by Mary Hoffman
We hope you feel inspired by the story of Amazing Grace. It is not difficult to understand why Grace is so creative and confident when you meet her supportive family. When we have the support of our families, it can feel like we can do anything. Talk about the many ways that Grace’s family supports her. Connect that to the many ways your family members support and encourage each other. Extend the idea to exploring further ways you can support each other in the family and community—especially siblings. The title of this book is wonderful because of the many meanings of the word grace. Look up the meanings in the dictionary. Talking about the meanings of words is a fun family activity. If you don’t have a family dictionary, it is a great investment.
ASK: Draw a picture of your family. (Each person, including the reader, draws his or her own picture.) Label the picture with names. Talk about who is in your family and compare pictures—what is the same and different? What is the best thing about families? What do families do for each other? How do families support each other?
SHOW: Look at the cover and pictures on the title page. Talk about what you can tell about Grace from these pictures.
CONNECT: Can you think of a time that you wanted to try something new and someone told you “that’s too hard for you”? How did that make you feel and how did you respond? We’re going to read a story about a girl who didn’t let those words stop her from trying.
ASK: How did Grace act when told she couldn’t be Peter Pan?
SHOW: Compare the attitudes and actions of the different characters (classmates, mother, grandmother, Grace). Which things were helpful and which were harmful?
CONNECT: How can you support and encourage your family members? How do they support and encourage you?
ASK: What do you think of the line “You can be anything you want if you put your mind to it?” Have you ever put your mind to something? How did it feel??
SHOW: Look at pictures throughout the book. Find examples of Grace’s family loving and supporting her.
CONNECT: How did Grace work toward becoming Peter Pan? Why doesn’t it matter if she is black or a girl? Think about what you would like to be or do. How can you work toward it?
- Make a simple puppet stage and act out a familiar story such as a fairy tale. Work together as a family to gather the supplies and practice the story.
Prop up couch cushions and use blankets to hide behind.
Put two chairs together and drape a blanket over the seats. Hide behind the blanket and use the seats as the stage.
Cut a large rectangle-shaped hole in a large box. Put the puppets through the hole.
Small stuffed animals
- Make up/Act out stories about people or animals who have been told they couldn’t do something, but they work hard and believe in themselves and do it! Talk as a family about who the characters are, the problem, and the solution.
- Use dress-up clothes to make a costume of a favorite character—use some of Grace’s characters for ideas.
- Have a family meeting to discuss supporting and encouraging each other. Talk about ways to say “good job” and “I know you can do it.” Have each person make a plan to try something new and difficult this month. Listen to each others’ ideas and make a plan for supporting and encouraging each other.
- Sing “Amazing Grace” together as a family.
- Look up the meaning of “grace” in the dictionary. Which definitions seem to fit Grace from the story.
- Think of one amazing thing about each member of your family. Draw a picture for each person and copy and finish this sentence on each page: The amazing thing about _________ is ________________________________________. Give the finished pictures and sentences to your family members. (As an alternative, put your own family event/tradition in place of a name. Examples: The amazing thing about our family is… The amazing thing about our holiday celebration is… The amazing thing about our vacation was…)