Nelson Mandela & the 7 Habits

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As a part of our final ELA theme unit, our class looked at biographies and different notable people throughout history that exemplified the 7 Habits (if you are unfamiliar with the 7 Habits/Leader in Me Program, find out more here).

My students had no idea what the 7 Habits were so I introduced them with posters I found on Pinterest (find them here).

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After showing them each one, I went into further detail by reading them the children’s book The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey. My students loved the stories and characters, and even better, they understood and learned what each of the habits were! I would read them a story that looked at one particular habit without telling them what the habit was. Following the story, I would ask students which habit they thought the story illustrated. We read each of the seven stories until students fully understood what each habit was.

7 Habits Book

I was planning on tying in the 7 Habits into the final biographies students would have to write me at the end of this unit, so I wanted an activity that helped students look at a notable person and pick out the 7 Habits that they have lived out. The person we chose to look at was Nelson Mandela.

To start off this lesson, I read to the students the children’s version of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography – Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. We discussed prior to reading the difference between a biography and an autobiography. Upon finishing this book, I put students into groups and assigned them each one habit. Each group then had to brainstorm how Nelson Mandela represented their habit. They were required to make a poster that not only had an illustration of Mandela doing this habit, but they also needed to write and give details in which life event he demonstrated the assigned habit.

Here are the posters my students created for each of the 7 Habits:

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Overall, this was a great hit with the students! It gave them the practice they needed for when they went to write their own biographies and had to connect how their notable person lived the 7 Habits. My students also took a huge interest in Nelson Mandela himself and he has since been a topic of conversation in our room. What a great way to bring in the end of the year with such positivity and still a drive to learn from the students…it’s rare and I’ll take it!

Does your school use the 7 Habits?

What other lessons have you used to help students build skills similar to the 7 Habits? 


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