The lovely Gemma at helloitsgemma posted a really important message on her blog yesterday, about the importance of looking out for children and keeping them safe. I subscribe to her blog and when I got the email, I was in the middle of planning an impromptu mini topic lesson for my class of year fours. It seemed apt and so sad that I was planning a lesson to teach my kids to try to understand what has happened to the displaced children in Japan. The sadness doesn’t end there. Without going into too much detail, a child in my class has experienced the most awful form of bereavment since I was last in school and I felt a little powerless to help in any way other than to keep going, keep the routine as normal as possible- something that is lacking in so many children’s lives right now.
As a class, we watched a newsround report about the earthquake in Japan as the news hit last Friday. We talked about what causes earthquakes and tsunamis and watched an explanation of how it all happens. We wrote a report about the tragedy, focusing on writing in paragraphs, including connectives, wow words, the five Ws and an interesting headline. We marked our work against success criteria. We discussed other major earthquakes and the tsunami of Boxing day 2004. We went through the motions. We kept it literacy based, with updated plans and appropriate differentiation. The children produced some good quality pieces of writing. They were talking about it. I don’t think they understood though.
It struck me at lunch time, during knitting club, that it was a really difficult thing to do- teach children how to put themselves in the shoes of a child who is faced with such a terrible tragedy. It is even harder to do that with children who face their own terrible tragedies every day.
After lunch we watched another news clip on newsround, which asked the question: How are the children in Japan coping? Oh my goodness. If I could’ve found a quiet corner in school to weep for those children. The children who have lost their homes, their parents, their pets and their schools. The children who have lost all sense of normality, are crowded into evauation centres and are forced to sleep amongst strangers. I asked my children to think about what things they could send in a care package.
At first, they were a little unsure. Televisions, PSP, Mr Bean DVD… things that are so important to them. Eventually, they began to think about the things they take for granted: toothbrushes, blankets, gloves to keep them warm in the snow, a pack of cards in case they get bored, a teddy to cuddle, a comb, a first aid kit, a torch in case they’re afraid of the dark. The children designed posters and leaflets to explain the choice of items- only eight allowed- in their care packages. At the end of the afternoon we shared our work, assessed it against our success criteria and then one child raised their hand (rare in my class, I have to say)…
Can I send a bottle of fresh air?
Some children laughed. Some children didn’t understand. How could they? That same child explained: they must be so frightened without fresh air to breathe. Yes, they must.
The children decided that football cards, chocolate, a blanket, a torch, a toothbrush, a bouncy ball, a colouring book and crayons and a pair of socks would make the best care package. I love it when my kids make me see the world through their eyes. We decided we would sneak the fresh air in anyway.
There are so many peope working to raise money for Japan. Please visit:
Authors for Japan
Save the Children
Rebecca at Two Becomes Four has blogged about the different organisations and how to donate. Read her post here.