Kindergarten Celebrates Their Social Justice Learning
After their months-long study of changemakers, kindergarteners celebrated their learning this morning with a parade and speeches about their chosen luminary.
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The two classes dove into dozens of biographies as part of their focus on social justice leadership, but they also made space in their study to talk about the ways that children can effect change, too.
“We can??” some kids said, surprised. “We can do that? We’re just kids!”
Other five-year-old classmates responded, “Yes, we can!”
“We are people, too.”
“We have dreams!”
Students made changemaker books, adding portraits of the people they learned about along the way: Wangari Maathai, Jackie Robinson, Claudette Colvin, Frida Kahlo, Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and many, many more. Also making many appearances in their books, “my mom,” “dad” and “ME.”
The teachers and students asked each other, “What makes these people changemakers? What does it mean to sit down for change, raise your voice, take a stand, or step outside the box to make the world a better place?” They read Peter Reynolds’s Say Something to reinforce the importance of being an advocate for yourself and others.
Even as they learned the legacies of these changemakers, the students also began to understand the kinds of challenges they faced. In age-appropriate ways, they talked about what it would take to eliminate gender biases or eradicate racism.
“These kindergarteners demonstrated a strong sense of justice,” said kindergarten teacher Bianca Santos. “We’d hear, ‘Whoa, that’s not okay!’ ‘That’s not fair!’ or ‘They shouldn’t do that!’ when we would read [about the obstacles people and society set before these changemakers].”
On parade day, kindergarteners came dressed up as the changemakers they’d learned about at school or the changemakers that are important to them and their families.
There was Billie Jean King, Dolores Huerta, Presidents Joe Biden and Abraham Lincoln, Angela Davis, Sir Isaac Newton, Lucille Ball, Marie Curie, Vice President Kamala Harris, Nancy Grace Roman, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Wu Chien Shiung, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Greta Thunberg.
“I chose Dolors Huerta because she helped people and helped workers get more money to live. ¡Uvas no!”
A Middle School teacher watching the parade of students asked, “Oh, are they doing traveling biographies like the 5th graders do?” While they aren’t quite ready for that deep dive into research and speech writing, they’ve taken passionate ownership of their learning journeys.
Thanks to kindergarten teachers Sam'n Iqbal, Michelle Levy, Bianca Santos, and Jody Welsh for developing the unit and sharing it with the community.