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Monday, May 7, 2012

A Day Without Shoes

Recently we explored what it would be like if we did not have shoes.  I began by explaining that if we did not have shoes, we would have to step on things that may not feel so good on our feet.  Many of the students came up with ideas of what they thought would feel good and bad to step on.  I brought in some carpet squares, a tray of mulch, and a slice of a tree.  Each child had a chance to step on the samples and say what they thought about each.  It did not start out as I planned.  Each child stood on the wood and said, "good."  This went on for a while and about the fifth kid did this and I stopped the group.  They were missing the point and in a large group they were also quickly loosing focus.  We quickly lined up the class in about 40 degree weather and went for a walk to experience our own world without shoes.  As we walked we stepped on very cold pavement as we headed toward our playground.  As we got closer to the playground, I began to hear complaints.  They were complaining of the cold, the sharp pebbles and then the sharp mulch.  This was what I was hoping would have happened inside.  We walked in wet grass and then inside for a more meaningful discussion.
I found out that after our walk and  real first hand experience was needed to really drive home my point and try to explain that we should be grateful for the things that we have.  We graphed which surface we disliked the most.  The sharp mulch won by a land slide.
 Now one might argue that being in a low income school, this may not be the best thing to teach.  I think everyone got it though and it was a meaningful experience.  The students still ask me about it and these pictures hang in our room as a reminder of our day.  We kept our shoes off for as long as we could and in order to be safe, put them back on to go to the bathroom and to lunch.
We began doing this day without shoes because the Tom's shoe company was sponsoring this all around the country.  We thought it was a great way to raise awareness as they do by donating shoes each time someone buys theirs.  That is why you see a Tom's flag in the photos!  We did a little photo manipulation in this last photo.  The kids love how it looks blown up.  The app is on my iPad and is great for this.  It is called Moku Honga HD The Art of Japanese Wood-Block Printing.