From Fostering Proactive Behavior to Nurturing Environmental Values. Care is the Connecting Keyword.
Updated: Apr 26
At the shade of an old tree an elephant observes an interesting scene. A small mouse is chased away by a bigger cat, which get chased away in his turn by a dog. Then comes a lion. Sure of his powers, he quickly scares off the dog. Suddenly feeling lonely, he rests at the shade. Surprisingly the elephant speaks up, telling him that if he didn't chase away the dog, he would have had a friend to play with. He and the other animals should learn from the kids how to be good friends.
This is the story "In the Shade of an Old Tree" from my book Creative Children Like the Animals of the World. The children are invited to give advice on friendship. I've heard some very good such advice, working with children throughout the years.
I used this story also for my Anti-Bullying STEAM Curriculum. Actually, it promotes proactive behavior. We focus too much on the negative. This book, which is also available as a downloadable PDF, will give you some very interesting ideas on creating an environment of care and collaboration elevating social emotional learning. Classroom management will become positive and productive.
Observe for a moment this story's painting.
Isn't it great that mother nature loves her
creatures diverse? If there were only elephants or only mouses, there wouldn't have been food for everyone. There's room for everybody. The herbivore mouse eats plants from the ground. The carnivores eat the herbivores. The elephant, who surprisingly is a herbivore like the little mouse, eats leaves from up a tree.
Elephants don't bully. They let the diversity around them flourish. They might interfere if their is wrong going on. They're out of the food chain.
This is a great way to introduce the food chain to kids, and to explain why men mustn't interfere in nature. When a rain-forest is cleared the herbivores that have fed on the plants cannot live there anymore. Then the carnivores that fed on the herbivores cannot live there.
Today I had a new thought. What if those carnivores in the story are a metaphor for man, dominating nature and practically affecting damage, reducing life?
Covid-19 gave a breath of air to our world. I hope it stays so. Now I don't hear an airplane landing every 5 minutes. It's great! The sky is blue and clear. Birds are flying. What I hear is children playing downstairs. And this is music to my ears like the songbird.
We should all listen to the elephant's advice. Learning to be friends means caring for others and being treated the same way. We certainly want children to learn that. Maybe before we can teach that, we need to set an example and care for the world. Reciprocity is the name of the game. That's the way to create a win-win solution.
Check out Creative Children Like the Animals of the World - our best children's book social emotional learning.
You can also find the story in Raising Creative Thinkers Series: Mother Nature, if you want a short and simple book.
I think children know how to care better than we do.