When I mentioned to people that I was going to explore the constitution of the United States with preschoolers I received some interesting looks. I just smiled. I knew if my preschool friends and I could break down Newton's laws of motions and some basic laws of physics we could come to understand the constitution of our country. These wise children make me proud every day I spend with them, this week was no exception.
Morah Katie: Many many years ago, people left England, in Europe and came to America. Nora: Not in South America. Morah Katie: You're right, America in North America. At that time long ago, they still lived under a king. But that king kept telling the people in America- who lived so far away from him across the ocean- to pay him more money, to feed his soldiers and follow his rules- finally the people in America - living so so so far away from this king- said "NO, no more living under your rule we are going to be independent, our own country."
So now they are independent. But now they need a government. What do they do? Do they choose a king? Kids: NO Morah Katie: You are right, they don't. They wrote something called The Constitution. It is the set of rules that made the United States. It says some pretty important and cool things. It talks about Liberty. What do think that means? Matan: It means freedom.
Morah Katie: The Founding Fathers wrote some very important laws as part of the constitution. We have talked about many kings from long ago who told the Jewish people they could not read the Torah, or celebrate Shabbat. For some of my friends who were here last year, do you remember when the brave Jewish kids hid in the caves to read the Torah and they tricked the Greek soldiers because the king said "NO reading the Torah!"? Kids: YEAH! Morah Katie: That won't happen in the United States. The Founding Fathers of The United States wanted to be sure that we could always pray with no need to hide. It's the law. You can pray where ever and whenever you would like. Matan: What's the Law? Morah Katie: The Law is the rules for our country, just like we have rules for our classroom. Matan: Ok.
Morah Katie: The Founding Fathers also wanted to protect our right to free speech. We have the freedom to say what is on our mind. It is important we remember our friend also gets to say what is on his or her mind. You may agree with them, or disagree. If you disagree, that's ok. Words can be strong. We need to use them well.
Mason: Jade I like your rainbows on your shirt. Jade: They aren't rainbows, they are stripes. Mason: I see rainbows, see the red and orange and the yellow and green? Jade: Well yeah but they are stripes not really rainbows. And there are flowers on it too. Mason: I see rainbows. Jade: Well I see the flowers and stripes. Mason: You should sit by me at lunch. Jade: Ok.
Neither of them tried to convince the other they were wrong, nor did they begin to complain about the other person. Two different views, unchanging, expressed thoughtfully.
Sometimes it is helpful to have a tool to help us practise using our ears and allowing our friend to speak their mind.
Sadie and Maya are using the Peace Rose to solve a conflict on the playground.
The Peace Rose has clear simple rules:
If someone brings the Rose to you, you must listen.
Whoever is holding the Rose gets to talk, and the other person has to listen.
The friends take turns holding the Rose until all the feelings have been said.
When both friends have had the opportunity to talk, they need to come to a solution together.
Sadie and Maya are both holding the rose, trying to come to solution that will make them both feel happy and not sour. They do, and run off together holding hands.
Morah Katie:Who remembers what a government is? Nora: The people who make the rules. Morah Katie: The Founding Fathers didn't want a king. They created a government that we can think of as a tree. It has 3 branches. The Congress who makes the rules, the laws. The President who enforces the rules. The Supreme Court who can say if a law is just, is fair. Nora: Yeah don't pay a king all that money. They made just a plain government who make the rules. Morah Katie: Also, the people of the United States vote for the people in government. We are going to vote for something very special here at The Gan.
The children voted on the very important decision of what additional item to add to snack.
Each voter got to sample the options: tea biscuit/graham cracker/pretzel*.
After they had their taste test, each voter dropped their stick in the box of their choice.
We tallied the sticks and the winner was: tea biscuits.
We added tea biscuits to our cantaloupe and apples. It was a delightful addition. *For my gluten free friends, they were locked into the gluten free pretzel option, and were provided more pretzels.
Morah Katie: What kind of freedoms did the founders write into law in the constitution? What freedoms are protected? Olivia: Freedom to talk. Freedom to read the Torah. Morah Katie: We have a symbol that represents freedom, it's a statue. Matan: Statue of Liberty.