March 6, 2017

Turtle Flipping

“I am here today to talk to you about what it means to be helpful. Who can tell me what being helpful means?”

“It’s when you help someone!”
“Doing things that are nice to help people!”
“When someone falls you help them up!”

It’s interesting how hard it is for kids to put the definition of helpful into words.

“I’m going to show you a video and we’re going to see if the creatures in the video decide to be helpful or not.”

I then put on this video.  I do not own this video nor do I know who created it. It’s just super cute, hooks their attention and makes my point really well. I mute the volume and let it play.


While the video is playing, I start the meat of the lesson by saying, “This turtle over here is flipped over on his back (point to the upside turtle). Who has ever seen or knows what happens when a turtle is flipped over?”

Eventually we get to the answer that they cannot flip themselves back over and have to wait until someone comes along and decides to help them get back on their feet.

“That’s right, he’s upside down and helpless. He needs someone to come help him get back on his feet, he can’t do it by himself. How do you think that turtle feels?”

I get a wide array of answers such as scared, sad, mad, frustrated, upset, hopeless, etc.

“He’s probably pretty sad, wishing he hadn’t gotten himself into this situation hoping someone is nice enough to come help him get back on his feet. If we saw a turtle flipped over, it would be super easy for us to flip him back. We would use our hands and just pick him up. Turtles don’t have hands. The only tool they have is their head. Imagine if I fell on the floor right now and the only way you could help me get up is by using your head. How easy would that be?”

They usually get wide eyed and whisper about how they would break their necks if they tried that. I have to add that I am eight months, beyond super pregnant right now, so it is even funnier to see their reactions to this question since I have so much extra weight to throw around.

“It would be really hard right?! That’s exactly how hard it is for this guy to help him. How easy would it be for him to give up and walk away?”

“Super easy!”

“It would be! Look at him, he already needs a break!”

Usually we’re around minute two in the video and at this point the turtle really is taking a break.

“He needs a drink and a snack and probably wants to go hang out with his other turtle friends who didn’t get themselves into this situation! Let’s see what he does.”

I skip through the video by 30ish second intervals making a big deal about how hard he is still trying. When we get to minute four, I take a vote to see who thinks he’s going to be able to do it and who thinks he’s going to give up.
They watch in anticipation and every class I’ve had starts to cheer the little turtle on. One class even chanted, “You can flip him! You can flip him!” and clapped loudly and applauded when the turtle landed on his feet.

“Yayy! He did it! His turtle friend is now on his feet and ready to go. How do you think he feels now?”

I get a mix of happy, excited, calmer, etc.

“What I want you to remember about this video is that it was difficult for this turtle to accomplish this. He had to work really hard, but in the end it was totally worth it because he might have saved the other turtle’s life. It may not always be easy to help someone else, but it is almost always worth it.”

I then move into my situation card game.
“I have some cards here that have situations on them that challenge you to help out, to be turtle flippers, just like the turtle in our video. Let’s do a few together.”

I read three or four situations and let them answer in a class discussion format. We then give every student a card and have them utilize the stand up, hands up, pair up Kagan Strategy to partner up and discuss their cards.  

They each stand up, put their hands up in the air, find a partner and put their hands down. Students who still need a partner look for someone with their hands still up. Once they are all partnered up, they read their card to their partner and their partner answers. The other partner then reads their card and waits for an answer. After a few minutes, I say, “switch cards, hands up, pair up”. The students switch cards and are off to find a new partner.
When ready, I collect all the cards and have all the kids go back to their seats.

We then start on our activity sheet. I put the sheet up on the overhead and have a student read the sheet and then we talk about what they are supposed to do with the activity sheet.
After they understand that I want them to draw a picture and write a sentence about how they can be helpful, I pass out the sheets and let them get to work.

It is so fun to see where their minds go!

When finished, I let them keep the worksheets as a fun memory of our time together. Some teachers have decided to collect the sheets and put them in the student’s leadership notebook. I love that I am doing a lesson the teachers feel is worthy to include in such an important notebook.

Download your own copy of the “Will You Help Flip the Turtle?” cards HERE.


Download your own copy of the “I Can Be Helpful” activity sheet HERE.

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