What does a seven-year journey around the world have to do with kindergarten students in São Paulo?

Juliana Reydon, Paula Mello and Maria Fabiana Grasso work in the Pre-Preparatory School at St. Paul’s School in São Paulo, Brazil. Their students participated in Out of Eden Learn this year.

A man is travelling. He is following the footsteps of humankind around the world on a seven-year walking journey. What does that have to do with us? A lot more than we could ever have imagined!

When we joined Out of Eden Learn with our five and six-year-old students, we envisioned them becoming curious about this journey and maybe comparing what they saw on the posts to their own lives. But we weren’t so sure about how they would take part in this learning community or even how engaged they would be.

We decided to sign up as a class, completing the footsteps as a collaborative group and having the teachers scribe what the students wanted to post. We also allocated our weekly Library lessons for Out of Eden Learn to ensure continuity and commitment to the learning community. This worked out very well because we kept the curriculum going throughout the whole year. The children tackled every activity either in a small or medium-sized group, which proved very effective as they learned so much from each other, building on each other’s ideas and knowledge.

As the children are very young, we had to make some adaptations in order to complete all the footsteps. We selected extracts from Paul’s dispatches to read to the children and to discuss with them. At the children’s request, we watched the same videos over and over again (and noticed different things each time!) – they particularly liked Paul’s dispatch from Hasankeyf, Turkey. The students also enjoyed participating in the “Finding the Global in the Local” footstep, in which they chose photographs ­­from sites like “Everyday Africa” and “Everyday Asia” and engaged in discussions around them.

As we could not take the class out into the neighborhood, we decided that the school would be our local community ­­– so the students drew a map of the school’s surroundings, interviewed people from the school community, etc. From the start, the children were astonished by the fact that Paul had decided to travel by foot – but they had to agree that if the idea was to travel slowly, Paul had made the right choice.

Many of them became quite involved, and at the beginning of every Library lesson would ask about Paul, where he was at that time, and if he had posted any new photographs of the places he had been visiting. They also enjoyed looking at what the other groups in their walking parties were posting and loved finding similar things about the lives and people from places so far away! For instance, as part of the “Learning From Other Generations” footstep, an older teacher at our school came and spoke to the class about a special plate she had. We received this particularly thoughtful response from another class in the learning community:

special plate“We liked this story of Mrs. Kruss and her special plate. We think the plate looks like a bowl in the picture. ‘V’ says that it reminds her of eating strawberries and ice cream as a special treat because she doesn’t get desserts very often and it would make it more special to have a fancy bowl like that. ‘D’ says the story reminds her of going shopping with her mom. ‘T’ wondered if it took 14 days by ship for the china to arrive in Brazil, how long it would take by airplane. Most of us use plastic, metal or glass plates in our homes. Our teacher thinks she has a similar bowl at home and she is bringing it for us to compare.”

We really feel that our students learned a lot! They learned about the world and different cultures while reflecting on their own. The class worked collaboratively, sharing and exchanging ideas respectfully. They learned about the environment and the importance of caring for it; they even learned more about maps, directions and compasses! All in all, it was an extremely valuable and fun experience for us all. We definitely plan to join new walking parties next term.

Below is a gallery of our student work for the footsteps “Mapping our Neighborhoods” and “Connecting Our Own Lives to the Past”.

One comment

  1. Deb McLean · · Reply

    Hello Juliana, Paula and Maria,

    Thank you for sharing these thoughtful reflections and insights from your young learners. As I read your post, I find myself making many connections with similar experiences which I shared in a previous post. I am extremely excited about continuing this journey in the same Walking Party and with friends around the world. Enjoy your mindful walking journeys!

    Best Regards,
    Deb McLean

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