23 Nov 2009
Part 1 of 3 here.
(Part 2 of 3 follows)One fine day, at school, the teachers talked to the children about Afghanistan. They talked about the devastation, lack of schools, necessity to educate the children and things like that. They also showed a short movie clip and images being powerful than words, the movie really drove the point home. At home I heard stories about how the children do not have classrooms, they do not have food, some times they don’t have mommies or daddies, and how some mommies and daddies are building schools and how we can help Afghanistan by giving them our pennies. The seed was sown.
On a Saturday morning we went on a coin hunt and dug out all the coins stashed away at the most unsuspecting places. Chula and Mieja have loosely heard the term money, but do not know much about it. So I had a sudden spark to teach them the various money denominations. So we made different piles, one with pennies, one with nickels, one with dimes and one with quarters. Chula was able to pick up a coin, read the denomination and put it in the appropriate pile. For Mieja, I first showed her how to compare the coin in her hands with a coin in a pile and when she placed it in the right pile I said, ‘That is a penny’ or whatever was appropriate.
I noticed that Chula made two piles of every denomination – two piles of pennies, two piles of nickels, two piles of dimes. When I asked her what the two piles are for, she said that one was old and the other was shiny and she proceeded to tell me that she was going to throw the old pile in the garbage because…well they were old. So I had to explain to her that we could still use the old coins because it has VALUE. She was puzzled. As luck would have it, we had a bake sale by our junior high students in our school. They lay out their goodies at 2.30PM sharp and target the kids skipping out with a parent and ‘stressed-out-I-need-sugar-N.O.W’ teachers. I strongly suspect that they make more by selling to the latter category! Okays, at the bake sale we bought two pieces of banana bread for fifty cents each. I gave Chula five old pennies, a shiny nickel and four shiny dimes. She handed it over and got a slice of banana bread. I asked her if they accepted her old pennies or asked her for new money. Even if she only kind of got that concept of value, I was sure she wasn’t going to throw money in to garbage *whew!*
One of the days that followed, we were a late for school and I was getting in to my irritable self and I snapped at the kids and Mieja reminded me in her usual loving and kind manner, “I am not your friend. I am not listening. I will scratch you and run away with appa and akka and go and live in a different house.” So I launched a lecture on how it is my job to be in my classroom at a precise time, we are all working for money, without which we will not be able to buy anything, even for this other house she was going to live in her appa has to work for and he needs to be ON TIME for that work. Okay not the best way to teach that money does not grow on trees. But soon, I will find a sensible way to make them understand this concept.
Now, HOPE accepts donations in our neighborhood on a regular basis. I give away things like the children’s books, toys, puzzles, clothes etc. I have been doing this for the past three years. All of a sudden, Chula made a connection and asked me if all this stuff is going for Afghanistan. I clarified that people in need are all over the world, not just in Afghanistan and we help in some degree that we can. This she hasn’t completely understood because she has seen images of Afghanistan and none like that in the US. So she continues to believe that the donations we are making for the holiday toy drive our school is doing and the canned food we buy for second harvest are going to Afghanistan. Every day she wonders loudly, “May be teacher X will go to Afghanistan to give the children without mommies and daddies the toys/soup.”
Pretty soon, there will be questions about poverty most importantly, ‘what is poverty?’, ‘why are some people poor?’ etc. I do not have an answer for them right now, but I am sure, I will come up with one at the time of need.
Correlating my thinking process and how the children responded I could come up with a web, that roughly looked like this.
Disclaimer: This was mentally mapped in 6 minutes and by no means a comprehensive list. It varies much with the personality of the adult and the personality of the children.
But the point is one simple seed like Pennies for Peace has lead to something called a ‘curriculum web’.
[tags]Pennies for peace, Afghanistan, Curriculum web, teaching children the value of money, preschool curriculum for money[/tags]