Blog post

Growth Mindset Through a Story

June 18, 2017Rabbit Ideas

‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’ by Giles Andrede has long been a favourite book in our house. I made a story bag for it a couple of years ago, with a focus on music, and burned a CD with tracks from cha-cha, rock and roll, a tango and a Scottish reel to match the story. Recently, though, I’ve realised the potential of the story for exploring Growth Mindset with young children.

Giraffes can't dance

Growth mindset is very popular in the world of education (both for children and adults) at the moment, and has links with mindfulness, productivity and similar ideas. Carol Dweck is the academic who wrote ‘Mindset’, the book which brought the concept to the public sphere.

In Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, Gerald’s inability to be graceful leads to others mocking his attempts, and him feeling sad and dejected. A cricket tells Gerald:

“Sometimes when you’re different, you just need a different song.”

Gerald begins to listen to what inspires him, away from the negative influence of the other animals, and creates his own way of dancing brings him joy; ultimately impressing the other animals.


Ideas for implementing ‘growth mindset’ at home:

-The power of ‘Yet’: Add ‘yet’ to any negative statements; ‘I can’t ….’ Becomes ‘I can’t …. yet’.

This helps children to realise that most aims or goals are attainable with some patience and persistence. It gives tham a real alternative to giving up, if something is a real challenge.

-Teaching key words such as ‘persevere’ and using them in conversation frequently.

By sharing the terminology with young children, they can begin to recognise and use these words themselves. Even very young children are capable of learning long and seeingly complex words if they are repeatedly used in the right context- just look at how many four year olds are dinosaur experts with all of the names used accurately!

-Praising children for effort and courage to try above outcome.

Increasingly teachers are now doing this in schools; praising effort above attainment. This helps children as the focus becomes less on whether they are “good or bad” or “pass or fail” something and more onto where they are now and how they can improve. This applies to all children, regardless of what level they are currently working at.

-Embracing mistakes; they are how we learn and improve.

This is really hard and something us grown-ups struggle with even more than children do. But it is essential in developing that growth mindset, can-do attitude which will set them up for future success.

-Check out my board ‘Growth Mindset’ board for more ideas I’ve gathered from Pinterest.

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Comments (8)

  • nightwisprav3n

    June 28, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    That’s interesting using the word yet. I say that to my youngest who is too hard on himself when he can’t figure something out. He was a lot worse when he was younger though because everyone, including his older brother could do things he couldn’t yet do. He would get so down and frustrated with himself. His dad and I are both gamers and when he was 3 he wanted to play a game with his dad. He couldn’t yet wrap his hands around the controller though so he had a hard time holding onto the controller. He go so upset that he threw the controller. I calmed him down by saying to him, “You can’t hold the controller yet honey but you will soon enough. You’re growing bigger every day and before you know it, those controllers won’t be able to slip from your grasp.” It helped a little but it would have helped more if I had a book like this for him. Children do get frustrated when they can’t do the same things everyone around them can do. It’s good to see an author write a story around this. #bloggerclubuk

    1. rabbitideas

      June 28, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks for your comment- if you look on You Tube for Growth Mindset ted talks I’m sure there’ll be lots of ideas on this there. 🙂

  • Hayley @Mission: Mindfulness

    September 11, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Ooooh I’ll definitely have to check out your Pintrest board! I love that you’re post compliments the post I linked up too! I’ll have to get this book for my little ones. A really helpful post – all parents need to know about a growth mindset. #thesatsesh

  • Fridgesays

    September 11, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    #thesatsesh ohhh i love this! So into growth mindset and really love how you’ve adapted a classic tale. My son is yet to have this book, however it is on our list and you may have just pushed it up to a weekend purchase!

  • Lydia C. Lee

    November 1, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    This carries thru esp for teenagers. Lovely book. #FortheloveofBLOG

    1. Jenny Rumney

      November 2, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Yes- definitely a universal one here! Thank you for reading

  • Kelly Edwards

    November 6, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Ooh I love the ‘yet’ trick, I’ll have to use that one. Thanks for linking up to #fortheloveofblog x

    1. Jenny Rumney

      November 6, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      It’s a good one! Thank you for reading

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