The Power of Purple: Shaken Baby Syndrome & The Period of Purple Crying

While Shaken Baby Syndrome might be a familiar term associated with child abuse, the Period of Purple Crying may not be.  The two terms are closely related as the constant crying associated with purple crying may lead one to violently shake their child.  This lesson educates students about both to hopefully decrease the risks of both occurring in the future.  This lesson also includes a fairly quick and easy community service project for students of all ages and abilities to complete to help spread information about the important cause.

PA Standards

  • 11.4.12 B Analyze current issues in health and safety affecting children at each stage of child development.
  • 11.4.12 C Analyze practices that optimize child development (e.g., stimulation, safe environment, nurturing caregivers, reading to children).


  • Play this clip (auditory only) of a crying baby.  As it’s playing, describe the following scenario:  Your baby has been crying for a long time, and you are feeling exhausted and frustrated.  What can you do?  What shouldn’t you do?
  • Hopefully the “shaking a baby” example comes up with what you should not do with this crying baby.  If not, use it as a lead in to the term and topic of shaken baby syndrome (SBS).


  • Laptops
  • Projector
  • Shades of Purple Yarn
  • Knitting Loom or Crochet Hook or Knitting Needles


  • To learn more about SBS either view the SBS YouTube clip or read the article from the New York Times article and complete the graphic organizer.  Following the video clip or article, complete the questions following the graphic organizer.
  • To reinforce the information and seriousness of what students just learned about SBS and what it can do to a child, view this clip, but be prepared as it is sad.
  • Discuss that sometimes babies cry for long periods of time even after you’ve tried everything to comfort and soothe them.  This is called “The Period of Purple Crying” and something you should be aware of .
  • View the DVD on “The Period of Purple Crying” or explore the website and complete the questions (attached below) to learn more.


  • Using all of the information gathered about shaken baby syndrome and the period of purple crying to complete the writing assignment “I am a Victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome” poem.

Community Service Project

  • Have students make purple hats on knitting looms as a community service project and donate to local hospitals.  Hats can also be knitted or crocheted if you have students who already know how to do those techniques.  When I am doing a community service project I like to designate  Fridays….as “Fun Fridays” and we work on the project.  Using the looms, these hats only take about three days to complete as they are small and “knit” up very quickly.








3 comments for “The Power of Purple: Shaken Baby Syndrome & The Period of Purple Crying

  1. Seeshellsew
    July 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Can you show me what looms you use to knit the hats? Thanks!

  2. K. Graybill
    July 4, 2014 at 6:43 am

    If you look in the resources section above there is a link for the loom that includes a picture. Very easy to use….good luck!

  3. mbyrne
    January 20, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks, Kim! You never fail to provide rigorous, engaging lessons!

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