Skills Building: The Awfulizer (-)


Written by Kristin Maher and illustrated by Robert Dunn

Pre- Reading Questions 

  1. What or who do you think “the awfulizer” is? Be specific. 
  2. How do you define the word “shame?” Can you describe how it makes you feel or how it might make someone else feel?
  3. Do you have an internal voice that tries to make you feel shameful or guilty about things? If so, and if comfortable with sharing, what does it say? (If you don’t want to share with the group, share with a friend you trust.)
  4. What are some ways that help you handle shameful feelings and voices?

Post- Reading Questions

  1. Do you have your own version of “the awfulizer?” What do you call it and what are some ways it tries to bring you down? How does it make you feel?
  2. In the story, how did the awfulizer keep growing and getting bigger?
  3. How does the awfulizer get smaller?
  4. What will you tell yourself next time your version of the awfulizer appears?

Creative Enrichment Activity: Awesome-izer Super Power Shield (3-5)


In The Awfulizer: Learning to Overcome the Shame Game, author Kristin Maher gives shame a name and face, showing just how real and big it can be for children; how it keeps them feeling isolated and alone, and makes them question their self-worth.


  • Paper or cardboard plates for each student
  • Cardstock paper
  • Hot glue gun for instructor’s use
  • Art supplies for decoration: markers, crayons, stickers, sequins, feathers, pom poms, construction paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors if needing to cut out construction paper
  • *Paint and paint brushes, optional choice of instructor

Duration40-45 minutes (for staff: 5-minute pre-activity setup, 5-minute prep)

  • 5 minutes: Introduce the activity
  • 20-25 minutes: Activity 
  • 5 minutes: Clean up
  • 5 minutes: Reflect and share


  1. Introduce the activity using the book. 
  2. Students will cut out a thick strip of cardstock paper and meet the instructor to hot glue ends of strip in the center of the plate (side that you would eat off of.
  3. Now, flip the plate over (bottom side, where you would not eat off of) for design and decoration. 
  4. Students will first draft their design using a pencil on the plate, or on a separate sheet of paper.  
  5. When ready, students will use any available art materials to decorate and design their awesomeizer superhero shield to defend the awfulizer any day! Students can paint, draw, color, use cut outs from construction paper, and add or glue on any sequins, stickers, feathers, or pom poms. 
  6. Clean up the materials. 
  7. Reflect as a group. 

Reflection Questions

  • What powers does your awesome-izer shield have?
  •  How will your awesome-izerfight against your awfulizer?
  •  How will you “use” your awesome-izer shield next time your awfulizer wants to take you down?
Blank Shield
Completed Shield