On top of the shear panic unleashed by the spread of the Ebola virus from West Africa, an astonishing amount of ignorance has reared its ugly head. As some havecommented, this ignorance may be more dangerous to millions of people than the actual virus, and the unfamiliarity could even make matters worse, by focusing our concerns in the wrong direction, and isolating people and places from technology, education, and healthcare.
When my family was getting ready to live in West Africa a few years ago, it felt like everyone would ask us about the animals — but that part of Africa has virtually no exotic animals roaming around and “it’s not the Lion King set!” as my then-11-year-old daughter would exclaim in exasperation. The other common reaction revolved around the astonishment that we were going to “Africa, Africa?!” “It’s so far away.” “I can’t imagine ever going there.” Or “That’s my lifelong dream to go there” (often followed by a sigh that it would never happen).
This is a post in a series on World Religions for Kids, a group of articles packed with resources to help teachers and parents teach their children about World Religions as a means to promote compassion, empathy, cultural understanding, and tolerance. These books are a sample of the incredible list of 300+ multicultural books featured in The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners, a new book with hundreds of easy activities, resources, and projects to help busy educators incorporate global and cultural awareness in their classroom.
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General Books about World Religions
Use these books to explore similarities and differences in traditions, rituals, beliefs, and celebrations of world religions for kids.
Buller, Laura (2005). A Faith Like Mine. New York, NY: DK. Includes Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Sikhism in detail, with bits on Zoroastrianism, Shinto, Taoism, Jainism and Baha’i, for ages 9-12.
DK Publishing (2011). What Do You Believe? New York, NY: DK. Includes all of the largest faiths, many smaller religious, plus ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato, as well as modern thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Kant, and Sartre.
Glossop, Jennifer, & Mantha, John (2003). The Kids Book of World Religions. Toronto, Canada: Kids Can Press. In addition to the general information about the different world religions for kids, it also includes info on leaders and places of worship (focusing on the major religions only).
Lumbard, Alexis York (2014). Everyone Prays. Bloomington, IN: Wisdom Tales. Perfect introductory text for kids ages 4-8, with a unifying message that despite our different cultures and traditions, many people have a deep faith.
Meredith, Susan (2012). The Usborne Book of World Religions. London, IL: Usborne Publishing. Like many of the other books listed, it includes sections on the main religions and briefly touches on some of the smaller faiths. Unique to this book is the addition of numerous web sites (viewed through the Usborne site) that are constantly updated.
Osborne, Mary Pope (1996). One World, Many Religions: The Ways We Worship. New York, NY: Knopf Books for Young Readers. Includes Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, for ages 8-12.
On May 8, 2014, the School Library Journal wrote this excellent review of The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners. In addition to appearing on-line, the article was also featured in School Library Journal‘s Curriculum Connections e-newsletter.
Teaching kids to think globally is no longer an option. Technological advances have made our world smaller and the impact of nations on distant places and cultures is ever more pronounced. Add to that, the number of children who enter our public schools speaking a first (or second) language other than English, and it’s imperative that we open their classmates’ eyes to the world that exists beyond our borders.
With The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners (Corwin, 2014), Homa Sabet Tavanger, author ofGrowing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World(Random, 2009) and Becky Mladic-Morales, founder ofKidWorldCitizen.org, have compiled a treasure trove of materials guaranteed to encourage and energize meaningful global learning. Infused with enthusiasm, this how-to guide for adults working with K-5 students is chockfull of practical ideas, activities, and resources. A password-protected companion site with links to materials referenced in the text is indispensable, so Internet access while using the toolkit is a must.
In Chapter 1, the authors offer guidance for assessing a school community’s commitment to global learning and suggest using an online “Global Footprint quiz” to determine an entry point for raising awareness and building a curriculum. They recognize the value of an International Night or other related events, “perhaps as a stepping stone to more in-depth curricular integration,” and provide a planning timeline along with pointers for engaging stakeholders, enlisting volunteers, and tapping into the larger community. Chapter 2, aptly titled “Things to Do,” details creative approaches to school-wide and classroom activities that incorporate crafts, food, music, games, language, and more.
For teachers and schools that are ready to move beyond an event, Chapter 3, “Infusing Global Learning Into Academic Subject Areas,” provides lesson plans in global education aligned with Common Core State Standards. Wisely, the authors prompt teachers to look within topics commonly taught in elementary schools, such as nutrition, pollution, the water cycle, families, etc., for simple ways in which to add a broader, global perspective, and they present examples to get teachers started.
With an emphasis on teaching empathy by building relationships, the last two chapters, “Technology Tools to Connect With the World” and “Charitable Giving and Service,” are a solid source of suggestions for opening doors to the world. Technology tools encompass social media, blogs and wikis, videoconferencing, online lesson plans, digital multimedia, and global professional development with helpful hints on specific tools, such as a list of “12 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom,” how to increase student participation with a “Skype Jobs Chart,” and a sampling of particularly effective classroom blogs.
As children learn about the world, they’ll also learn that the distribution of resources and advantages isn’t equal. Students develop empathy as they’re guided through service activities that can make a difference; service that is carefully planned, has a purpose, and is integrated with learning objectives. Inspiring examples of kids in action along with links to global organizations are nicely incorporated. Rounding out the toolkit are a few additional resources, including a printable global passport and a geographically arranged “Multicultural Book List” featuring over 300 titles.
This article was featured in School Library Journal‘s Curriculum Connections enewsletter.Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered every month for free.
We are excited to see more and more global educators interested in our new book. Thank you to IB World magazine for highlighting “The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners” in the most recent (March) issue. IB World magazine is the official magazine of the International Baccalaureate® (IB), published twice per year in hardcopy and online.
The following excerpts from pages 98-100 from the Global Education Toolkit offer a glimpse of simple ways that science lessons can turn into global learning experiences. As we explain in the section on science lessons:
With a bit of creativity and initiative, science might be the most natural subject offering a global lens through which to view our world. Earth, water, air quality, climate, chemistry, physics, physiology, plant life and animal habitats don’t respect national boundaries, so they are inherently global in nature, inviting wider exploration and conversation. This fact in itself can serve as a launch for a global conversation. Vexing challenges stumping the best scientific minds are solved globally using collaborative teams located in different locales that experiment and study issues from diverse angles and approaches. In other words, introducing science in the 21st-Century is necessarily global.
If you’re inspired to turn your science lesson into a global learning opportunity, where would you begin?
Wangari Maathai (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) grew up in the green highlands of Kenyan. After she returned from studying college in the US she discovered that her lush homeland was being destroyed by deforestation which caused water and food shortages, malnutrition, and disappearing wildlife. She began to educate others to care for the land and re-plant the forests and they called her Mama Miti, “Mother of Trees.” Ms Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, which empowered woman around Kenya to help take back their land, planting tree by tree.
For her compassion and efforts she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She was the first African woman and environmentalist to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Here are resources you can use to teach your children about this inspirational, remarkable woman, and her plight to save her country’s landscape. Continue reading…