Teaching Problem Solving through Children's Literature

Teaching Problem Solving through Children's Literature

Teaching Problem Solving through Children's Literature

Teaching Problem Solving through Children's Literature


Helps general and special education teachers empower students to independently solve problems by teaching them how characters in children's literature books solved similar problems, Students are also taught a problem solving strategy that they can apply to solve problems in any situation.


This book is designed as a tool for teachers, counselors, and others working with elementary-age children to use as one component of a proactive instructional classroom management plan that emphasizes active problem solving and appropriate social skills. It is organized into nine chapters, with the first chapter explaining the key components of problem solving using children's literature and providing an introduction to these concepts. The following eight chapters contain lesson plans on issues such as bullying, self-concept, friendship, and dealing with differences. Each chapter contains five lesson plans using current children's literature books. In each chapter, all lesson plans are grouped by topic, but many lessons contain subtopics, because issues often overlap. For example, one lesson's primary focus may be on friendship and its secondary focus on responding to teasing.

These lessons are designed for teachers to easily integrate into the literacy or affective curriculum of the typical school day. It is preferable to discuss and teach these important topics within a natural learning context involving reading and writing (Cartledge and Milburn 1995). Teaching in the natural context is important for two primary reasons. First, from the teacher's viewpoint, creating a separate time to discuss social issues is difficult when schools are often pressured with increasing academic test scores. Second, students generalize and maintain the information more easily when problem solving is learned within reading and writing activities rather than practiced in isolation.

Additionally, the lessons in this book promote cooperation and shared problem solving because each lesson plan contains a format that promotes guided discussions and reinforcement activities. Each lesson contains 10 suggested questions for teachers to use during guided discussions. These questions do not create an exhaustive list but are samples to help teachers begin class discussions. Teachers are encouraged to create their own questions to match the interests of their students. There is one problem-solving practice scenario and one reproducible reinforcement activity for each lesson in the book. Again, these are suggested to complement the children's literature story. Many of the lesson activities can be interchanged. Students sometimes suggest follow-up activities that may complement the lesson or may be useful for a future lesson.

After using the first lesson plan, instructors should focus on teaching students in grade one and above the I SOLVE interpersonal problem-solving strategy for identifying their problematic issue and examining potential solutions for solving the issue. Once taught, practiced, and mastered, students can apply this strategy to any difficulty they experience within their school environment or community.

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