Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Sandwich Swap

As I shopped earlier this year, the illustration on the cover of the children's literature book, The Sandwich Swap, caught my eye. I picked up the book and began to read it...a lovely story and gorgeous illustrations! Not only does it portray a wonderful lesson about friendship, but the book can be used for a variety of other topics: conflict resolution, anger management, diversity, or active listening skills to name a few.

I used this book in my kindergarten classes for a lesson on friendship.

First, I gathered the students in front of me on the floor and introduced the book. I did a little demonstration with a willing student volunteer to illustrate the word "swap." I then asked, "If this book is titled The Sandwich Swap, what do you think the story is about?" We talked about how the girls look on the cover; their emotions, what they might be thinking or talking about, etc.

Next, I read the story. I stopped throughout to ask pertinent discussion questions. I highlighted the emotions of being friends with someone, the activities that friends do, what hummus is, the emotions of being hurt by a friend, the behavior of the bystanders, the consequences to poor choices, etc.

Finally, I had the students sit in a circle on the floor. I asked the students, "What friendly activities did the girls do in the beginning of the story?" I said, "Later, the girls realized that each other's sandwiches looked unusual. The truth is, all of us enjoy eating different things, but that doesn't mean we should ever say EEEWWW to our friend or argue with them because of it. We need to really cherish how different we are!"

Prior to the lesson, I printed out (on card stock) life size colored pictures of all the sandwich toppings (and breads) I could think of and laminated them. Toppings such as: mayonnaise, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, chips, ham, cheese, hummus, and various types of breads, etc. I showed the students each of these pictures and laid them out on the floor in the middle of the circle. I put down a long piece of paper on the floor titled: Our Friendship Sandwich. Students were directed to choose a sandwich topping, pick it up and add it to the sandwich we were "building" on top of the large piece of paper (going lengthwise on the paper - putting one topping on at a time). Each student then had to tell us something friendly they enjoy doing with a friend. The sandwich was built on the left of the paper and I wrote the friendly acts along side each topping.

After every student had a turn to add a topping, we pretended to eat our huge friendship sandwich. No "yuck" comments from anyone!


Saturday, May 14, 2011


The school year is quickly coming to an end!!

After doing a lesson on the transition to middle school, I was in search of an idea for a final classroom guidance lesson for my fifth grade students. I had wanted to read a picture book to these classes and as I was searching through my counseling office library, I re-connected with a fantastic book - One by author Kathryn Otoshi. I quickly began planning for this lesson because I just had to use this book! A book about being the "1" to make a difference in someones life (especially in bullying situations), I focused on the simplicity of the message in this book.

First, I had a discussion with the students. For me, springtime in 5th grade is particularly sentimental. As the 5th graders leave us, I often wonder what has become of these bright youngsters as they become teenagers and young adults. It's unfortunate for us at the elementary level because we don't often reconnect with these students. I encouraged them to return to visit us or send us notes.

Second, I introduced the book. I told them that I chose this book because it is a book of few words and illustrations but has an extremely powerful message. 

Third, I read the book. Along the way, I paused for discussion points. The students were very invested in the conversation and discussion. In every classroom, there was much active participation! The kids were so insightful and gosh, the connections they made were unreal!

Fourth, I asked the students if they could think of anyone in history, in the country, in the world, in their neighborhood, in their life - that made a difference (single handedly). I wrote their responses down; Martin Luther King Jr. was the top response. Other examples from the lists were: President Obama, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, and Amelia Earhart. The biggest shocker came when a student in every class said, "You, Dr. Fuller." I have to say, I cried every time! We added the word "educators" to our list of "1's."

Next, I handed every student a small paper number "1." I asked each student to think of how he/she will be the "1" to make a difference in someones life. Each student was to write his/her name on the "1" and their personal idea. After this task, they re-gathered with me and we shared their amazing ideas.

Finally, in a prominent place in the main school hallway, I put up an outline of a large number "1" with blue painter's tape. Inside the "1" I will be adding all the student's personal paper "1's" so that everyone can view how this class of fifth graders will make a difference in this world.

It was a sentimental, powerful, and timely lesson. I encourage you to give it a try.

"It just takes one."