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Year 3 celebrate difference

Celebrations and beliefs span national, geographic and cultural boundaries, and as Year 3 are finding out, they play an important role in bringing us together and creating a sense of belonging.

For their latest Unit of Inquiry into ‘How we express ourselves’, Ms Krigstein and Ms Laumberg’s Year 3 students are exploring different celebrations and commemorations throughout the world. They’ve looked at the following lines of inquiry: how celebrations and symbols can be viewed from different perspectives; how symbolism can be used by individuals and groups; and how celebrations and symbols help us to understand people’s traditions and beliefs.

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To spark Year 3’s curiosity and critical thinking, Ms Krigstein and Ms Laumberg started the unit with a ‘See, Think, Wonder’ exercise based on some of the world’s major religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as cultural artefacts and symbols. It led to some fantastic discussion and inquiry amongst the students, helping them to a conceptual understanding of world religions and belief systems, as well as the different celebrations within their own lives.

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To build on the students’ own sense of wonder and curiosity, Ms Krigstein and Ms Laumberg provided some interesting stimulus material around the Woodstock piazza. There were display tables piled with different religious artefacts and symbols, including crucifixes, bibles, statues, scrolls and candles, as well as images of mosques, shrines, temples and churches. And there was also a table full of indigenous artefacts, traditional tools and carvings.

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There was much debate about the prayer rug, with one student saying, “I wonder if it’s a magic carpet?” One student said, “That’s a crucifix!”, but was told by another, “I just call it a cross.” Another said, “It might be ancient. I think it’s Greek or Latin.”

There are an estimated 4,200 religions worldwide, each with its unique customs and traditions. This was a chance for Year 3 to reflect on how different faiths and beliefs connect with each other and the world around them.

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The display in the piazza was a perfect launch pad for Year 3 to think critically about the different ways that people around the world explore, express and celebrate their beliefs. And it made them reflect that often the narratives of faith can also be potent symbols of solidarity for groups of people, bonding them together.

They thought long and hard about what they believed in.

Lara said, "I believe in evolution and reincarnation."

Hermes said, "I believe that the world started with a big bang."

Sadie said, "I believe in Greek mythology."

Someone else said they believe in unicorns and that toys are real!

This led them to reflect on the idea of celebration more broadly. For example, why do we celebrate things like ANZAC Day and Australia Day. And what does this mean from an Indigenous perspective?

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They also started to give more thought into why we celebrate special occasions like birthdays and the last day of school. And how do we mark these occasions? Is it through food, clothes, music, dancing or all of the above?

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Over the past week, the girls have been exploring many different commemorations and celebrations, both in Australia and around the world. They have also created books on Book Creator about a festival around the world that was of interest to them. On Thursday, the girls brought in artefacts from their family to share with their peers. They had an opportunity to ask each other questions and find out more about each other's family traditions, culture and heritage.

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Over the course of this inquiry, Ms Krigstein and Ms Laumberg will be giving the students agency to develop their own ‘Wenona’ celebration. Perhaps it will be a way for them to mark their final year at Woodstock before they head to Hooke House for Year 4.

As Joan Didion famously once said, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Her words speak to the need we all have for stories that give shape and significance to our individual lives, stories that create a sense of belonging. It will be interesting to see where Year 3 go with their Wenona celebration and what they choose to do as year group. Watch this space!

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