This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of Whimsy Workshop that originally ran in March 2014. Check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas! If you'd like to see her other contributions to this blog, click here!
Hello again! I’m Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and today I’m sharing with you some examples of how I use books from the Kaleidoscope Collection to teach anti-bullying messages. The books we used were Sophia and the Bully, Are You A Bully?, and Big Blue Heron. My key concepts for these lessons were how to recognize the characteristics of bullying and how to handle it.
In Canada we celebrate Pink Day, which is a national event in participating schools where students and teachers wear something pink to celebrate diversity and raise awareness about bullying in schools. The books mentioned were a perfect compliment to our study on this day. We read through each of the books together, and then students were asked to pair-share to discuss their thoughts about it.
We began with Big Blue Heron; some student ideas were as follows:
“The heron didn’t care about other people.”
“The heron should try to be nicer because one day he might need help and nobody will want to.”
“The dog was brave to stand up for the little kitten and tell the heron to go away.”
Next, we read Are You a Bully?. Here are some of the student responses to that book:
“Someone made fun of my glasses once too, just like Liz.”
“I don’t like to see kids laughing at other kids like that. It makes me sad!”
“Why do big kids always try to boss little kids around?”
Finally, we read Sophia and the Bully. This book had the strongest response. We stopped part way through reading to talk about what was happening and how each character acted. When we finished the story, students were surprised to see that the “bully” was actually trying to be friendly, but was going about it in the wrong way. This was an interesting twist and opened a whole new discussion about misunderstandings. It was also relevant to my students because we had recently gotten two new students in our class. We wrote about each book in our journals in addition to writing about Pink Day.
We also had each student think of one thing they learned about bullying, either from the books or our discussion. Students visited a kindergarten class, stood in a line at the front of the class, and took turns giving “advice” to the younger students.
These books were a valuable addition to our anti-bullying resources and addressed some very important topics in our class.
I have been teaching primary grades for 20 years. My classroom is a place of hands-on, creative learning where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them! I live near Vancouver, BC Canada with my music-teacher husband and two teenage boys. More literacy ideas and graphics can be found on my blog, Whimsy Workshop Teaching.
For more information on the Kaleidoscope Collection, click the image below to download a series information sheets with highlights and key features, or click here to visit our website!