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if you plant a seed

If You Plant a Seed Kindness Activity

The notable children’s book If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson is a sweet story that teaches kids about kindness. To go along with the book, you may like to do a special kindness activity. This one is perfect for spring. (Or even late winter.)

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I found If You Plant a Seed (affiliate) when I was browsing through a list of notable new-ish children’s books. Kadir Nelson is an award-winning author-illustrator best known for his stories of diversity and his richly detailed illustrations.

This story of generosity and kindness is appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. It’s about a bunny and a mouse who plant seeds to grow food. Birds come and try to take their harvest. In the end, though, the animals share their food and together have an even more successful garden.

Kindness Activity Overview

The idea for this kindness activity is simple. Put some seeds you want to plant in the bottom of a jar. Then, catch your children being kind. Write down what they did on a slip of paper, and put it in the jar. When it’s time to plant the seeds, re-read the story, and talk about what’s on the slips of paper.

Kindness Activity Details

Read the story and explain the activity to your child. Choose some seeds and put them in a small jar. You may like to decorate it. Store the jar in a dark place such as a cupboard.

You might like to read this excellent short article on teaching kindness to children. When you catch your child showing kindness, write down the behavior.

Give your child the slip of paper and help him or her put it into the jar. (By “help” I mean make sure they don’t spill the seeds or drop the jar). You don’t have to fill the jar up. You could cram a whole lot of paper in a jar. The idea is to just praise and reinforce good behavior.

When you have a small collection of kind deeds in the jar, and when you have time, plant the seeds. Talk about how your plants can be used for kindness too. Flowers can brighten someone’s day. Vegetables can feed people and animals. (And if insects or critters get to your plants first, you can talk about that in terms of kindness too — of course you may still want to discourage them from getting to the plants!)

This post is part of the Book Inspired Crafts and Activities for Kids blog hop hosted by Raising Little Superheroes.

For more fun and inspiring activities from over 25 other bloggers, you may like to have a look!

For more book-inspired ideas from Books and Giggles you may like…

A simple kindness activity to go along with the book If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson. Helps teach and reinforce kindness with preschoolers and toddlers.

If You Plant a Seed

Kadir Nelson, acclaimed author of Baby Bear and winner of the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Awards, presents a resonant, gently humorous story about the power of even the smallest acts and the rewards of compassion and generosity.

With spare text and breathtaking oil paintings, If You Plant a Seed demonstrates not only the process of plan Kadir Nelson, acclaimed author of Baby Bear and winner of the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Awards, presents a resonant, gently humorous story about the power of even the smallest acts and the rewards of compassion and generosity.

With spare text and breathtaking oil paintings, If You Plant a Seed demonstrates not only the process of planting and growing for young children but also how a seed of kindness can bear sweet fruit. . more

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A rabbit and a rat plant a garden.

Some people will argue that this is a mouse, but I prefer rats so it’s going to be a rat in my review. Capische?

So this is one of those “sharing” books that makes me uncomfortable (along with The Giving Tree and The Rainbow Fish).

A rabbit and a rat plant a garden. It grows food and they are happy. Then a whole bunch of various birds come along and want to eat the food. The rabbit and rat refuse to give them food. So the birds go to war with the rat and the rabbi A rabbit and a rat plant a garden.

Some people will argue that this is a mouse, but I prefer rats so it’s going to be a rat in my review. Capische?

So this is one of those “sharing” books that makes me uncomfortable (along with The Giving Tree and The Rainbow Fish).

A rabbit and a rat plant a garden. It grows food and they are happy. Then a whole bunch of various birds come along and want to eat the food. The rabbit and rat refuse to give them food. So the birds go to war with the rat and the rabbit. Everyone ends up sad in a pile of ruined food.

Then the rat gives a tomato to the birds. The rat and rabbit “share” food with the birds. And in the end, the birds seed to garden aerially so that there is a really big prosperous garden in the end.

Let’s break it down:

– Gorgeous oil-on-canvas illustrations of just barely anthropomorphic animals.

– Features a rat, extra points.

– The end message of the book: “Let’s work together to make a better future” is a good one.

However. I have qualms about what goes down in the book.

– ONE: What right do these fucking birds have to the food that the rat and the rabbit grew together? No fucking right. YOU, the child, the human, the individual, do NOT have to “share” your belongings – especially ones you worked hard to earn – with every scrub who comes along asking you for them. Hmmmmm? That’s not “sharing,” that’s a communist state.

Rat and Rabbit have worked hard to grow their garden. It is their CHOICE whether to share their food with the birds or not. The birds going to war with Rat and Rabbit are behaving badly. We don’t attack people who refuse to “share” their hard-earned goods with us. This is not a good message.

All the food is ruined and no one gets to eat. The book tries to say this is Rat and Rabbit’s fault. It is NOT. They have a right to eat all the food they grew themselves. The birds have no right to demand the rodents’ food.

The book claims that the rat and the rabbit not sharing their food is “selfish.” This is bullshit. You are not “selfish” to want to keep the food you worked hard to grow and invested time and money in.

Now. I’m all for showing mercy and teaching children to be merciful and compassionate. However, I am not on board with how this is demonstrated in this book. You have a right to say “no.” You have a right to stand up for yourself. This is important to teach children.

Okay, actually that was my only complaint. BUT IT WAS A BIG ONE. I’m taking off a whole star for that.

Tl;dr – Great illustrations, good ending. I think Nelson really botched the plotline, though. I do NOT agree with teaching children to be passive or teaching children that they don’t have a right to their own property. If children CHOOSE to share and be compassionate and merciful, that should of course be encouraged, but I don’t believe in “forced sharing.”

I’m going to read this to children and then have a talk with them about what is a communist state and your rights as a citizen of a democracy. *nod nod* Children will be like: O.O

Appropriate ages 0-4. . more

I find myself very conflicted by this book.

The illustrations are beautiful – I have no qualms about this at all. I smiled, I laughed, I did all the things you’re supposed to do with a wonderfully illustrated picture book.

But the message.

The rabbit and the mouse planted their seeds, and took care of them, and did all the work while they grew – and when the birds suddenly show up demanding their share, the rabbit and mouse are suddenly selfish for not handing over the goods? They deserve the fight I find myself very conflicted by this book.

The illustrations are beautiful – I have no qualms about this at all. I smiled, I laughed, I did all the things you’re supposed to do with a wonderfully illustrated picture book.

But the message.

The rabbit and the mouse planted their seeds, and took care of them, and did all the work while they grew – and when the birds suddenly show up demanding their share, the rabbit and mouse are suddenly selfish for not handing over the goods? They deserve the fight that ensued, and to lose all their food? That doesn’t seem right.
And when the rabbit and mouse decide to share, and say “yes, you can have our veggies,” then – and only then – do the birds suddenly want to pitch in and help grow more. That’s not how bullies work, and I don’t want my kids or any other Very Young Ones to think that if someone shows up demanding their hard work, then they should just give in out of “kindness.”
It seems there are a few very important conversations that got left out of the book. . more

I read a review copy at work when I had the title in a cart to buy. Gorgeous illustrations! However, the message seemed pretty heavy handed and preachy and I was disappointed by the lack of subtlety. The stunning illustrations cannot make up for the thundering message to treat seeds as opportunities in life to be kind and sharing. There is nothing wrong with the message. It is one kids need to hear. However, they don’t need to be hit over the head with the message. This is probably the biggest m I read a review copy at work when I had the title in a cart to buy. Gorgeous illustrations! However, the message seemed pretty heavy handed and preachy and I was disappointed by the lack of subtlety. The stunning illustrations cannot make up for the thundering message to treat seeds as opportunities in life to be kind and sharing. There is nothing wrong with the message. It is one kids need to hear. However, they don’t need to be hit over the head with the message. This is probably the biggest miss I have seen from Nelson. But the illustrations are absolutely stunning. Too bad the text wasn’t better.

Addendum: I just took a look at some other reviews and felt I should add that the message wasn’t just heavy handed, it was questionable. As others have pointed out, the birds are bullies in this book. Yes, we all know birds will eat seeds of veggies but these birds are charging in as an army and just grabbing the food. I have to agree, the message that the animals are greedy for not wanting to share food they raised to bullies who just grab without asking is just wrong. . more

For many years every spring the classrooms would be filled with bouquets of daffodils. A retired teacher, a life-long resident of the community, had huge expanses of her property planted in daffodils. Passersby often believed they were looking at a vast yellow carpet moving in the mild breezes. She willingly shared with others.

This kind of floral display is not accomplished overnight. It’s done one year at a time, one bulb or a cluster of bulbs at a time. More than ten years ago, I decided to ad For many years every spring the classrooms would be filled with bouquets of daffodils. A retired teacher, a life-long resident of the community, had huge expanses of her property planted in daffodils. Passersby often believed they were looking at a vast yellow carpet moving in the mild breezes. She willingly shared with others.

This kind of floral display is not accomplished overnight. It’s done one year at a time, one bulb or a cluster of bulbs at a time. More than ten years ago, I decided to adopt her strategy. A few bulbs are planted each fall. Potted daffodils, tulips and hyacinths garnered from grocery shopping over the winter are planted in the spring.

This morning there they were, the first green shoots, evidence of spring, poking through dried leaves, along the back of the house warmed by the early morning sun. The thrill of seeing new life coming from what has been planted never grows old. If You Plant a Seed (Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, March 3, 2015) written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson speaks to a timeless adage giving it a distinct perspective, bringing to mind the fables of Aesop.

A message for living is showcased in the story of a rabbit and a mouse who start a small garden and the two different paths their garden can take: one a road of generosity, and one a road of selfishness.

Oil paintings are full of light and are as realistic as they are awwww-inspiring. This book is perfect for reading aloud, especially in spring and its message of sharing and kindness is perfectly aimed and presented at the PreK-2 audience.

I’ve been reading most the picture books nominated for the goodreads choice awards. All of them have impressive illustrations but the ones in his book are paintings and boy are they gorgeous. More importantly, though some of them made me chuckle, this is the one I’d want to buy for my (hypothetical) children.

It’s a lovely story about kindness and reaping what you sow. I’ve been reading most the picture books nominated for the goodreads choice awards. All of them have impressive illustrations but the ones in his book are paintings and boy are they gorgeous. More importantly, though some of them made me chuckle, this is the one I’d want to buy for my (hypothetical) children.

It’s a lovely story about kindness and reaping what you sow. . more

Award-winning Nelson tells a story about the power of sharing in this simple and striking picture book. The story begins with a rabbit and a mouse planting a tomato seed, a carrot seed and a cabbage seed in their garden. Then the two wait through all kinds of weather for the seeds to sprout and grow. Until finally, they have three lovely plants and are able to feast on their bounty. Then the birds arrive and silently ask for the rabbit and mouse to share. But no sharing happens and instead there Award-winning Nelson tells a story about the power of sharing in this simple and striking picture book. The story begins with a rabbit and a mouse planting a tomato seed, a carrot seed and a cabbage seed in their garden. Then the two wait through all kinds of weather for the seeds to sprout and grow. Until finally, they have three lovely plants and are able to feast on their bounty. Then the birds arrive and silently ask for the rabbit and mouse to share. But no sharing happens and instead there is a struggle and the plants are destroyed. One small red tomato survives and the mouse offers it to the birds. The birds in turn repay that kindness with seeds of their own which then sprout into a much larger and more diverse garden for them all to enjoy, along with even more animals.

Nelson’s writing here is simple but also to the point. He shows young readers what is happening in the story. Using the symbolism of the garden throughout, he explains the importance of sowing the seeds of kindness rather than selfishness and finally how beautiful it is in the end when you do that. There is little subtlety here and the symbolism is beautifully integrated into the story as a whole.

As always, Nelson’s illustrations are pure delight. His animals shine on the page, showing emotions clearly and beautifully both in their eyes and the positions of ears and tails. Other details bring the entire scene to life. Perhaps my favorite page is the birds silently watching the rabbit and mouse feast on the produce. It’s funny and yet the tension is clear too. The entire book is filled with small lovely moments like this told in images rather than words.

Community, sharing and kindness come together in this splendidly illustrated picture book that is sure to be enjoyed along with other spring gardening books. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
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The whole family will read all these November Goodreads nominees for Children’s Illustrated books of the year and I will make each review after I get all the ratings (and will add final vote for FAVORITE, after all the ratings are in!) from each family member.

Of the six books so far, this was our least favorite. It is what we expect of children’s books: makes a point we already know about planting seeds and “planting seeds”, and the art is bold and colorful (and for most of us, sorta generic.

Dav The whole family will read all these November Goodreads nominees for Children’s Illustrated books of the year and I will make each review after I get all the ratings (and will add final vote for FAVORITE, after all the ratings are in!) from each family member.

Of the six books so far, this was our least favorite. It is what we expect of children’s books: makes a point we already know about planting seeds and “planting seeds”, and the art is bold and colorful (and for most of us, sorta generic.

Dave 2 stars
Tara 3 stars
Harry (10) 3 stars
Henry (9) 2.5 stars
Lyra (8) 2.5 stars

Okay, so the rating really is closer to 2.6 overall, and technically should have been rounded up to a 3, but I really thought this was pretty vanilla. And finally, it is my rating, influenced by the fam. . more

If You Plant a Seed book. Read 601 reviews from the world’s largest community for readers. Kadir Nelson, acclaimed author of Baby Bear and winner of the …