The Pony Express

Fun in First Grade

Caterpillars, Chrysalides, and Creativity!

The Little Ponies Outside

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Our First Nature Walk - Searching for Butterflies!

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Butterfly focus...our butterflies should be hatching soon!

Mustang Math

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Working With Numbers As A Team!
Working With Touchpoints!

Lovin' Literacy

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Using Shaving Cream To Show Knowledge Of Letter Sounds!

Lucy is Here!

Our reading dog Lucy is here and will visit our classroom each week to read with Ackenbom's Littles. We are going to have so much fun learning to become better readers with Lucy helping us! :}
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Ellen Braun

PO Box 130

Crozet, VA 22932

Dear Mrs. Ackenbom’s Littles,

I am looking forward to bringing my therapy dog, Lucy, into Crozet Elementary to help your kids with their reading. Here’s some background information about how therapy dogs can help kids learning to read and information on Lucy’s training.

Therapy dogs have been used in reading programs since about 2000. The logic of using therapy dogs this way was an extension of their success in helping at nursing homes. Research showed that people in contact with dogs have reductions in stress hormones and blood pressure. Many of us know that intuitively – we feel calmer and more centered with unconditional love from a friendly dog.

Using therapy dogs in a reading program works by having the child read out loud at their own pace to the dog in a quiet setting. Because the therapy dog is attentive and listening to their voice, the atmosphere is calm and non-judgmental –intentionally different from when a child is reading aloud in class. The child can pet or snuggle the dog or have no contact at all. The handler (that’s me) keeps the dog fully engaged and helps out on difficult bits of reading when needed. And, I challenge the child to explain the story to the therapy dog, using that elevation in role to build the child’s confidence in the difficult task of learning to read.

Lucy is a smallish black-lab mix that we adopted when she was one year old. She is almost five years old now. Lucy responds very well to children. She is friendly and calm around kids. We first noticed this when she helped out in a discussion on dog training with a group of girl scouts at the Charlottesville Albemarle SCPA. This is where one of her two owners works. Even when surrounded by a vocal and enthusiastic group of more than 20 kids, all wanting to pet her, she was serene, calm and engaged.

Lucy and I started training as a therapy dog team in 2013 and she gained her Therapy Dogs, Inc. certification in 2014. The training included lots of obedience work and a series of nursing home visits with an experienced dog trainer/ evaluator. After certification, we did a few nursing home visits and worked with the Crozet Library to set up reading sessions.

My personal reasons for wanting to help kids learn to reads stems from how reading has been the center of how I learn for my entire life. I’m partly retired after lots of years as an IT consultant and operations manager. No doubt that undergrad and graduate degrees helped my career, but the education most important to me was learning to read in first grade. Learning to read (and learning about libraries) made me feel like I could learn anything.



About Mrs. Ackenbom

I am from a military family and grew up in several areas around the United States. I received my B.A. from the University of Mary Washington in American Studies. I enjoyed Mary Washington so much that I decided to stay and get my Masters of Science in Elementary Education. This will be my ninth year as a teacher and I love being a part of a child's individual learning journey. In addition to teaching, I am passionate about horseback riding and being active outside. I am very excited to be working at Crozet Elementary this year!

About Us

We are Mrs. Ackenbom's Little Ponies! We want to learn something new every day. We use kind words with others. We treat others with kindness and compassion. We share. We take turns. We apologize. We have fun. We are first graders at Crozet Elementary - where we inspire and are inspired by the world around us!

Back To School Night

Tuesday, Sep. 8th, 5:30-6:15pm

1407 Crozet Avenue

Crozet, VA

Come to Room 2 to see what your little ponies are up to each school day!