Classroom Ninja Training: Respect

Aug 29, 2015

So far we have set the foundation for our ninjas to be brave (risk takers), to persevere, curious, and responsible.  As the ninja training continues, I do wonder if real life ninjas were respectful.  But we think our first grade ninjas need to be!

For this trait, our firsties participated in two of my favorite beginning of the year activities.  I started with a definition and some examples of what it means to respect people, places, and things.  But I explained that we were going to focus on how we will respect each other.  So we drew a friend on our chart paper.  Lots of firsties came up to draw the different body parts, which made "friend" look so cute!

Then I read the book "I'm the Best" by Lucy Cousins.

 In this book, Dog is friends with Ladybug, Mole, Goose, and Donkey.  Dog feels that he is best because he can beat each animal at certain activities.  But he quickly learns that they can also beat him at certain activities.  Dog finds out that they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

I like this book.

There are so many times that I hear "I can't" from a kid.  But there are those other situations where we hear a student telling another student that they are "the best" at something.  This statement automatically lets the other child know that they are not good or that they "can't".  Understanding that we all have our strengths and weaknesses is so important when creating a positive classroom environment.

As I read and each time Dog said "I'm the best," a student was asked to crumple up our friend.  The crumbling symbolized that awful feeling you get when someone says unkind words. By the end of book, our friend was looking pretty bad.  Dog does apologize to all of his friends, so we smoothed out our friend, as well.

We did have the conversation about the wrinkles still being present even though an apology took place.  This just shows that we need to respect others and think before we say something that could be hurtful.  I am not convinced that this message was quite received by this point in our lesson.  Our little ninjas are a pretty antsy bunch this year...but it can always be revisited!

By this point, we were ready for a change.  So Maria and our new teammate, Kathy, asked the students to draw a picture in a small group.  Each group got a piece of paper and one box of crayons.  All that was asked was for them to draw the most colorful, beautiful picture that they could.

Then the groans, questioning noises, and louder voices began.  When they opened their boxes, all they found was one color.  A whole box of orange or a whole box of just green.  But they were encouraged to just draw their picture anyways.  And what they discovered was that the picture was not colorful, not as interesting.

Then Kathy read "The Crayon Box That Talked."  This is one of my favorites!!  It is all about the importance of each and every one of us.  In order for us to have this colorful world, we need to be different.  I always tell the students how bored I would be if they all came to school knowing the same things, dressing exactly the same, doing their hair the same way, talking the same way.

To complete the lesson, the small groups got to create a colorful picture with a regular box of crayons!  They also created a unique puzzle piece with as many colors as they wanted!  We placed this whole grade level puzzle in the hall to remember that we need each of us to complete the puzzle!

Our ninja training on respect ended with some reading buddies...but let's save this for another day!  Go Ninjas and respect each other!


  1. I love The Crayon Box That Talked! I usually use it around Martin Luther King Day.

  2. I love the idea of giving them a crayon box with only one color in it! That's just so SMART and really brings the point of the book home. All of your ninja lessons are so engaging!


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