Its always great catching up with the Webster staff and students. My lesson with the 4th grade involved picking good friends. I started by explaining to the children how important it was to occasionally evaluate the kids they choose to hang out with. I told them to ask themselves:
- Do I have good friends?
- Do I hang out with good people?
- Do I have people in my life that always chop me down or that I always get into trouble with?
Most elementary school kids get along with each other for the most part, but as these kids get older and move on to larger schools (Malibu MS/HS or elsewhere), the group each kid surrounds themselves with becomes more and more important. During my years in the STAR Program, I have seen numerous students help themselves by having a good group of friends through middle school and high school, and I have seen kids put into bad situations over and over again just because they were hanging out with the wrong people.
To emphasize this message, I used two quick skits in which some of the students have to act out the actions that I announce (for example, if I say that the student enjoys playing the violin, the actor must mimic playing a violin). The skits are about a boy named Gunther, and how his friends react to him as he tries to accomplish a personal goal. Some of his friends mock him, some try to distract him and some are helpful. Its a simple idea, but I want the kids to understand that they should treat their peers with respect and they should be respected and supported as well. The punchline of the 2nd skit suggest a possible date for Gunther, and it always brings down the house and turns some faces red (which is always fun).
My third day with the 5th graders was spent talking about decision making. At the beginning of the class the kids broke up into groups and played a decision-making game. There are 12 scenario cards (an example is pictured above); the kids take turns reading the cards and then they reveal their answers Rock, Paper, Scissors style with the Yes, No and Maybe cards.
Some of the themes and topics we covered include:
- You have a chance to cheat; what do you do?
- A friend tells you a secret; do you tell?
- You find a wallet with money and an ID; do you try to return it?
- Your mom tells you to do your homework and read for a specific amount of time, but you want to watch TV; do you obey mom’s orders?
- You see a student doing something dangerous at school; do you tell a teacher?
- You break something at your friend’s house and they get blamed; do you speak up?
The kids really got into it, and we finished the class by talking about some of the scenarios as a group. I emphasized that our decisions shape who we are and how others see us; I want the kids to understand that having integrity and doing the right thing is a habit that needs to be ingrained just like brushing your teeth and eating healthy.