"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Learning that a mistake can be a good thing during Children's Book Week

This week my second graders and I read The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken. 

We are celebrating books and reading all week because it's Children's Book Week! Our continuing focus is reading books that help shape us as empathic people who are creative thinkers.
Prior to reading the story, we opened our circle with a discussion of mistakes. I invited students to share their definition of a mistake. I heard many comments that included the phrases by accident and not on purpose. With the understanding that a mistake is not a purposeful action. We moved onto when mistakes happen. The students shared things like: 

"I forgot to follow the steps"
"I missed a step in a problem"
"I went to the wrong car in a parking lot"
"I passed the ball to the wrong person"
"I sang the wrong note"
"I sang the wrong words"
"I built my tower too crooked"
"I drew my head too big"

The students quickly shifted from identifying mistakes to acknowledging that mistakes are learning opportunities.  I talked about how mistakes, big and small, and the way we approach them, help shape us and influence who we will become.  I shared with them how I once said something hurtful to a friend not realizing that it was hurtful until I saw my friend's reaction and then apologized. I shared that that new knowledge helped me be a better friend going forward.

Moving into the next part of our conversation, I talked about loving root beer floats and wondering aloud if that had been a mistake originally and that sometimes mistakes also result in unexpectedly great things  -- that Lego set that they forgot a step turned out to make something different and pretty cool or that note that was accidentally sung turned into neat harmony. The students were quick to share how mistakes have resulted in not only new learning but also new ideas and new things. 

It was time to read The Book of Mistakes. What follows are images form the first few pages. I received an advanced copy of the book, so the images and text below are not final, but the overall message of this stunningly-illustrated and richly-detailed book is. 

So begins The Book of Mistakes. An errant line here, a misshapen figure there, a splotch of ink here, and a smudge of ink there are all seen as possibilities for the creative mind.
The students wanted to stay on the final pages a pour over all the details. Could they find the mistakes? Absolutely not because what results is a rich and beautiful whole.

There was a lot to say about this book. It sparked many conversations and questions. We'll be continuing to discuss it here.

I put out pens and paper and invited the students to draw a picture of themselves doing something they love. The caveat was that they had to incorporate any mistakes into their drawing and see where it took them.

Arms that didn't quite work out become an opportunity 
to do some dancing.

Too short legs on a dog leave space for a rock for it to sit upon.

A misplaced tree become a rock in the grass.

A broad shoulder becomes hair.

Who knows where the next mistake will lead us?

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