I did a more advanced lesson about this in 4th grade a couple years back. The lesson had them think more globally, than my current 1st grade lesson. It wasn’t at all my favorite lesson I’ve ever done and in fact, I don’t think I even wrote about it. But this lesson on the other hand . . . MUCH better . . . maybe just more age-appropriate, but who knows.
I picked this lesson from Puzzle Pieces because I thought it was a good explanation about our responsibility to appreciate others, especially those who are different than us (and as my boys know . . . our differences are what make us special). We know what is special about ourselves. So how do we find what’s special inside each of our classmates?
What’s On The Inside Counts . . . Just Like M&Ms
Topics Covered: Interpersonal Effectiveness, Responsible Behaviors
Character Skill: Responsibility
This lesson does require just a little prep and a quick run to the grocery store . . . to prepare, grab a nicely wrapped gift bag and a paper lunch sack. Place a paper bowl into the gift bag and a bag of M&Ms into the lunch sack. Now you’re ready for the lesson.
Show boys the pretty wrapped gift bag (I always go with one that looks like a birthday present and the paper lunch sack).
Tell a story about their birthday party. Set the scene . . . who is there? What does the present table look like? Tell them that on the table are these two presents, sitting side by side.
Now ask them, “Which present would you want to open first on your birthday? And why would you pick that one?”
You’ll hear all sorts of creative answers like:
“I would pick the birthday package because there is probably a good gift in there. Just look at it!”
“I dunno why someone would give you a lunch on your birthday. Don’t they have cake?”
“I’m curious what’s inside the lunch bag so I’d open that one first.”
“I’ll open the lunch sack first because the other present is better. Do you know what they say? Save the best for last.”
And no joke . . . I heard all these things.
First, open the pretty wrapped birthday gift.
Show them the paper bowl located on the inside.
Remind the boys that they picked this present because it was pretty on the outside. How do you feel about the present now?
Explain how some people are just like this present. Some people are dressed nicely, have great toys, and live in big houses, but on the inside they are not nice or aren’t good friends. They forget that it’s important to be kind, generous, loving, and a good friend. They disappoint us with their behavior.
Now open the lunch bag.
Show the bag of M&Ms inside.
How do you feel about this bag now? Explain that people are also like this. Sometimes people do not have the nicest stuff, but they are wonderful friends and the nicest people we know.
Have the students describe how different the two presents are. One is just a plain old bowl and the other delicious candy. Have them describe what is special about each object.
Next, pour the M&Ms into the bowl. Explain how the two ordinary objects work well together. Each has a specific purpose. Just like friends.
People are like M&Ms.
When you eat an M&M you do it because you want the chocolate on the inside. That’s the best part. The color of the M&M doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change the chocolate taste.
The best part of people is how they are on the inside. When we choose friends, we want to choose friends that are nice, kind friends. Friends who make us become even better, just like the bowl completed the M&Ms by holding them together.
I finished the lesson by having the boys complete the Choosing Friends page that helps them evaluate all of their good qualities and what these qualities offer to our friends. What can we give to our friends from inside our heart?
(And by the smiles on their faces, I’m going to go ahead and assume that one boy is running to help another boy up.)