In MA4 it is essential that a module is selected for you to study alongside your studies. I chose the module of social studies. Within this module we have learned many things, one of which I found particularly interesting was the use of the thematic approach when teaching social studies. When discussing the thematic approach to social studies one theme that stuck out to me was refugee immigration.
Upon reading I began to see that in order to make learning engaging for the children the learning had to be made relevant. I began to think how I could possibly make refugee immigration relevant to children, particularly in the early years when many had not so much as even moved house yet. I was perplexed and unsure of how I could possibly make the theme of immigration and refugees relevant to the life of a child. I decided to put this to the back of my mind and leave it until I was really pressed and had to make a connection. So I went about my daily life, watching tv, swimming, going to the gym and doing the food shop. It was here in the supermarket that I had my moment.
On the shelves sat a small tin suitcase, to begin I just thought it looked interesting. I looked a little closer the suitcase had the loveliest bear on it saying “all the way from Darkest Peru”.
“PADDINGTON BEAR”- I exclaimed to passersby.
I was met with blank faces, but here I knew that I could make a connection between refugee immigration with a childhood story of Paddington bear.
Paddington bear was a story that captured the imagination of many and was the story of a little bear who was sent from the darkest part of Peru where it was unsafe for him to stay and he travelled very far to London by boat. I thought about how I could take this concept of immigration and apply it to the story of Paddington Bear. I began to think of how I could use this concept in lessons. I feel this would best work in the early years as the Paddington Bear story is directed at this age group, however, I would be open to trying this with upper stages of primary school as an introductory lesson.
Lesson one would need to consist of the children learning about immigration, the teacher to begin would need to assess the level of knowledge the children already had. After a clear understanding immigration was made, the story of Paddington Bear could be read to the children. The next lesson would consist of the children learning about where Paddington came from and his home country and why did he have to move. A drama activity of hot seating, letting the children take on the role of Paddington could be used here. The children could ask Paddington the following questions…
- How do you feel about moving?
- What was your home like?
- Why did you have to move?
- What was the journey like?
- Why did you come to London?
- What was your transport like?
- Was anyone else in the boat with you?
- Were you scared?
- Why did your Aunt stay in Peru but made you travel to London?
- Why couldn’t you just stay at home?
Once the children have completed drama activities and all children have had a chance within their peers or groups to take on the role of Paddington Bear the children could complete a number of activities surrounding Paddington Bear from the questions they have asked.
They could explore his home land, and why it was not safe for him there anymore. They could discuss how hard they feel the journey would have been by a small boat and finally the children could research all the things we have in the United Kingdom that would make Paddington want to choose to live here.
Thereafter, the children could be read an article on refugees immigrating to the United Kingdom, one of which many children will have heard about is the Syrian Refugees. They could compare the article to the story of Paddington Bear and complete a similar exercise like hot seating and role play to embody the role of a refugee.
This is a clear way in which a connection can be made for the child to understand what a refugee is and why this cause immigration. It also helps the children understand why in the United Kingdom we are a very privileged country.
To conclude, this small artefact of a children’s story we have begun to see how this can develop into a series of social studies lessons that provide knowledge and understanding of many concepts within social studies.