Create a Toolbox for Care | Facing History & Ourselves
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Create a Toolbox for Care

This mini-lesson invites students to think about the “tools” they have access to during the coronavirus pandemic that can help them take care of themselves, others, and their wider community.


At a Glance



English — US


  • Civics & Citizenship
  • Social Studies


  • Culture & Identity


About This Mini-Lesson

The coronavirus has made it difficult for people to come together in person and has created stress and loss in the lives of students, families, and communities. This mini-lesson is designed to help students think about what “tools” they have access to that can help them take care of themselves and others during the coronavirus outbreak. It invites them to create a physical toolbox containing “tools” that represent the skills, attitudes, and actions that are necessary to take care of themselves, the people around them, and their wider communities during this difficult time. While this mini-lesson is not about taking action per se, it is about the important reflection that happens before action, when students recognize what they might need in order to make a difference.

This mini-lesson is designed to be adaptable. You can use the activities in sequence or choose a selection best suited to your classroom. It includes:

  • 4 activities 
  • Student-facing slides 
  • 1 handout
  • Recommended articles and videos for exploring this topic

Preparing to Teach

A Note to Teachers

Before teaching this text set, please review the following information to help guide your preparation process.

You may wish to connect the activities in this mini-lesson to the concept of the universe of obligation, in order to help students reflect more broadly on how individuals define the continuum of people for whom they feel responsible and what factors influence the extent to which we feel an obligation to help others. Ask students to read Facing History’s Universe of Obligation reading and then to complete the Universe of Obligation handout. Students can then consider how the “tools” they select for their toolbox can help the different circles in their own universe of obligation.

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To help understand the “toolbox for care” metaphor, first think about the contents of a toolbox.


  • What kinds of things do you find in a toolbox?
  • How can each tool help fix something or make it stronger?

Your toolbox can take a variety of forms: an actual box with a new design or decoration, a hollowed-out old book, or a soft-sided sewn object, for example.

Each “tool” will represent symbolically an action you can take, a habit you can develop, or an example you can remember to help you take care of yourself and others.

You can use objects you collect from around your home to represent your different “tools,” such as symbolic objects, collages, images, poems, or favorite quotations. For example, you could include eyeglasses “to help me focus more clearly.”

Read the following two articles:


  • According to the articles, what are some examples of things people are doing to take care of themselves during this pandemic?
  • What are some examples of how people are taking care of others?
  • What “tools”—values, habits of mind, knowledge, and skills—do you feel you need in order to take care of yourself, the people near you, and your wider community?

Construct your toolbox! Select at least five objects from your home that represent the different “tools” that can help you to take care of yourself, the people near you, and your wider community. Use the questions below to help you reflect and select your five “tools.”


  • What will I have in my toolbox that will help me do “small acts” of goodness on a daily basis?
  • What will I have in my toolbox that will help me turn those small acts into something bigger and more impactful?
  • What will I have in my toolbox that will help me choose kindness over indifference, especially during difficult times?
  • What will I have in my toolbox that will help me take care of myself?
  • What will I have in my toolbox that will help me build connections with other people?

Write a reflection that explains each of your “tools” and how you plan to use them. Make sure to answer the questions on the previous Slide in your response.

Take a photo of your toolbox! Share the photo, along with your written reflection, with your class. Then, look at the photos of your classmates’ toolboxes and read their written reflections.


  • Which “tools” are the most popular? Why might that be the case?
  • Which “tools” seem most accessible? To whom? Who might not have access to these “tools”? Why?
  • Which “tools” seem out of your reach at the moment, and what could be done to gain access to them?
  • Are there any “tools” that you would like to add to your toolbox? If so, what are they and why do you need to add them to your toolbox?

Materials and Downloads

Resources from Other Organizations

These are the resources from external sources that we recommend using with students throughout the activities in this mini-lesson.

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Facing History & Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.

Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif