Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and the Action Cycle
Cotswold Elementary School

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (Hodder Children’s Books, 1998) is an excellent book to use to model reflection and teach the action cycle. I use this lesson to set up expectations for reflective behavior in our classroom for the year. We then keep blank reflection sheets for the students to use when they must take a “time out.” Students must fill it out the sheet before they can return to the regular activity.

In the book, Lilly gets angry and draws a mean picture of her teacher. She feels so bad about her actions afterwards that she puts herself in the thinking chair and figures out a way to apologize to her teacher.

The “Action Cycle” states that after a person acts, he must stop and reflect on the consequences of his actions. If his consequences are not what he had intended, then he must choose to act in a different way for a better outcome. By continuously repeating the cycle, we become better people.

Students will understand the steps of the Action Cycle.
Students will understand the importance of reflection.
Students will understand that all actions have consequences.
Students will recognize Lily’s actions in the story.
Students will reflect on their actions.
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Chart Paper
Copies of Behavior Handout
1. Ahead of time, make a large class chart of a student reflection sheet.

2. Begin the lesson by asking students if they have ever done anything that later they wished they hadn’t. Have a discussion about what they did after things did not go well.

2. Explain to students that they are being “reflective” when they think about things that happened in the past. Explain that all people make mistakes or bad choices. What makes us “reflective” is when we stop and think about our actions and how we can do better next time.

3. Tell them that you are going to read the book Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and that they need to be listening for Lilly’s actions and how Lilly became a better person at the end of the story.

4. Read the story.

5. After reading the story, ask the students:
What choices did Lilly make?
Were her choices good or bad?
Did Lilly learn a lesson in the end?
How do you think Lilly will act next time she wants to share something with the class?

Discuss with students the parts of the “Action Cycle.” With the students, complete the reflection sheet as if you were Lilly.
Ask the students to think of a time when they made bad choices. Have students pair with another to share. Call on two to three students to share with the class what they discussed.
Pass out the blank reflection sheets. Have each student fill in the sheet with his example.
End with selecting volunteers to share their reflections.
Teachers may assess through oral responses and through completed Reflection Sheet.