Help Kids Learn to Challenge Assumptions
Step 1: Explain what an assumption is. It may go something like this:
An assumption is something that we think is true, but we don’t have any proof. We make assumptions when we form an opinion without investigating.
Step 2: Encourage kids to think about both sides of every story:
Instead of assuming we know about a situation, think of alternatives. What possibilities might there be?
- We assume the ducks are mean because they laugh at Paxton. Might there be another explanation?
- Why did the piggies squeal so loud? Did they mean to hurt Paxton’s ears?
- The lady at the flea market called Mia “a terrible sales donkey.” What information might have helped her understand the situation?
Step 3: Challenging Assumptions Animal Activity
Click here to download the “Challenging Assumptions” worksheets to guide the children.
Now that the kids understand what assumptions are, they will have the opportunity to challenge some common assumptions about some well-known animals. If there are 5 or less children, they might work independently. For large groups, have children work in small groups to research and discuss. After researching each animal, the children should share the findings of their particular animal with the entire group.
The animal assumptions are:
- Skunks are stinky.
- Donkeys are stubborn.
- Ostriches bury their heads in the sand.
- Sloths are lazy.
- Pigs are dirty.
The children should find that all of the assumptions are not true. When they are somewhat true, there is a sensible reason (Skunks are not ALWAYS stinky. They release odor as a defense). While researching, the children should also be able to find at least one interesting fact that they did not already know about the animal.
Outcome: Participants will see how often things are accepted to be true without proof. By having the opportunity to research, they will have the opportunity to form their own opinions. The experience should carry forward with a desire investigate before making assumptions.
Build Critical Thinking Skills and Empathy
Encourage readers to think beyond the original story. They may think about the animals in the story, or they may add additional characters. Have them write or draw a new situation on the farm. If you prefer team work, have groups work together to act out the scenario. Interested in making it a puppet show? Here is a website with many different types of puppets that easy to make for different age groups.
Option 1: Create a scenario where another animal helps Paxton. Options 2: Create a scenario where Paxton helps another animal. It is important to remember that Paxton has many strengths that allow him contribute in his own way, even if he needs a few accommodations.