Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A fun way to tie team building and character traits

Today was my last day of having my homeroom for the entire day -- tomorrow we begin our official "switch" schedule. My team teacher teaches Math, Science and Social Studies, and I focus on all the Reading, Writing, Word Work, and Spelling.

Our first reading unit focuses on Character Development, using character traits as a start. I wanted to incorporate our team building/get to know you activities to get the most bang for my buck in terms of my time. I am always looking for ways to teach more precisely and efficiently, so nothing ends up busy work.

I love the book, Elmer, by David McKee. It is a story about a patchwork elephant who longs to be like everyone else. When he tries changing color to blend in, he realizes that he feels strangely, and the plan doesn't work out exactly as he expected. Finally, his ruse is discovered, and the elephants tell him how special he is. They do so by having a parade in his honor, where they are multicolored, and he is plain elephant color.

It is a simple story with a huge lesson.

We have been brainstorming and listing character traits of several characters as we have been reading (we have read over 6 books already) and have created a huge word wall in our room as a resource.

Today, after I read Elmer, I had the kids do a guided drawing of an elephant with me. I love doing that, because even though I model, each of the elephants come out so unique! It's so much better than Xeroxing an elephant pattern. They were told to write traits for themselves around the outside of the elephant, and then decorate the elephant inside however their creative hearts desired.


My next steps were a brainstorm from a friend of mine who is a middle school teacher. She suggested taking the character trait list and either using Thesaurus or computer, finding "juicy" words that are more descriptive. My kids thought of "nice, helpful, and fun." We could definitely step it up to "energetic, outgoing, and responsible."

So there you go. Teach kids to be who they are, and get some character development in it as well!

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