Reading Lesson:
Captain Courage and the Fear-Squishing Shoes

Objectives: After listening to and discussing the story, Captain Courage and the Fear-Squishing Shoes, students will learn the key components involved in speaking with confidence and courage.


  • Captain Courage and the Fear-Squishing Shoes
  • Markers
  • Flip Chart


  • Explain to the students that you will be reading a book about a student who is scared of being the “new girl” at school.
  • Write the word “courage” on the flip chart and ask the students to define it, with assistance. (Example: Being brave even when one is scared).
  • Ask the students how they think the new girl at school might feel.
  • Introduce the title of the book as well as the names of the author and illustrator; then, begin reading the story.

Teaching Methods:

  • Begin reading the story, stopping at points that illustrate how Katie, the new girl, is feeling.
  • Ask the students to come up with descriptions of what Katie is or is not doing to depict her lack of confidence.
  • Write on the flip chart under the heading “Lacking Courage,” all the descriptions the students generate (Examples: barely speaks, stays very still like a statue, eyes closed, no smile/only frown, voice is a quiet murmur). Use the illustrations to come up with additional descriptions if necessary.
  • Then, in the show-n-tell scene in the story during which “everything changed,” tell your students to listen for ways in which Katie demonstrates confidence.
  • Write on the flip chart under the heading “Showing Courage,” all the descriptions that the students generate (Examples: stands up straight, smiles, uses a loud and strong voice, moves around/not frozen anymore).
  • Finish reading the story.


  • Review the lists on the flip chart that the students generated.
  • Ask the students how Captain Courage helped Katie find courage (Example: He showed her what courage looked like and sounded like.).
  • Discuss situations at school in which students need to show courage.
  • Using a mirror, practice “friendly” facial expressions (e.g., smile and use eye contact with your audience). Compare the difference between friendly, confident facial expression and other types of expression such as: sad, fearful and angry.
  • Role play: In a group, have the “group leader” ask for everyone to stand and introduce themselves. Then, have each person tell one thing that makes him/her unique (for example: a hobby, an unusual favorite food, etc.). Using friendly facial expression and straight upright posture, the speaker should introduce him/herself and talk about their unique trait, making sure everyone in the group can hear him/her.
  • Using pictures of friends and family, discuss these pictured individuals’ facial expression, personalities, eye contact, etc.
  • Discuss Captain Courage’s public speaking tips at the back of the book, and come up with a list of people you think are effective, confident speakers like Captain Courage.
  • Write down all the things that happen to you when you get nervous before speaking (for example: sweaty palms, butterflies in your stomach, rapid heartbeat, flushing, fidgeting). Then, put a check mark next to each stagefright symptom that your audience will not even notice, such as a rapid heartbeat—they can’t see that! Notice just how many of these symptoms are not able to be detected by audience members.
  • Prepare a practice presentation about a favorite book of yours. Take the first sentence of this practice presentation and memorize it. Then, deliver the presentation to a group of peers, friends or loved ones and get feedback from them. Ask them about how you were standing (e.g., straight vs. slumped), how your voice sounded, and if you stumbled on your words.
  • Extended practice: Deliver the entire presentation you have prepared from #6 above. Practice in front of a mirror, then in front of a group. Again, ask for feedback from your audience. Notice how much you improve through practice.