Improve life outcomes

Jumpstart: Perseverance - Universal


CASEL Competency Focus: Self Management
Time: 20-30 minutes
Materials: Chart Paper/Board, Post-It Notes or Paper
Goal: Given a difficult task or activity, the student will demonstrate perseverance (not giving up, continuing to work on the task until completion, etc.) by completing the task/activity in 8 out of 10 observable opportunities, as measured by a teacher assessment tool.

1. State that the task or activity is hard or challenging.
2. Make more than 1 attempt to complete the task.

Standards Addressed:

Speaking and Listening Standards


    • Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
    • Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.
    • Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Definitions of Key Terms:

  • Perseverance: is defined as the ability to get through difficult tasks without giving up. It means to keep working on your plan to achieve a goal, even if you make mistakes or though it may be taking longer than you had wanted it to.

Lesson Procedures

Greet students and tell them that today you will be talking about perseverance. Define the word and let the students think about examples of perseverance. Make a list on the board or chart paper. Make sure to include student age-specific examples. These may include:

  • Perseverance helps you to find the burst of energy to finish an activity (like a test, a race, or a game) with your best efforts, even though you are feeling tired.
  • Setting a goal and sticking with it until you achieve the goal. Examples: Saving up enough money to buy a special toy or item, trying to jump rope 100 times in a row, reading a book that is longer than any others you have read, perfecting your chocolate chip cookie recipe, running a mile without stopping, etc.
  • Practicing a musical instrument, improving your skills each time.
  • Trying something new, even if the last new thing you tried was challenging.

Tell students that today they will have the chance to persevere through a challenge. They may choose to do it independently, with a partner, or with a small group. Sometimes, people work best in different situations. It is important for us to recognize how we prefer to work and learn so that we can have the most success.

Game Time (Adaptable for all grade levels)

For the activity today, you are going to tell the students that they will be building a tower. Create the specifications using items you already have in your classroom. Towers can be made of legos, blocks, straws and playdough, anything you have that students can use to build. Tell the class that they will be working in partnerships, groups, or individually (their choice), to build a tower within your given parameters. Determine a reasonable yet challenging goal that includes tower height and the materials that you will use. Set a timer, and let the students figure out how they will tackle this challenge.

When the timer goes off, gather the students back to reflect on the activity. Were you/ your group/ partnership successful in building the tower to the appropriate specifications? If so, what helped you persevere through the challenge? If not, what is something you may consider doing differently in the future?

This should give students just a taste of what it might feel like to persevere through a challenge or opportunity, make adjustments along the way, and either reach their goal or reflect on how they can persevere to get the job done. If time allows, you may want to give groups that did not complete the challenge the opportunity to spend some time adjusting their strategy and finishing the tower. This will reinforce the idea that sometimes we are not successful in reaching a goal the first time we try. It might take several times to work at it before having success. This is called perseverance.

Follow Up:

There are many books that support the theme of perseverance. Some recommended titles include:

  • If I Had My Black Belt – Millicent J. Mackeroy
  • Hana Hashimoto – Sixth Violin – Chieri Uegaki
  • Anything is Possible – Giulia Belloni
  • After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again – Dan Santat
  • More-Igami – Dori Kleber