Words that Help or Hurt Friendships

Is this like Deja Vu? That may be what you are thinking. The answer is yes and no.

Yes – I have done a VERY similar lesson in second grade which I adapted from Creative Small Groups.

No – I did not do that exact with my 1st graders. Instead I did the original lesson straight from Creative Small Groups with a touch of read aloud.

The best part about the original lesson was that the helping and hurting phrases were easier to read for 1st graders. That is the only reason I didn’t just do a copy-cat lesson.

The other change was my book. I did not read Enemy Pie to my 1st graders instead I read a book by Elizabeth Crary called I Want to Play.

The book looks about as exciting as a shot at the doctor’s office, but trust me it’s a lot more fun.

Minus color on the pages this book is JUST like those mystery books I read when I was a kid. The ones where you predicted or decided what would happen next in the story.

“Johnny and Sally are in a haunted house. They find a secret doorway and a lit candle. Sally and Johnny can think of 3 things to do. Should they – go in without the candle (go to page 8), wait for their friends to follow (go to page 10), or go in with the candle and without their friends (go to page 12).”

Clearly, I should not write children’s books, but do you remember the books I’m talking about now?

Well, I Want to Play is this type of book. This little boy, Danny, is playing all alone. He wants to join some other children, but doesn’t know what to do. He can think of seven things and you get to decide which one Danny should choose. If you don’t like what happens you can easily go back and change your mind.

Well, just like myself when I was in elementary school, the boys LOVED the book! In fact, I didn’t hear one thing about the lack of color on the pages, or the lack of interesting illustrations in general. Love is the only word for it . . . and if you can’t tell I loved it as well.

So, that’s how the lesson began. We read the story once through and together decided how Danny should solve his problem, turning to each appropriate page, and finding out that if you include everyone you can have more fun with more friends.

Then we moved onto the Words that Help or Hurt Friendships activity from Creative Small Groups. The boys cut out one statement at a time and decided if it was meant to help (fill buckets) or hurt (dip into buckets) friendships. If they helped, they went under the heart, and if they were meant to hurt they went under the lightening bolt.

The best part about the lesson was it wasn’t even my idea to do it! See, I got an e-mail from both of the 1st grade teachers explaining some problems the boys were having at recess. They asked if I wouldn’t mind coming in one extra time to do a lesson on including others, using kind words, etc. Would I mind? OF COURSE NOT! In fact, the sheer thought of them coming to me and asking filled my bucket and made me even more excited to do the lesson.

I almost can’t wait for next year’s 1st graders so I can do the lesson again . . .

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