Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Storytime: Help Me!

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

After the break from school, you may wish to consider this picture book for storytime

Help Me! by Paul Geraghty is a very nice realistic fiction story about what we may consider to be unusual acts of kindness in the animal kingdom: a crocodile (or was it an alligator?) saving a baby turtle (instead of eating it), a hippopotamus helping to save an impala from a pack of wild dogs, etc. The story's impact comes from the fact that, according to the author, these stories are based on true tales of animal kindness.

A teacher/parent may see this book as a way to support a unit on empathy and kindness. During or after the reading, teachers/parents can ask questions such as:

1). What do you think the elephant is going to do? (during reading)
2). What do you think is going to happen to the baby turtle? (during reading)

The previous two questions help students build their predicting skills. Once they have given their ideas, note them on chart paper or on the board and then turn the page and tell the class "let's read to find out what will happen insha'Allaah". Turn and read the page to see if students predictions were correct.

You can also ask:

3). What reason do you think the pack of wild dogs did not attack the hippopotamus? (after reading)
4). How do you think the hippopotamus putting his mouth around the impala helps it to heal and get better insha'Allaah? (after reading)

These type of questions help students strengthen their ability to form hypothesis. If you choose to, you can lead the class on a research journey to help them discover what a hippopotamus putting its mouth around the impala does for the impala. Or you can do a bit of research (with your class) about other known incidents of elephants helping other creatures. You can also (most important) help students draw parallels to what they read to any examples in the Quraan or Sunnah (if possible). For example, the elephant does not smash the turtle but instead turns it over so that it can move again freely and not get crushed. Ask students, do you know of any story in the Quraan or from the many ahadith where a small creature was about to be crushed by a larger one (Sulaiman and the ants) or a larger creature helped a smaller one? (the man or woman helps the thirsty dog by taking off his/her shoe and getting water from a well for it).

This book can support a classroom unit study on kindness and how Allaah is the Most Kind and how He loves that we show kindness toward others and help others (including animals). You can ask students to brainstorm some of the ways that Allaah is Kind to His Creation and led them to the understanding that we can never count the many, many ways that Allaah is Kind to us and how we must be thankful for His Kindness. You can also bring examples of the Prophet -sallallaahu alayhi wa salam- and the many examples of his kindness toward people and animals. To conclude, you can ask students to talk about ways they can be kind and help them (if needed) form concrete examples that are within their ability to do insha'Allaah. You can then help them come up with ways to implement their ideas insha'Allaah (i.e. helping father wash the car, helping younger sibling with homework, etc.).

What ways might you use this book in your home/classroom when teaching about kindness?

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