Critical Minds, Compassionate Hearts

Integrating Curriculum: What Does it Mean to be Big?

Stephanie Rotsky
See how our Kindergarten teachers integrated concepts from Coleen Paratore's book BIG across multiple curricular areas.
Thank goodness for books like Big by Coleen Paratore, especially when you are the youngest students at school! The message of this powerful story paints an empowering picture of what it means to be big that takes away from the equation your age, your size, your grade and how much stuff you have... It is so much "bigger" than that.

When kindergarten students were asked: 'What does it mean to be big?' and 'How do you know when you are big?' - here were some of their initial responses:

How do you know when you are BIG?
  • Getting measured
  • When you are kind to a friend and it makes you feel good
  • To know how old you are
  • When you are not a baby anymore
  • You go to a new grade
  • How fast you are

What does it mean to be BIG?
  • You grow from small to big
  • Reach high stuff
  • You can make something big
  • To have a birthday
  • You can do more stuff
  • You are tall
As we read the story, students were introduced to the notion that "being big" is connected to being bright, healthy, imaginative, kind, being a friend to the earth, being a friend to yourself, helpful, valuable, an active matter your age!

And...we were reminded throughout the story that Big is being the biggest YOU that YOU can be!

Finally...we loved the idea that "each and every year, every person on the planet gets 365 presents - 365 brand new days." And being big is actually a CHOICE that can we make every day according to the author.

Do kindergarten students need to wait until they are older or taller to be big and make a difference in the world? Absolutely not! Their "bigness" is always evolving - happening little by little - and our world needs every little bit of their "bigness" right now and in the future!

Following up on the story, students worked on different activities that connected to the traditional meaning of "big."

Build a BIG structure.

Write your name BIG.

Create a BIG pattern.

Create a BIG pattern.

Here is a BIG peace sign!

Here I am being BIG kind with a friend.

Show the process of a seed growing BIG.