How to Heal a Broken Wing teaches to Protect Animals and Act with Loving Kindness
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How to Heal a Broken Wing teaches to Protect Animals and Act with Loving Kindness

Book Title: How To Heal A Broken Wing

Author: Bob Graham

Illustrator: Bob Graham

Jewish Value: Protect Animals

Book Summary:

No one notices an injured bird lying on a busy city sidewalk – except for Will, who stops to help. Will takes the bird home, and he and his family patiently care for the bird until it is able to fly on its own.   

Enduring Understandings:

  • There are things we can all do to protect animals and keep them safe. 
  • We need to respect and care for all living things.

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

From the very beginning of people’s appearance on Earth, humankind has shared the planet with animals. The opening verses of the book of Genesis suggest that the creation of animals was part of G-d’s plan, that humans should not be all alone. The Eternal One said, “It is not good for Adam to be alone. I will make a fitting companion. So, the Eternal One formed from the Earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. Whatever name he gave them, that would be their name” (Genesis 2:18-19). Not only has humanity shared existence with animals since the beginning of time, but as revealed by the Torah and by the rabbis, part of humanity’s obligation is to care for and promote the well-being of animal life. This is done by extending to animals some of the privileges people claim for themselves, but also by seeing to their health, well-being, and safety.

From Our Texts
“Six days you shall do your work, but on the Seventh Day you shall cease from labor, in order that your ox and your donkey may rest.” -Exodus 23:12

Rabbi Judah said in the name of Rav, “It is forbidden for a man to eat until he has fed his animals. As it is written, ‘I will give grass in your fields for your animals, and you shall eat and be satiated.’” -Deuteronomy 11:15, Gittin 62a

“If you should happen upon a bird’s nest along the way, in a tree or upon the ground, with chicks or eggs, with the mother nesting upon them, do not take the mother along with the young. Shoo the mother away, and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life.” -Deuteronomy 22:6-7
The logic behind this commandment is that G-d wants us to be concerned with the feelings of the mother bird over her young. -Maimonides

Questions for Reflection

1. How does the protection of animals support the Jewish value of shm’rat ha-teva, to protect nature? 2. How is protecting animals an act of g’milut chasadim—acting with loving kindness?
3. How can you incorporate the value of tza’ar ba’alei chayim within the classroom?

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Encourage respect for nature as students observe creatures they find outdoors. (For example, tell students to look, but not to touch, spiders at work in their webs. Quietly observe birds, lizards, and squirrels at their daily activities.)

Materials and resourcesmore


  • Copy of How to Heal a Broken Wing 
  • After the Story: materials to make a “Helping Hands Mural,” including butcher paper, tempera paint, and a paint tray


Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Before introducing the book How to Heal a Broken Wing, have students do some simple things with one hand in their pockets or held behind their backs (for example, build with blocks, eat a snack, cut a piece of paper, etc.). Talk about how much more difficult the task was with only one hand.

Have students view one of the two videos listed above which show birds in flight. The slow motion illustrates how essential it is for the bird to have both wings working while flying. Ask students what they think would happen to a bird if something was wrong with one of its wings.
Show the cover of the book How to Heal a Broken Wing.

  • Ask students if they know of anyone who has ever broken a body part (for example, a hand, foot, finger, etc.). 
  • Help them understand the concept of “heal” by asking questions such as: “What does it means to ‘heal’? Does ‘healing’ take a long time or a short time? What helps someone ‘heal’?” (Elicit answers that lead students toward the understanding that people need someone to help “care” for them as they heal or get better.) 
  • Explain that this is a story about a boy named Will, who found a bird that was hurt.

Reading The Story

Read the story aloud, stopping when appropriate to explore illustrations, address comments, clarify, predict, and guide students’ understanding of the story and the values to protect animals—tza’ar ba’alei chayim and act with loving kindness—g’milut chasadim.

Ask the following questions:

  • On the page that says, “Will saw a bird with a broken wing …” ask, “What do you think Will is going to do?” 
  • Ask, “Why did Will stop to help?” (Guide the discussion to point out Will’s act of love and kindness; he not only felt sorry for the bird, but also decided to do something to help it.) 
  • On the page that says, “With rest …” point out the cues that time is passing, such as the changing of day and night and Will marking off the calendar. 
  • At the end of the story ask, “Why did Will let the bird go? Why didn’t he keep it for a pet?” (He did what was best for the bird.) 
  • At the end of the story ask, “What do you think Will might have been thinking as he watched the bird fly away?”

After The Story

Look at the book “through the artist’s eyes.” What can we learn from the illustrations? Take a picture walk through the book. What other observations can students make? For example, ask students what differences they see between the pictures of Will and his family and those of other people in the picture? (While the illustrations of others in the story are in muted tones, the pictures that include Will and his family are in vibrant reds, blues, yellows, and greens.) Why do students think the author / illustrator did this?

The Torah tells us to protect animals—tza’ar ba’alei chayim. How can we take care of them?
Discuss the following questions:

  • What do animals need to live? (They need a safe home, food, water, exercise, medical care, and love.) 
  • What things did Will do to protect the bird? (Note that Will enlisted the assistance of adults.) 
  • How can we protect wild animals? (Don’t feed, touch, or tease animals at the zoo. Sometimes, when animals are in danger, people build sanctuaries, or safe places, for them. As well, laws are passed to stop people from hurting animals.) 
  • How can we protect pets? (Use gentle touches. If the pet belongs to someone else, ask the owner if we can touch the pet.) 
  • How do we respect creatures that are around our school and homes? (We don’t hurt or disturb them. We ask an adult if it’s okay to touch them.) 

Create a “Helping Hands Mural.” Create a mural that includes the handprints of each student. Display this to remind students that they each have hands they can use to help others—people and animals alike. To create the mural, simply have students dip their hands in a paint tray with tempera paint (use a variety of colors) and make their own impressions on a large sheet of butcher paper. Below the hands, place the words, “I protect animals when I ... “ Have students complete (or help them complete) the sentence with their own thoughts.

Have students view and sing along with the video “The Needs of an Animal” to reinforce ways to care for and protect animals:


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore


Involve students in a story retell using the pictures at the end of the lesson to help them organize thoughts and events in sequential order. For more information on guiding a story retell, see Appendix.

Create a diorama. Using small chunks of clay, have students form the clay into the shape of their favorite animals. Students can paint their animals after the clay hardens. Have students tell about their animals and how they can be kind to them and protect them. List these ways on a chart titled “Protecting Animals—Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim.” Display the chart together with the diorama.

Dramatic Play 
Open up a pet store or veterinarian office in the dramatic play area. Students can bring in stuffed animals from home to share in the center. Support students in role-playing ways to help or protect animals.

Provide an inviting environment for wildlife. Seeds in bird feeders invite different species of birds. The following site shows how little children can create a bird feeder to provide an appropriate habitat for birds: Periodically, have students observe the feeders and add birdseed as necessary.

Create “Caretaker Crowns.” Ask each student to brainstorm a way that they can care for the animals in their lives. Praise students’ ideas and find opportunities to help facilitate their caretaking. Use sentence strips or cut poster board to fit students’ heads. Write the word, “Caretaker,” and let each students decorate a crown (before it’s stapled) by drawing his or her favorite creature(s) or using collage materials such as animal stickers and / or feathers. Alternatively, obtain blank, dyeable kippot and decorate them with images and ideas that reflect how students understand themselves as caretakers.

Music Connectionsmore

List of All Songs

All The World s Animals

by Miss Emily Aronoff Teck

Inspiration Text

“A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast.” -Proverbs 12:10


Introduce the following song, which is an ode to all animals and our responsibilities to them--tza’ar ba’alei chayim. When thinking about animals, most children categorize them by their movements or sounds. The idea that animals work might be new to some students. Ask students if they know which animals work (for example, a horse that pulls a cart, a dog that sees for the blind or a dog that works with the police, or carrier pigeons that deliver messages). Provide visuals to illustrate these animals that work to help us.


All the world’s animals, big and small
All the world’s animals, short and tall
Living in the wild or living in a zoo
All the world’s animals, we’ll protect you

To all the animals swimming in the sea
We’ll try keep the ocean litter free (x 2)
To all the animals that like to fly
We’ll try to keep pollution out of the sky (x 2)
To the pets, dogs, and cats we love so much
We’ll show that we care with a gentle touch (x 2)
To all the world’s animals that work a lot
We hope you rest on Shabbat! (x2)

Additional Music Connections

Evidence of Learningmore

Children show respect for animals by what they say (for example, they complete the phrase, “I can help animals when I …”) and how they treat the creatures they find around the school and in the classroom.


Contact a petting zoo to bring animals to the school, along with a staff member who can talk about caring for the animals. (The Miami area, for example, has The Little Farm, which will come with a different farm animal every month, and is open for schools to visit. Also, parks will often have a nature reserve and will bring small animals to the school.)

Invite an animal-care professional or an animal advocate to speak to the students about protecting and caring for birds and animals, as well as what items these animals need for care and comfort. Involve students in thinking about what they can do to help these animals and turn this into a service learning, or civic engagement, activity. For example, many animal shelters need donations of old blankets, towels, and even stuffed toys. Animals that are away from their families need warmth, comfort, and love, and these donations can help them. Elicit help from parents in collecting these items and identifying a local shelter that needs them.

Ask your students and their families if anyone has a pet that they have adopted. Invite them to share the story and pictures of the animal, and tell why they decided to adopt.

Collect tzedakah and donate the money to associations such as the Humane Society. Through the Humane Society’s rescue efforts, they “directly care for thousands of animals—pets and wildlife—each year” (

literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
Go Home! The True Story of James The Cat Libby Phillips Meggs James is old and can’t remember living with the family that put on his collar. He finds a family who feeds him, then shoos him away because they think he belongs to someone. When they come back the next year, they find James, old and injured. They see that he is a stray and give him a home and care for him.
Hunter and His Dog Brian Wildsmith A hunter trains his dog to retrieve sticks and gently carry eggs in his mouth; but the dog refuses to retrieve the wounded birds for his master. Instead the dog takes the ducks to a place where they can heal and carries sticks back to his master who soon discovers what the dog is doing. When the hunter finds out, he is ashamed and he helps nurse the birds back to health and then sets them free.
Roscoe and the Pelican Rescue Lynn Rowe ReedLynn Rowe ReedTwo cousins are looking forward to the summer at the beach in Louisiana. But because of an oil spill, the beach is closed. Their dog finds a pelican covered in oil. Aunt Olivia teaches the boys how to rescue and care for oil-covered animals.
King Solomon and the Bee* Dalia Hardof RenbergRuth HellerIn this sweet retelling of a traditional Jewish tale, a lowly bee unexpectedly repays the kindness of a king by helping him solve a queen’s difficult riddle.
* PJ library Books
Lesson Contributors

Barbara Bernstein Temple Beth Am Day School, Early Childhood Program, Miami, Florida