This past June there was a rotten, no-good, down-right terrible struggle with sharing in the Shopgirl household. I was absolutely at wits end with these kids and their insistence on stealing, snatching, grabbing, yelling, back-talking, attitudes with one another. In July I moved on from my standard units and began units that focused on positive habits and manners that are good for the soul. It was inspired by my fourth grade teacher who managed to spend an entire six week period molding positive morals and manners into our daily curriculum.
Age Group:: Elementary
- Students will be able to retell important facts about text.
- Students will retell a main event from a story read aloud.
- Students will describe characters in a story and the reasons for their actions.
- Students will discuss the big idea (theme) of a well-known folktale or fable and connect it to personal experience.
- The Giving Tree By, Shel Silverstein
- Construction Paper (Blue, Brown, Red, and Green.)
- A Paper Sack, or some other bag that cannot be seen through. Then fill it with:
- A chocolate bar
- A Welch’s Snack Pack
- A Doll
- A Small Game (i.e. a deck of cards, a memory deck)
- A Book
- Prelude: I began that morning with our basic circle time, a few songs, some noisemakers. I observed as the struggle began over the coveted tambourine and decided to let the argument play its course so to utilize the experience later on when we are in our sharing discussion.
- Critical Thinking: Once all the noise makers were put away and we sat back in our circle I pulled out a bag. Although it was a simple brown reusable bag from our local farmers market the kids were excited to see what treasures awaited them inside. Today, I said, we are going to talk about sharing. I reached into the bag and pulled out an item, I would then ask the same two questions with each (chocolate bar, gummy snack bag, book, toy):
- “how can we share this?
- “How does that make our siblings/friends feel when we share this that way?
With some items I asked for more than one way to share, like the book for instance. We could read to our baby sister, or just both take turns sifting through the pages.
- Read. Already seated and in the mindset of sharing I pulled out Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. We discussed first Shel Silverstein himself. I have read to all my babies each night out of A Light in the Attic, and Where the Sidewalk Ends. The kids were delighted to be able to experience a new (to them) book by one of their favorite authors.
As I read through the story, I could see B tearing up and even Lil’ A sat still through the tale of the boy and his tree. I decided this book should not be interrupted for discussion, but instead we would hold discussion for after.
- Discuss. At the conclusion I asked the kids four questions:
- What happened in the story?
- Who shared the best?
- Why did the tree share everything she had?
- What are some ways we can we fill our soul with sharing hearts?
- Explore & Create: Moving on from discussion it is time for some hands-on reflection.
- I had the kids trace their hands, wrist, and arm (Lil’ A required my assistance) on a brown sheet of paper, and cut it out. This is the trunk of the tree.
- I cut the tree leaves in advance so that I could assure they were large enough to write on. I asked the kids to pull the leaves from the pile and write on them with green crayon different things they felt they could start sharing to help create a mare sharing heart. Once again Lil’ A required a little more assistance in the writing of her answers.
With B I did not correct his misspellings, I didn’t want to distract from the bottom-line of the lesson, but instead I let him play with the sounds of letters as he attempted to create words. This is an excellent (occasional) practice for early readers. It communicates to the instructor a better understanding of how the child is hearing/understanding the sounds in words. This information should be analyzed and utilized to improve the personalized teaching strategy for each child on future dates.
- We then cut out a red heart from the half sheet of red construction paper in front of them. Now it was time to construct our trees.
- With no further instruction I had the kids glue their trees together on the blue sheet of construction paper.
Bonus Lesson: Follow this with an adding and subtracting lesson/drill. Instead of just numbers, if we share we are adding. If we do not share we are taking away.