Okay, so I’m on an “accepting differences” kick here lately. We could also call it a “being special is awesome” kick. Either way, here is the 1st and 2nd grade version of this lesson.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
Topics Covered: Responsible Behavior, Self-confidence Development, Trustworthiness
Gerald Giraffe really wants to dance. In fact, all the animals in the forest are great at dancing. Well, when it’s Gerald’s turn to dance at the Jungle Dance, all the animals make fun of Gerald and tell him he can’t dance. All it takes is one small creature to believe in Gerald. Soon Gerald starts to dance his own kind of dance and all the animals begin to see just how great Gerald really is at dancing.
Does this sound similar to some of your kiddos at school? Some that like soccer instead of tag? Some that like to read instead of play sports? Some that know different rules to tag than others? Some that like different food than their friends? Some that have grown up without T.V., cell phones, and video games? These are the kids that are often seen as “different” than their peers because they just prefer, like, or are better at different things than the majority of the group.
At my school, I always feel bad for the boys who aren’t really interested in team sports. At P.E., the boys are taught soccer, basketball, baseball, and rugby. At recess, the boys play tag, soccer, football, and kickball. But what happens to the boy that likes to swing on the monkey bars, the boy who loves to swim, the boy who takes piano lessons after school? He ends up playing by himself, sitting out during P.E., and reading a book on the bench.
I really wanted to show the boys that you can like different things, but can also still continue to be friends with these people. Differences aren’t bad, differences are what make us special. (Yes, I’m on this soap box again.)
Anyways, I shared Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae to my 1st and 2nd grade classes. We talked about how Gerald must have felt when all the animals laughed at his dancing, how he must have felt when he walked away from the dance alone, and how he must have felt when the cricket encouraged him to be himself.
Next, the boys went to their desks to think about all of the things they thought they were good at and the things that worried them. To give them an idea, we all completed the activity sheet (from Marissa at Elementary School Counseling, giraffes_cant_dance work page – Anxiety) together from Gerald’s perspective.
Gerald worried about his dancing, making friends, and getting laughed at.
Gerald knew he was good at standing still, munching shoots off trees, and finally, dancing.
After the boys named things that worried them and things they were good at, I had them get together to create a Venn Diagram. On one side they had all the things that they liked, on the other, all the things their partner liked, and in the middle, all the things that they both liked.
As they went through, the boys were truly amazed to find out all of the things that they both had in common. In fact, most groups had trouble finding things that they liked that their partner didn’t.
I couldn’t have hoped for a better point made!