What Luck! - A Story of Determination, Resilience, and the Celebration of the Human Spirit!
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What Luck! - A Story of Determination, Resilience, and the Celebration of the Human Spirit!

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Book Title: What Luck!

Author: Anita Meyer Meinbach and David Meinbach

Illustrator: Nancy Simons Sica

Jewish Value: Persevere

Book Summary:

Meet Kenny! He tried out for the neighborhood team last year and this year he’s trying again. But this time he knows he’ll make it!
Armed with determination, perseverance, and an assortment of magical charms, just for luck, things sadly don’t go as planned. But, in the process, Kenny discovers where the magic really is…where it has always been! What Luck! is a celebration of the human spirit and an endorsement of the importance of perseverance and resilience - the ability to try, fail, and start all over again.

Topic(s) Addressed:

After reading and discussing What Luck! and becoming involved in lesson activities, students will:

  • become aware of and understand the importance and power of perseverance as it relates their own lives.
  • be empowered with the mindset and strategies to discover the magic that lies within each of them.

Enduring Understandings:

  • Success in life is often determined by our willingness to keep trying and to persevere.
  • Success is not an accident—it takes hard work.
  • “Keep trying...don’t give up.”

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

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

  • Share several good luck charms such as a rabbit’s foot (explain that those typically sold are plastic-no animal is hurt), four-leaf clover, a penny found, etc. Ask, “What do these items have in common?” (People often keep these for “good luck.”)Explain that “good luck” charms can be any of those mentioned or they can simply be anything special a person has that they like to keep close, for example, a picture or object that recalls a special time.

  • Share the cover of the book, What Luck! Involve them in a Visual Thinking Strategy by posing the following three questions:
    • What do you think is happening? 
    • What makes you think this? 
    • What else do you see? 
  • Discuss the term “What Luck!” Explain that it can have different meanings. For example, when something good happens, someone may shout out “What Luck!!! Or, when something goes wrong, they might shake their head and sadly say, “What Luck.” Suggest several scenarios and have the child respond saying “What Luck” either with joy or sadness.
For example:
    • “You got a brand-new pair of sneakers.”
    • “You just stepped on some bubble gum while wearing your new sneakers.”
    • “Your family is going to Disney World.”
    • “You got a bad cold the day before going to Disney World.
  • Before beginning to read the book, explain that they will be listening to a story about a young boy named Kenny who has a special dream. Based on the cover, ask them to imagine what that dream might be.

Reading The Story

As you read the story, stop at various times to address children’s comments and questions as they reflect on what has happened and what might happen next. You may wish to ask/discuss one or more of the following:

  • What advice would you give Kenny (at various times throughout the story)? What would you do differently?
  • What do you think of Randy? What would you like to say to him (at various times during the story)?
  • Which character in the book do you think is most like you? Explain.
  • What do you like or admire most about Kenny?
  • (Review their understanding of the meaning of perseverance.) How does Kenny show perseverance?
  • Think of one person you know who has shown perseverance? Explain.
  • Tell us about a time you showed perseverance.
  • Which illustration is your favorite? Why?

After The Story

The Power of Perseverance: Select several quotes on the topic of perseverance (include author’s name) that you believe will resonate with your students. Print sufficient copies of each quote so that students can select their favorite to illustrate. Post their quotes around the room to remind them of the importance of perseverance.

Read Aloud: Encourage students to read along with the you tube “read aloud” of What Luck! Encourage students to use appropriate expression, especially as they repeat the phrase, “What Luck!”


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Action Plan: Encourage students to create their own action plans to help them accomplish something they would like to be able to do:

  • Brainstorm things students would like to accomplish.
  • Encourage students to each select one thing they would like to achieve.
  • Introduce the idea of creating an “action plan” - what are the steps they would have to take to achieve this?
  • Encourage children to imagine themselves going up these steps and reaching their goals.

The Magic is in Me!

Encourage children to take pictures of themselves at various times throughout their “journey” as they strive to meet a challenge or goal. They can create a special collage of photos to capture these special --moments—a reminder of where the magic really is!

Introducing Perseverance to Children: A Starter Activity
Using various animal videos (dog, cat and panda) watch the clip without introducing the topic.
Ask the class to consider what traits are being displayed by these animals and make a list.
The traits provided will lead towards defining and explaining Perseverance.

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

  1. Observation and discussion of students’ efforts in achieving their goals as described in their “Action Plans.”
  2. Listen for students’ language changing from “I can’t” to “I will try” or “I did it!”


literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
The Little Engine That Could Watty PiperDoris HaumanSo many of us grew up with the mantra “I think I can, I think I can,” and it all began with the timeless classic tale of the Little Blue Engine! When the train carrying toys and goodies to the children on the other side of the mountain breaks down, none of the shiny, powerful locomotives would help. Only the Little Blue Engine would try, and with the power of courage, perseverance, positive thinking, and self-determination, he finally did it!
Giraffes Can't Dance Giles AndreaeGuy Parker-ReesGerald is an awkward giraffe who is too clumsy to dance with the other animals, until a cricket comes along and shows him that he can dance, given the right music. In Gerald’s community, not everyone was kind, but he learns to reach out to those who can support him and help him grow.
The Dot Peter H. ReynoldsPeter H. ReynoldsA young girl has little self-confidence and believes that she can’t draw in art class. Cleverness on the part of her teacher brings out the self-assuredness of Vashti, who in turn, does the same for a classmate.
Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man David A. AdlerTerry WidenerLou Gehrig's perseverance is legendary. During fourteen years as a first baseman for the New York Yankees, he played in a record 2,130 consecutive games, earning himself the nickname Iron Horse. Lou loved baseball and considered himself a very lucky man, even though on his thirty-sixth birthday he was diagnosed with a rare and fatal disease.
* PJ library Books
Lesson Contributors

Anita Meyer Meinbach, Ed.D. Former Associate Professor, University of Miami School of Education