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Monday, January 21, 2013

Honoring the Dream

Today is the celebration day of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, and not long ago I read some place that instead of this being a day "off," it should be a day "on."  Because I run a private preschool,
I always chose to have school on this day.  I think it is an important day to pay tribute and honor to Martin Luther King Jr, and not to just look at it as a day off from school or work. 
We started talking about "Dr.King" last Monday, shortly before his actual birthday.
Although the children of my school are little, they had a deeper understanding of his message and dream than one might expect of them.  We talked about peace and what that means to us.  We also talk about why Martin Luther King Jr's work was so important and what equality means. 
Different variations of this conversation were shared and talked about throughout the week.  What are our dreams, and how we can be loving and peaceful.  Each day I would share a little bit more with them, and they with me, though I had not shared that Dr. King was assassinated.  I was waiting to approach that subject, when one of my students raised his hand today and shared with us: "Danielle do you know that he was killed?"  I said "yes, I did know that."  This little guy went on to share with his peers; "He was walking out of his apartment and a bad guy shot him who did not like him."  Everyone got quiet for a minute and another child said, "how come?"  It is hard to tell children who are 3 and 4 why someone would kill another person.  I shared with them that sometimes when people do not agree with each other they make bad choices, and sometimes these bad choices really hurt another person, and this man made a very bad choice that day.  We expressed how it is sad, but we also shared that even though Dr. King died, his work continues and changes towards good keep happening.As I said, these little ones think deeply and know a lot.  Honest sharing can be very profound.
A song we have been learning all week which the children love, is a variation of Common's song "I Have a Dream."  I taught the children just the refrain which is:
I have a dream, (clap) we're gonna work it out, out, out
We're gonna work it out, out, out,
We're gonna work it out.
I have dream, that one day
That one day
I will look deep within myself, I'm gonna find a way
I have a dream we're gonna work it out, out, out.
We're gonna work it out, out, out,
We're gonna work it out.
My Dream, my dream is to be free
My dream, my dream is to be free
My dream, my dream is to be free
My dream, my dream is to be free.
In terms of an art project for this day, I found it very difficult.  There are many art projects I have seen that the children can do, but none of these felt right, and none of them felt like they would touch upon the truer message of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr's birthday.
Then I came upon a quote by his wife, Coretta Scott King:
"The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic
 backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing random acts of kindness through service to others."
After reading this I knew what I wanted the children to focus on.  We have talked in the past about doing a fundraiser for Hefer International, an organization that gives the gift of animals so that impoverished countries can begin a life of sustainability and the means to produce their own food.
To learn more, here is the link:
Our fundraiser will be a T-shirt sale featuring one or two drawings created by the children.  So, today the children created drawings of animal that we can use for this project.  This service project will be our tribute to Martin Luther King. 
It is nap time as I write this blog post, and we do audio stories the first half of quiet time to settle the children down for rest.  Today's story was from Rabbit Ear's Audio, Treasury of African American Heroes.  The story we listened to was the story, Follow the Drinking Gourd, a beautiful story about one family's escape from slavery by way of the underground railroad.  I highly recommend this audio book read by Morgan Freeman and music by Taj Mahal.
I also recommend the book I have a Dream Dr. Martin Luther King, JR., which we read during circle time.

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