This book is about a little girl who is building and tinkering. It is nice to have a girl as the main character, as the book doesn’t feed into a gender bias about constructing/engineering. She gets very frustrated and has a tantrum–relatable! But she also has a strategy for calming herself down, she goes for a walk, as suggested by her (adorable) dog.
Have a discussion during circle time about the role of effort and persistence. Be sure to introduce new vocabulary: Perseverance is the ability to keep on trying even when you are frustrated, you’ve made mistakes, and want to quit.
- You can ask children: How do you feel when you try really hard and finally accomplish your goal? Do you feel more proud of yourself when you try really hard, or when things come really easy?
- It helps children to learn to say to themselves, “I’m not going to be good at this right away, I’m going to make mistakes, and that’s okay!
The mantra in this book is: “When you think you have made a mistake (and what kid or grown-up hasn’t) think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful.” This beautifully illustrated book shows how a torn piece of paper, a spill, a drip, a smudge, and a hole can be looked at as a new way to be creative rather than a problem. Read Beautiful Oops to your class and have a discussion about the value of making mistakes. Model how to have this discussion by describing a mistake you made, and what you learned from that mistake and/or whether you adopted a new strategy to solve that problem as a result of the mistake.
“I think I can—I think I can—I think I can—…” says the little engine as she chugs up the hill to deliver toys to the children on the other side of the mountain. This classic children’s book is a great jumping off point for a discussion about the role of effort and persistence in accomplishing things that are hard for us. Read The Little Engine That Could to your class and have discussions about the role of effort. Spoiler alert: The little engine makes it! The mantra “I think I can” may be helpful to children as they try to accomplish a challenging task (zipper my coat, open my milk, ride a bike). Toward the end of the day or at a closing circle time, ask the children, “Did you work hard at something today?” Teachers can note what children are attempting to do during the day and share anecdotes of trying challenging things with the class.
What does your brain do and can you make it grow and get stronger? In kid-friendly language, this picture book explains that your brain controls everything you do and that learning new things strengthens your brain and helps it grow. When you learn something new, your brain stretches and grows. Part of learning new things is being wrong and making mistakes and figuring out how to solve the problem the next time (or after 100 tries). Read Your Fantastic Elastic Brain with your class. Have a discussion about the role of effort and trying challenging activities to grow your brain.