Summer Learning Series – Part 1 – Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

As a former school counselor, one of my favorite things about my job was going into the classrooms and teaching a guidance curriculum.  This included character education and I would love to share some fun little lessons that I have adapted from The Heartwood Ethics Curriculum, which is what I used at my first school.  Today I would like to share the story of Ish and an easy lesson you can do at home.

Materials Needed:

  • Book – Ish by Peter H. Reynolds (available through Watauga County Library)
  • Paper
  • Crayons, paint, pens/pencils, colored pencils, or markers, etc.
  • Any art materials you may have in your home

The Story:  Ish is the story of Ramon and how he learns about having the courage to draw by being encouraged.  Ramon loves to draw and is proud of his drawings until his brother makes fun of them.  Ramon is discouraged until he learns how much his sister, Marisol, admires his artwork.  Marisol encourages Ramon to continue drawing “ish-ly”, instead of worrying about making his drawings “perfect.”  I won’t spoil the entire story for you.  I still enjoy reading it, myself!

Character Trait:  I used this book to teach COURAGE/ENCOURAGEMENT to my first grade classes.

Activity:  Using your art materials, work with your children to create “ish” drawings or write “ish” poems.  For example, in the story, Ramon draws a vase and when he says it’s not very good, Marisol tells him it’s “vase-ish”.  It doesn’t have to be perfect – it can be whatever you like!  Use this story to teach your children about doing their best with their work and play and having courage to express themselves with art.  You can admire each other’s drawings and poems and have fun doing it.  After you have collected a few “ish” drawings/poems, make a book for your family.  Have each person present their “ish” creations to the family and share encouraging words with what you like about their drawing/poem.  Have fun!

My Reflection:  I loved this story because it allowed for creative expression in the classroom and practice with how to say encouraging words to one another.  The story shows how a young child appreciates another child’s work and how each person can do their best with creative expression and it doesn’t have to be “just right”, according to someone else’s standards.  Reading this story recently brought back a lot of great memories in the classroom!  I hope you enjoy this little lesson, maybe on a rainy day or a sunny day in the backyard.


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