School is off to a great start. Sure, we've had a few bumps in the road getting things moving, but overall I have a great class.
I noticed something this week, though. My class was going through a negative rut. There were always choruses of "I can't do this!" and "I'm horrible at ____!" when something was assigned. There was also a good deal of negativity on the playground, too. The typical "You're mean!" and the occasional "You're annoying!" were pretty standard.
Obviously, no lesson I teach is going to immediately stop this behavior in its tracks, but I wanted to plant a "seed" of positivity into my classroom so we could refer back to it when we were feeling down on ourselves.
Enter the book Seeds and Trees:
If you haven't heard of this children's book, it focuses on a young prince that sets out to water his seeds every day. These "seeds" are actually words and they blossom into huge trees. The prince plants both the kind words that are spoken to him and the not-so-kind words. The beautiful words grow into green trees, while the mean words turn into red and black trees covered with thorns.
The prince enlists the help of a friend who helps him to dig out the black seeds and replant them with green seeds.
The book teaches children that their words carry meaning. and we have the power to focus on the good words rather than the mean ones. We can also plant green seeds in our friends' gardens rather than black, hurtful seeds.
I used this book with my students by reading it and then having them first come up with some "dark seed" words that they have heard and been hurt by or that they have maybe even said themselves.
**Note: "Fartfase" isn't one I typically hear, but, hey, it can be a hurtful comment.
After we brainstormed the words that make us feel bad or that we might use to make others feel bad, we decided we needed to change our thinking. We turned those thoughts into positive words for ourselves and for our friends.
**Note: I LOVE that a student wrote "empathy." Proud teacher right here.
This activity got us thinking about growth mindset and perspective-taking. We got a chance to turn our negative thoughts into positive ones, and now these charts are hanging in our classroom to utilize in times of frustration and moments of "I can't do this!"
Teacher Tip: Pair this book/activity with the book The Word Collector by Sonja Wimmer. It also discusses collecting positive words and spreading them to people that need them.