“Supermom Saves the Day” tells the story of a young girl who faces gender stereotypes on the school playground. This toolkit structures a guided reading of the story and can be used for grades 3–8.
When Sheila’s male classmates exclude her from the game she wants to play, she goes home sad and confused. So what if she doesn’t want to play hopscotch? And why can’t she play superheroes? “Supermom Saves the Day” tells the story of how Shelia’s teacher and family help her classmates understand that boys and girls can enjoy—and be good at—the same things.
- How do gender stereotypes play out in different ways for children in and outside of school?
- How do gender stereotypes limit children’s freedom?
- How can adults help children challenge gender stereotypes?
- Discuss the “before reading” questions.
- Next, read the story, either aloud or as a shared reading, and discuss the “during reading” questions.
- Then, discuss the “after reading” questions as a class.
- Use the extension ideas to continue the discussion.
- How do students play during recess? What kinds of games do they play?
- Do you think there are boys games and girls games? Why or why not?
- What game does Sheila want to play?
- Why does John say Sheila can’t play the game she wants to play?
- What kind of work does Sheila’s mom do? What about Sheila’s dad?
- John acts differently toward Sheila at school than he does when they play together in their neighborhood. Why do you think that is?
- Describe what Mrs. Miller does to resolve the recess conflict, and then describe a time when your teacher helped you and your classmates resolve a conflict.
Have students mix it up at recess by organizing games and activities they all can do together. Create opportunities for students to play games and engage in activities that are stereotypically “feminine” or “masculine.”
- How do students socialize at our school? Outside of school? Do all students socialize/play together? How do students decide to do different things for fun? How has that changed since you were in elementary school?
- Do you think there are certain activities or interests that are for boys and others that are for girls? Who decides what boys and girls should do? What happens when girls and boys do activities that they aren’t “supposed to” do?
- Describe Sheila’s experience at recess. What happens? How does it make her feel?
- What is John’s point of view? Where do you think he learned that? How does his attitude affect his classmates?
- What do Sheila’s parents do for a living? What kind of influence do they have on their daughter?
- Why do you think John acts differently toward Sheila at school than when they play together in their neighborhood? What other things might he do differently at home and at school?
- How does Mrs. Miller help resolve the recess conflict? How can you tell if it was helpful or not? What other ways could the conflict be addressed? Does it matter if this story happened in elementary or middle school?
Have students rewrite the story “Supermom Saves the Day” in a middle school setting and context. How would the characters, plot and conflict change?