Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Friend Isabelle take home sheet for Polly's mainstream class

(The following info. is part of the take home sheet I prepared for Polly's class. Her teacher invited me to come and read a book and talk to the children about Down syndrome. What a fabulous idea!)

Hey Room 108 parents!

Meet Polly!

This is Polly. She is five years old and thrilled to be an Audubon Hawk this year, just like her two older sisters (Elaina- 5th grade and Zoya -4th grade).

Ms. Stack graciously invited me to read a book to the students. I chose “My Friend Isabelle” by Eliza Woloson. It’s a fun book about a typical friendship between a little boy named Charlie and his friend Isabelle. Throughout their play-date, Charlie talks about how he and Isabelle are both alike and different.

“I run fast. Isabelle takes her time.”

“We drink apple juice and eat Cheerios at the little red table and chairs.”

Isabelle and Polly have something in common, too. They both have Down syndrome.

Today at school, I attempted to provide a kindergarten appropriate definition of Down syndrome for Polly’s classmates:

"Down syndrome is something that causes differences in the way a child looks and learns. Babies with Down syndrome are born with an extra chromosome in some or all of their cells. Chromosomes are tiny, thread-shaped things inside your body. They contain the directions that tell your body how to grow. These directions tell your body what color your eyes and hair will be, how big your nose will be, whether you will be a good singer, and many other things. When a kid has an extra chromosome, it mixes up his body’s directions a little. That is why kids with Down syndrome look a little different from others sometimes and have to try harder to learn."(adapted from "We'll Pain the Octopus Red" discussion points at the back of the book)

I would love to see all our kids in Rm. 108 have a fabulous year. In that vein, I’d like to ask you to talk to your child about “My Friend Isabelle.” You can talk about:

- The definition of Down syndrome

-Differences and similarities between your child and other classmates

-How different doesn’t mean bad

-How to be a good friend to everyone at school

-How Polly may need a little more time to learn things, but that she will learn.

If you or your child has questions for me or Polly, we’re happy to try to answer them. And just like Charlie and Isabelle, we love play-dates!


Gillian Marchenko, Polly’s Mom


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE. May I please steel this for my kids' classes?!

  2. What a beautiful post. You are an inspiring writer. I'm so excited for Polly! :)

  3. I think that was a wonderful idea, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to do that for Samantha's class just yet. I guess I worry that it'll further set her apart from her peers, although I hear how wonderfully-received this kind of thing is for other people who have done it, too. Maybe I'm thinking that Kindy is too soon...not sure. I guess I should have a conversation with Sammi's teacher some time and see what she thinks. Great post - definitely food for thought!

  4. Thanks everyone!

    Becca, I know what you mean. But here's the thing. Kids were looking at Polly and wondering anyway. I figured we'd be open about it.

    And for us, it seems to work. Of course, we all have to do what our mommmy gut is telling us. Prayers!

  5. I'm just on the fence. Glad to be hearing about it working, though, and it may be the way to go for us, too. Thanks for that, Gillian!

  6. this is a wonderful idea... I should have done something like this for my son & Autism... it never even occurred to me!!! I love it.


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