There’s no place like home!
The best journeys always lead us home, just ask Year 1! For their PYP unit, ‘Where we are in Place and Time’, they explored this central idea, learning a lot about their mums and grandmas in the process.
Some would say that families today are almost unrecognisable compared to the 1950s. Others might argue that much of the basics of family life remain the same. What is certain is that family life, the world over, is changing shape to some degree as we alter the way we live, work and bring up our children. This term, Ms Christofa’s Year 1 students have looked at the transformation and adaptation of family structures over the last 70 years and conducted their own empirical research into the maternal side of their family history.
It all started when Ms Christofa showed the students a video featuring a family dinner in the 1950s. It was a time when typically, dad was the breadwinner and mum stayed home to care for the children. The axiom, “Man works from sun to sun while woman’s work is never done” was the rule.
The video really piqued the girls’ curiosity, prompting all sorts of questions. Amelia said, “I wonder why the girls did all the cooking. And I wonder why the mum did not go to work.” Charlotte said, “I wonder why the dad only went to work. I wonder why the boys did not help with dinner.” And Miranda said, “I wonder why they put their heads down before they eat dinner. I wonder why the father has to serve the whole family.”
After much discussion, Ms Christofa tasked the girls to go home and interview their own mums. Using their research skills, she asked them to find out what family life was like for their mum when she was a child. Where was she born? What was her house like? What roles and responsibilities did each member of the family have? Did everyone share the domestic duties? Ms Christofa asked them to go even further and find out about their grandmothers too? Where was she born? How did she grow up?
Using their communication skills, the girls recorded the information from their interviews in their very own ‘Family History’ booklet. Using their own words, they drew up a Venn diagram to compare their own family life to that of their mums and their grandmas. This gave them a very visual illustration of how life has changed.
Using their geographical skills, they also searched for their home address on Google Maps, using both the street view and the aerial view to look at their homes from different angles. And using their language skills and their creativity, they wrote beautiful poems about aspects of family life to include in their ‘Family History’ booklet, which they also presented in class.
The girls were so engaged in this activity that Ms Christofa decided to take it one step further. She drew a giant world map on the window of their classroom and asked each girl to use the information from their interviews and plot the different life stages of their families on the map. Displaying this information in such a visual way gave the students an opportunity to see where their families had come from and how far some of them had travelled to begin a new life in Australia. It made them reflect on their connections to the past and how different their lives could have been if their mums or grandmas had stayed in the country of their birth.
The students then used their thinking skills to create their very own Bee-Bot map and bring this journey to life. They had to use their maths and technology skills to measure the area of each square on the map and write coding instructions using positional language.
Year 1 then presented their findings to their fellow Woodstock students, showing them their 'Family History' booklets and programming their Bee-Bots so the other students were able to watch as the Bee-Bot retraced their mum’s or grandma’s journey, finishing up at the life stage Year 1 are at right now.
This unit triggered a fascinating search for Year 1 into the roots and branches of their own family tree. What they discovered was something far more valuable than they’d ever expected: a thread of connection from their family’s past to the present day. The world might be changing fast, but it is reassuring to find some constancy. And while modern life whizzes around them, Year 1 all know that they have a family tree to stand under.
Bravo Ms Christofa and bravo Year 1 - so much rich transdisciplinary learning here!