Dr. Seuss teaches peace - Horton Hears A Who! 

"Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are." Hafsat Abiola

Horton Hears A Who (treating people with respect and a person's a person, no matter how small). Dr. Seuss wrote Horton Hears a Who to address post-war democratization in Japan (treating Japanese people with respect and really listening to them). (3rd-4th graders)

Background/ History

Published in 1954, this Dr. Seuss book includes characters from past novels, (Horton), and characters he uses for future stories. Initially, Horton Hears A Who does not seem to have a direct historical correlation.  A rhyming children’s book, it addresses the concepts of friendship and community.  Although there have been many attempts to extrapolate meanings from the novel to promote a given political and morale view, Dr. Seuss clearly intended for the focus to be these very basic yet crucial elements in society.

Objectives

  • Students discuss the themes of community and teamwork.
  • Students complete activities to emphasize the importance of working together.
  • Students analyze applications of these themes in their own communities and personal lives.
  • Students discuss the importance of differences.

Instructions:

1. Hand out copies of the book and have the students read it aloud providing many students an opportunity to read. 

2. Start a class discussion with open ended questions such as:

    a. What do you think Dr. Seuss meant when he said a person is a person no matter how small?

    b. Why do you think Horton was so determined to help the Whos even though the other animals were making fun of him?

    c. What difference did Jojo’s voice make for the Whos?  What do you think this shows about community?

3. Transition into a class activity by going outside or clearing a large space and getting into a circle.

4. Begin with a ball of yarn and ask one person in the circle to throw the ball of yarn to someone else in the circle without letting go of the end of the yarn.  Go around the circle and invite students to say what he or she likes best about the person who caught the ball of yarn. 

5. Continue around the circle until everyone gets the ball at least once, making sure students never let go of their piece.

6. If a student drops their piece of yarn, without making them feel at fault, make note of how the intricate web falls apart without everyone’s teamwork, and then begin again.

7. Once everyone has gotten the yarn, have everyone carefully lay down their piece and see what they have created as a team.

8. Next play on the screen the Horton song from the Dr. Seuss DVD or hand out a copy of the lyrics to Sally Rogers’ song “What Can One Little Person Do?”

9. Teach the students the song and sing it together.

Evaluation

Lead a class discussion about both the activity and the song. Prompt responses based on how the two have similar meanings, what they demonstrate, and how they think these lessons may be helpful in their lives, whether it be on the playground or at home.

Optional follow up activities

1. The Hula Hoop game - Students stand in a circle holding hands. They begin with a hula hoop around two students linked hands. They then must work together to move the hula hoops over and around each student as fast as possible, so they must help each other find fast ways of working together.  This just another activity that demonstrates a very similar message as the web activity in an interactive and fun way.

2. Show the TV special or the longer movie version of the story.

 

Parent adaptation

Background/ History

Published in 1954, this Dr. Seuss book includes characters from past novels, (Horton), and characters he uses for future stories. Initially, Horton Hears A Who does not seem to have a direct historical correlation.  A rhyming children’s book, it addresses the concepts of friendship and community.  Although there have been many attempts to extrapolate meanings from the novel to promote a given political and morale view, Dr. Seuss clearly intended for the focus to be these very basic yet crucial elements in society.

Objectives

  • Students discuss the themes of community and teamwork.
  • Students complete activities to emphasize the importance of working together.
  • Students analyze applications of these themes in their own communities and personal lives.
  • Students discuss the importance of differences.

Instructions:

1. Hand out the book and have your child read it. 

2. Start a discussion with open ended questions such as:

    a. What do you think Dr. Seuss meant when he said a person is a person no matter how small?

    b. Why do you think Horton was so determined to help the Whos even though the other animals were making fun of him?

    c. What difference did Jojo’s voice make for the Whos?  What do you think this shows about community?

Evaluation

Lead a discussion about providing examples of how this lesson can be helpful whether it be on the playground or at home.

Optional follow up activities

1. Show the TV special or the longer movie version of the story.

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