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West Ada teacher helps her 'little birds' spread their wings and fly

Carmen Larrinaga calls her kindergarten classroom her nest, and the students her little birds.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union

Carmen Larrinaga calls her kindergarten classroom at Christine Donnell School of the Arts in the West Ada School District her nest, and the students her little birds.

"I needed to come up with a theme, and I thought birds, birds are so fun," Larrinaga said. "So we've kind of made that our theme and decorated."

The decorations include cut-out birds on the boards and a large tree with paper chain leaves.

"We have a little saying that we are brave, intelligent, respectful and determined students," Larrinaga said. "Yeah it spells bird."

She likes to feed her birds a diverse diet of brain food "just to keep learning exciting for them," Larrinaga said.

Credit: Carmen Larrinaga

The kindergartners learn math problems with Play-Doh. They make little balls with bits they break off the bigger blob. Then they smash the balls they took away. It hammers home the message. Just like her theme days do. Penguin Day perfectly and positively piqued their curiosity.

Credit: Carmen Larrinaga

"On our last day we decorate with penguins, and we do all our traditional stuff," Larrinaga said. "We do reading and math, but just with a penguin theme."

50's Day fueled their fancy for finding out fun facts.

Credit: Carmen Larrinaga

"On the 50th day they can dress up in 50s costumes, and then we just do things with Tootsie Rolls and bubble gum," she said.

Larrinaga said the kids love it.

"It's so fun when they tell their parents this was the best day ever, and so when you hear it was the best day ever 15 times in a school year it's great. It's a great year," Larrinaga said.

She has one big hope for when these little birds leave her nest.

"I want them leaving with a love of learning and confidence that they can do hard things," Larrinaga said.

If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.

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