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Special Places

This lesson allowed the 3rd grade boys a chance to think about a Special Place in their life. I adapted the lesson from an idea I saw on the Teaching Tolerance website.

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Special Places

Topics Covered: Interpersonal Effectiveness, Communication Skills, Self-Confidence Development, Decision-making

I started the lesson by reading the boys a book my mom gave to me my first year of teaching, The Forest Has Eyes by Elise Maclay and illustrations by Bev Doolittle.

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The Forest Has Eyes is a Native American poetry book that really helps illustrate the Native Americans’ passion for their land and animals. Through poems, the book illustrates a mountain man passing through Indian territory, a brave Native American boy searching for his animal guardian spirit, an Indian’s call for the buffalo spirit, and these are only a few among many other beautiful poems. Bev Doolittle is known for her exquisite paintings that camouflage hidden pictures into historically accurate artwork.

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So, while the boys were interested in the Native American stories, they were also mesmerized by the hidden pictures and stories in each illustration.

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After reading the book, we held a discussion about the important place the land and animals had in Native Americans’ hearts. I told them that during this lesson they were going to get to think about a place that held a special place in their hearts.

With all of the boys back at their seats, I handed out a blank sheet of paper. I never usually specify whether or not their name needs to be on it. The work we usually do is only to help the boys process, not normally a production piece.

I used Teaching Tolerance’s questions to guide our exploration.

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Once the boys had listed many places (based on the questions above), I had them choose just one that they could regard as their “Special Place.” I had them think about why this one place was more important than the rest and what this specific place says about them, as a person.

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Next, I had them flip their papers over (hopefully the back side was still blank, but with a room full of boys there was no telling . . luckily I had some extra sheets of paper) and on the back, I had them describe their special place to me through a drawing. They could do the drawing however they wished.

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This is how far I got with both of the 3rd grade classes. If I had some more time (which I always wish I had), I would have had the boys volunteer to show their drawings and explain what made this place more special than any other.

I think the reason this lesson was so powerful was because it gave them a chance to only think about their lives, what made their special place unique, and how lucky they were to have memories from this special place. I bet their parents would have been surprised to see just how simple their special places were, because let me tell you it wasn’t Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, or Italy.

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