Friday, August 16, 2013

Friendship: A Head Start Story

We’re reflecting on the incredible contributions of our 2012-13 AmeriCorps Museum Educators as their service year comes to a close this week. This story was shared by Amanda Nico and Leah Taradash, members of the team that served 1,000 Head Start preschoolers in 58 classrooms in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls with fun-filled Museum explorations and a year-long series of imaginative activities to help them understand and value diversity.

Amanda: In Head Start classroom activities, we focused on how friends can be both similar to and different from one another and that is okay. We read the book Alex and Lulu: Two of a Kind by Lorena Siminovich, which tells the story of a dog and cat who are friends but like to play different things, then we talked with the children about some of their differences and similarities.
Leah: During the next activity of our friendship curriculum, children created a book of what they like to do with their friends. Every child illustrated a page and we recorded their words under their pictures, then put them all into a binder and read the book to the class.

The Head Start team was very excited about this activity's potential but we never could have predicted the inspiring results reflected in the children's words and pictures. Their friendship stories were all different; some children chose specific things they liked playing with their friends, like basketball and drawing, while others thought about ideas like the leaves changing red in the fall or two friends getting into a fight and needing to say they're sorry. No matter what the story, it was clear that every child put a great deal of thought into how to represent themselves through their words and drawings.
Amanda: In one class, a child named Cecilia drew and we recorded her story about her friend: "Lyla was screaming too loudly and I was painting flowers and being an artist and being different. Lyla was white and Cecilia was brown and then we were sleeping and that is the end." Her teacher marveled at how she really listened and understood the message of the story we read in the previous lesson.

Leah: Presenting their pages as a class book also created a sense of classroom unity, giving the children the opportunity to learn about each others' interests while taking pride in their individual pages. The icing on the already delicious cake was seeing their excitement when we told them that the book would be left in their classroom so they could read it whenever they want!

No comments: