Book cover of "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes next to bold text reading "CHRYANTHEMUM LITERACY ACTIVITIES" on a pink background.

Blooming Minds: Chrysanthemum Activities for the Classroom

Introducing students to Chrysanthemum activities is an excellent way to explore themes like self-acceptance, bullying, and the impact of our actions. The Chrysanthemum book by Kevin Henkes tells the story of a young mouse who learns to embrace her unique name despite being teased by her classmates. By incorporating these engaging activities into your classroom, you can help students develop empathy, make connections, and analyze character development.

A children's book titled "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes, complemented by activity sheets focused on character traits and inferences, with three yellow chrysanthemums at the bottom.

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Chrysanthemum Summary

Chrysanthemum’s parents name her after a flower because they think she is perfect, and it is the perfect name for her. She loves how her name sounds and looks when written down. 

When Chrysanthemum’s new classmates tease her because of her name, her parents reassure her how special it is, but Chrysanthemum ‘wilts’ every time she is teased.

Mrs Twinkle, the music teacher, announces to the excited students that she is pregnant. She tells the students she is also named after a flower and thinks Chrysanthemum would be a lovely name for her baby. Suddenly, all the other students want to be named after a flower, making Chrysanthemum feel proud of her name once more.

Chrysanthemum Discussion Points

  • Self-Acceptance: Chrysanthemum’s journey highlights the importance of accepting and loving oneself.
  • Bullying: The impact of bullying and how it can affect someone’s self-esteem.
  • Kindness: Acts of kindness can make a significant difference in someone’s life.
  • Empathy: Students can learn to understand and share the feelings of others through Chrysanthemum’s experiences.
  • Consequences of Actions: Shows how the words and actions of others can have lasting effects.

Chrysanthemum Activities

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is an excellent choice for the classroom because it addresses important themes like self-acceptance, bullying, and the consequences of our actions on others.

This post will focus on Chrysanthemum activities for:

Character Analysis Activities for Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum is a character initially full of joy and pride in her name. Students can explore her emotions, reactions, and growth throughout the story.

Activity: Brainstorm words describing Chrysanthemum at different points in the story. Examples include: happy, proud, sad, embarrassed, brave, and confident. 

Use graphic organizers with a picture of Chrysanthemum in the middle. Students will write Chrysanthemum’s traits around the picture.

Ask students to consider how Chrysanthemum feels at the beginning, middle, and end of the story and how she changes throughout the story. What events cause these changes?

Worksheet and book titled "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes. Worksheet includes character traits: cheerful, resilient, and sensitive, with drawings of a mouse and flowers. Three yellow daisies are below.
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Inference Activities for Chrysanthemum

Students will practice making inferences using text evidence and prior knowledge to understand characters’ motivations and emotions.

Activity: Discuss why Chrysanthemum’s classmates might be teasing her. What evidence from the text supports their ideas? Examples might include:

  • They think her name is unusual or too long.
  • They might be jealous because Chrysanthemum loves her name.

Ask students to infer how Chrysanthemum feels during different parts of the story, such as:

  • When she loves her name at the beginning.
  • When her classmates start teasing her.
  • When her teacher praises her name.
  • At the end when she feels proud of her name again.

Provide students with an inference worksheet where they can write down their inferences about why the classmates tease Chrysanthemum and how she feels at different points in the story. Include text evidence and prior knowledge to support their inferences.

A Chrysanthemum-themed children's activity sheet is displayed beside the book "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes. The image also includes a pink flower and text reading "FREE activity.
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Making Connections with Chrysanthemum

Many students can relate to feeling different or being teased. Chrysanthemum lets students practice connecting texts to themselves, other texts, and the world around them.

Activity: Discuss the key themes of Chrysanthemum, focusing on how she feels different because of her unique name and the teasing she experiences. Explain that everyone has moments when they feel different or are teased, and sharing these experiences can help us understand each other better. What is the activity?

Ask students to think about a time when they felt different or were teased. Provide prompts, such as:

  • What happened?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • How did you handle the situation?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
Image showing a children’s book titled "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes, alongside two worksheets and various stationery items. One worksheet discusses character feelings, the other has a handwritten response.
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Discussion Questions for Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum questions encourage your students to reflect on the story, interpret the characters’ motivations and feelings, analyze the author’s message, and apply their understanding to their experiences.

  1. Why was Chrysanthemum upset after her classmates teased her because of her name?
  2. Why do you think Victoria, Rita, and Jo made fun of Chrysanthemum’s name?
  3. How could Mrs Chud have handled the teasing more effectively?
  4. What did the students learn from Mrs Twinkle?
  5. Give Victoria advice about how she should treat people different from her.
  6. How do Chrysanthemum’s parents try to help her feel better about her name?
  7. How does the teacher, Mrs. Twinkle, play a pivotal role in changing Chrysanthemum’s attitude toward her name?
  8. Discuss how the reaction of Chrysanthemum’s classmates changes from the beginning to the end of the book. What causes this change?
  9. Why is the name “Chrysanthemum” significant in the story? What does it symbolize?
  10. How does Chrysanthemum grow or change by the end of the story?

This activity pack includes over 100 questions to use before, during, and after reading the Chrysanthemum book.

Have you used Chrysanthemum in your classroom? Let me know how you used it!

FREE Resource for Chrysanthemum