Peaceful Communities for All: An Early Childhood Unit

Peaceful Communities for All: An Early Childhood Unit

This resource (obtained from teachunicef.org) provides a lesson framework developed by Elizabeth Craford, P.h.D and Dana Shelit, M.A. (University of North Carolina Wilmington) for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Context:

The framework is divided into four separate lessons meant to be utilized in the education of children in preschool through second grade.

Implementation:

Incorporation by educators: As the framework lays a basis for individual development and identity, geographic and spatial awareness, understanding of global connections, and cultural understanding and awareness, educators would most likely experience success in incorporating the lesson outlines and activities within their social studies curriculums

Materials and time needed:

The framework has been broken down into four separate lesson plans; however, the foundation for the program is the development of a “Peaceful Place,” which is meant to foster contemplation, rest and resolution by children engaged. The creation of the “Peaceful Place” is, naturally, dependent on available materials or resources, the structure and nature of the local community, and the learning environment. To create the “Peaceful Place,” educators must have access to a quiet and somewhat secluded area that would afford children with the opportunity to experience a sense of peace or tranquility, and one that is spacious enough to accommodate a peace table where conflicts can be resolved; a place where children are able to seek refuge in the face of turmoil, or regain composure after becoming distraught. The area should be a comfortable area that reflects the importance of peacefulness and openness so that children are able to feel comfortable in identifying and communicating their emotions, resolve intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts, and find inner peace or calmness. It is important for the “Peaceful Place” to be utilized as a space for self-reflection and identification, and never as a punishment, or “time-out.” To allow for cooperation and a sense of ownership by the children, it would be useful to engage them in the design of the “Peaceful Place”, and allow for an hour or class period to be devoted to implementing the lessons within the “Peaceful Place” at least once a week, or more preferably twice (or more) weekly.

In addition to the development of the “Peaceful Place”, each lesson further incorporates the use of additional materials as listed below:

  • Lesson One: A place of Peacefulness in Me; picture books that outline concepts of peace and self-awareness, as well as maps to develop geographic and special awareness
  • Lesson Two: Celebrating All of Us; picture books or works of art that embody the concepts of diversity and peace, as well as other books related to the same concepts.
  • Lesson Three: Peacefulness in the Places We Live; materials that would allow for the creation of a “café chat” area, and picture books or other materials that cover conflict resolution.
  • Lesson Four: Peacefulness makes a Better World; books, photographs or artwork that portrays individuals or organizations that work for the creation of a peaceful global community.

Pedagogies used/ ways to implement this resource:

This particular framework appears to incorporate the use of classroom instruction and informed learning, as well as active learning and peer led discussions. For instance, classroom instruction and informed learning is used when the “Peaceful Place” is introduced to children, concepts of personal peace are explained, utilization of the various books required for each lesson, and discussions explaining the origin of peace within individuals. While active learning as well as peer-led discussions take place during the brain-storming of descriptive words related to the concept of peacefulness, the creation of murals or paintings for the “Peaceful place”, encouraging the creation of comparisons about peace, and discussions of symbols related to peace.

Goals:

The “Peaceful Communities for All” framework was built in an effort to allow children to develop trusting relationships, as well as confidence, self-awareness, autonomy, creativity, initiative and positive self-esteem. The program was designed to engage children, allowing them the opportunity to actively consider how they are able to contribute towards the creation and sustainability of peaceful communities, while also fostering respect for diversity and development of global awareness. It is this understanding and development is seen as the foundation of global citizenship. Ultimately, the framework sets forth the building blocks for children to learn how to be peaceful, rather than teach them about peace, since the concept must originate within oneself in order to be extended to local and global communities.

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