This year, while planning my bullying unit, I couldn’t wait to use the 3-part “Weird” series by Erin Frankel. This post is about those amazing books and the lessons that came out of them.
Originally found on Vanessa’s blog, the Savvy School Counselor, I created some lesson materials to follow reading each book with my 3rd and 4th grade friends.
What I love about these books is that they are a series – my students were intrigued by the first page in “Weird” and wanted to read them all in one day! They loved that the same characters were in each book and that they got to learn more about each every time we read together.
From a School Counselor’s stand point, I am pleased that each story shares insight into bullying from different points of view. “Weird” is from Luisa’s perspective (the target), “Dare” is from Jayla’s perspective (the bystander, and as we come to learn, also a target and a bully at times), and finally, “Tough” is from Sam’s perspective (the child doing the bullying, who has also experienced bullying herself). I felt that by reading the entire series, my students gained a lot from hearing all sides of bullying and how it affects everyone in the school, teachers included.
Another amazing thing about these books is they each come with discussion questions and activity ideas in the back. I created documents for activities that I used (you can get access to each document by clicking on the title).
Weird Activity – I ended up using my school’s die-cut machine to make hundreds of polka dots for this activity. Each student got 3 plain white dots and wrote negative thoughts that Luisa had in the book, or they could use their own (for example, “I’m weird” or “No one likes me”). Next, each student got 3 colorful dots and wrote positive thoughts that Luisa had or their own (for example, “I’m unique” or “I’m proud of myself”). Then, we all gathered around the recycling bin, crumpled our negative thoughts, and threw them in. We discussed how we can recycle our negative thoughts into positive and how that can make us feel good. Many students chose to share some of their positive thoughts with the class, and some used their colorful dots to decorate their notebooks. The students really enjoyed doing this!
Dare Activity – the second book is all about bystanders and upstanders. So this activity page gave students practice with what they might say if they see someone being bullied. We discussed that Jayla had to prepare herself so she felt ready to handle bullying, and that’s why we practiced coming up with our own words to be an upstander. At the end, many students read their words aloud to the class.
Tough Activity – a huge part of the third book was about Sam learning why she was acting mean and how she could get what she wanted without hurting others. So, my students used Sam’s behavior in the book to fill out the worksheet. We discussed in length how she was acting tough so she could feel in control, but was actually causing more problems for herself and others by doing it that way, and learned that it felt better to be kind. Although this was one activity suggested in the back of the book, I’d like to do something different next time because this one was lengthy and many students needed help to complete it. I’m thinking of doing something with hearts and kindness…still thinking!
Here’s one website with activity ideas and more information about bullying. Check it out: theweirdseries.com
One last thought – although my 3rd graders absolutely loved the series, I’d recommend saving the books for when they’re in 4th grade. In my experience, my 4th graders seemed to have greater insight and understanding into the characters and got a lot more out of the follow-up activities. I think the “Weird” series will become my 4th grade bullying unit from now on!