This February Let’s Teach Empathy and Acceptance
I can’t believe it is February already! The first month of 2017 seems to have just flown. And now here I am, already into week two of month two. Looking at the significant dates of this month, I can’t help but think empathy and acceptance should be the primary themes for February.
Teachable Moments in February
The month of February is Black History Month. And, of course, many of us will celebrate Valentine’s Day this month, too. It is also American History, Heart Health, and Children’s Dental Health Month. And, let’s not forget Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17.
While it’s not random, I have a little act of kindness to share. I’ve put together these resources to help you make the most of your teaching opportunities in February. I hope you enjoy them!
In this article you’ll find resources for:
- Heart Health Month
- Valentine’s Day
- Teaching Empathy and Kindness
- Presidents’ Day
- U.S. History
- Black History Month
Heart Health Resources From a Friend
First, let me introduce one of my friends, Sarah Winchell. She’s a great teacher who loves sharing her love of science with her students. Last year around this time, she published a set of resources for American Heart Month on her blog, Science is for Kids.
Sarah’s shared reviews along with links to several resources and printables that you can use for your students in the classroom or your children at home to teach them about their hearts and staying fit.
Valentine’s Day Crafts and Printables
At the TPT site, you’ll find teacher-created printables for just about any subject or age-group. Each teacher chooses what to charge for the resources he or she has created. You’ll even find quite a few items that are free. The website has created a special section dedicated to Valentine’s Day printables.
If you need Valentine’s Day craft ideas that are super easy to implement, PBS.org has everything you need. From simple paper creations to more complicated designs, you’ll find lots of inspiration in the PBS.org Crafts for Kids section. So sweet!
Teaching Empathy and Acceptance on Valentine’s Day
Now, on a more serious note—Valentine’s Day is supposed to be fun, but we all know it can be stressful for some of our kids. Sometimes the excitement of a holiday can cause even our kindest children to forget the needs of others.
As parents and instructors, we should be prepared with gentle reminders and redirection so that everyone has a happy Valentine’s Day.
These Clifford-themed Valentine’s lessons from the Scholastic Teachers website offer a fun way to introduce the topic of kindness to your younger students using a familiar character.
For students of all ages, you’ll find lesson plans and resources for teaching kindness and empathy on Valentine’s Day and every day at Character.org.
Additionally, you can find a comprehensive list of ideas and resources for teaching empathy on Valentine’s Day in this Edutopia Valentine’s Day article.
Studying the United States and its Presidents
The third Monday of February is Presidents’ Day. In 2017, that day falls on February 20. The History Channel is ready to celebrate with a video presentation of interesting facts about the White House set to music.
The History Channel website includes several other resources, including short videos about some of our nation’s past presidents.
Also, the National Education Association’s website hosts an extensive collection of resources that you can incorporate into your Presidents’ Day instruction. These materials include audio and video resources, quizzes, lesson plans, and background information about U.S. presidents and the presidency.
Finally, the National Archives website is a wonderful place to look for teaching materials about the U.S. Presidents and U.S. history. On the National Archives website, you can search for and view primary source documents related to some of our country’s most significant events.
The National Archives site also features special collections and education tools to make the job of teaching U.S. history easier.
The History of a People and a Nation
Of course, African-American or Black History takes a leading role during the month of February.
Now more than ever it is important for all students to understand our nation’s full history. That history includes the suffering and accomplishments of all of its people. It is through knowing one another that we move toward greater empathy and acceptance.
Below are just a few of the great resources available to assist you in providing your students with a view of history from many perspectives.
Google Arts & Culture Curated Online Collection
This month, in recognition of Black History Month, the Institute is highlighting a collection of “artwork, artifacts and stories” from places across the United States about black history and culture. Poets, sculptors, choreographers, activists, and others are all profiled in the collection.
I was not familiar with many of the people featured on the website and appreciate that a more powerful light is now shining on their accomplishments.
The depth and breadth of information about individual African-American cultural leaders in this collection provide an opportunity for each of your students to find someone who uniquely inspires him or her.
The Google Cultural Institute’s Black History and Arts Collection isn’t limited to just biographies, though. The collection includes videos and still photos of important historic events and locations, too.
Using the Google Maps explore feature, your students can visualize standing in front of Little Rock Central High School or walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Observing events through different media lenses can become a jumping off point for your students to decide how they would choose to report an important event.
Would they take photos of the action?
Or would they write a short story based on what they witnessed?
Perhaps they would create a painting or a collage expressing the emotions evoked by witnessing the event?
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Authorized by Congress in 2003, this Smithsonian Institution museum opened its doors for the first time in the fall of 2016. February 2017 marks the first time that the National Museum of African American History and Culture will be open to the public during the celebration of Black History Month.
If you are fortunate enough to visit the museum in person during the month of February, you can look forward to a series of movie screenings and other presentations. On February 26, a concert celebrating black composers will be performed live and streamed via webcast from the museum.
Past video streams from the museum are available for viewing at UStream.tv. To view these videos, you’ll have to register for a free account.
In addition to the webcasts, the museum has shared images of much of its collection online. Via the website, you can conduct a search for specific items or tour the collection by topic, time or region.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a valuable resource that took over a decade to come to fruition.
I am sure you and your students will find many ways to explore and enjoy all that it has to offer.
Awesome Stories: African American History
Awesome Stories is a website filled with stories and study materials related to different topics. The name of the site is a little misleading. The site has a lot more than just stories. Perhaps that is why they called it “awesome.”
For most topics on the Awesome Stories website, you can also find videos, images, and audio recordings, too. Accessing the site is free, but premium memberships allow for access to additional resources.
I visited the site without signing up for a membership and found an ample supply of in-depth and visually rich materials to study. The African American History collection includes coverage of Bloody Sunday and the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Additionally, the collection includes a review of the ten most significant events of the civil rights movement. I also found a biography of Antwone Fisher, and much more.
Logging in as a visitor to the website, I was able to view the stories and extra materials such as specific learning tasks. The Awesome Stories’ specific learning tasks each included a link to reference materials and indicated the Common Core State Standard(s) that the task addressed.
Just One More…
I’ve mentioned Wonderopolis before, but I wanted to give the website another shout-out. The Wonderopolis site provides a great launching point for exploration of a wide range of topics.
History topics explained at Wonderopolis include Who was Malcolm X, How Do Quilts Tell Stories, and What is a Civil Right. The site has several Wonders dedicated to dentistry, including What is a Cavity and Who Invented Dental Floss.
I hope you enjoy teaching and learning with these resources during the month of February. I’ll continue to share my new finds each week via my Twitter account @FindLearnShare.
If you have a teaching resource that you’d like to share, send me a link! I love discovering new information and ideas.
#FindLearnShare #BlackHistoryMonth #TeachingResources