Learning About Multiple Perspectives in the Primary Grades

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I see chess.

One of the most important elements of being an active reader is understanding that people’s experiences, cultures and family dynamics very much impact our perspective and understanding of life.  In an effort to convey this reading element to my students, I introduced the concept of PERSPECTIVE by reading several picture books. We read, It Looks Like Spilt Milk  by Charles G. Shaw and watched a video version of Zoom by Istvan Banyai. Then students painted half of their blue paper with white paint and folded it together – making for interesting figures. Using their perspective, they wrote what they saw.

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I see a butterfly.

The Zoom video really helped bring to life that things aren’t always what they seem. We discussed that having a global perspective means looking at situations from various viewpoints, requires flexibility and an open mind. In my estimation, these skills help create compassionate individuals so as not to always look at situations as black or white, good or bad, or beautiful or ugly.

Most recently, we read the book Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. A little girl walks through her run down community and finds beauty, where most would not. In the beginning of the book she says:

When I look through my window, I see a brick wall.

There is trash in the courtyard and a broken bottle that looks like fallen stars. 

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Something Beautiful truly surprised me because it made my heart move with so many emotions, the strongest being hope. At the end of the story, the little girl takes her hope and puts it into action.

I go upstairs and a get a broom and a sponge and some water. I pick up the trash.

I sweep up the glass. I scrub the door very hard.

When DIE disappears, I feel powerful.

Someday I’ll plant flowers in my courtyard. I’ll invite all of my friends to see.

If we are open to changing our perspective and hopeful about creating a better tomorrow – then as this little girl discovers, all is possible.

I’m not really sure if my little ones wholly understood the concept of multiple perspectives. But I’m hopeful that if we keep discussing it, pointing it out via picture books or classroom situations that maybe, just maybe, they too will put hope into action.

Valentine Gifts Made With My Own Two Hands

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Little people have lots of love to share. They draw you pictures, give you unexpected, yet sweet hugs, and they tell you how much they love you. It truly is one the purest forms of love. This Valentine’s day, I experienced a new and thoughtful Valentine’s tradition – Secret Valentines.

Students were randomly assigned a secret valentine. Then, based on what they know of this classmate, they selected from an assortment of heart shaped fabric. Once names were picked, fabric chosen – the fun begins! Family members volunteered to help the little ones sew heart shaped pillows. I have never ever thought to sew with kindergarteners and first graders. But to my surprise, they did it! They stuffed the pillows, stitched them up, then wrote a “guess who” list full of clues describing their secret valentine. They went something likes this:

This person has brown hair.

This person likes to play baseball.

This person likes Pokemon.

This person likes to draw.

This person is good on the monkey bars.

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Yesterday, the little ones read aloud their clues and gave their heart pillows to their secret valentine.  They also passed out homemade valentine cards to the class. My heart smiled when they gave me a piece of themselves and handed me their cards. “I made this just for you!” Sweetest thing ever.

When a child gives you a gift, even if it is just a rock they just picked up, exude gratitude. It may be the only thing they have to give, and they have chosen to give it to you.

– Dean Jackson