The preschool students in Gaynor’s Early Childhood program (EC) do everything from drawing pictures to listening quietly during story time, but what about learning about complex subjects like social justice, racism, segregation, and the life and significance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? This spring, students in the Purple Cluster learned about those topics through a series of unique, multi-sensory lessons.
Kathryn Homlish, a Purple Cluster teacher said, “We knew that our goal was for the students to not only understand who Martin Luther King Jr. was, but also understand what he did and why it was so important. From there, we worked backward to decide what important concepts and vocabulary they would need to know to understand his legacy. That determined what we would need to teach.”
The foundation of the lesson began with students learning and defining what comprises “inside” and “outside” characteristics. Inside characteristics were defined as actions, choices, feelings, and treatment of others. Outside characteristics were defined as hair, skin, eyes, and height. Over the course of January, students were taught multi-sensory lessons that included drawing, reading, singing, reflecting, writing, speaking, and listening that were incorporated into the main themes. Students read books like The Skin You Live In, and The Colors of Us; listened to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and learned a song called “Freedom, Freedom, Let it Ring,” which was sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
The lesson culminated with Purple Cluster students making signs with some of Dr. King’s “big words” that they had learned. They then got special permission and marched peacefully around campus.
“Watching our school’s youngest parade with signs through the hallway on a peaceful march while singing about Dr. King filled me with such pride and joy,” said Gavi Young, a Purple Cluster teacher. “My hope is that these students will continue to use their ‘big words’ to help work toward making the world a more fair place throughout their education and lives. Our school knows well that kinesthetic movements greatly improve memory, and these students used their bodies to understand why Martin Luther King Jr. was so important and how they can work to keep his memory alive.”