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Joshua Disobeys!

Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 2nd Grade
Standard 2 Objective 1


Utah LessonPlans


This lesson helps students see that rules exist to keep themselves and others safe.


  • Joshua Disobeys
  • Three boxes labeled, "Guess What Would Happen If....."
  • Scissors
  • Strips of white paper
  • Scotch tape

Additional Resources


  • Joshua Disobeys, by Dennis Vollmer; ISBN 0933849125
  • Free to Be...a Family, by Marlo Thomas; ISBN 0553345591
  • Teaching Children to Care: Management in the Responsive Classroom, by Ruth Charney; ISBN 0961863617

Background for Teachers

Students often complain about the many rules placed upon them by parents, school and community officials. This lesson is to help them see that rules exist to keep themselves and others safe.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. Explain why families, school, and communities have rules.

Instructional Procedures

Invitation to Learn

The teacher invites a student to challenge him/her to a game of checkers. The rest of the class gathers to watch the game. The teacher wins by not following the rules of the game. Afterwards, the teacher encourages and gathers responses about the experience, and uses them to initiate a discussion about how rules benefit everyone.

Review vocabulary words: obey, disobey, consequences.

  1. Share book Joshua Disobeys with class.
  2. Review the rule that Joshua the whale disobeyed and what the consequences of disobeying were.
  3. Discuss with the class how every animal is taught rules by their parents. Model some examples such as the following:
    • The mother hen teaches her baby chicks to hide under her wings when there is danger because she can keep them safe.
  4. Tell the students to think of an animal and what its mother would teach it. Tell them to display their thinking by finishing the sentence listed as follows: The mother _______ teaches her baby _______ because _______. When they have completed their writing, tell them to illustrate it so that it will be ready to be shared in a class book.
  5. Students are invited to share their pages with the class.
  6. Tell the students that rules are designed to keep us happy and safe. Tell them that we have rules at home, at school, and in the community. Have students help come up with one rule for each area as a class.
  7. Show the students the boxes labeled, "What would happen if...."
  8. Divide students into small groups and assign each one a specific location to write down the rules for (school, home, community etc.) Distribute the labeled boxes, and instruct them to write 10 rules on strips of paper that can be placed in the box.
  9. When completed, invite students in their small groups to take turns picking a rule out of the box and collaborating with each other as they guess what would happen if we didn't have that rule. For example, if they chose the strip of paper with "No running in the halls," they could guess that if we didn't have that rule, students would always be getting run over in the halls and would get hurt.
  10. When completed, have the small groups trade their boxes and do the same activity with the different set of rules. Continue doing this until every group has been able to work with every set of rules.
  11. Instruct the students to remain in their small groups and have each person write their name on other strips of paper. Tell them to use the strips of paper from the rule box and alternate a rule with a name as they create a paper chain.
  12. When the small groups have completed their chain, guide them as they connect all of the small chains together to form a big one. Have two students stretch the chain across the room. Tell them that when everyone follows the rules, the chain stays intact, but when someone breaks a rule the chain is broken and it affects everyone. (Cut the chain.)
  13. Tell the students that when rules are broken a consequence follows, and a price needs to be paid to try and repair the damage that has been done.
  14. Read the rule that was cut from the chain to the class, and ask the students to come up with the solution to help repair the damage of the rule being broken.
  15. Repair the link that was cut off with a Band-Aid to help represent the repair.
  16. Continue this activity with other rules being cut from the chain.


  • Invite a local law enforcement officer to your classroom to discuss how rules keep us safe and the consequences for breaking rules.
  • Invite a legislator or mayor to your classroom to discuss how laws for our cities, our state, and our country are created.
  • Introduce school or classroom rules.
  • Students make brochures of laws or rules for the community, the classroom, or their homes.
  • Accommodations can be made for students by adjusting the amount of writing required. This can be accomplished by having them tell the teacher or another student what he/she would like to have written.
  • Have the students play a P.E. activity called Joshua Disobeys. Divide half of the students to be whales and the other half to be the parents. Tell them that the objective of the game is to keep the whales from going into the shallow water and becoming beached. Designate a location that represents the shallow and the deep water. Tell the students that this is the area that they are supposed to keep the whales from going to. Tell the students that when a student representing a parent touches a whale, they have to go back to the deep water before they can "swim" again. Set the timer for five minutes. When the time is up, count how many whales were beached. Play again to see if the parents can keep fewer whales from becoming beached.

Family Connections

  • Invite families to create and display a list of family rules. These could be general rules or rules specific to a particular activity such as cooking.
  • Have each family member write their name on a strip of paper and a family rule on another strip of paper. Use all of the strips to create a paper chain. When the chain is complete hold it up and admire it before ripping one of the rule strips and watching the chain fall to the floor. Encourage families to discuss how when one person breaks a rule it weakens the chain and causes disruption for every member of the family.

Assessment Plan

  • Distribute paper and art supplies and have the students finish the sentence, "My (parent/teacher/community) taught me _____ __ because _______". When their sentences are complete, have them illustrate their work. Invite the students to share their work. Collect them to make another class book.
  • Have students create a list of five rules they are expected to obey at home, at school, or in the community. Then have them write what would happen without that rule.


Research Basis

Collinston, E., (2000). A Survey of Elementary Students' Learning Style Preferences and Academic Success. EBSCO. Retrieved January 20, 2007, from

There are several different learning styles. Learning styles include the ways that students learn, process, retain information, and behave. Some of these include the following: visual, auditory, and tactile. Catering to a variety of these ensures that all students will be able to be successful learners. It is especially important for the low achieving students who generally prefer to learn as one or more peers assist them, and as they are provided many hands-on experiences.

Sheldon, K. L., ((1994). Including Affective and Social Education in the Integrated Curriculum. EBSCO. Retrieved January 20, 2007, from

Children's literature is a valuable resource for teachers to turn to as they develop lesson plans to teach students about values. Social skills and effective education can be accomplished through an interdisciplinary approach.

Created: 07/09/2007
Updated: 02/05/2018