Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Jelly Donut Difference {Teaching Kindness}

The topic of kindness is a recurring topic of conversation in my classroom.  Our school promotes kindness every day, and several times a year, I look for opportunities to specifically address this social skill.  One of my favorite ways to talk about important skills that relate to character is with the help of a picture book.



I recently shared The Jelly Donut Difference by Maria Dismondy with my students and it was a great way to review this concept.  Keep reading for a few ideas and links to free resources!



If your aren't familiar with Maria Dismondy then keep reading and then head on over to Amazon and grab as many of her books as you can. They are a must when it comes to your stash of picture books!

About the Author
Maria has a background in early education, so she knows kids.  She write books with strong moral messages and diverse characters.  Her characters are likeable and students can relate to them.  That's why her books are so great for teaching things like kindness, empathy, and understanding.  Her hope is that kids will remember how the characters in her stories handled difficult situations should they ever find themselves in a similar position.  And chances are, at some point they may.


The Book
The Jelly Donut Difference is a great book to share with your students.  It has amazing illustrations.  And, the story is one that students can relate to.

Dex and Leah are twins who live next door to an older woman who lives alone.  When they learn more about this woman who lives alone, they decide that they want to do nice things for her so that she feels happy and not so lonely.  I'm not going to share all the specifics because you really need to read this book for yourself.  ;) 

In the Classroom
Like any picture book, you can use this story to review story elements, analyze the characters, and the like, but my favorite way to use these sorts of books is to have my students make connections to the text. I like to use it as a means to promote reflection and understanding of the citizenship skills covered in the story.  This story, in particular, drives home the important message of generosity and kindness and I made that the focal point of our follow up activities.

After reading the book, we talked about the author's purpose.  More specifically, we talked about what exactly it was that the author wanted the reader to learn from the story.  Lately, we've been working to more specific when identifying the author's purpose.   

Then, we talked about some important words.  These words aren't used in the text, but they are all represented in the text. I thought that these words would be appropriate to discuss and then connect to the text:
  • thoughtful
  • kindness
  • empathy
  • compassion
  • generosity
It isn't necessary to use all of these words, of course. I didn't.  I chose the ones that I felt my students would be most likely to understand and relate to the text.  You can grab the anchor chart pieces HERE (the download includes all the words listed above).

As you can see, I put the definition of each word on the anchor chart.  Then, as a group we thought of examples in the text where these qualities were seen in action with the characters.


I left the chart up because I wanted my students to be reminded of these important qualities and because I wanted them to choose one to focus on.  I often task my students with setting kindness goals at school, but this allowed them to try and engage in other forms of selfless action.

I also had my students write a letter to the author.  We are currently in the midst of a letter writing unit, so it seemed perfect!  In the body of their letters, they wrote about what they liked about the story, as well as what they learned from it.  From there, they were free to write whatever else they wanted including asking the author a question or two.  I enjoyed reading their responses and seeing where it led their thoughts. You can grab this letter writing template HERE.  :)


If you're looking to add a meaningful picture book to your collection of resources, be sure to check out The Jelly Donut Difference.  It's sure to be a book you go to year after year.

Happy reading!

DON'T FORGET IT, PIN IT!


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I received this product for free to provide an honest review.  All opinions expressed within this post are genuine and impartial.
 


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