Social Systems and Structures: Teaching Stage One students about different family structures.
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Indij Reader - Me and My Mum

Indij Reader - Me and My Mum | Social Systems and Structures: Teaching Stage One students about different family structures. | Scoop.it

"Indij Readers wants to produce books that truly interest Indigenous students and inspire them to pick up a book, have a go, see themselves, learn and have fun along the way. They also want non Indigenous students to have the same experiences and to learn more about the first Australians at the same time."

Thea Manning's insight:

 

Me and My Mum is part of the Indij Reader series for young children in the early stages of primary school. The story is located in the “Little Fellas” collection. These readers are used to explore Aboriginal culture and assist with the implementation of Aboriginal perspectives across the Key Learning Areas of the curriculum. Me and My Mum is designed to be read independently by children, with only a few words on each page.

 

The story is about a young Koori girl and her Mum who shop, eat, ride their bicycles, work and dance together. It’s a positive look at the everyday life of a single mother and her daughter. The fact that the book uses basic sentences, with only a few words on each page “My mum is riding, so am I” and accompanying illustrations, means this book is perfect for children to take home and read to their parents as part of their homework, or read to their peers in class. Obviously this book has cross-curricula links with English, but also has strong relevance for the HSIE strand, social systems and structures, and the exploration of different family structures.

 

Many children could read this story by early stage one, but I also think it’s an appropriate text for the beginning of stage one. As the language in the book is quite basic, I think it would be great to extend the book, by using the words to help form the script of a short play, which could be performed in small groups to the class. I think it would also be beneficial to use this book as a model for how children could write their own short story about their family structure and the activities they do with their family. Each child could make their own short text, with illustrations and then read it to the class. This could be a good assessment task for the end of this unit of work.

 

Me and My Mum is written by Anita Heiss and illustrated by Jay Davis. Anita is a Wiradjuri woman and Jay is a Biripi man which is significant because as with all of the other Indij readers, this story is written from an Aboriginal perspective.  Having texts such as Me and My Mum in the classroom allows children to understand different cultures and perspectives by identifying with characters, places and circumstances, and “one of the strengths of Indigenous self-representations is the opportunity they provide to develop empathy in students in classroom activities.” (Gilbert & Hoepper, 2014, p.350) The unique nature of these readers means that children are exposed to a context that will deepen their overall understanding of Aboriginal people. As articulated on the Indij Reader’s website, “Through story the reader will gain insight, understanding, appreciation and perspective of Aboriginal Australia, its diverse richness stimulating thought and building knowledge through difference and perspective.”

 

Reference List:

INDIJ READERS (2014). Indij readers: Story.

Retrieved April 11, 2004 from http://www.indijreaders.com.au/

 

Gilbert, R. & Hoepper, B. (2014). Teaching Humanities and Social Sciences: History, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum. 5th Edition. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia

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Love Makes a Family by Two of a Kind - YouTube

The musical duo Two of a Kind (David & Jenny Heitler-Klevans) perform a song for a small studio audience on a children's show.

Thea Manning's insight:

This song discusses a diverse range of families and is a great way of introducing more than one type of family to young children in the classroom. The song discusses adoption, “I have a friend who was born far away, Her mum adopted her from China one day”, separated families, “I have a friend whose parents live far apart…”, extended families, “There is a house across the street from me, Filled with generations - one, two and three” single sex families, “Our friend has a sister, and also two mothers, He doesn’t have a dad, and he doesn’t have brothers” and families with no children “One couple I know have no kids of their own”. Each verse ends with the words “their house is filled with love”, and the chorus has the lines “love makes a family” which is the overall message of the song. Teachers can buy the song and download the lyrics on the band’s website, http://twoofakind.com/.

 

The free YouTube clip I have linked to is an interactive way of teaching the song to children  because the clip has hand actions (sign language) that go along with the key phrase in the song, “loves make a family”.  It also shows the musicians interacting with a group of children while they sing the song. Children in the class would enjoy getting up and dancing around signing the words and doing the hand actions to each other. The free Youtube clip only has a few verses of the song so I would also recommend purchasing the entire song via the band's website and then incorporating the sign language when you revisit the song in class.

 

I would use this song to introduce a topic on different family structures as it discusses several families dynamics rather than just focusing on one. I think using songs in the classroom is a great way of bringing children together to learn about different people’s lives and cultures in an exciting and collaborative way. As Paquette and Rieg argue, “music can transform classrooms to pleasant and positive learning environments in which children thrive emotionally, socially, and academically...providing children with structured and open-ended musical activities, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, and sharing the joy of creativity with each other are foundational bases for growth and development of the early childhood learner.” (2008, p. 227) I think this song promotes and values all kinds of different people from different backgrounds in an age appropriate and accessible way which makes it a great teaching resource for this topic.

 

A lesson idea for this song would be to listen to the song once the whole way through on an interactive whiteboard and then discuss the children's initial impressions of “what makes a family” with a brainstorming activity on the whiteboard. You could then teach the children the hand actions for the chorus and listen to the song again. Next, you could closely examine the lyrics and words of the song and pick a few examples to discuss in more depth as a class - adoption, families with no children, and extended families. You could then listen to the song again and add some more ideas, that are hopefully further developed and nuanced, to the brainstorming topic “what makes a family” on the whiteboard.

 

As Mishra and Koehler argue, the use of the right technology in the classroom can enhance a teacher's pedagogical content knowledge, because it affords “a range of representations, analogies, examples, explanations, and demonstrations that can help make subject matter more accessible for the learner.” (2006, p. 1023). I think this Youtube clip is an example of how the use of technology can often make content easier for children to relate to and enhance the overall educational value of a unit of work. 

 

Reference List:

Kelli R. Paquette, Sue A. Rieg. (2008). Using music to support literacy development of young English language learners. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36, (3). 227-232.

 

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108 (6). 1017-1054.

 

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Photo Kit: A Day in the Life of 5 children

"This resource includes images and information about five children from around the world. There are five photos of each child, covering the themes of school, play, home, chores, and family. Additional information is available in the stories, which can be read out by the teacher. This site introduces students to the similarities and differences of families around the world."

 

Thea Manning's insight:

 

This site provides children with an excellent global perspective of five different children and their family structures. For stage one I think it would be most beneficial to further explore only one child by reading their personal recount out loud to the class and then discussing the images of that child in more detail. The images and information on Misael, who lives in Honduras with his extended family - parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles and cousins - are particularly relevant for teaching younger children about different family structures. The photo of 13 year old Misael with his extended family outside their home (page 9), and the accompanying short biography of his life, are valuable stage one teaching resources to introduce the idea of what living with your extended family might look like.

 

After discussing the images of Misael's life, with a focus on the image of him and his extended family, and reading Misael's short description of his life to the class, a discussion could be initiated about the similarities and differences between Misael's life and other class members. Similarities might include, playing soccer, friends, guitar lessons, going to school and living with extended family. Differences may include living with extended family, living in Honduras, helping his mother sew items to sell at the markets. Students could also be encouraged to write Misael a letter or draw a picture telling him what their family "looks like", exploring how it's different or similar. 

 

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Living With Mum And Living With Dad: Walker Books Australia

Living With Mum And Living With Dad: Walker Books Australia | Social Systems and Structures: Teaching Stage One students about different family structures. | Scoop.it

Living With Mum And Living With Dad: by Melanie Walsh is a reassuring and simple story about separation for young children.

Thea Manning's insight:

 

This is a book about a little girl whose Mum and Dad don't live together anymore, so sometimes she lives with her mum and her cat, and sometimes she lives with her dad in an apartment. She has two bedrooms and two sets of toys, but she takes her favourite toys with her wherever she goes. This is a simple and straightforward text with large lift the flaps and bold graphic illustrations to engage kids. It deals with the topic of separated families in a matter of fact way and is practical and direct about what that might look like for young children. It’s a highly reassuring and positive representation of what living in two homes is like for young children. Melanie Walsh addresses that sometimes routines change when parents separate but that children can still see both parents regularly and remain loved and cared for. The book ends with pictures of the little girl’s extended family on both her mum and dad’s side – and it shows how much she enjoys spending time with everyone.

 

I think this would be a great book to purchase and have as part of a general catalogue of texts around the classroom. I think picture books are an invaluable resource in helping introduce more complex topics or representations of what families may look like to young children. As Heath argues reading to young children not only allows them to take meaning from texts but “raises a heavy sense of the familiar in all of us who acquired mainstream habits and values.” (1982, p.54)

 

This book could easily be used to spark discussion among students about different family structures and what it’s like to have two homes. For children who come from separated families, this book would allow them to feel included in classroom discussions about families and validate and normalise their family structure to their peers.

 

It also allows young children who live in one home to begin to understand what a separated family means and not see it as scary of vastly different in the everyday. Ultimately the book shows that most children have very similar daily lives and routines – the same activities, comforts and bedtime routines- but that children whose parents are no longer together just do these activities at two houses.

 

Reference List:

Brice, Heath, S. (1982). What no bedtime story means: Narrative skills at home and school. Language society 11, pp. 49-75

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Family in Democratic Republic of Congo Poster

Family in Democratic Republic of Congo Poster | Social Systems and Structures: Teaching Stage One students about different family structures. | Scoop.it

www.worldvision.com.au

 

 

Thea Manning's insight:

This poster shows 9 year old Prudence, at school in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The poster includes a photo, and a quote from Prudence about how her Grandmother takes care of her, "I love my grandmother, who takes good care of me."

 

I think this poster would make an excellent discussion starter showing a global perspective of a different family structure. I think one of the benefits of relevant images in the classroom is that people can see all kinds of different things, and I would want to engage children in their thoughts about what they see, rather than just leading the discussion.

 

I would use this poster to discuss the similarities and differences between Prudence's life and other class members and then also talk about her environment and culture more broadly and some of the roles and responsibilities she may have to take on as part of her family. 

 

I think it would be beneficial to discuss that while Prudence only mentions her grandmother as her family, she appears happy and motivated at school, and the poster is a positive representation of her life and family. Her bright smile lights up the page and this is not a deficit model of her life.

 

Although I have chosen this poster with the intention that it be used to discuss different family structures around the world, I think this image could also be used more generally as part of the HSIE syllabus for stage one. Through classroom discussion and analysis, links could be made to different cultures, customs, ways of life, and natural and built environments.

 

Children will relate to Prudence because she is pictured at school in the poster. I think it would be beneficial to ask children questions about this poster and why her grandmother might be taking care of her. This conversation could easily branch into the importance and value of extended family and people around us who love and care for us.

 

A teaching idea for this poster would be to use a world map, and get children to identify where the Democratic Republic of Congo is and how far away Prudence is from Australia. I think children could also be encouraged to make their own posters, using computers and photos of themselves and summarising their families or a person who looks after them into a few sentences to form a "quote" for their posters. The posters could be put around Prudence's in the classroom.

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