Teaching the Middle East

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by MissFroggy, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Nov 15, 2009

    We are starting a Middle East unit this week. Does anyone have any good ideas? Short read alouds, art projects, etc. would be good!

    I want to teach a little bit about Israel, Iran, Iraq and Afganistan... these are second and third graders so I don't want to get too political, but I do want them to have some basic understanding of the geography, climate, and cultures of each of these places.

    We only do social studies twice a week. We will do two lessons on each country's culture, and will label maps and color flags. I just need some more ideas.Thanks!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 15, 2009

    Interesting...what countries are required in your curriculum? Do your students already have a good understanding of US geography, flag history, regions?

    Afghanistan culture (the dining etiquette might be interesting for kids)
    http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/afghanistan.html

    Israel:
    http://www.aupairinamerica.com/resources/kids/culture_corner/israel.asp

    Iran: (click on culture tab at top of page)
    http://www.cultureofiran.com/#

    Iraq:
    http://www.everyculture.com/Ge-It/Iraq.html
     
  4. cutelilram

    cutelilram Rookie

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    Nov 15, 2009

    When I taught third grade and had to teach Asia, I read aloud the following three books:

    The Hundredth Name by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim
    Sitti's Secret by Naomi Shihab Nye
    Sami and the Times of Troubles by Florence Parry Heide

    The Hundredth Name is a story about an Egyptian Muslim Boy who is upset because his camel appears to be sad. So his father talks to him about how God wouldn't want him to be sad and refocuses the boy on his faith. Even though Egypt is in Africa, it is a good story that teaches about the basic tenets of Islam and shows it in a positive light. (I had a lot of West African children who were Muslim in my class).

    Sitti's Secret is a story about an American girl whose grandmother lives in a small Palestinian village and at first she doesn't like to visit because she doesn't speak Arabic. But in the end, she learns the lesson that love, family, and peace share a common language. Great story to read when trying to teach the younger children about the problems between Israel and Palestine.

    Sami and the Times of Troubles is my favorite because it takes place during the 20 year civil war in Lebanon. It is a story about a boy, Sami, whose father was killed in a bombing and now he spends much of his childhood living in his grandparents basement because of the constant fighting. He learns to appreciate the past and the times of peace when there is a break in the war.

    All of these stories help children appreciate where they live and that all children are the same no matter religion or country.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 15, 2009

    Those sound like excellent books to add to my collection; I'll have to keep an eye out for them.
     
  6. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    Nov 16, 2009

  7. multilingual

    multilingual Rookie

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    Nov 16, 2009

    I think that it is great that you are exposing your students to these countries. As for those who state that they are controversial topics, that's a little disheartening to hear, considering that we are educators and should be opening children's eyes to the world. In the field of social studies, many of the frameworks state that we can cover controversial topics, given that we don't force our opinion on students. But I don't think it's controversial in the least to teach about the Middle East to students.

    Here are some books that I used-I loved the Enchantment of the World series because it goes over the geography, cultures, etc of each country:
    Iran (Enchantment of the World)
    Afghanistan (Enchantment of the World)
    I also know that there is an Iraq enchantment of the world, but I never used it so I can't say if it's a good resource or not. I also had a colleague that used some of the National Geographic books for kids on those countries.
     
  8. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    Nov 16, 2009

    If you're interested and having students be able to locate each country, I highly suggest Sing Around the World (CD with maps). It has songs that help students learn the names and locations of all the countries. My 2nd graders were able to identify all of them after signing it a few times. It has places from all over the world so you might be able to split the cost with other teachers if they cover different parts of the world.
     
  9. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Nov 16, 2009

    I don't understand why teaching these countries is so controversial. Or why MissFroggy would have to contact parents first. To me, that's how suspicion and mistrust are spread...
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I'm unclear how teaching about other countries is controversial or why you would need to notify parents.
     
  11. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    The stories I hyperlinked involved well meaning teachers who were trying to educate their students on the Muslim religion, and the uproar came as parents felt this was indoctrination. They resigned their jobs over it.

    For science, I've learned to send home notes when we talk about nutrition, adolescent changes, peer pressure and drug avoidance, even geologic time and evolution. We had a parent sue the school over Greek mythology and the 'worship of false idols.'

    If I had a brother serving in Afghanistan and my son were to come home drawing Afghan flags and eating couscous there might be some conflicts. Believe me, I'm with you, and in the empirical sense knowledge is knowledge, but I do know we function in a politicized world! Google Afghanistan and you'll find a variety of things not at all appropriate for elementary kids. Do what you want, but I doubt you have state standards that specify the study of these countries, and you should be prepared for potential backlash. Maybe not this year, maybe never, but in the example above, it happened and the teachers resigned from it. For instance, you've chosen to study Israel but not Palestine. To some Palestinians, Israel shouldn't be recognized as a state at all. I'm just saying be careful, that's all.
     
  12. noreenk

    noreenk Cohort

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    Eating couscous might cause conflicts? I don't even know how to respond to that. And FYI, the Muslim religion is Islam. The lack of information that adults have is precisely why children should have some basic knowledge of other cultures as early as possible. Bravo, Miss Froggy for trying to increase your students' cultural awareness... and I happen to love Naomi Shihab Nye, I recommend anything by her. The Librarian of Basra takes place in Iraq and is set in war w/o being super political.
     
  13. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Exactly noreenk! We are talking about the cradle of civilization and religion in this area...not indoctrinating children. Islam's roots are very much intertwined with Christianity, and really make the study of Christianity clearer and make a lot of sense. Ignoring a huge part of the world and a major world religion just because we are fearful of fear mongering is not right. I hope people in other countries are studying the U.S. and Christianity's role in this country with open minds...
     
  14. cutelilram

    cutelilram Rookie

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    Nov 16, 2009

    The study of the Middle East does not need to involve religion. Having had the pleasure of teaching Muslim children, I can tell you first hand that children are children. They are no different. They want to grow up to be doctors, lawyers, and baseball players. They like Hannah Montana and wrestling. Also, their parents were the most cooperative and caring parents that I have met so far in my career.
    The problem with society is that we have a "they are not like us" and "they are less human" attitude. Islam is no more an evil religion than Christianity. It is the people who practice their religion to the extreme (this includes Christians, Jews, and Muslims) that make a religion evil.
    Also, the majority of Palestinians are Christian not Muslim. The argument that we should not be teaching about the Middle East because we are at war with two countries there is weak. Being at war is all the more reason to teach the Middle East to our students. Children need to know that there is no reason for them to fear a group of people simply because of their religion or nationality.
    And as far as state standards, third grade learns about the world and you need to cover at least one country on each continent and teach it's culture and geography. Asia is a huge continent and I think Middle Eastern countries are perfect for study.
     
  15. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Nov 16, 2009

    I have a slide show about Israel with some nice pictures. Not sure if I know where to find it, so PM me your email address if interested and I'd look.
     

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