They’re all the rage these past few years as Marvel unleashes movies in its Avenger’s series. From movies to purses to backpacks and now even to library summer reading programs, it’s hard to miss the superhero sensation! Walking through my local library, looking at the capes and hero emblems decorating the walls, I had to wonder: why are we so captivated by these masked vigilantes? I believe there are two reasons. First, superheroes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things! They are standing up for the little guy and making the world a better place. Superheroes do what we are often too afraid to do ourselves.
The second reason for our superhero fascination is captured in the library’s summer reading tagline: “Every Hero Has a Story”. As much as we love to watch superhuman people perform amazing feats of bravery, we love it even more when we are given a glimpse of their humanity. We appreciate the real-life struggles each hero faces because we see ourselves. We begin to think, “If he can do it, maybe I can too…”
The truth is, there are no superheroes, but there are heroes.
They are ordinary people with ordinary stories who made extraordinary choices.
It is those choices that transform them. This is one of the most important lessons we can instill in our children. Not only can children look up to superheroes, they can BE superheroes! As our children gear up for another school year, this is an especially important message. School is filled with many wonderful things, but it can, unfortunately, also be full of hardships and trials. As hard as they try, teachers cannot be everywhere and situations will arise when children will have to take care of matters themselves. So what can we do to prepare our kids to make the choice to be heroes instead of bullies this school year?
Here is a list of activities to get you started:
1: Act like a hero
Talk with your kids about what makes someone a hero. Why do we look up to heroes? What qualities do we admire and how can we replicate them in our everyday lives? A fun way to visualize this is to create a collage. Have your child cut out pictures of people he or she admires (they don’t necessarily have to be superheroes) along with words that describe that admirable person such as honor, truth, and courage. Help them to see that this is how a hero behaves.
Discuss a few small ways your child can be a hero at school, such as always being respectful and honest with his or her teacher, sitting with someone at lunch who doesn’t have a friend, or refusing to participate in bullying activities. Marvel actually made some awesome special edition comic book covers in support of bully prevention month that show favorite superheroes preventing bullying. These could serve as great inspiration for ways your child can be a hero instead of a bully!
Also be sure to check out an earlier blog post we wrote called In a New Light for some tips and books to prepare your child to deal with bullying.
A quick word of caution: kids are still kids and while it is our job to teach them how to handle life on their own, we need to be sure to let them know when it is time to call for adult backup. Hey, even Batman called for reinforcements sometimes!
2. Talk like a hero
This is a tip I picked up from the fantastic blogger Carrots are Orange. When her children are fighting and the inevitable name calling begins, she asks them the simple question: “Is this how heroes talk? Would a hero say ‘stupid’?” If mean names and insults start flying, recall the hero collages and ask your child if he or she is acting very much like a hero right now. Chances are, they will see their words more clearly.
3. Dress like a hero
4. Be a hero!
With your child, act out different scenarios they might encounter at school, such as one student calling another stupid, gossiping about the teacher, pushing, or being left out at recess. Talk about how a hero would behave in these situations. What are words, phrases, and actions that could help the situation instead of make it worse? Discuss how it probably won’t be easy and it might even be a little scary to speak up and go against the flow. It might be hard to choose kind words over angry ones or to not call names in retaliation, but remind them that
difficult is not impossible.
Especially not for a hero! Remind your child to look down at his or her hero bracelet and choose to be a hero today. And remind him or her that sometimes heroes call for backup. Make a list of adults your child can go to in times of trouble and discuss what those situations might look like. Think of this list as a superhero tool-belt.
I hope you find these tips helpful as you and your child prepare to begin another school year!
To be a real hero today, consider donating to these worthwhile causes that work hard each and every day to end bullying, comfort victims of bullying, and make the world a better place:
Stand For The Silent
Small Acts Big Change
Stomp Out Bullying
Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center
To help young children (ages 4-8) understand the issue of bullying check out This is A. Blob by L.A Kefalos. In a beautifully illustrated tale of a playground bully’s antics, readers discover that A. Blob and, perhaps others like it, may not be exactly what they seem. Through this story, children are encouraged to put themselves in the shoes of another and consider what can be done to help bullies and the victims of bullying.
Let us know in the comments what your secret superhero name would be!
Books are a fantastic way to learn.
As we read, we begin to see ourselves and our own situations through those occurring on the page. Diving into adventures and immersing ourselves into created worlds, we hardly notice that lessons are being taught. Yes, books are an incredible teaching tool, and, as many parents and teachers have learned, the impact books have is compounded exponentially when combined with discussion and/or hands-on connective activities. We know this, so we bring you:
For those who may not know, This is A. Blob is a 20 page illustrated children’s book that explores the topic of bullying. Written by Lori Kefalos, author of several award-nominated animated shorts, This is A. Blob is the first of a series following the antics of A. Blob, a slimy, purple, blob-like creature who wreaks havoc on the elementary school playground with its bullying ways. As the story progresses, however, readers learn that there might be more to A. Blob than meets the eye. Along with its powerful illustrations and rhymed verse for early readers, this story invites children to put themselves in the shoes of another and encourages readers to consider why bullies behave the way they do – and start to consider what can be done to help.
This is A. Blob Slime is a craft designed to help kids make connections with the story, inspire conversations, and internalize the message of the book. With school just around the corner, this is the perfect craft to begin discussions about the bullying that children will often face as they walk the halls.
We did this craft with 3 different children: One boy, J, age 4, and two girls, S, age 7, and N, age 5.
First, we sat down and read the book together
As we read, we let the children make their own comments, prompting them occasionally with questions such as “How do you think A. Blob is making the children feel?” or “What would you do if you were on the playground?” This started the girls thinking more deeply about the story. After the story was finished, we talked a bit more about bullying and standing up to bullies. It was interesting to see the different personalities of the kids shine through in their reactions—a good reminder that all children view the world differently and as caretakers we must be sensitive to their unique needs as we teach and equip them to face that world.
Both S and N responded right way that A. Blob was a “big meany”. They quickly recognized that this was why it had no friends. S said she would befriend A. Blob because it was lonely and that’s why it was being mean. This is how she would help it to be nice and how she would stop the bullying. N took a more direct approach and stated she would tell A. Blob to “Stop! Just stop being mean!” With the book and conversations fresh in their minds, we moved into the kitchen to begin the craft. They were very excited to make A. Blob!
Step 1: Gather your materials
You will need: 1tsp Borax, ½ C warm water, 1 8oz bottle of glue, 2 nonstick mixing bowls, 2 spoons, food coloring, plastic baggies (This made enough goo for 3 people to have decent sized globs to play with)
Step 2: Mix your ingredients!
-Empty entire bottle of glue into mixing bowl
-Fill empty glue bottle with warm water and pour into bowl with glue; mix
-Add desired color to glue/water mixture
-In the second bowl, mix 1tsp Borax with ½ C warm water
-Slowly add the Borax mixture to the glue mixture. Use hands to finish mixing for best results
As we added our ingredients, we talked about the ingredients that make up a bully. What makes people act mean? I pointed out how, on their own, the ingredients were not sticky, but as they mixed, they created a big gooey blob, like A. Blob. In real life, our harsh words and mean actions mix together and add up to a big, sticky, mean mess that can hurt others badly. This seemed to make sense to them.
Step 3: Play and learn with your slime!
One interesting thing happened that I didn’t expect while we were making the slime and that was role playing. Once the goo was mixed, N picked it up and said “I’m a big mean blob! I’m going to throw punches and be mean!” We didn’t have too much time and the kids were very energetic, but I can see doing this again and having N play out a situation similar to when the girl was mean to her and using the role play to try to understand why she (or the blob) was being mean and what could be done to help the situation.
S made a connection to the book when I didn’t expect it, too. She picked up the goo and let it fall down and said “It has no form or shape”, quoting from the book. This allowed me to mention how liquids will take the shape of whatever container they’re in. Not only is this a scientific principle, it can be connected to the story by saying that maybe if the container is love and friendship, the blob will take on that shape and stop bullying. Isn’t it cool how kids will make their own learning connections that we never even thought of??
Another fun addition N and S thought of was to put faces on the plastic baggies (We put the goo in baggies after we were done playing with it, but if you have a kid who can never keep his craft on the table, putting it in a baggie from the get-go might be helpful!). This way, they could show how the blob was feeling. Neat! You could even have a “before” and “after” blob to show how A. Blob felt and acted before intervention and after.
Always looking for a teaching opportunity, I tried to sneak some science into the craft, too. Because we only had red and blue dye, we were able to reinforce that blue and red make purple. We also talked about how the Borax would react with the glue to make a new substance. We hypothesized about what would happen if we added more water or more Borax. N thought more water would make the mixture “purpler” =)
Overall, all three kids loved doing the craft. It was such a cool way to mix science, literature, and feelings. Reading the story opened up the discussion on bullying and the process of making the craft and playing with the tactile goo was a fun and useful tool to keep that discussion going. We were able to talk about the mean girl, how her actions made N feel, what we can do when we see someone being bullied, different reasons why people bully, and how even mean people (and blobs!) can change. The book and the craft ended up being great, nonthreatening ice breakers for a very difficult topic.
Bonus- the goo wipes off of surfaces very easily
Caution: It will stick to clothes. Make sure the kids are wearing something durable. The glue will wash out, but the food coloring might stain lighter clothing. I would recommend plastic aprons for more energetic children, just to be on the safe side.
As the school year draws near, consider picking up a copy of This is A. Blob and trying the craft out for yourself as a way to prepare your children for the bullying they may confront in class. Get creative and experiment, adding bits to the goo to represent different parts of the bully or writing a storyline for your blob. Share your results with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and let us know in the comments what books or activities you’ve used to introduce and discuss bullying with your kids!
Purchase This is A. Blob from our website or Amazon
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.