Dressing up with the Habits of Mind Lessons

By: Mary Kienstra on: September 13, 2015  in: #tlap

One of the things that kids look forward to when they arrive in my class in August is the day where we all dress up as the Habits of Mind.  Anything that is out of the ordinary is fun and exciting – this is a big day!

At the beginning of each school year, I teach my students a series of Habits of Mind lessons.  I’ve studied the 16 Habits of Mind as developed by Art Costa for years and have come to realize that this time spent learning at the beginning of the year serves us very well all year.  We use these habits to talk about our own thinking skills and also to apply them to the characters in the books that we read.  Kids understand these.  They relate to them very well.

Art Costa  developed the Habits of Mind and has published extensively about this topic.  Many other researchers have added to the understanding of the Habits of Mind through the years.  An online search will provide many references and articles if you are interested in pursuing that further.  My purpose here is to explain how I teach this to my students.

The habits of mind pdf from marykienstra

After a short introduction to the habits of mind, I set my students off in groups of 2 or 3 with a card sort activity.  I’ve found that card sorts elicit great discussion in small groups as kids work together to categorize the ideas.  This activity provides a great over view of all 16 habits and the opportunity to discuss them.  Click here to find the card sort activity as well as the article by Art Costa and Bena Kalick that supports it.

After students have built a basic understanding of the habits with their small group, they each choose one habit to HOMbecome the expert.  They create posters that include the name of the habit of mind, the definition, a logo or symbol, an example of the habit from a character in a book they’ve read, and an example of the habit from real life.  The kids create these posters at home.

The culminating activity of this mini-unit is “dress up as your habit of mind day.”  This is one of my favorite days of the school year!  Kids came dressed as sports stars, detectives, question marks, and clowns, just to name a few.  They came in so excited and ready to present their posters to the class and tell about their costume.  This is one of those activities that kids talk about all year.

These habits of mind lessons are another example of going slow in the early part of the school year in order to go faster later.  During novel studies we reference the habits that the characters use, as well as remind each other to “be persistent” or to “manage your impulsivity.”  These habits give us a common vocabulary to describe our values for good thinking skills.

The best part of all, though, is that we have some fun with our learning!



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