Thought, Word & Deed

Caring is thinking with our hearts; what are the ways that your students show they care? Today’s post features three holiday books that I love because they spotlight caring in thought, word, and deed. 
     Little Rabbit provides an excellent example of a character whose thoughts put good things into motion in Kate Klise's treasure Shall I Knit You A Hat? In this tale about gift giving and gratitude, Mother Rabbit sees a blizzard coming and knits a cool cap to keep Little Rabbit's ears warm.  Little Rabbit, in turn, asks for caps for all of his friends. He helps his mom by distracting his friends so that she can get measurements for her crafty creations. The mother-son duo works tirelessly to get the hats done and give them to the friends. When the cold winds start to blow, the animals see the beauty of and appreciate the warmth that they received from the Rabbits. When Little Rabbit realizes that he was too busy giving to his friends that he forgot a gift for his mother, her heartwarming response reassures him that “being with you is the best gift of all.” This treasures comes complete with a pattern for creating a hat so why ‘knot’ get out your needles and some yarn and get clicking.
     Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo serves as a beautiful illustration of what caring looks like with words. Young Frances notices a monkey grinder on the street and wonders where they live. When Frances wants to invite him over, the mom reminds her that we don't talk to strangers. Unable to contain her compassion for the plight of this man and his monkey, whom Frances figures out live on the street, this little angel invites him to her Christmas pageant at the church, where at least he can warm up for a spell. An invitation. Powerful words. I won't spoil the ending for you, but I will warn you that I expect this holiday gift to be a springboard for an amazing discussion about how to care for someone (like a homeless man and his monkey) without putting one's own safety at risk. Find out from your students if they can relate to Frances, to her mom, or to the man on the street. Have they ever been in a similar situation? If so, what happened? If not, could they imagine what it's be like or what they'd do if they were Frances, the mom, or the homeless man? Study homelessness in your community, in a neighboring city, or in your state. Then do a little math. Calculate how much it would cost to feed a homeless person for a meal? For a week? For a month? Star of Hope in Houston actually has those figures if you want to give students a lead on some data. Students can brainstorm ways to help the homeless besides inviting them to warm up at your church pageant. Research where the nearby soup kitchen is and see at what age they allow people to start serving. Finally, ask your students to finish the story. What happens to the man and his monkey after they attend the reception at the pageant? Will their encounter with Frances make a difference in a week? A month? A year? What happens to Frances? And to her mom? Encourage your little authors to let their imaginations run wild; I think you'll be inspired by the compassion that runs through their words. (Check back Saturday, December 3rd, for my Great Joy Giveaway!)
Rabbit's Gift by George Shannon re-tells an old Chinese fable about the power of a good deed. Urged on by the fact that winter's coming, Rabbit sets out to find food when two turnips turn up. What luck! As he plans to enjoy his "cozy meal," thoughts of his friend donkey postpone his dinner and spur him into action. Guess what happens when Rabbit pays it forward with his extra turnip? This tale of generosity and compassion has many extension possibilities, one of which is a dance to the Bunny Hop. In this dance, you kick out your right leg two times, then kick out your left leg twice, hop forward once, hop back once, then hop three times forward. So turn on the music and teach your students this little ditty about the circular effect of planned acts of kindness:

Help someone in need and it'll come back indeed. Show you care and plant kindness seeds!

After your moments with movement, ask students what the saying "What goes around comes around" means. Is it used to talk about good stuff or bad stuff? Or both? Have them share their thoughts aloud, then encourage them to illustrate a time when they found this adage to be true in their lives. Finally, take one last picture walk through the book to notice the Chinese Characters on the left-hand side and the little yellow bird on certain pages. Have students figure out what those symbolize and discuss the significance of that artistic touch.
     What are your top holiday picks?  Hop on over to Learning With Mrs. Parker and Teaching Blog Addict to link up and share them with us!


  1. I've never heard of these books. I'm going to look for them at the library. Thanks for the summaries :)

    Grade ONEderful

  2. Barbara,
    Thanks for sharing your bulletin board extension of my No Cost Gift writing. Very cute.


    Yearn to Learn Blog

  3. Hi Barbara!

    Today there are two sunshiney comments on my post about you.
    I think you're wonderful!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  4. Kim - we were totally leaving each other comments at the SAME time. Thanks for spreading the sunshine; you are a sunbeam and I'm proud of your Sunshine award!!!

  5. Thanks for sharing such inspirational stories. I think I may purchase Rabbit's Gift during Chinese New Year.

  6. Great Joy is one of my other favorites! The pictures are stunning. I hope you enjoy the Snowmen book!

  7. What WONDERFUL books, Barbara! I am particularly taken with Shall I Knit You a Hat? I am off to see if I can find a copy. Thank you so much for sharing!! Happy week to you.

    Good Morning Mrs Rubie

  8. YAY - I got an email from the Kate Klise, author of Shall I Knit You A Hat? that said she commented on this post . . . . but it got LOST in space.

    SO with her permission, I'm posting her simply sweet reflection:

    Knitters--especially Barbara--are always knice!
    Kate Klise

  9. What a great assortment of books! I'm going to have to visit my library very soon. As always, thanks Barbara.

  10. I LOVE Kate DiCamillo and I have never seen Great Joy before. I am so excited about this book! Thank you for linking up! :)


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!