Chrysanthemum

Do you ever feel like you’re really unorganized, but then everything magically comes together? That was (sort of) me this morning.

Even though it’s only Tuesday, this week has been a little unusual already. We didn’t have any of our normal classes yesterday, and won’t have all of them today because of some testing the students are doing. I help with a drama group in the mornings and, as I walked back to my classroom four minutes before the first graders were going to show up, I had only a slight idea of what I might teach them.

Have you ever read Kevin Henkes’ book “Chrysanthemum” ? I found it in our classroom and loved it! It’s about a little mouse girl with a very long name. Her parents think the name is perfect, and she does too – until some mean girls at school start making fun of her for it. Not to spoil the ending for you, but eventually Chrysanthemum meets a very nice teacher who has a similar name. She helps our little mouse girl love her name again and makes the mean girls wish they also had long, flowery names!

I asked the kids if they would rather read or work in their notebooks and most of them were very enthusiastic about reading. So we read “Chrysanthemum.”

This books includes some great lessons on treating others with kindness, so after we read, I put the kids into mini “discussion groups.” I asked them a couple questions to discuss with their group, then had them share their answers.

“What can you do if someone is being mean to you?” I asked. “What can you do if you see someone being mean to another student?”

These first – graders came up with some great answers! They said you can “walk away” if someone is being mean to you or “tell a teacher.” I especially loved their ideas for what to do if they saw another kid getting bullied. They decided they could ask the person being picked on to play with them and (in the spirit of the book) say that they like their name!

We still had a few minutes of class left, so I got out the notebooks. I had each kid write their name and told them to make the letters big, fancy and creative. As I mentioned before, I kind of made this lesson up as I went along, but I thought this would be a fun project and a good way to help the kids appreciate their own names.

I’ve always been interested in the meanings of names, so I asked the kids if anyone knew what their name meant. No one did! So that is my plan for the next class period:

  1. Have them finish drawing and coloring their names
  2. Tell each kid the meaning of his or her name.

I’m looking forward to it! 🙂

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