In kindergarten we are exploring the themes of community and culture through our first unit of inquiry, Sharing the Planet. Students began the unit by learning about features of a community including; types of neighborhoods, places in a community, and the importance of community helpers.
Kindergarteners worked together to build their own paper bag community fit with roads, schools, parks, and shops. As teachers, we observed learning and play collide when students began driving play cars around their community and played ‘town.’ Students showed agency as they worked together to create high quality buildings and made sure the town was fit with parking lots and playgrounds.
The second half of our unit was spent extending our learning by ‘traveling’ to four countries in distant parts of the world. Each week students learned about a new country and various elements of their culture. In India students hopped on a tuk tuk and rode to shops in the bazaar. They tried on colorful fabric saris, tasted mango lassi smoothies, smelled exotic spices, created a class haveli mural and put their bollywood dance moves to the test. In Mexico, we had a guest speaker from our Spanish teacher Ms. Felicia and she shared her experiences growing up in beautiful La Paz, Mexico. We learned about swimming with seals, tourism, and tasted delicious rice and beans! In Africa, students explored a day in the life of two children in Botswana and Burundi. They learned about visiting a wildlife nature preserve, bargaining for goods at a market, and even sampled the popular African treat chin-chin. Finally, students learned about the hardships of people living in rural Afghanistan. Students demonstrated empathy for a young girl named Habiba in the story I see the Sun in Afghanistan as she moves through her day, bringing fresh water to her family and going to school outdoors. Throughout our ‘travels’ students used their knowledge of community to learn about the caring and sharing of resources and the differences between people living in the United States and abroad.
This unit also provided a wonderful opportunity for students to bridge their learning between their primary class and art where they created a new piece of art each week that is representative of the culture in each country. While studying India’s crowded cities they explored and designed their own cityscape. For the background, they used watercolor paint to create a beautiful sunset. Students then looked at images of different styles of city buildings and used colored pencil to draw these buildings on black paper. They finished by cutting and pasting their buildings on the sunset background. During Africa week, students learned how to draw and color a lion's head using oil pastels. For the lion's mane, the artists had fun creating all sorts of interesting painted papers, then cut them and collaged them onto a larger paper before affixing the lion's face. Mexico is famous for its folk art and fish are an important part of the income and diet of many who live in Mexico. To create these beautiful wood fish, the students looked at colorful fish, then drew their own fish. The fish drawing was then cut out and traced onto a piece of pressed wood. Mrs. Santucci cut the fish to the students' drawing shape and then the students painted them in the fold art style. Finally, while learning about Afghanistan students zoomed in on a specific town in Afghanistan, Istalif. Istalif is known for its Turquoise pottery. Students created their own clay bowls which were fired and painted turquoise in the style of the town’s bright colored pottery.
We are looking forward to celebrating our learning and sharing our beautiful artwork with you in our Sharing the Planet Exhibition on Tuesday, November 16th in the commons. Students will be creating final projects in which they will be given the choice to create a mini book about the country of their choice or a paper bag community that demonstrates their understanding of community and culture. It has been a wonderful experience observing some of our youngest learners demonstrating higher level thinking and understanding for our complex world. We look forward to sharing more of our learning with you soon!