“The second stage of growth in Education for Life covers the ages from 6-12, the “Feeling” or elementary years. Here we find a very special window of opportunity when children are most able to learn about and through their feelings.”
We are nearing the end of about a month unit of making Solar System cards of the Sun and all the planets (and one dwarf planet). For each planet (and also the Sun) we made a card. The front of the card contained a picture of the planet, drawn by each child, and factual information such as how much you would weigh on that planet, does it have an atmosphere, how long is one day compared to a day on Earth, etc. We read, wrote, watched videos, imagined, and did experiments on magnetism, gravity, inertia, mass, and weight, and Newton’s First Law of Motion to name a few, to help us gain understanding of the differences of each planet.
We also got to know the planets more personally… on the back of each card, we assigned each planet a personality which corresponds to one or two famous characters from literature or, as most kids have experienced them, from Walt Disney movies. Using the characters helped the boys to not only learn physical attributes and information about the planets, but also to discover that just like the planets, we all have different realities and different perspectives of those realities. Giving the subject “personalities” helps the boys discover and share with each other our own personal strengths and weaknesses in non-threatening ways – and to see that they never have to be “stuck” in any particular attitude.
So for example, Mercury’s characters are Peter Pan and Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Mercury, the “Messenger of the Gods” orbits the Sun faster than any other planet in the Solar System. Peter Pan and Tigger are quick too. They run fast, they talk fast, and they love to tell and hear stories. Sometimes they can run themselves right out of steam! “Has this every happened to you?” I might ask. “Did you ever run out of steam?” “What happened?”
Next, take Mars… Mars is hot and dry. The Mars people are heroes and they like to fight the battles. They like to solve the problems and are courageous. Sometimes they have a little temper because they see the way to fix things when others cannot. Woody from Toy Story and Robin Hood characterize this planet. One day one of the boys was having trouble at recess because he could see the way the game they were playing could be much more fun and was getting frustrated when no one else could see the big picture. We were able to discuss this later, not as a fault, but as quality of problem solving. These cards have given us a new vocabulary for talking about how we are feeling or how we are interacting with others.
Playing off the idea of all the planets being perfectly “balanced’ in their orbit around the sun, I ask the boys if they are feeling balanced. If someone has a red hot temper, they might say they feel like a Mars person. They can then choose what qualities from another planet they might use to balance out their anger — perhaps Venus, the planet that loves harmony and hugs (Baloo the Bear from Jungle Book)… hugs, because its atmosphere holds in all it’s gasses (the “Green House Effect”). Sometimes I give the boys scenarios in which they can role play how different “planets” might react to certain situations.
We have been laminating the cards also so they can take the whole set home. Photo coming soon…