Not Perfect Daisy Collage1

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Yesterday was Day #2 of my “Not Perfect Hat Club” meeting with the fourth graders in Warren, Texas. As expected, the kids arrived wearing stellar “Not Perfect” hats (see above) with unexpected insights and stories to share.

We began with a “Not Perfect” hat show. I asked the kids to come up and show me their hats, then tell me one thing about themselves that was “Perfectly Not Perfect.” That means even though you aren’t perfect, it’s something you really like about yourself.

Most of the kids had something fun to share. For example, one fellow wearing a big smile, told me that he was “Not Perfect” at math but he loved it anyway! Another said that he wore his baseball cap inside out and sideways because he liked to be different.

Interestingly, however, there were a few kids who were tongue-tied when asked to say something about themselves. “Let’s ask your classmates,” I suggested. “What is ‘Perfectly Not Perfect’ about him or her?”

The answers were surprisingly insightful and kind. “He’s hyper but really fun,” was the way one boy was described.

Another was described as ” A pretty good artist for a boy.” That made everyone laugh, and of course I wanted to know why being a boy made a difference. “Because boys like to draw boy stuff,” his female classmate said with a shrug.

Next, we read Chapter One from the new “Not Perfect Hat Club” book, which will be coming out in the new year. It’s the story of three unlikely friends: Jabber, a skateboard obsessed slam poet; Rylee, a promising violinist determined to master Mozart; and Newton, an elderly golden retriever bred for perfection. The story is told through Newton’s eyes and follows their struggles to accept that change is inevitable and perfection is not an option. You can read the first chapter yourself here:

After discussing what made each of the kids in the story “Not Perfect,” I did a quick review of our previous visit. “What did we decide it means to be ‘Not Perfect?'” I asked.  Many hands were raised, but their answers surprised me.

“It means weird, different, abnormal, strange…” The judgments filled the room with a vengeance. Only one student dared to say, “It means you don’t have to do everything perfect the first time.”

“Do all of you always do things perfectly?” I asked, wanting to be sure they understood the connection between their words and what they were implying about themselves.

“No!” they shouted.

“So does that make you weird, different, strange or abnormal?”

No, they agreed, it did not. Clearly they understood the idea but were not convinced on some level that being “Not Perfect” was okay. I had an idea.

“Remember we talked about famous people who are ‘Not Perfect’ last time?” I asked.

Yes, they remembered.

“I want to share a quote from one of those people. His name is Wayne Gretzky and he’s a famous hockey player in Canada. Here’s what he said:

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

“What do you think that means?” I asked.

 The kids got it of course. If you don’t do something because you’re afraid of failing, there’s no chance you can succeed, and they loved the idea of taking a shot and making it!

Our final activity was to choose and draw a “Not Perfect” dog. I gave them four options. Each of the dogs had something not quite perfect about it. One was partially blind, another had a paralyzed back leg and a third was old. However, the kids chose to draw the most challenged, “Not Perfect” dog of all – Won Ton. A two-year-old Shitzu mix, Won Ton has cerebral palsy. We talked about how Won Ton doesn’t let his physical limitations stop him from getting around, begging for treats and trying to crawl into people’s laps. The kids loved it, and did a great job with their drawings (see sample below).

Won Ton Real and Drawn1A


The kids promised to write and post Won Ton’s story and their drawings to their blogs in a few days, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m sending each and every one of them a “Not Perfect Hat Club Member” badge as a way to remind them that they are each “Perfectly Not Perfect.” Thanks to you and your kids Daisy for helping us test and explore our latest CritterKin project!  – Jena Ball


Copyright 2014 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.