4th Grade – Goal Boosters
It was a spooky October day in Malibu with no power and no cell service on Monday when I visited the Juan Cabrillo 4th Grade, but luckily there was enough light in the classroom to hold our 2nd session.
This visit we talked about friends. Why is it important to choose good friends? What do you look for in a good friend? Do you hold yourself to those standards? These are all questions I asked the kiddos to think about.
Most elementary school kids get along with each other, 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, 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 have two skits for the class act out. I am the narrator, and 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. 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).
5th Grade – Time to Make A Good Decision
On Wednesday, I spent my second day with the 5th grade talking about decision making. The kids broke up into groups and played a game using scenario cards. There are 12 cards (an example is pictured below); 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.
Almost all 5th graders have a good handle on what is right and what is wrong, but kids that age (and sometimes adults too) would rather come up with elaborate reasons to justify doing something bad instead of just keeping it simple and doing what’s right.
Elementary school students of all ages do multiple craft projects where students declare their self image and the things they like (for example, the flower petal crafts pictured above). Students describe themselves as “fun”, “athletic”, “hard-working” and all sorts of other positive labels. I point out to the kids that I’ve never seen one of these crafts where a kid described themselves as “dishonest” or “lazy” or as a “cheater”, but there are still kids that act that way. Whatever we think of ourselves, the choices we make should match up with our self image. We can declare whatever we want about ourselves, but our actions tell those around what to believe.