Picture yourself as a child, it’s the beginning of the school year and you’re attending a new school in a different country. If this isn’t difficult enough, you don’t even speak the same language. Talk about feeling alone and isolated! As teachers, we’ve all had kids in our classes who appear to be loners, they don’t have friends, they play by themselves and just don’t fit in. What’s an educator to do to help this young person become part of the group? You could use read aloud picture books to get a discourse going.
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ted Lewin would work perfectly. Farah, a young girl from a Muslim country, is painfully aware of the differences between herself and her classmates. Not only are her customs and clothing different, but she can’t speak the language, so she feels very alone even when surrounded by her classmates.
On a field trip to an apple orchard, the teacher gives everyone a chance to choose an apple, Farah picks a little green one, while everyone else picks a red one. As she awaits her turn to add her green apple to the cider press that the others are trying to push, Farah realizes that she’s strong and can help, and when they drink the cider, it still tastes sweet, even with a green apple among all the red ones. This allows her to connect with the others and begins to give her a sense of belonging as she becomes aware of the similarities between this culture and her own. Laughs, sneezes and even belches sound the same everywhere while dogs still run and hay tickles the nose.
Stick around, I’d like to share some strategies to help you get a discourse going with your class about belonging.
Have a group discussion of what it means to belong, then talk about how it feels to be alone and relate it to Farah’s feelings in the book. Say, how are we all similar, and what are some of the things that we all do no matter where we come from. Then ask if anyone has ever felt the way Farah did.
Ask how she felt at the beginning and how things changed for her by the end. Why did she choose a little green apple while all the other kids chose red ones and how was SHE like the little green apple?
Just for you, here are two activity based lesson ideas for reinforcement.
Working in collaborative groups or individually, draw cartoons telling a story about someone who is feeling isolated, and what you would do to help him/her feel accepted and welcome.
Working in collaborative groups set up a skit about a girl or boy who felt similar to the way Farah felt. How were they able to resolve the feeling of not belonging and what could they do to make that person feel accepted and welcome.
This is part of our We Teach So Hard monthly book chat that will be brought to you the second week of every month where we’ll be introducing new themes that you can use right away with your students. So stay tuned….
Be sure to listen to our podcast on iTunes by clicking here.
aaand then check out Kathie, Retta, and Tracy’s blog posts by clicking the links below this image. They have more great tips for your back to school, belonging, read alouds. You don’t want to miss them.