Kindness Nation: Use Mentor Text, Terrible Things, to Teach About Upstanders - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom

Kindness Nation: Use Mentor Text, Terrible Things, to Teach About Upstanders

Use the mentor text, Terrible Things, to teach students how to be upstanders, combat bullying, and support and stand up for what is right and fair. Ideas By Jivey shares a free resource and ideas to teach with the book.

At a time where our nation is very divided, we as teachers must impress upon our students that WE CAN spread kindness and love to combat the hatred and bullying. For this reason, hundreds of Teachers Pay Teachers authors have joined a movement. We want to support classrooms across the country (and world) in ways that are most needed, so we have uploaded free resources that will help do just that!

You can find these free resources by searching #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths on TpT, as well as social media. They will tackle topics like: kindness, empathy, anti-bullying, equality, inclusion, understanding and respecting others' differences, civil rights, democracy, and civics. There are A LOT of resources, so I recommend narrowing your search on the left side using your grade level. :)


The forever free resource I created is for a really thought-provoking book, called Terrible Things by Eve Bunting. It is an allegory of the Holocaust, but even if you don't teach about this event or time period in history, it is still a phenomenal book to teach students about being upstanders rather than bystanders. The story is about animals who live contently in the woods together. But one day, Terrible Things come and take all of the animals with feathers. Although they all lived together and got along before, once the birds were gone, the other creatures talked about the negative characteristics of the birds. They said they were better off without them. Little Rabbit doesn't understand why they were taken and why no one spoke up. As the story continues, the Terrible Things come for a new type of animal, and each time the same thing happens. Finally, all that is left in the clearing are the rabbits, and one day, the Terrible Things come for them, too. No one is there to help them, but Little Rabbit manages to hide. He decides he will go off to tell other animals in other places about them, and hope they will learn to stick together and speak up for each other.

You can purchase the book using my Amazon affiliate link by clicking above on the image of the book. I use the money from my Amazon affiliate payments to fund awesome giveaways!

Before reading the book, ask students to think of things that are terrible (you may want to also prompt their thinking with words like scary, wrong, etc…) This can be done on the board as a compiled list, and/or on the included page in the free pack I have made. 

Read the book. Ask the students to think about the animals (not the little rabbit) in the book. Is there anything they could have done to stop the Terrible Things? What could they have done? Discuss the words bystander and upstander. I have included posters in the free pack I created.

Use the mentor text, Terrible Things, to teach students how to be upstanders, combat bullying, and support and stand up for what is right and fair. Ideas By Jivey shares a free resource and ideas to teach with the book.

Review the story and discuss how Little Rabbit changed from the beginning to the middle to the end. This can also be done on the included page in this free pack. Discuss how Little Rabbit changed from a bystander to an upstander.

Take a look back at the list of terrible things the class compiled. Is there anything on the list that they could change or do to make a difference? Have them list those things on their own page if completing that way. Circle the things on the board that could be changed if a class list was compiled. You might also discuss what to do to make a difference.

Use the mentor text, Terrible Things, to teach students how to be upstanders, combat bullying, and support and stand up for what is right and fair. Ideas By Jivey shares a free resource and ideas to teach with the book.
These are some things that students have said are "Terrible Things." It is your decision how terrible you want to get on your chart (i.e.; murder and death). And can we all just take a minute to laugh that vegetables made it on the chart? ;-) And of course, tests and homework. :)

There is also a reflection sheet in the pack, “Don’t Be a Bystander” – students can use something from the list or their own additional thought to explain what they could do to stand up for something that they know isn't right.



As I mentioned, LOTS of TpTers have come together in this movement. Here are just a few more resources that would compliment this lesson well:



There are SO many more on Teachers Pay Teachers. Just search the hashtags, #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths!


Thank you to Jillian for the awesome images to promote our movement!

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