Mental Health

A perfectly messed up story

Author(s): Patrick McDonnell


Social Justice focus: Dealing with the unexpected

Synopsis: This story, narrated by Louie, begins in a traditional “Once upon a time” manner, but quickly is derailed by various stains that appear on the pages of the book – peanut butter, jam, crayons. Louie is frustrated and depressed when his perfect story is ruined. He discovers, however, that it’s fine for life to be messy and complicated..

Lesson Plan: Christine Henstridge

Primary/Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan (Abbreviated Template)

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Social Justice

Grade: 6

Lesson: The focus of this lesson is to expose students to different emotions in an uncontrolled situation, make connections between the story and their own life, and to teach some coping strategies that they can use in these kinds of situations.

Curriculum Areas: Language Arts, Drama, and Health.

Curriculum Expectations:

Language Arts:

  • Writing: OE 2 (draft and revise their writing, […] appropriate for the purpose and audience)
    • SE 2.2 establish a distinctive voice in their writing appropriate to the subject and audience
  • Oral Communication: OE 1 (listen to understand and respond appropriately […]) & 2 (use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences […])
    • SE 1.6 extend understanding of oral texts by connecting, comparing, and contrasting the ideas and information in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights; to other texts, including print and visual texts; and to the world around them
    • SE 2.5 identify a range of vocal effects, including tone, pace, pitch, volume, and a variety of sound effects, and use them appropriately and with sensitivity towards cultural differences to help communicate their meaning

The Arts:

  • Drama: OE 1 (Creating and Presenting)
    • SE B1.1 engage actively in drama exploration and role play, with a focus on identifying and examining issues, themes, and ideas from a variety of fiction and non-fiction sources from diverse communities, times, and places
    • SE B1.3 plan and shape the direction of the drama or role play by introducing new perspectives and ideas, both in and out of role
  • Health: OE C3 (Making Connections for Healthy Living)
    • SE C3.2 recognize the responsibilities and risks associated with caring for themselves and others and demonstrate an understanding of related safety practices and appropriate procedures for responding to dangerous situations.

Learning Goal(s): What are students expected to know, do and understand?

Students will:

  • Show and understand different ways to handle their emotions through individual actions and class discussions (K & T)
  • Identify emotions within the story by actively participating in partner and class discussions (K & C)
  • Make connections between Louie’s story and their own personal experiences (T & A)
  • Create a 45 second skit with a partner that applies the framework of Louie’s story in a similar context but with a different emotion (A & C)

Success Criteria: How will students know they have met the learning goal?

I can:

  • Move my body and use my voice to show how I feel in a certain emotion
  • Listen to the story and find emotions that Louie showed in his story
  • Think of a time in my life where I felt like how Louie felt in his story
  • Choose an emotion and make up my own 45 second version of Louie’s story with a partner
  • Reflect on ways of handling my emotions.

MODIFICATIONS/ACCOMMODATIONS: How will I meet the needs of my students? Have I addressed any IEPs?

  • Music to help students get in the mindset of the emotion
  • Partner work (can be preselected)
  • ELMO for all students to see the book
  • Online version of anchor charts/concept maps of the Emotions, Evidence, Coping Strategies chart
  • Model example for students to refer to
  • Extra copies of the book for students to look through
  • Online graphic organizer to help students create their story

Minds-on: How will I connect to prior and future learning? How will I engage students and set the context for learning?

Minutes: 10 minutes


  • Ask students What do you do when you’re feeling…? followed by the emotions happy, angry, annoyed, sad, excited. Allow some time for students to react to the emotion
  • Give students the question What do you do when something doesn’t go your way and ask them to jot down their response in the notebooks.


  • Nature: Assessment for learning – diagnostic
  • Purpose: To allow students to generate ideas of different emotions and the ways in which they react to them in their everyday live

Action: How will I introduce new learning / reinforce prior learning / practice learning / scaffold learning?

Minutes: Total= 55 mins

Task 1 (20 mins)

  • Read aloud of A Perfectly Messed-Up Story
  • After the read aloud, students will use think-pair-share to talk about Louie’s emotions and how he handled them. They will share their ideas with the class
  • Create a chart with three columns: Emotions, Evidence, Coping Strategies on the board, followed by asking the students:
  • What are some emotions you saw in the story? How do you know he feels this way? Give an example from the book
  • What are some strategies that Louie did or could have done to handle his emotions like anger and sadness?
  • Using, have students reflect on and make connections to Louie’s story by asking Are there any similarities between Louie and the way you react when experiencing one of the emotions? Make sure to give the emotion.


  • Nature: Assessment for Learning
  • Purpose: To ensure students have identified emotions and coping strategies from the text as well made some connections to their lives

Task 2 (35 mins)

  • Explain to student that they will be creating their own version of Louie’s story. In partners, their version be a 45 sec. skit where one person is Louie, telling their own story, and the other interrupts the story using different interruptions (ex. audio, visual, voice). This time will decide how Louie reacts to the interruptions – will he overcome them? or will he get angry, sad, etc.?
  • Give each student the graphic organizer to help organize their skit. Be sure to go through it with them and answer any questions they may have.


  • Nature: Assessment of Learning
  • Purpose: To note if students can take what they have learned and apply it in a similar context and to see if they can use coping strategies on their own.


Minutes: 15 mins


  • In groups of 6-8, partners will present their skits to their smaller group. After each presentation, they will discuss in their groups the emotion used, whether it was good way to handle the emotion, and why they think so. Give students the guiding questions:
  • If the emotion was positive, what did Louie do?
  • If it was negative, brainstorm strategies Louie could have used to handle the situation better.
  • As a class and students will re-look at their responses the question What do you do when something doesn’t go your way?. They will add to their response by listing some strategies they learned or strategies they know.


  • Nature: Assessment as Learning
  • Purpose: To allow students to reflect on the skits as well as make connection to their response to the initial question using strategies discussed


Copies of book, chart paper, markers, students’ notebook, pencils, music, laptop, graphic organizer,

REFLECTION: Questions to determine the success of your lesson:

  • Were my students successful in meeting the learning goals and success criteria? How do I know?
  • Did my instructional decisions meet the needs of all students? If not, what are my next steps?
  • What worked well and why?
  • What will I do differently in the future when teaching this lesson? For the subsequent lesson?
  • What are the next steps for my professional learning?

A Perfectly Messed Up Story Skit

Emotion chosen? Will Louie be happy, frustrated, upset, excited, depressed, calm, etc. during your story?


Beginning: Introduce your story, no interruptions just yet! (1-2 sentences)


Middle: Explain your story and show your emotion. Your interruptions will start!

Detail: (1 sentence) INTERRUPTION: ____________________________________________


Detail: (1 sentence) INTERRUPTION: ____________________________________________


Detail: (1 sentence) INTERRUPTION: ____________________________________________


End: Wrap up your story! No more interruptions (2-3 sentences)


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Social Justice Picture Books Copyright © 2019 by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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