Sometimes I feel like a porcupine, innocent and curious. I have a big imagination and know how to protect myself.”

This is how the small, square book began.

I was browsing for First Nations themed books in our wonderful library. By the time I finished this book by Danielle Daniel, I was hooked and had a plan to engage my students in the new BC curriculum.

The new BC curriculum requires educators to intentionally teach 6 core competencies, focusing on developing well rounded, lifelong learners. The government will eventually require that each student do a self reflection at the end of the year, to put with their report card in their student file.

We began our project with each student in my class picking an animal and then creating a web of words to describe how that animal might feel. We looked through books, asked our classmates and talked about each animal.

After we had a web of describing words, we discussed which words could also describe us. I gave my class the example of a lion. I said to them, “Sometimes I feel like a lion, mean and vicious. Or I could say, sometimes I feel like a lion, strong and wise.”

“Which words describe me better?” I asked them.

As I stood there in front of them, I hoped they would pick the latter, but either way this created some good discussion. Then I sent them off into a speed dating activity. If a word they had on their paper, also described them, they would mark it with a check. If it did not describe them, they would mark it with an X.

One student asked another, “Am I really hyper?” The second student replied, “Yes, you can sometimes be really hyper.”

A different group of students was sitting and asking their partner if they were colourful. The partner replied, You usually wear colourful clothes, but your skin in not that colourful.

It was amazing to hear their grade 1 discussions, talking about their attributes and strengths. 

The end product was a picture of the student, which they changed into the animal they chose, with a sentence using their animal and two words describing the feelings they share with this animal. Each of my students are more aware of who they are, even if I can’t put this art project in their student file.