Teaching children to determine importance can be difficult but this tangible lesson provides a great way to help students make sense of this. This is an adaptation from a lesson by Tanny McGregor in:
The original lesson is about what is inside the teacher's purse and the importance of each item. My purse never holds much and I rarely even carry it so as I started to gather things for a purse, I realized why not do something that all of my students know about - the local water park. I started with a bag full of items that I wanted to take to the local water park. Students had to classify them as very important, a little important or not important at all to having a fun day at the water park. As I pulled each one out, I tried to be as convincing as possible about why each item was very important to my day. Once I got to the end of the items, it became fun. Here are all the items I used:
- Sunscreen - lotion and stick
- Hand Sanitizer
- Cell phone
- Water bottle
- Hand lotion
- Granola bar
- Pass to the watermark
- Ponytail band
Now for the fun part! We tried to come up with a class list of importance and we needed to all agree. To help with this, we first agreed that very important could only include items that would ruin the day at the water park if I forgot to bring them. A little important meant that I might want them, but I could still have a blast without them and not important at all included things that wouldn't make or break the day.
The discussion was great and it was fairly easy to get everyone to agree that a day at the water park without a swimsuit, sunscreen or my pass would be miserable. But after that, boy did the discussion rage. My favorite part was the granola bar and bottle of water. Those items are not allowed to be brought into the park so some kids thought that they were not important. Others knew ways to sneak them in and thought they were a little important. It became a pretty heated discussion. But more importantly my students learned that it's OK to have different opinions, you need to justify your opinion with facts and examples, and that sometimes you have to really think hard to find out what's most important. It was a great lesson, but now we need to practice applying these skills to our reading.