Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 5:00PM
Vlinder CT PLLC in character strengths, language, social cognition

Growing Book By Book and two other bloggers have been putting on "Family Dinner Book Club" for the past few years (you can find more information about it HERE). When I saw that this year's theme was highlighting different 'character strengths' each month, I decided to follow along. I'm using their monthly ideas as a jumping off point to further encourage speech and language development, social-emotional intelligence, increase world knowledge, and develop critical thinking skills in therapy. Bonus: ideas for family carryover are already done!

Our focus character strength for March was FAIRNESS.

I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.  ~Albert Einstein

Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need.  ~Rick Riordan

The above two quotes illustrate the difficulty in understanding the concept of FAIRNESS. In some situations, fair means everyone gets the same. In the olympics, if two individuals (or teams) tie for gold, both get gold medals. That is considered fair. Sometimes, however, what is fair does not look the same. When I go to my doctor for a sinus infection, I do not want a band-aid (because that is what everyone is getting), I want the treatment I need to get rid my infection. Likewise, I do not want the gentleman sitting next to me in the waiting room to receive a band-aid (or the same medication as me) for his back pain. What is fair would be for each of us to get the treatment we need to feel better.

Not only do I want the children I work with to learn to treat others (and themselves) with fairness (everyone at all times), but also they are all at risk for being treated UNfairly because of their diagnoses and individual challenges. I want them to learn to recognize when they are being treated UNfairly and to stand up for themselves. I found an interactive PowerPoint from Eve Coates on Teachers Pay Teachers about Fairness (also part of her Character Education PowerPoint Bundle #1). This was a good introduction to the topic of fairness for my elementary-middle school clients, and provided a good jumping off point for a discussion of how they can treat others fairly.

While exploring the internet for other ideas, I stumbled upon a few short videos that ended up being very effective with all of my kids:

The first one we watched was an oldie-but-goodie from Sesame Street: Cookie Choosing. This was a great discussion starter for fair not always meaning equal. It also allowed me to bring in some social cognition (how is Cookie Monster feeling? Why? What does Ernie do to try to make his friend feel better?). We also talked about whether or not they thought Ernie had been fair (and I made my case for why I thought he was).

The next one we watched was Monkey cooperation and fairness. This clip inspired a discussion about the 'risk' that is sometimes involved in being fair to others. The first monkey took a risk and gave the tool to monkey #2, hoping that monkey #2 will share the spoils that become accessible because of his good will. Will he be rewarded?

The third and final clip we watched was Character Counts: Fairness Style, which inspired our craft for this month's focus theme. This is a video made by a 5th grade class. My favorite part is the sound track, but all of my kids related in some way to it, and even picked up on some of the subtler aspects that I wasn't sure they would get.

In therapy sessions throughout March we also:

With my high school clients, every week we read and discussed quotes on fairness, followed by them writing a short statement about what the quote means to them / how they can apply the meaning to their lives.

Fairness is man's ability to rise above his prejudices.  ~Wes Fessler

Head on over to this blog post on Growing Book By Book for free materials if you would like to highlight the concept of fairness at home. There is a list of suggested books, discussion questions, and links to suggested activities and accompanying dinner menu for the March Family Dinner Book Club on Fairness. 

For more pictures of what we did in therapy, check out the FAIRNESS album on the Vlinder Facebook page. I also shared several quotes on fairness throughout the month.

Justice cannot be for one side along, but must be for both.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Related Resources

New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer 44 pgs of Common Core Activities. (from Fun to Learn on Teachers Pay Teachers)

Respect, Fairness and Friendship Activities (from Amber Polk on Teachers Pay Teachers)


Our April focus word is LOVE! Stay tuned...


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