The Power of a Bandaid!

Hey friends!
Denise here from Sunny Days in Second Grade. I'm so beyond crazy excited to be a Blog Hoppin author! The group of teacher authors and bloggers here is one I have tremendous admiration for and I am just tickled pink to be part of this group!

I'm just going to jump right in with a great way to build classroom community. I can not take credit for this idea. I first saw in on Pinterest (totally addicted!) and when I followed the link I came across Saylor's Log, a blog bursting with awesomeness. I have had a saying for a long time that I use with my class: Fair doesn't mean that everyone gets the same thing, fair means that everyone gets what they need. I'm sure I saw it on an overpriced poster that I refused to buy from the teacher store, but the saying itself stuck with me. So when I read about this activity from Saylor's Log, it fit perfectly. We did it today in class and I have to say, it was a very powerful teaching moment.

I gathered the kids on the carpet (don't all the best lessons happen there?). Then I told them to think about a time they were hurt. Of course they all wanted to tell me every little detail of every injury they've ever endured in their seven little years. This was actually causing my head to hurt, but we pressed on. After I let a few share, I asked them all to close their eyes and imagine that something was hurting them right now. They had serious concentration faces on during this part.

Then I had them come up a few at a time, making sure the rest could hear and see the action. When each student approached I asked them where they were hurt. No matter what they said to me, I put a bandaid on the back of their hand. I had a few kids mumbling and whispering and one little girl was just not havin' it. She kept asking her friends, "Why does she keep putting it on the same spot?" and "That's not where she said it hurt!". She was so bothered by what I was doing, but it was perfect to make my point, so I let her go on.

I put 16 bandaids on 16 hands and when my 17th student came up for his, I just told him I was sorry, but I didn't have any for him. He looked a little bummed, but went back to the carpet bandaid-less. I asked the kids if the bandaid made anyone feel better or if I put it on the right spot. Of course no hands raised. Then I asked them if a bandaid would even help if you had a sprained ankle or headache - of course they all said no. So then I launched into a kid friendly discussion of differentiation. I told them that not everyone in our class has the same needs, so not everyone will get to do the same things all the time. We talked about times when I might work with a small group, it's just because they needed a bandaid at that particular moment, but maybe they didn't. I assured them that at some time in the year, everyone would need a bandaid for something. We talked about kids who leave the room for special services and how they need a particular bandaid that another teacher gives them. I finally hit the point home when I said, if one student needs a little extra math practice, does that mean we ALL need extra practice? Of course, they said noooo (in only the way a group of 7 year olds can drag out a one word response...)

I also added in how our last student didn't get a bandaid at all! When I asked him how he felt, he said he felt left out and confused.  I told the group that never getting a bandaid was even worse and that's why when I'm with a student or small group they can't interrupt because it's the same as taking away their bandaid.

I have to say, it was a goose bump inducing lesson. The visual of the bandaid and the real life, kid level examples really made an impact on them. They proudly wore their bandaids around all day, until recess when our Dollar Tree bandaids were no match for the Florida humidity.

If you try it, I'd love to hear how it goes. And in the meantime, check out this great free poster that I found on Pinterest ( I warned you...I really am addicted). It might help spur some more great class conversation.
Click on the picture to snag a copy for yourself!

See ya on the Sunny Side!


  1. Please tell me that when all was said and done you gave that poor boy a bandaid to wear too. I don't think I'll sleep tonight otherwise. :)

    ❤Jodi from...
    ★★The Clutter-Free Classroom★★
    Helping Teachers Get Organized

  2. I used the bandaid lesson this year with my first graders. I liked how it made things more concrete.

  3. I love this! I am going to share with my team!

  4. Thanks for sharing, Denise! I loved it. I wonder if kinders would get it?? It is such a hard concept for them to get that they just don't get everything!
    Mrs.Miner’s Monkey Business

  5. Thank you so much for writing this up and showing the picture. What a wonderful idea!

  6. I love this!!! I will have to try it in my class! Thanks :)

    Jenn @ The Kinder Life

  7. Great idea!!!! I plan on using it with my 4th graders. Thanks for sharing :)

  8. What a phenomenal idea! OMG I am totally doing this!

  9. WOW! What an amazing idea! Thanks for sharing!

  10. This is great! It's such a great visual for a very important life lesson!


  11. L.O.V.E. this!! Definitely using this when we get small groups started after Labor Day :-)


  12. I saw this on Sayor's Log too and have it in my lesson plans for the first week. I teach ELLs and that lends itself perfectly to "everyone gets what they need". Thanks for this post. I am loving this blog.... :)

  13. Awesome blog post as usual Denise! Thanks so much for sharing!

    The Organized Classroom Blog

  14. Excellent Denise, as usual..I always look forward to your posts,you are so helpful! & congrats on being a blog hoppin' author..yay!

  15. It's terrific to 'see' that a visual can help lead a discussion of how we can all support each other & work toward growth whatever strengths (and weakness) we have -- as students & as educators as well.

    Any moment that brings a greater sensativity to 'differences' and how we can be supportive of one another is a gift.

  16. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Thank you! I shared your story with my principal and other teachers in my building. The special education director heard about my email and was so impressed with your thoughts (and how we all share so much to help each other in the blog world), that she passed it along to the board office. The curriculum director is sharing it with parents to help them better understand the RTI process and special education mainstreaming that we do.

    I did the lesson this week with my 1st graders and two 2nd grade teachers also shared this idea in class. It was AMAZING! I had one precious baby say, "So you really do give us just what we need when we need it. I never really thought about it before." I also had another boy (who I just met with his mother about sending him back to kinder) who said that I was the best because "I knew that he needed more time to play and have another recess- like kindergartners do". I really think this illustration will help him as he transitions.

    Sorry, so long-winded.... I am very grateful that you took the time to share your experience and inspire others.

  18. Awesome idea - thanks for passing on. Can't wait to see how my kids react.

  19. I love this idea but I must say that I'm a little confused. I feel a little silly but I want to get it! Lol. Why isnt then bandaid place where they were hurt? Isnt the bandaid supposed to make them feel better? Can someone explain please! :)

  20. Jessica, part of explaining differentiating is also explaining how "that's not fair" is not a classroom expression. Placing the band aids in one place for the fake injuries keeps the element of fair becasue they all get one and IT WILL RAISE THE QUESTIONS and draw student focus to the aha moment. If a fake injury is a shark bite....then you might need more than one tiny band aid. One per, in the same place, is 'fair'. After that, launch into the differentiation bit.

  21. I do something similar, and it works well with older kids. (I teach high school special education.) I tell them to each tell me a different ailment they have--either real or made up. Then I tell them that I will give each of them some Tums. Then I ask if that was fair. They of course say, "No." I then ask if it was equal, and they all agree that it was. This is the best way I can show them that I can treat each of them differently (in the way they NEED me to treat them--e.g. shortened assignments, allowing one student to put head down for the hour but not others) but still be fair. One of my favorite sayings is, "What's fair isn't always equal."

  22. I like the idea, however using a bandaid implies that those students needing help are in some way 'broken'. Would it be just as effective to use a 'hungry' analogy? Imagine a time when you were very hungry... Then instead of band aids, pass out a few Cheerios to each student regardless of what they would prefer/food intolerances/allergies/etc. (obviously, do not pass out peanuts or any other contact allergen). Then you could discuss differentiation and fair is not equal without the implication

  23. I liked this example. It's a good way to teach young children that fair doesn't always mean everyone gets the same thing. Another example you could use is have one kid pretend they're hungry, one kid pretend they're thirsty, and one kid pretend they're cold. And then you give them each a cookie (or water, or a sweater, etc. just as long as it meets 1 of the children's imaginary needs).



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