Sunday, November 17, 2013

Remembrance Day

This week at Playschool we spent time reflecting on why Canada honors Remembrance Day. The concept of Remembrance Day is quite difficult to understand for many children. Last year I spent some time researching on how to talk to children about war, death, soldiers and Remembrance Day, but found very little. Instead I spent time reflecting and thinking about what I knew about 3 and 4 year olds and realized, I already knew how to explain Remembrance Day in an age appropriate way. I had to decide on what was the age appropriate details about the important parts of Rememberance Day, and I believe that letting the children know that soldiers did it to keep us safe and let us have freedom was something they would very much understand.

Some other details I told the children were:

·         Fighting is not okay - it is not a good way to problem solve
·         In some places, people are using fighting instead of their words, because these people are not listening to them. If someone is trying to hurt other people (like mommies and daddies), special people called soldiers, fight to keep their home safe. People don’t want to fight, they want to keep the peace  and all get along but other people will not let them.
·         People who have special permission to fight are
o   Knights in stories
o   Police officers
o   Soldiers
·         November 11th we take time to think about and remember the soldiers who sadly, didn’t get to come home from fighting because they died. We also thank the soldiers who did come home to their families! We thank all the soldiers who did their jobs to keep us safe so we can play and be happy.

For the Playschool children I keep these details simple, honest and to the point. We started the week by celebrating poppies. 

The children decorated our door with red poppies that they cut out themselves. 

I use the book "A Poppy is to Remember" to offer visuals for the class. If you ever need to discuss something very serious I recommend looking into appropriate picture books. Stanly Milner library has a lot of wonderful preschool picture books covering many tough topics. 
Most children do much better at understanding when they are offered various learning concepts, such as visual,  kinesthetic and authority. Children find new information easier to process when story books offer provocations to invite various questions and examples. 

I also tend to adapt the story if the message is too complex in the writing, or the paragraphs are too long, but the meaning still applies. 

We read the poem "in Flanders field" and made our own fields of poppies. 

We used pop bottles to make the poppy petals and corks to make the middle pieces. 

In circle the children had a lot of fun working on their memories! I told them to remember something, is to use their memories. We played a game where I present a cookie sheet with random trinkets collected on them. Once we've gone through all of the items on display, I cover the baking sheet up with a towel, before grabbing an item to sneak away under the towel. The children then get to shout out what they think Ms Asha took off the sheet. The children were REALLY good at this exercise, so I had to continue to add new items.

During play we spoke about avoiding fights. We discussed the power of our words, and how to use them. To support this conversation we played a simple version of Sorry. Board games are amazing tools full of many curriculum concepts! In our Sorry game, the children took turns to turn over a card and tell Ms Asha what number was on the card  - we practiced our number recognition skills. Whatever the card displayed as a number was the amount of spaces we were able to move. The kids used one to one correspondence to transfer their knowledge of the number on the cards, to the amount of time their pawn was allowed to move.  Often when children count they have a hard time associating 1 item being one number. They will count quickly "1,2,3,4,5,6,7 ..." but have only pointed to 4 objects.
Once they moved their pawn, we let our other peers take their turn - using our social skills and exercising our patience while three other people get to go! Sadly, if our pawn landed on another friends pawn then we had to say sorry and send them back to their homes. Unlike real Sorry, Ms Asha did not make them wait till they got a 1 or a 2 get back out of "start." We are lucky Ms Asha isn't that mean *wink*

Other play fun this week:

Our computer

Our airport

Ms Asha

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