Caring: Owen and Mzee
Newport Mill Middle School

Students explore kindness and caring through the story of Owen and Mzee, a true story about how a 130-year-old tortoise (Mzee) helped a baby hippo (Owen) survive after separation from its family during the 2004 tsunami. The story is told by the father and daughter team of Isabella and Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Paula Kahumbu, director of the Kenyan animal sanctuary where Owen and Mzee live.

• Students will be able to understand the relationship between human kindness and caring.
• Students will understand the importance of caring in the world.
• Students will be able to explain ways they can show caring to those around them.
• Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu (2006).
• Transparency with discussion questions for students
• Student worksheet
1. The teacher asks students the following questions in order to bring students to the idea that “caring” is a very important quality in all of our lives and without people caring about the feelings of others, life would be very unpleasant.
• Pretend you are a new person at a brand new school and it was your first day at school. In each class you went into there were one or two students who went up to you and said hi, asked your name, and told you theirs. How would that make you feel?
• What if the opposite happened? No one came up to you. No one said hi. No one tried to get to know you and the students just ignored you. How would you feel then?
2. The teacher explains: Now we are going to read a true story about how a tortoise showed human kindness to a baby hippo and how it much it helped this baby hippo to survive. In order to save time, the teacher may wish to read the story Owen and Mzee.
3. Discussion: After reading the story, the teacher should field any questions students have about the story – perhaps emphasizing the trait of human kindness.
4. Handout: The teacher puts up the transparency and reviews the questions with students. The teacher then hands out the student worksheet. Students should then select one or two questions to answer, depending on the grade level of the students and the time available.
Collect student worksheets in order to determine if the lesson objectives have been met.