I just adore Chrysanthemum...How can you not fall in love with this sweet, cute, precious little mouse?? Even my students love her!
This year, we kicked off the year using the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, to teach our unit on names. After reading the book to students and completing the activites, I had to ask myself, "Why have I never used this book to teach names, acceptance, kindness and respect for ourselves and others? WHY WHY WHY??"
One the second day, before I read the story, I had a large red heart that I showed the children. We talked about how nice and pretty the heart was without any crinkles or markings on it. Then I told the children that each time they heard hurtful words, to crumple up the heart. I got this idea from Nancy over at First Grade W.O.W! Click on the link to take you directly to her post on this particular Chrysanthemum mini unit and to get other ideas! (She has some really great ideas for teaching social skills, I love her blog!)
At the end of the book, our heart was crumpled and it actually even tore a little bit. This brought us to the discussion of how words that we use can be hurtful and when we use hurtful words, they make a mark on someones heart that can't be fixed. I showed that students that once a heart is broken...or crinkled, it may never be the same...we can't smooth out the heart after those words are said...we can't take back hurtful words. I let that soak in for a little bit and let the students discuss their feelings and if someone has ever hurt them.
Day 3, I read the story yet again and this time we talk about ways to help heal someones heart or keep it from getting hurt. Some of the ideas my students came up with were: Saying I am sorry, not using those words at all, being kind to everyone, not making fun of others and helping others.
After that discussion, we took our band-aides and helped to heal Chrysanthemum's heart and attached a poem to the center that reads: Before you speak, think and be smart. It's hard to fix a wrinkled heart!
Day 4 - Students made their own Chrysanthemum! The kiddos were so proud of them and I must say, they turned out adorable! We also made speech bubbles, from Chrysanthemum that say "I think the name _________ is perfect! Love, Chrysanthemum" I made this into our bulletin board for the quarter, to remind my students to always think before they speak.
Day 5: I let the kiddos act out the story as I narrated. Since this was our first acting of the school year, of course many of the students were shy and not sure what to do, but they tried their best and NO ONE made fun of each other...and that is all that mattered because that meant, the lesson taught them exactly what it was supposed to :)
And I must say after doing this mini unit, I hear my students complimenting each other all day long, every day! It is such a wonderful sound...music to my ears.
Carie is a kindergarten teacher from Illinois who writes on the 17th of each month. She shares her experiences and ideas from her classroom, writing about reading, writing, math, Art, and several other fun and exciting things!
Carie also writes her own blog: