The Growth of the Grudge

The AIM Buddy Project focuses on five topics–empathy, honesty, forgiveness, generosity, and learning from others. Read on to get an inside view on how the AIM team worked through the topic of forgiveness as they were creating the interactive comic “Buster’s Growing Grudge.”

Early team discussions on the topic of forgiveness included:

  • What IS forgiveness?
  • Why is it important?
  • How can you forgive someone?

These discussions led to an understanding that a key concept in teaching about forgiveness is the “grudge.” Carrying a grudge—or holding onto anger against a person you think has ‘wronged’ you—is what makes forgiveness so difficult. This idea of a grudge presented some interesting challenges for the AIM team:

  • Challenge #1: How do we help first- and second-graders understand what a “grudge” is?
  • Challenge #2: How do we help them understand what it feels like to carry around a grudge, and what it feels like to let go of a grudge?

After a number of brainstorming sessions and iterations, we realized that if we personified the grudge, or created a “grudge gremlin” creature, we could show kids what carrying a grudge feels like, and what happens when you can finally let the grudge go.

Creatures from various ARTHUR episodes.

Creatures from various ARTHUR episodes

Since a grudge could look like anything, we looked back at some of the imaginary creatures in various episodes of ARTHUR for inspiration.

From there we created our first portrayal of the Grudge—a little green beast that would grow bigger as time went on.

A first sketch of the little green beast--the Grudge

A first sketch of the little green beast–the Grudge

At this point, we were happy with the direction the Grudge was going in, but we felt something was missing—kids weren’t able to get the sense of how overwhelming it is to be carrying around a grudge—the grudge is the ONLY thing you can feel and think about!

So we turned to Buster, the main character in the interactive story, to help kids see the effect that carrying a grudge can have on a person. As you can see below, the Grudge is weighing Buster down, the longer Buster holds onto his grudge—the heavier the Grudge gets. Until finally, it weighs him down so much he can barely move!

4.Evolution_4

At this point, we were happy with the effect the Grudge had on Buster, but realized the Grudge creature might be too scary with its red eyes and sharp teeth. After toning down the creature and making some final refinements, the Grudge was ready!

0_GremlinFinal_5It’s kind of cute at first, but definitely not so cute after a while!

Early feedback from teachers indicates that the Grudge is effective in helping kids understand the weight caused by holding onto a grudge. One 2nd grade teacher described how forgiveness proved to be the most difficult topic for her class. By the end of the AIM forgiveness interactive, she felt her little buddies had a more clear understanding of the importance of being able to forgive someone.

In a class discussion, the little buddies described how forgiving a person “lets you let it go, stop bringing it up, and you and everyone can move on and feel better.” And during the final Celebration session with their big buddies, they illustrated what forgiveness looks like in their day-to-day lives.

At the Celebration session, big and little buddies included the Grudge (upper left corner) as they illustrated what 'forgiveness' means in their lives.

At the Celebration session, big and little buddies included the Grudge (upper left corner) as they illustrated what ‘forgiveness’ means in their lives.

“To forgive someone means you’re giving them a ‘redo.’” 

2nd graders description

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