August book review & activity: Good-bye, Baby Max written by Diane Cantrell

Good-bye, Baby Max written by Diane Cantrell serves as an excellent springboard to discuss death with children.  This book approaches the topic of death in a gentle and loving manner.  Loss is a difficult topic for many adults.  Our own fears around death may sometimes interfere with our ability to support children in their grieving process.  The author, Diane Cantrell, does several readings and book signings in the Texas area.  She has encountered many adults who are hesitant to purchase a children’s book about death.  Their fear is that a book about death will cause a child to feel sad.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  A child experiencing a loss is already sad.  It is our job as helping professionals to educate parents, teachers, and other adults on how to support children who encounter a loss.  Many times the child’s first loss is a pet.  As silly as this might seem to some, the loss of a pet has the potential to be extremely traumatic for a child or even an adult.  Children look to adults as role models on how to process loss.  If we refuse to discuss loss, what message does this send to children?  Diane Cantrell’s book is a perfect tool to introduce the topic of death and how to heal from a loss.  Good-bye, Baby Max is based on a real event that took place in Debi Bradshaw’s kindergarten classroom.  Debi’s students were extremely lucky to have a caring adult who was not afraid to help guide them through the grieving process.  In the book the children excitedly await the birth of three baby chicks.  When Max is unable to crack open his shell, the children’s loving teacher assists them in expressing their feelings of loss and planning a special good-bye.   The children participate in a funeral service, memorial service, and art projects which ultimately help them process the loss of Max.  The surviving chicks serve as a reminder to the students that there will be happier days ahead.

The book is available on Diane’s site 

Discussion Chick Activity

Print out the discussion sheets on cardstalk paper.  Cut along the perimeter and on the horizontal lines.  Do not cut on the vertical line.  Fold each card on the vertical line, so that the chick picture and discussion question are showing.  You may either place each discussion question in an individual plastic egg or place all of the discussion questions in a large plastic egg or basket.  If you are running a small group, instruct each student to pick a discussion chick out of the egg or basket.  Take turns answering each discussion chick.  There are also blank discussion chick cards.  Students will have the option to write their own questions on the blank card.  These questions may either be discussed in the group or in private.







click on the link below to print

Egg Discussion Chicks

Memorial Chicks

The memorial chicks are a great way to honor the loss of a loved one.

click on the link below to print

Memorial Chicks

Other Activities

All members have access to the group loss kit on the loss lesson page. The kit includes several discussion questions and activities that will encourage students to process their loss while learning healthy coping skills.  The students will participate in many of the same loss activities read about in Good-bye, Baby Max.  The kit comes with eight puzzle pieces (discussion question & activity on each piece), journal, bracelet template, and locket template.  One puzzle piece is pulled every time the group meets.  A hidden message is revealed once all of the pieces are pulled.

 Finger Puppets

Diane Cantrell sells beautiful Folkmanis Finger Puppets on her site.  There are some fabulous baby chick finger puppets available.