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Qualities of a Good Life

  • Find evidence in the story of feelings that add to the happiness or sadness of one or more of the characters.
  • What two supporting factors would most improve the character's life?

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

In this two-part challenge, students examine the lives of fictional characters to learn of the feelings that characterize a person's quality of life and consider the factors that might improve the quality of life. Create a dozen or so index cards with a different feeling on each, creating matched pairs of positive and negative feelings (e.g., I feel safe/I feel afraid; I feel healthy/I feel sick; I feel full/I feel hungry; I feel loved/I feel lonely). Print two headings on a display board: "Feelings that make us happy" and "Feelings that make us sad." One by one, read aloud the cards and ask students to decide in which column the feeling belongs. Encourage students to suggest additional positive and negative feelings. Record these on index cards and place them in the appropriate column. After all the cards have been sorted, invite students to pair up the feelings so that one feeling is the opposite of the other. Rearrange the cards on the board so that the matched pairs are aligned with each other, as suggested below:

Feelings that make us happy

Feelings that make us sad

I feel safe

I feel afraid

I feel healthy

I feel sick

I feel loved

I feel lonely

When a number of feelings have been posted and matched, explain that the feelings listed in the chart describe what is often referred to as the quality of a person's life. Explain that those who have mostly happy feelings are said to have a good quality life and those with mostly sad feelings have a poor quality of life.

Select a story such as Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting, where some of the characters exhibit happy feelings and others exhibit sad feelings. Invite students to listen for evidence or clues of the happy and sad feelings that each of the characters is experiencing. At the conclusion of the story, invite students to refer to the previously created chart to identify the character's feelings and to point to evidence from the story to support their observations. You may wish to adapt the strategies and chart for Supporting Conclusions (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity. Repeat this procedure with other characters in the story.

In the second challenge, introduce the possibility that the characters' quality of life would improve if they had more of the feelings that make them happy and less of the feelings that make them sad. Discuss with students what would be needed to change the feelings of someone who was feeling thirsty (water, money to buy juice) or lonely (friends, a pet) or tired (less work, a bed to sleep in). To begin reinforcing the mindset that there are many ways to support a quality of life, encourage students to think of different factors that might help a person overcome a particular sad feeling. You may want to create a third column, "How to create happy feelings and get rid of sad feelings," and invite the class to suggest several supporting factors for each of the paired feelings on the chart.

Return students' attention to the previously-read story and review the sad feelings experienced by one of the characters. Brainstorm several things that might help that person change the sad feelings. Ask each student to select the factors that would most enrich the character's quality of life. The criteria for the most enriching factors might include the following:

  • would bring about lasting positive feelings
  • would have positive influences on other feelings
  • are things that people can do.

You may wish to adapt the strategies and chart for Considering Options (Support Material) and Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity. Repeat this procedure with other characters in the story.

This lesson may be an opportunity to discuss people in their own communities who have sad feelings and what factors might contribute to their quality of life.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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