball, I’m really bad at baseball. Whatever I do, I can only catch the ball, but whenever I try and hit the ball I miss. Once I hit the baseball directly on my finger, and it was ouch for one month. I’m not that bad at swimming, but all I know how to do is freestyle and backstrokes. My handwriting is horrible. I can cook, but I just don’t do it as good as others. Filming is hard for me because my hands are really shaky and I can’t hold it straight. I’m really bad at acting because I have stage fright.Sprinting I can do, but not very fast or far. Coding I just don’t know how to do. So even if your bad at a lot of things there is always something you’re good at.
Not Perfect by Valerios M.
- Not the best.
- Not awesome.
- Not the worst or the best.
- Does not success.
- Gets normal grades.
- Is not so smart.
- Not the first
For me being not perfect means to be ok. To be normal.
To be not the best. To fails a lot. Not Awesome or fabulous. Not being the first or the worst. Somebody who does not success. Somebody who gets normal grades like B. Somebody who is not so smart. And the last is somebody who is not the first.
There’s a compelling YouTube video being passed around social media. It’s called “Pick Em Back Up,” and it was produced by Proctor and Gamble as part of their sponsorship of the upcoming winter Olympics. It’s billed as a thank you to mothers for helping pick their children up when they fell and providing the encouragement they needed to try again.
Of course the point of the video is to celebrate the mothers of Olympic athletes who not only picked their kids up, but watched them go on to make Olympic history. As beautiful and inspiring as the images of ice skaters finally completing triple axels, skiers flying past flags without crashing, and hockey players slamming pucks into goals were, I’d love to see other kinds of falls (emotional, mental and physical) that did not result in fairy tale endings.
I would love, for example, to see a video about the boy on my high school swim team with brittle diabetes. It took enormous courage, careful planning and the watchful eyes of everyone on the team to get him through his workouts. Or how about my college friend whose neck was broken by a drunk driver who ran a red light? She was paralyzed from the neck down but refused to feel sorry for herself. “The accident sucked,” she used to say, “but what am I supposed to do, give up?”
My experiences as an Olympic-swimmer-wanna-be also taught me an invaluable lesson about emotions and perception. After failing to make the trials at the age of 17 I was devastated. I dragged myself out of the water and went to see my coach. He handed me my towel and said, “I’m sorry, but in your case the problem is a matter of talent.” To say I was crushed doesn’t begin to describe what his words did to me. I left the team and didn’t set foot in a pool for almost 10 years. When I did it was to join a masters swimming program in college. When the coach of that team (who once coached the U.S. Junior Olympic team) heard my story, he had one thing to say, “bullshit.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“That’s bullshit, and if you’ll train exactly as I tell you to train I’ll prove it.”
Imagine my surprise when the workout schedule he gave me was less than 1/3 of the distance I used to log when I was 17. Even more startling was his insistence that I add light weights, meditation and rest to my program. “I’m convinced you were completely over trained,” he told me the day I broke my own personal record.
I will forever be grateful to this coach and to the five or six other teachers in my life who refused to see my falls as failures and encouraged me to keep going. One, a literature professor, flat out told me I’d make a terrible journalist. “You’ll resent the rules,” she said. “Get out there and write your own kind of quirky stuff.” At the time I was kind of insulted. Now I see she understood me better than I understood myself. Another, an art teacher, insisted I not drop his illustration class. “You’re not as good as the other kids yet,” he freely admitted, “but that’s not because you don’t have talent. It’s because you lack experience.” He gave me a B in the class by the way.
All of this is meant as a reminder to you and me both. As adults and teachers we tend to forget how important our words and actions are to kids. They watch us like hawks, live for our praise, and count on us to help them find their way in a world that isn’t very good at celebrating those who don’t win gold medals. Let’s help our kids not only recover from falls but grow into the kind of adults who are compassionate, respectful and eager to insure that those coming behind them feel like winners too.
Just for fun, I’m making a steam punk top hat and wanted to share it with YOU! Here are the steps of the hat making. I’m not done yet so more steps and pictures will come again soon.
1. Get a top hat template online. Choose one with a cool tutorial video like this:
2. Measure your head to get the right hat size
3. Cut out the pattern to be the right size
4. Trace your patterns on a yoga mat (I used a camping mat -worked great but the pattern had to be adjusted due to the thickness)
5. Cut them out with a VERY sharp knife (if you are a kid like me, get your Mom or Dad to help you)
6. Glue the pieces together with contact cement (NOT Rubber Cement) to create the top hat (the pattern will tell you how they fit together)
7. While my camping mat did not require the hairdryer trick in the video to bend the brim, you may need this step if you use another type of foam for the base of the hat
8. Cut craft foam into squares, rectangles, and other shapes and glue to the top hat with contact cement
Here is a picture of my project so far….
Painting the Top Hat
I started to see my SteamPunk Top Hat look like a Top Hat and less like a multi-colored toy. I applied two coats of black paint to the foam and rivets and quickly it started to look like metal pieces that had been riveted to the hat.
In the picture to the right you can see me painting my hat with black paint. It is really cold here in Texas right now, so I was wearing my penguin hat from SeaWorld. The penguin’s name is Benjamin.
So my ears are warm, my hat is starting to look cool.
Steam Punk Hat Done!
I. AM. DONE. Okay, It was fun…. but when it was all said and done, it was a lot of work! For instance, we made a hat that did NOT fit me whatsoever and we had to make a whole new hat! It’s not a piece of cake… I wish it was, ’cause I’m hungry. But, I love looking at it ’cause it makes me feel good, and I’m like, ” Yeah, I did that. ” Well, onto my next adventure : ).
Chloe is a 5th grade student in Texas and loves to make things! She has recently taken on several Maker projects and is very excited about creating. She has learned quite a few lessons in the process and not always “getting things right the first time” is one of the biggest!
She loves all subjects in school but especially reading and writing. When not making things, Chloe also really enjoys playing outdoors and catching up with her friends.