Laurence Anholt’s Camille and the Sunflowers provides an excellent way to introduce a discussion about feelings and ways to care about others. Camille and his family warmly welcomed Vincent Van Gogh to their town. Camille’s friends and the rest of the townspeople made fun of Van Gogh and he eventually moved away. This story offers a way to discuss with students the importance of treating others kindly because every person is special.
This lesson offers connections to reading/language arts skills (essential narrative elements, main idea, cause and effect, plot, setting, character, and writing); science (identify parts of a plant); character education (caring, respect, kindness); and art (painting sunflowers, art history).
- identify ways to care about others.
- identify ways to treat others with kindness.
- Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt (Barron’s, 1994)
- pictures from Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers series
- chart paper
- markerscopies of handouts
- Introduce the lesson by showing students a picture or reproduction of one of the paintings from Van Gogh’s sunflowers series. Ask the students to describe the painting, reminding them to listen to each other respectfully. Tell your students that according to Van Gogh the color yellow represented happiness and friendship.
- Read Camille and the Sunflowers to your students. As you read, discuss the feelings of all the characters. Record the students’ comments on chart paper. You may wish to have students complete Handout #1.
- After reading the story, have the students identify ways to welcome new students and neighbors. Students may complete Handout #2 individually or in small groups and then share their responses.
- Students can reflect on the lesson in personal journals, with a partner, in small groups, and/or as a whole class.
Extensions and Adaptations
- Teachers may wish to have students create a Caring Sunflower for their classroom and have students make petals using Handout #3 to show ways to care about others.
- Students can paint sunflowers of their own after viewing Van Gogh’s paintings.
- Teachers may consider planting a class garden where students can meet to discuss ways to care about others.
- Students can brainstorm ways to show caring in the classroom, at school, at home, and in the community.
Related Links and Resources
Simply Sunflowers (Lasting Lessons) by Karen Shackelford