Pre-K Students Explore Identity
January 19, 2017 by
Students in Pre-Kindergarten explored the concept of Identity over the course of the first semester. They began by defining identity as “who you really are.” While acknowledging that we are all constantly changing and growing, our study began by having the children look at the things that currently identify or represent them. We augmented our project work with an author’s study, using Jamie Lee Curtis’ books as a vehicle to explore our theme more deeply and provide the children with an opportunity to make a text-to-self connection with regards to their identity. Honoring the children’s knowledge, abilities, ideas, and expertise, we wanted to allow the children to be the protagonists of their own learning and have the projects reflect the ways they are internalizing the concept of identity and our studies at large.
Our first project was inspired by Jamie Lee Curtis’ book This Is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From. Given that in the beginning of the year our children were more literal and concrete thinkers, we asked them to put themselves in the shoes of the narrator’s grandmother. We posed the question, “What would you take with you if you had to leave the place you called home?” The children were provided with an identity suitcase, and they began to think about the physical possessions that were most meaningful to them. The students then carefully and thoughtfully created artistic representations of these items, filling their suitcases with these meaningful objects. Honoring the value of l’dor va’dor (from generation to generation), on Share the Nachas day when grandparents and special friends visited the school, each child’s special guest helped them decorate the “suitcases” while sharing the child’s family history and how that influenced the child’s identity.
Next, students were prompted to think more abstractly about the ways in which they would describe their inner selves. After an initial exercise in describing themselves in terms of physical characteristics and what they like to do, the children learned about adjectives and how we can use them to describe our personal characteristics (while also building an extensive vocabulary). With the help of their parents, the children chose four adjectives to describe themselves. They also drew a picture representing each adjective and placed it on a life size silhouette of their body, providing any observers insight into their personality traits and characteristics. Some of the adjectives students used to describe themselves include charismatic, compassionate, brave, kind, charming, spunky, curious, giving, musical, and goofy.
Recently, families were invited to view the projects and hear more about the General Studies and the Hebrew and Judaic Studies learning that the children engaged in during the first semester. As our students reflected back on their studies, the most prominent word heard from the children was “proud.” Proud of the work they did. Proud of the knowledge they have gained. Proud to showcase their identity. Proud of who they are.