We have been enjoying One by Kathryn Otoshi so much I can’t wait to share this children’s book: it’s a real gem. It is a story with a powerful message told in a gentle way so that its accessible to even very young children. It can also be read on another level as a great introduction to colours and numbers.
Until Red comes along. Red is a bully and picks on Blue. The other colours comfort Blue but they never stand up to Red, so he gets bigger and bigger. Red becomes so dominant that all the colours are afraid of him.
Then One comes along.
One is friendly, funny, popular and Red doesn’t like it. Red shouts at all the colours and they all stop laughing and having fun. Then Red rolls up to One and tells him to “Stop laughing.” However, One does not shrink away, he stands up tall and says, “No.”
This stand against Red is a revelation to all the colours and they want to be like One so Yellow turns into ‘2’, green changes into ‘3’, purple becomes ‘4’ and orange ‘5’. The transformation makes Red furious and he seeks out Blue to start tormenting him again. Instead of shrinking into silence Blue turns into ‘6’ and stands up to Red. Then they all stand together and say, “No!”
In the face of this new confidence Red starts to roll away but the numbers show their intelligence and kindness by inviting Red to join in with them. They extend the hand of friendship to Red and he turns into ‘7’. He can join in because everyone counts!
Burt loves this story. He likes to join in and sit up straight and say, “No!” with all the other numbers and the story has given us the opportunity to talk about what you can say if someone is unkind and how important it is to include everyone and be a good friend to others. The colours turning into numbers to stand straight and stand up for themselves is clever and appeals to Burt.
One by Kathryn Otoshi is a great book and you can enjoy it as a wonderful story or it can also be an excellent starting point for looking closely at the subject of bullying or number and colour.
Bullying is never easy to discuss. The most effective way to demonstrate what happens when someone bullies another that I’ve come across is The Crumpled Paper Lesson, a very simple lesson that has been around for years and it is difficult to track the original source. For The Crumpled Paper Lesson all you need is a piece of paper. Ask your child to take the paper and crumple it up, squash it, stand on it, stamp on it but don’t tear it. Now take the paper and smooth it out as best you can and notice all the creases and crumples and ‘scars’. Then ask your child to tell the paper that they are sorry. Does saying sorry, even if you mean it, make the scars go away? When someone bullies another the scars inside stay deep down and no matter what is said afterwards the scars are very hard to remove. It is best never to say those unkind things in the first place and save a lot of pain and sadness.
As Burt is still very young we concentrated on the message of being kind to others.
Here are some ideas or questions that you might want to use to start a discussion in your family. You know your family and which questions they are ready to tackle now and which can be left for another day:
- What does it mean if someone picks on you?
- How does it feel if someone says something unkind to you?
- What could you say if someone says something unkind to you?
- What could you say if someone says something unkind to your friends?
- Just because someone says something unkind does that make them a bad person?
- Have you ever said anything unkind to someone else?
- Why do you think Red was unkind to Blue?
- Why did the other colours not stand up to Red?
- Would there ever be a situation where it would be more sensible to just walk away from a bully, rather than standing up to them? What could you do instead?
- If someone says something that you don’t agree with does that make them wrong?
Crafts and activities for kids
One inspired us to make some pop-up art of the colours playing and then turning into numbers. We also looked at colours and numbers and created our own colourful 1-10 numberline. Have a look at the Pinterest Board full of crafts and activities for kids…
Or take a look at these activities to accompany reading the book:
- Read and Create Everyone Counts Pop-Up Art
- DBS School Counsellor Everyone Counts Collage
- Artchoo! Preschool Watercolour Project
- Playing in Prep Cool and Hot Colours
- Hands on As We Grow Tracing Numbers
What have you been reading this week?