Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's the Culture Alert!

Ms. Alert's third grade class is studying culture. They are reading books, thinking and talking about what it means to have a culture. What kind of customs and practices make up a culture. How all these things help create people's ideas and attitudes and make them who they are.

When Ms. Goodman, Perkins' author-in-residence, heard about these lessons, she knew she had something to contribute. She brought one of her books to read to the class. Chopsticks for My Noodle Soup is the story of 5-year old Eliza who moved with her family from the United States to live in a jungle village in Malaysia for a year.

The kids in Ms. Alert's class discovered that kids in Malaysia (and all over the world) do the same kinds of things each day, but they often do them differently. People in Malaysia live in houses of course, but many of them on stilts. And the people prefer to sit on the floor instead of couches. Eliza ate rice for breakfast instead of the cereal she would have had at home. The kids at Perkins thought that was weird at first but then they realized it was just different. And that rice is pretty tasty! They thought that having a toilet in a separate little house was odd too, but they were definitely jealous that kids could buy as much candy as they wanted at school!

Noticing that the kids in Ms. Alert's class looked like a mini-United Nations, Ms. Goodman asked how many of them had parents who had not been born in the U.S. Close to half of them raised their hands. Then she asked how many of them had grandparents who hadn't been born here and even more hands reached toward the ceiling!

That was when the Culture Alert Project was born. After MCAS, the kids are going to learn even more about different cultures by interviewing their own families and sharing the results.

Stay posted!