Resilience Through an Elementary Lens
When I first began teaching elementary school, many of the topics were a bit hazy for me. Sure, I had learned at some point about Westward Expansion when I was in third grade – but I couldn’t recall many facts except that a remedy for snake bites was to suck the venom out of a wound (thank you, Oregon Trail!). And yet, now I was responsible not only for teaching an eight-week unit on Westward Expansion, but I would have to create the unit as our failing district didn’t have adopted resources or shared materials.
So, one way that I would begin to immerse myself into any given topic was to search online for related kid-facing materials. Many programs, websites, and even images that are online sum up the key points and “need to know” information quite succinctly for a kid audience. These elementary resources would help me form an outline. And from there, I would peel back the layers of information and research and add in the fun facts and more in-depth details to make the approach my own.
While the idea of resilience or being resilient is not foreign to most, it is a bit more new-new in terms of it being explicitly addressed and taught in our everyday classrooms. With a renewed focus on social-emotional learning (SEL), “soft” skills like grit, perseverance, and coping have fallen into the core curricular teachers’ laps and been added to the list of items they are responsible for teaching.
So, in the spirit of snake bites, I have rounded up a list of recommended resources for elementary students that might help you become more familiar with the idea of resilience. Watch some videos, review some posters (don’t have to buy — or even print — to gain some new ideas), read a couple of picture books, and explore some websites:
- Sesame Street’s Bye Bye for Now
- ClassDojo’sPerseverance for Students
- BrainPOP’s Social-Emotional Learning collection and theme page
- Pete the Cat by E. Litwin
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
- A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
- Ish (Creatrilogy) by Peter H. Reynolds
- PBS Kids’ Arthur Family Health: Resilience
- Jennyknappenberger.com’s Growth with Grit
- PositivePsychology.com’s 27 Resilience Activities and Worksheets for Students and Adults (+PDFs)
- Tom’s of Maine’s Building Resilience in Children Using Fun Games
And you can find more on Pinterest!
Darri Stephens is a former member of Teach for America and a seasoned educator, with more than 10 years’ experience in Los Angeles and New York City public schools. She’s a published author, who has also worked for education-focused media companies including Nickelodeon, IMAX, EdSurge, and Discovery Education. With master’s degrees in education from both Harvard and Stanford, she’s passionate about creative curriculum development that pushes boundaries, especially considering the influx of today’s technologies. Her most recent positions as Senior Director of Content at Common Sense and Director of Education at Wonder Workshop underscore her love of instructional design, writing, and the ever-changing edtech world — so much so that she has now founded her own content consulting agency, Darrow Ink.