Free Tools for Teaching Life Skills

Can The Hungry Caterpillar or Five Little Ducks help teach children about life skills?

We think so.

Mind in the Making today announces a ground-breaking initiative with First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books and educational materials to children in need, including an unprecedented collection of children’s books that teach how to promote the seven essential life skills.

The initiative includes a series of FREE tip sheets compiled by the Institute as companion pieces to this collection of popular children’s books. Educators and families can use the books — whether they already have them at home, or get them from the library — and the tips sheets to promote life skills based on executive functions of the brain, such as focus and self control, as they read along with kids. (The books are also available at discounted rates to qualified educators and early childhood providers who work with children in need through First Book’s Marketplace.)

The tip sheets are available at NO COST to anyone who wants them and can be downloaded here.

The collection features six books for each of the Seven Essential Life Skills. These skills are focus and self control; perspective taking; communicating; making connections; critical thinking; taking on challenges; and self-directed, engaged learning. For each skill, supplementary tips illustrate what the research shows and provide simple games and techniques parents and educators can use along with the book to strengthen that particular skill in children.

For example, Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats, provides many life skills learning opportunities:

You can ask your child: “What did Peter do to learn how to whistle?” When your child retells parts of the story, he or she is developing Focus and Self Control by paying attention and remembering.

“These skills are called executive function skills,” said Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making and president of Families and Work Institute, “because we use them to manage our attention, our emotions, and our behavior in order to achieve our goals. When we promote them, we help children learn how to learn. I honestly don’t believe we will be able to address the problems we have in education today—such as the achievement and opportunity gap, without also promoting these skills.”

Not only will the books and support materials be available to the classrooms and programs in First Book’s national network, over $125,000 has been set aside in matching grants from the Popplestone Foundation to ensure that more of the books are placed into the hands of children who need them most.

“Children from low-income families rarely have access to the same resources and advantages as other children,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “Thanks to Ellen’s work, we’re bringing the absolute best in educational opportunity to tens of thousands of children in need.”