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As a class, we read The Marshmallow Incident written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett.
This is one of my favorite books because it is a great way to start a discussion on differences with students. The plot includes two sides of a kingdom (right handed vs. left handed) that can’t mix! The line between the two sides is guarded by the ambidextrous knights! It is a cute story and leads to really good class discussions.
As a class, we discussed what divided the characters in the story (hint: right handed vs. left handed) and related it to things that divide people today. I never cease to be amazed by the thoughts and ideas students have! Without prompting, some of the things students mentioned that divide people today were race, religion, weight, what kind of hair someone has, the clothes you might wear, and whether you’re a good student or not. We had a great discussion about how differences shouldn’t separate people.
I like to include a hands-on, STEAM related activity with most activities. For this story, we decided that “bridges” help bring people together. We made metaphorical bridges to show how we might reach out “cross over the line” and welcome others! I had a PowerPoint with different images of bridges and a few key bridge designs. We discussed the variations and groups decided which one they wanted to attempt to make.
I did this activity with 12 classes (3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students). I originally thought that I would be able to reuse the toothpicks – Silly me! They were way too sticky and I didn’t have the time to deconstruct all the bridges before the next class came in. I ended up having this pack of 5000 toothpicks rush delivered with Amazon Prime. I just got generic marshmallows from the grocery store. I had the students work in groups so I could use less supplies (the struggles of Title I school and using my own budget to fund activities).