Ask the class what it means to be brave? After listening to the children's responses, explain that being brave means a lot of different things, such as:
-Doing something that is really hard to do like trying to learn to ride a bike
-Getting a shot at the doctors even though it might hurt
-Saying "No" to someone who is trying to get you to do something that you know is wrong
-Trying to help yourself and others be happy even though you feel sad
Ask the class if they think it is possible to be scared and brave at the same time. Explain to the class in your own words some of the following ideas:
-It is okay to be scared sometimes and that brave people get scared too.
-Sometimes the bravest people are the ones who do what they are supposed to do even though they are scared.
-It's okay to be scared or have fears; being brave means that you try not to let those fears control how you live or act.
Tell the class that you're going to read them a story about a young monster. Ask them to think about what the monster is afraid of and how the monster acts brave. Read to the class the children's picture book, Brave Little Monster by Ken Baker and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes (published by HarperCollins; ISBN 0060286989).
Ask the class what Albert the monster was afraid of (Answer: children hiding in his room during bedtime).
Ask the class, even though Albert was afraid did he act brave. What are some of the brave things that Albert did (Possible answers: he asked his mom for help, he tried to scare the children away, he threw a smelly sock at his closet, etc.)?
Ask the class how they can act brave like Albert when they are afraid of something. Guide their answers toward some appropriate actions or responses.
Optional discussion for younger students to help them recognize some imaginary fears: Ask the class if they think Albert really saw a girl hiding in his closet? Suggest that maybe it was just a shadow or clothes hanging in his closet that were in the shape of a girl. Ask the class if they think Albert really heard a boy coloring under his bed. Suggest that sometimes the wind, home heater/AC, or other things make noises in the night and that maybe that's really what Albert heard. Ask the class if they think Albert really saw a boy and girl dancing outside his window. Suggest that maybe it was just the silhouette of the tree waving in the window. Explain that sometimes, like with Albert, our imaginations plays tricks on us, making us think we hear or see something that really isn't there.
Activity: Have the students use the lunch bags, crayons, yarn, and glue to make puppets of themselves being brave-these will be their brave puppets to help them be brave or act out being brave. As an optional activity, you can have the students make monster puppets instead.
For more information about the Brave Little Monster children's picture book, other teaching resources, and author visits to your school, check out Ken Baker's official web site at www.bravemonster.com.
Copyright 2001 by Ken Baker