Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chrysanthemum's Crumpled Heart

  This week we read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I love this book because of the wonderful character ed lesson it teaches the students.  For those of you haven’t read Chrysanthemum, she is an adorable little mouse with a very large name.  The little mice in her class tease her for having such a “strange and long name.”  It is a clear depiction of bullying that the students can really relate to.
A coworker let me in on a great little activity that she has done with this book and I was more than excited to try it with my class.  You start with a medium sized heart (any color) cut out from construction paper.  Tell the students that this is Chrysanthemum’s Heart.  It is perfect and smooth and full of happiness.  Discuss how our heart can fell “crushed or crumpled” when someone says something mean to you.  Students love sharing stories about a time they felt hurt or crushed by someone’s mean words.  As you read the story have the students sit in a circle and pass the heart around the classroom. Each time that a character in the story teases Chrysanthemum by saying something mean, the student holding her heart crumples it up into a ball.  There are characters in the story who say nice things to help cheer Chrysanthemum up, such as her parents and teacher. During those moments, uncrumple the heart and smooth it out.  By the end of the book, the heart is ripped and torn and full of creases.  The children love seeing how kind words can repair her heart (we even put some band aids over the rips).  They can also see how the wrinkles (caused by mean words) will never go away fully.
When the story was finished we hung the heart in our classroom to always remind us of how important it is to be kind to others.  When someone is critical or mean to another student all I have to do is say, “remember Chrysanthemum’s heart” and the kids instantly stop in their tracks and rethink what they will say to make it kind.
Here is a photo of our heart after reading the story.

 Everything Second Grade

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