I can recall multiple incidents when I was volunteering in Elementary school classrooms in my Grade 11 and 12 years when a student would come up to me, claiming that another classmate had taken something of theirs and wouldn’t give it back because “it was theirs.”
This is an age old problem for young children. It happened when I was that age, it clearly still happens today and, unless some technology comes around that tags your personal items to you genetically, it will happen in the future. It is also difficult to address because you can’t accuse either child of lying.
I have come up with a way to solve this dilemma through PREVENTION, so that rather than having to deal with it, you can hopefully discourage it from happening altogether. It is called the “mine” monster.
I imagine the introduction of this concept to the kids to go something like this…
“Has anyone here ever heard of the mine monster? No? Well, let me tell you, he is a sneaky little creature that likes to take children’s belonging and call them his own. And once he steals something from you, you will probably never get it back.
Has anyone heard the word “envy” or “jealousy” before? Do you know what it means? Yes, you’re right, it is when someone wants things that other people have. That is what the mine monster has – jealousy. He takes your things and then squeals “IT’S MINE!” (in a silly voice) and he runs away to his hiding place and you can never get your stolen item back! He is very sneaky, so you have to watch out for him!
Did you know that people can become mine monsters sometimes? Yes, it’s true. When we see someone else has a sparkly pencil or a brand new ball cap that we like, we may want to take it from them so we can have it. But that is NOT right. That is jealousy. And we can’t take other people’s things and call it our own. Because we don’t want to be a mine monster, do we? No, of course not!
So how can we stop the mine monster? First, we can make sure that our name is on our things, so everyone knows who it belongs to. Second, if we like something that someone has, like a special box of markers or a toy, we can’t take it from them, but we can ask them nicely if they would let us try it if they are not using it. That is called sharing, and it makes the mine monster VERY mad because he hates sharing, because it is a nice thing to do.
If we do these things, we can stop the mine monster from striking in our classroom! So does anyone remember what the first rule is? Yes, it’s PUT YOUR NAME ON EVERYTHING. And what about the second rule? You’re right, it is to share and ask first before taking something from someone else!”
I just thought this was a cute little idea that you could do with your class to prevent kids from taking things that aren’t theirs. Maybe you could even ask the class if they wanted to see what the mine monster looked like and have a little sock puppet or something you could put on your hand and go around the classroom saying “I’m on a hunt, what will I find? A _____________ (ex. red pencil case, box of crayons, etc, etc, etc.) that is mine!” (and take something from a student’s desk in the mine monster’s “mouth!” That would be sure to get your point across).
Let’s all fight the mine monster together!