We have already introduced the concepts of “prejudice” and “privilege” and “racism” when we did this project:
We re-watched that video to transition into Black History Month by going to see Hidden Figures. We talked about the historical context, and processed after about the things they noticed that were oppressive or due to prejudice, privilege, or racism. We then explored the new terms of “segregation” and “desegregation”, using the movie examples of the separate water fountains, bathrooms, coffee pots, library areas, and schools as the children noticed them in the movie.
To stretch their understanding of other important historical figures, and to start connecting some of the timeline from slavery to civil rights to current protests, we focused this week on a few other famous black heroes – this time each child picking a hero to study more in depth and work on a project to present to the rest of the family. We watched some videos to get us started as Mary picked Rosa Parks, Kirk picked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Alex picked Muhammed Ali.
We also read this book:
We also, of course, watched the “I Have a Dream” speech, and used THESE WORKSHEETS to memorize pieces of it and write our own speeches.
In the worksheet, it has the speech written out in pieces easy to memorize. But it also properly has the quotation marks when he references other texts. So we had good practice at identifying commas, different kinds of punctuation, and quotation marks specifically. We also got to talk about poetry, poetry in prose, and other techniques like parallels and allusions, as well as rhythm and black preaching. They loved this!
We then went back to the quotation marks and were able to look up the items, like the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, for example, that each of those quotes referenced. We then got to expand social studies and science both, talking about how these documents are preserved.
The other quotation marks are in reference to the song, Free at Last, so we looked it up, too, and learned about Negro Spirituals and work songs.
Then we watched a group perform a version of Free at Last:
That took us to music, and they loved singing this song! We talked about the word “negro” and why it was used and how it was taken by white people and used in ugly ways, even becoming uglier words, and how we do not use ugly words for people, nor do we use any words at people. We talked about Mary being bi-racial, and how she will choose as she grows up which words are more comfortable for her, whether that is Black, or Black-Biracial, or African American, or not, or something else. We have talked with some of her biological family about these issues, so she is exploring it already on her own and shared some of her feelings.
We used her example of this exploring what it means to be her to connect all the way back to Hidden Figures. This time we talked about all the “firsts” those women accomplished and what they fought for, and how sometimes it was very simple things they could do in every day life to make big changes for many people. Courage doesn’t always have to be big for it to be meaningful. That brought us to the simple but powerful story of Rosa Parks, which we studied HERE. Then we used THIS WORKSHEET to structure our discussion and THIS COLOR SHEET to explore our responses to what we learned.
When we talked about Cassius Clay, or Muhammad Ali, we used THIS WORKSHEET to help focus Alex especially on some of the things we learn from this hero rather than only the fighting! Autism makes understanding something like boxing tricksy, and I can’t have him running around punching everybody. So while I thought it was a great pick for him, we did need to focus his ideas, and that worksheet helped as it told the story of him overcoming his fear of flying. I then used THIS SITE to talk about how Muhammad Ali actually struggled because he loved attention so much, but grew into a humble man. And yes, we watched the boxing clip! We also used the talk about boxing rings, which are circles, to bring in math. We talked about measuring and length and area, and practiced doing that on squares and rectangles and measuring lengths of prize ribbons. We also used the time clock to review time, and the counting down of minutes in seconds, and doing some multiplication for how many times he won if each event had three rounds. It was so great!
Just to top it off, and to ask for my own natural consequences, we did use boxing to have PE, and talk a little about the rules – and how to play hard while still following the rules. That seems risky, maybe, but super important! It’s actually super critical, especially with Alex’s autism or Kirk’s cerebral palsy or Mary’s Deafness, to be able to hear the directions accurately and be able to follow them without getting out of control. We thought it was a great day!
Who knew it would be teaching them to box that would finally make them so QUIET?!
What fun we had today!