Teach growth mindset to kids with five important children’s books for the classroom, plus lesson ideas, activities, anchor charts, and writing prompts to go with them to help K-2 students thrive.
How to Teach Growth Mindset through Books and Activities
What is a “growth mindset”? It is a way of looking at the challenges one faces in life. Specifically, it has to do with what students do with the challenges and setbacks they experience in the classroom.
Instead of our students shutting down, giving up, or zoning out, we want them to see mistakes as opportunities to improve, get stronger, and develop their skills.
Their success in life, their resiliency when tough times come, and their ability to be lifelong learners are all affected by this mindset.
It is an essential concept that we as teachers are trying to promote more in our classrooms.
Teachers can foster this skill in their students. Today I will share how to use children’s books to teach growth mindset and valuable activities to go with them.
Growth Mindset Strategies
First, let’s think about some strategies that we can use to promote a growth mindset in our classroom.
Here are some that are powerful for teaching this important concept.
- Provide attainable challenges. Kids learn by doing things in smaller steps. Break lessons apart so they don’t get overwhelmed by the big task in front of them.
- Give opportunities to face obstacles. We learn best when faced with some degree of challenge. Don’t be afraid to challenge your students!
- Teach and model good attitudes. Our reaction to situations teaches kids! So be a good example.
- Teach how to accept constructive criticism. You can give examples and can offer them kindly and gracefully.
- View mistakes as learning. Encourage students to think of and remember what they learned when they make a mistake.
- Teach perseverance and the power of YET. Students must learn that hard things don’t come quickly but through perseverance.
Books that Teach Growth Mindset & Lessons that go with them
Books are influential teachers. Through them, kids can observe the mindset and actions of characters and then connect that to their own experiences.
Filling your classroom bookshelf with books that contain strong SEL themes, especially about a growth mindset, is very important. Check out these books and accompanying activities!
1. Bubble Gum Brain
The book Bubble Gum Brain by Julia Cook is a cute book that introduces kids to Brick Brain, who has a fixed mindset and likes things the way they are and won’t change, and Bubble Gum Brain, who has a growth mindset and likes adventures and learning new things.
This book helps kids see the contrast between the two mindsets and strategies for being a Bubble Gum Brain!
- As you read the story, have kids look for differences in how the two brains act and talk.
- Create a collaborative chart. Record words and ideas about each brain into two sections to illustrate how different bubble gum (growth mindsets) and brick brains (fixed mindsets) are.
Activities to Use with Bubble Gum Brain:
- Name the Mindset Charades – Play this fun game in a group or with a partner! Take turns reading a scenario and acting it out while the others guess which brain it is.
- Brain Putty – Make “Brain Putty” as a group using this recipe. Ask, “What can you do with it?” Encourage kids to use their “bubble brain” to think creatively and see what they can make with the putty.
2. The Magical Yet
The Magical Yet by Angela Di Terlizzi is an uplifting book to encourage kids that although they might not be able to accomplish a task YET, if they keep at it, they will succeed one day!
- Before reading, have students close their eyes and imagine something they once couldn’t do but learned how. Have them share their answers.
- Create an anchor chart. Write YET” in the middle of the chart. Then, brainstorm things they don’t know how to do YET but want to learn.
- Find more ideas on how to teach using this growth mindset book.
Activities to Use with The Magical Yet:
- Directed Drawing of The Magical Yet – Teach students how to draw The Magical Yet. After drawing, kids can add details and color them to make them unique.
- YET Journal – Encourage kids to reflect on what they can’t do yet and record their thoughts in the YET Journal.
3. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubenstein teaches us that life is more fun when you enjoy things, even while making. It is an excellent read for those who struggle with perfectionism.
Start by sharing a mistake that you have made and how it felt. Ask others to share too. As others share, have the class give a “thumbs up” if they have had a similar experience.
- Create an anchor chart called “Mistakes Help Us.” Record mistakes that they have made and discuss how they helped them.
- Complete a writing prompt “When I make a mistake, I will…” Encourage kids to include a strategy they will use next time they make a mistake.
Activities to Use with The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes:
- Role Play – Print the Mistakes Help Me! scenario cards. Read the scenarios and ask kids to role-play making that mistake. Have them share how they would feel if they made that mistake.
- Positive Self-Talk Bookmarks – Give kids a bookmark and have them list three positive things they can tell themselves that will help them never give up. Laminate them and have kids use their bookmarks when reading. Grab these for free below!
4. The Dot
The Dot by Peter Reynolds encourages kids to unleash their creativity and not hold back or worry about not being good enough.
- Before reading, talk about how we feel when starting something new or challenging. Encourage kids to share an experience.
- Pass out two small paper circles. Have the kids write an activity they enjoy and on the other, a new or complex activity they want to try.
Activities to Use with The Dot:
- “Something New” Mobile Craftivity – Create a mobile with illustrations on circles of paper of something new that a child wants to learn or the steps it will take to learn one thing. Glue the dots on construction paper and cut them out. Hole punch the header and dots. Attach using string or ribbon.
- “Making My Mark” Board Game – Play the board game in pairs. Roll a dice, and move around the board. When one lands on a color, that student shares a similar experience they’ve had or how they can show a growth mindset when this happens.
5. The Bad Seed
The Bad Seed by Jory John is a story about a bad-tempered seed that acts and labels himself as bad, and how he has a change of heart and decides he wants to be happy. It teaches us about positive change. Kids will love this book!
- As you read the book, have students give a thumbs down when the Bad Seed makes a poor choice. Talk about why the options are wrong and what would have been better.
- After the book, have students complete the writing prompt “I Can Make Good Choices…”
Activities to Use with The Bad Seed:
- Sorting Activity – Sort cards with different ways of making choices under the headings “Good Choices to Make” and “Bad Choices to Make.”
- Good Choice BINGO – Select good choices from the BINGO board to try. Color in a section after completing each suggestion. Encourage kids to notice how they feel when they make good choices.
A growth mindset is an essential skill to highlight in every classroom. You will help set up your students for success in life if you challenge them to develop a mind that grows rather than stays the same.
Hopefully, the ideas you have found here will spark some excitement as you teach growth mindset using children’s books in your classroom!
Books that Teach Growth Mindset
FREE Growth Mindset Positive Self-Talk Cards
Help your students learn to speak positively to themselves with this free set of positive affirmations for kids.
Click the image below to get your copy!
Growth Mindset Book Companion Lessons and Activities
Find activities for each of the five children’s books featured in this post in our Growth Mindset Book Companion pack for K-2. You will have everything you need to lead informative lessons that support students as they practice and build growth mindset skills.
Check out this comprehensive resource’s writing prompts, journals, games, posters, and activities.
More Lessons to Teach with Children’s Books
PIN for Later
FREE Social Emotional Learning Email Series
Sign up for the social emotional learning email course filled with tips to get you started, lesson and activity ideas, PLUS tons of FREE resources you can access right away. Everything you need to teach social skills and emotional literacy in the classroom!