Lesson plan

The Forgiveness Garden

Resolving conflicts and forgiving others is a powerful lesson in the story "The Forgiveness Garden." In this lesson, students will read the story, discuss conflict resolution, and practice forgiveness tools.
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Students will be able to define "conflict resolution" and discuss the role forgiveness plays in practicing conflict resolution.

(10 minutes)
  • Join students together in a circle, either seated or standing.
  • Pair students up into partners.
  • Explain that today the class will be discussing forgiveness.
  • Ask the class to take a moment and think about what forgiveness means (give them 30–60 seconds).
  • Ask students to share with a partner what forgiveness means to them.
  • Ask the class for volunteers to share what forgiveness means aloud to the class.
  • Explain to the class that today they will be hearing the true story The Forgiveness Garden and learning about conflict resolution.
(15 minutes)
  • Write the words "conflict resolution" on the board.
  • Ask, "Does anyone know what this phrase means?"
  • Write the definition of conflict resolution on the board: "resolving a disagreement in a manner that promotes and protects the human rights of all people."
  • Ask one student to read the definition.
  • Ask for 3-4 students to come to the board and underline or circle important words that stand out for them in the definition.
  • Ask, "What stood out in the definition?"
  • Show the cover of the book The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson.
  • Ask, "Looking at the cover, where do you think this story takes place? What is happening in the image on the front cover? What do you think will happen in this story?"
  • Explain that this true story took place in Lebanon many years ago.
  • Point to a map or globe to show students where Lebanon is located.
  • Read the book aloud to students.
  • Pause and ask comprehension questions to check for understanding throughout the book.
(10 minutes)
  • Break the class into five (multi-ability) groups of students.
  • Give each group a piece of chart paper with the following questions:
    • Group 1: What was the conflict in the story? Who was hurt during the conflict? What do you think Sama and Karune said under the tree? How does forgiveness impact relationships? Community?
    • Group 2: What happened to Sama? What did Sama suggest to support a resolution? How did Karune feel when they first started to make the garden? What do you think Sama and Karune said under the tree? How does forgiveness impact relationships? Community?
    • Group 3: What did "forgive" mean for the villagers? How did the garden help them? What do you think Sama and Karune said under the tree? How does forgiveness impact relationships? Community?
    • Group 4: When did Karune join the forgiveness garden? What did Karune and Sama talk about under the tree? How does forgiveness impact relationships? Community?
    • Group 5: What happened at the end of the story? How did forgiveness take place? What do you think Sama and Karune said under the tree? How does forgiveness impact relationships? Community?
  • Ask each group to answer the questions on their chart paper and instruct each group that they will be asked to present their answers to the class.
  • Ask students to choose who will be the scribe that writes the group's answers.
  • Give students 8–10 minutes to answer questions and write their answers.
  • Go around the room and ask each group to read their questions and answers.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that the class will be building a forgiveness rock garden.
  • Show them your sample forgiveness rock.
  • Explain that forgiveness rocks are a great way to remember the power of forgiveness! Tell the class that they will each design a forgiveness rock to be placed in the classroom forgiveness rock garden.
  • Write the directions on the board, explaining as you go.
    1. Use different colored markers to write words and draw images to remind others to forgive.
    2. Put glue on the rock.
    3. Sprinkle with your favorite colored glitter.
    4. Bring your rock to your teacher to place on the classroom forgiveness rock garden.
  • Dismiss students to go back to their seats to work on their forgiveness rocks.
  • Ask each student who has completed their rock to bring it to the front of the room to help build the forgiveness rock garden.
  • Help students hot glue their rocks onto the green paper or artificial grass.

Enrichment: Ask advanced students to write their own story about forgiveness.

Support: Work one-on-one or in small groups with some students during independent work time to ensure understanding of forgiveness and use of forgiveness rocks.

(5 minutes)
  • Walk around the room and check student comprehension of forgiveness during group work.
(5 minutes)
  • Bring students back together in a circle.
  • Show the class the forgiveness rock garden.
  • Place it in the center of the circle.
  • Ask, "What's the connection between the forgiveness rock garden and conflict resolution?
  • Ask students, 3–4 at a time, to move closer to the rock garden in silence and to share what they notice and wonder.
  • Repeat this until all students have looked at the rock garden.
  • Ask, "What will you think of when you walk by this rock garden in class?"

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