Social Studies Unit: Caring for Ourselves and Each Other

Social Studies in the Kindergarten Classroom: The opening Social Studies unit topic in the Kindergarten classroom focused on "Caring for Ourselves and Others," and the ground-up creation of the class rules.

The creation of the class rules was a process that spanned over two weeks. It began with exploring children's literature in which the characters had hopes that they pursued. Then, the students expressing their uniques hopes for the school year during a formal class segment. The chart in the slide show is the product of that shared experience.

Then, the students spent time expressing their hopes in pieces of art that were displayed on the entry level of Fairville. We held a "gallery visit" to the students' work and each student told us about more about his or her art, and fielded questions. I photographed the artwork and attached the miniaturized versions onto the paper lanterns display that illuminates the classroom with the students' hopes and dreams. They enjoy seeing this every day very much. It is a visual validation of their valued presence, and their collective hopes.

We connected the possibility of their hopes and dreams happening within a class environment in which we care for ourselves, each other, have fun; an environment that is safe and supportive. It became clear that class rules help all of this to happen!

First, we used a formal class segment (these 'whole-class brainstorms' happen within ten minutes) to respond to questions that I posed. The chart in the slideshow reflects less of the outcome than do the illustrations from the chidren! The children illustrated distinct ways that keep us safe and able to learn best.

Finally, as a class, we reflected on the illustrations, and came up with "simple" ways to state important class rules. The rules came directly from the students. I just wrote them!
Each student signed the class rules on the premise that they agreed with each one, and understood their responsibility to follow the rules. We discussed how following the rules shows how we care for ourselves, each other, and to allow our hopes and dreams to happen!
All grown-ups involved in the classroom eventually signed the rule sign too!

We further explore the rules in "Conflict Resolution Theater;" the students act out scenarios that are, or are not, following the rules. This has been a hit! Continued, daily, reflection and application of the student-generated rules are important emotional and social skills to build.

The "Helping Hands" chart reflects how we share responsibilities as a community that cares for each other. The jobs are rotated on a weekly basis.