Mental Health

My great big Momma

Author(s): Olivier Ka


Social Justice focus: Body Image

Synopsis: The narrator of the story is a boy whose mother is large – in size, personality, affection. He loves his mother as she is. When she goes on a diet to lose weight “because of others” he is fearful and sad. He tells his mother she is perfect just as she is.

Lesson Plan: Stephanie Hinks

Rationale: I selected this book because there are a lot of negative stereotypes about body image and physical appearances in society today. I believe it is important to teach young students to break these stereotypes, to stop judging others, and to build strong self-confidence and self-worth. The biggest strength of this book is that it highlights a lot of positive traits about the mamma, who is a large woman. Her oversized features are highly admired by her son, who does not want her to change. The only drawback to this book is one scene where the little boy states that he would not want his mamma to be thin, as her lap wouldn’t be soft to sit on and he would be afraid of breaking her. This is concerning because it goes to the other extreme of shaming people who are very thin. Although this is viewed as the boy’s personal opinion, it does imply negative stereotypes about individuals who are thin.

Primary/Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan (Abbreviated Template)

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Social Justice Picture Book

Grade: 6

Lesson: What is the focus of this lesson in relation to the unit?

The focus of this lesson is to make connections between personal experience, media influences, and fictional characters when brainstorming and communicating ideas about body image. Focus will be placed on student ability to demonstrate written and oral communication skills about the health and body image notions suggested in the picture book “My Great Big Mamma”.

Curriculum Areas: What are possible connections to other curricular areas?

Language: Reading, Writing, Oral Communication

Health & Physical Education: Healthy Living

Curriculum Expectations: What Overall and Specific Expectations will be addressed?


Oral Communication: 1. Listening to Understand

  • Purpose 1.1 identify a range of purposes for listening in a variety of situations, formal and informal, and set goals related to specific listening tasks. (page 108)

Reading: 1. Reading for Meaning

  • Comprehension Strategies 1.3 identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts. (page 111)
  • Extending Understanding 1.6 extend understanding of texts by connecting, comparing, and contrasting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them. (page 112)

Writing: 1. Developing and Organizing Content

  • Developing Ideas 1.2 generate ideas about a potential topic and identify those most appropriate for the purpose. (page 114)

Health & Physical Education:

Healthy Living

  • Human Development and Sexual Health C2.6 make informed decisions that demonstrate respect for themselves and others and help to build healthier relationships, using a variety of living skills (page 175)
  • C3.3 assess the effects of stereotypes, including mental health, and abilities, on an individual’s self-concept, social inclusion, and relationships with others, and propose appropriate ways of responding to and changing assumptions and stereotypes (page 177)

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

  • We are learning to make connections between ideas suggested in a story and real-life situations.
  • We are learning to organize personal thoughts and opinions in written form by completing the picture book worksheet.
  • We are learning to use critical listening skills when the teacher reads the text out loud and during class discussion.
  • We are learning to understand the book that is being read by making connections to personal thoughts and experiences in relation to body image and stereotypes.

Success Criteria: How will students know they have met the learning goal? I can….

  • I can participate in class discussion and develop my own ideas about the people or characters that I consider to be heroes.
  • I can use writing and processing skills to complete the questions in the Picture Book Worksheet.
  • I can use critical listening skills to understand the story being read aloud and to understand the opinions expressed by my peers.
  • I can make connections between the picture book story and my own personal experiences.

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

  • Students may work in pairs to complete the worksheet.
  • Extra time will be allotted for students who require a longer working period.
  • The picture book will be available for students who wish to read through it again individually after the teacher has read it aloud to the class.
  • Students may use digital tools such as text-to-speech software on laptops or iPads to record their worksheet answers.

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

Begin by asking students “what is a hero?” to ensure that everyone is familiar with the term. This will connect to student prior knowledge of heroes and set the context for learning throughout the rest of the lesson. This also engages students with the topic for the Picture Book Worksheet.

Minutes: How much time will I allocate?

35 minutes (5 minutes: hero discussion, 20 minutes: worksheet, 10 minutes: discussion)

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

Engage the class in a brief discussion about heroes, then hand out Picture Book Worksheet. Students will work individually to complete the worksheet (students requiring accommodations may work in pairs to brainstorm ideas or use technology). Teacher will observe to make sure everyone is on track and to answer any student questions or concerns about the worksheet. Once worksheet questions are completed, begin class discussion by asking students about their answers. Encourage conversation about the three heroes they wrote about, their characteristics, and the influence of appearances/body image. Clarify the term “body image” by asking students to explain what they think it means and discuss the definition (a person’s perception or mental image of their own body). Make connections between the physical appearances of heroes, how they come in all shapes and sizes, and are often admired for their strengths and personalities. Point out that anyone can be a hero, no matter what they look like. Stress the importance of maintaining a positive body image and feeling comfortable with yourself.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

A tracking sheet will be used to monitor student participation during discussion as well as the completion of the worksheet. The purpose of this type of assessment is to monitor student participation and working habits in class.

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

Introduce the picture book “My Great Big Mamma”. Teacher will read the story aloud and show the pictures to the class. After the read-aloud, ask students for their thoughts and opinions about the story. Reinforce prior learning about Use thought provoking questions such as the following:

“why does the little boy love his mom?”, “does he want her to change her physical appearance?”, “why do you think the little boy wants his mom to stay the way she is?”, “why does the mom want to lose weight in the story?”, “why does she decide to stop her diet?”

Minutes: How much time will I allocate?

40 minutes (15 minutes: read aloud and discussion, 25 minutes: paragraph writing)

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

Instruct students to write a paragraph explaining what they like the most about themselves, describing three personal traits that they believe are assets to have. Use encouraging phrases such as, “think about what makes you special or unique” and “what are some good qualities that you like about yourself?”.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

A checklist will be used to assess student writing, comprehension, and participation in class discussion.

Consolidation: How will I reflect on the learning goal? How will I have students reflect on the learning goal?

Reflect on the learning goals by asking students to consider the work they had completed in the Picture Book Worksheet and make comparisons to the characters in “My Great Big Mamma”. Recap the importance of valuing others for their personalities and traits opposed to physical appearances. Refer to the little boy character from the story as a positive role model and a good example of smashing stereotypes. Discuss ideas of body image and why it is essential to acknowledge traits that you like about yourself. Explain the purpose of writing the paragraph about themselves as a way of improving their self-worth and building confidence.

Minutes: How much time will I allocate?

10 minutes: discussion

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

Once written paragraphs have been submitted, facilitate oral discussion to recap key points of the lesson. Address common struggles that people may battle in relation to maintaining a positive body image. Discuss the importance of avoiding stereotypes or judging others based on appearances. Encourage students to ask questions and offer suggestions about body image.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

Record anecdotal notes about student comprehension of body image and stereotypes. The purpose of this assessment is to keep track of students who are having trouble understanding the topic, if any, and to assess whether further discussion/activity is necessary to reinforce comprehension.

MATERIALS: What resources and materials do I need? Where can I find them? In a perfect world what other resources might I need?

  • A copy of the book “My Great Big Mamma”, which can be found in the library (IRC)
  • Picture Book Handout
  • Paper, notebooks, writing utensils
  • Laptops/iPads for students with IEP’s

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?


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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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