Books about character are a great way to teach students important lessons. This week we are starting a series that features great books about character AND lesson ideas that you can use with each book! These books are great to use at the beginning of the school year or any time throughout the year. We’re starting out our series of character lessons by learning about the impact and unintended consequences of spreading rumors.
Character Lessons for Mr. Peabody’s Apples
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Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna is one of my favorite books to use in the classroom. My second year teaching, a fellow teacher introduced me to this book and I fell in love with the sweet story and message. This book can be used over several days or in a single lesson.
Discuss what gossip and rumors are.
My students and I had great discussions about gossip and rumors before and after reading this book. In elementary school, rumors and gossip can be a big part of bullying. Sometimes students do not understand that they are gossiping or spreading rumors or the effect they have. Mr. Peabody’s Apple gives a great example of what can happen when you spread rumors.
Rumors About You
Students make a list of things people have said about them that were untrue. Then students that are willing to share can share one thing from their list.
You can ask: How did it make you feel? How did you respond? What happened because this was said? Ask other students, what should you do if you hear someone talking about someone else?
When students see how others are affected and that they are not the only person that has had something bad said about them, it can open doors. As the teacher you could share an example of a time someone said untrue things about you. I did and it helped some students be willing to share.
**This activity might not work with all classes. I did not use this with one of my classes because I did not feel like they could be respectful or mature when others shared. Other classes were able to handle this and we talked about how it made them feel and how they could respond.
How Should I Respond?
This was a great activity and we were able to talk about how when you respond it is all in the way you say things. We created a list of ways to respond when people say something about someone else or you. This was a great discussion.
Glitter is Like Gossip
I love this! This glitter activity comes from the blog Tales of a Tenacious Teacher. After reading Mr. Peabody’s Apple, explain that the class will be competing. You can offer any amazing prize that the kids will get excited about, no homework for a week, movie in class, etc. Then, put students into groups and pour glitter into one group member’s hand. Explain that the person holding the glitter must pass ALL the glitter onto the other group members. Teams are NOT allowed to drop any glitter, even a single piece, on the floor. And the person giving the glitter must NOT have any glitter, even a single piece, on their hands or body at the end. I set a timer and they started off full of enthusiasm but quickly became frustrated and realized that it is impossible to pass along the glitter without getting it everywhere. This was a great lesson about how we can’t control what happens to our words once we speak them. They will spread to others, can be heard by others we didn’t mean to pass them to, and can’t be erased once we have spoken them.
This can be use instead of the glitter activity or on a different day. The idea is very similar. This can be done in groups, pairs or individually. Open and pour salt or sugar packets onto a napkin, then try to put all the crystals back into the packet. Discuss with students how this is the same as when Mr. Peabody throws the feathers into the wind, it is impossible to take back what has already been done.
More Books About Gossip and Spreading Rumors
After reading this book and doing these activities together kids will have a better understanding of how spreading rumors can impact others. In our next character lesson post we’ll share some fun activities about being yourself.