Dr. Seuss teaches peace - Oh, the Places You'll Go! 

"If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children."  Gandhi

You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!" (2nd-4th graders)

Background/ History

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” was published in 1990 and was Dr. Seuss’s final published work before his death in 1991.  The story follows the main character through basic stages of life, using creations like “the waiting place” and scary dark paths as the challenges and difficulties everyone must face.  Dr. Seuss focuses however on the potential of the boy to transcend and overcome the many struggles of life and to achieve great things.  Like his other works, this story uses his infamous rhythmic and rhyming style and is filled with creative and imaginative scenes and characters.  What makes this short story unique, is his use of 2nd person writing, and his reference to the main character simply as “you”.  This allowed Dr. Seuss’s message in this book to be entirely universal and the book has become an iconic graduation gift since is release.

Objectives

  • Students discuss the future and their role in deciding it.
  • Students discuss the concept of the “balancing act” in life.
  • Students complete an activity to pinpoint their goals while recognizing their struggles.
  • Students discuss potential and self-motivation.

Instructions:

1. Hand out copies of the book and have the students read it in a read aloud providing many students a chance to read. 

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

  1. What does the author mean when he talks about “bang-ups” and “hang-ups”? Do you think you can control these events, and does everyone have them?
  2. Who do you think makes most of the decisions in your life?
  3. Dr. Seuss says “Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win? And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind?” Do you think there is always a right answer to these questions?
  4. What do you think Dr. Seuss means when he compares life to a great balancing act?  What different things do you balance in your life?

3. Transition into an activity by handing out 8.5” by 11” cardboard cut outs as the base for a collage.  (Students will also need glue sticks, scissors, and magazines).

4. Show the students how to fold their paper into thirds.  Then, in the first section, using cut outs from the magazines, they should represent everyday choices or challenges they face as well as activities or hobbies.

5. In the second section they should represent major challenges or “slumps” they have had to overcome in the past.

6. Finally, in the third section they should illustrate what their goals are for the future.  (What they see themselves doing in high school, college, careers etc.)

Evaluation

Ask for volunteers to share their projects.  Next lead a class discussion where you ask students how they overcame some of their challenges, whether it was losing a pet, getting sick, etc.  Use school as an example to discuss motivation.  For example, whether their parents make them do homework, or they do it on their own. Discuss the responsibility of making their own choices in the future.

Message

When you grow up you will become more independent! With independence you are sometimes alone in your decisions. Adults regularly decide what path to take and how to deal with slumps. Sometimes there will be things that are out of your hands like the “waiting place” and the “bang-ups” and “hang-ups.” While family and friends can and do help, it is your responsibility to get yourself out of hard times and create a future with exciting options and choices.

Optional follow up activities

1. Students will write a paragraph describing their most important goal for the future.  Then they will exchange their paragraphs with a student and discuss these important goals.

2. You may choose to show the movie adapted from this story.

 

Parent Adaptation

Background/ History

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” was published in 1990 and was Dr. Seuss’s final published work before his death in 1991.  The story follows the main character through basic stages of life, using creations like “the waiting place” scary dark paths as the challenges and difficulties everyone must face.  Dr. Seuss focuses however on the potential of the boy to transcend and overcome the many struggles of life and to achieve great things.  Like his other works, this story uses his infamous rhythmic and rhyming style and is filled with creative and imaginative scenes and characters.  What makes this short story unique, is his use of 2nd person writing, and his reference to the main character simply as “you”.  This allowed Dr. Seuss’s message in this book to be entirely universal rather and the book has become an iconic graduation gift since is release.

Objectives

  • Children discuss the future and their role in deciding it.
  • Children discuss the concept of the “balancing act” in life.
  • Children complete an activity to pinpoint their goals while recognizing their struggles.
  • Children discuss potential and self-motivation.

Instructions:

1. Hand out copies of the book and have the child/children read it in a read aloud so they all get a chance to read.  If there is only one child, take turns reading with them. 

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

  1. What does the author mean when he talks about “bang-ups” and “hang-ups”? Do you think you can control these events, and does everyone have them?
  2. Who do you think makes most of the decisions in your life?
  3. When Dr. Seuss says “Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win? And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind?” Do you think there is always a right answer to these questions?
  4. What do you think Dr. Seuss means when he compares life to “A Great Balancing Act”?  What different things do you balance in your life?

3. Transition into an activity by handing out 8.5” by 11” cardboard cut outs as the base for their collage.  (Children will also need glue sticks, scissors, and magazines)

4. Show the Children how to fold their paper into thirds.  Then, in the first section, using cut outs from the magazines, they should represent everyday choices or challenges they face as well as activities or hobbies.

5. In the second section they should represent major challenges or “slumps” they have had to overcome in the past.

6. Finally, in the third section they should illustrate what their goals are for the future.  (What they see themselves doing in high school, college, careers etc.)

Evaluation

Ask for volunteers to share their projects.  Next start a discussion asking how they overcame some of their challenges, whether it was losing a pet, getting sick, etc.  Use school as an example to discuss motivation.  For example, whether their parents make them do homework, or they do it on their own. Discuss the responsibility of making their own choices in the future.

Message

When you grow up you will become more independent! With independence you are sometimes alone in your decisions. Adults regularly decide what path to take and how to deal with slumps. Sometimes there will be things that are out of your hands like the “waiting place” and the “bang-ups” and “hang-ups.” While family and friends can and do help, it is your responsibility to get yourself out of hard times and create a future with exciting options and choices.

Optional follow up activities

1. You can have the children write a paragraph describing their most important goal for the future.  If there is more than one child, have them exchange their paragraphs with a partner to read and edit each others before giving it to you to read.

2. You may also choose to show the movie adapted from this story.

       

Dr. Seuss Quick Links

 
Comprehensive Set Of Resources To Teach Peace With Dr. Seuss      

"The best slogan I can think of to leave with the USA is: We can...we've got to...do better than this." Theodor Seuss Geisel

 

Lesson Plan, Online Games & More

To access the lesson plan, click here. For the online games and a complete set of Dr. Seuss resources, click here.

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