Some years ago my class spent time under a Peace Portal we made on top of our classroom loft. It was constructed with four columns of carpeting tubes painted in black and decorated in a way that children wanted. The most beautiful part was the top, a canopy of ‘stained glass’, individual clear squares decorated with velum. The squares were all attached to each other with black duct tape to make one big canopy. Twinkle lights above was the final piece. It was a beautiful haven, and children spent time there. They thought about peace. They talked about peace. Collin said, “Peace makes me feel hearty”. Then he patted his heart. I knew exactly what he meant. That time together under our Peace Portal was a recipe for writing poetry, and we did just that.
This wasn’t enough. The children had so many ideas. Young children understand peace, and their minds are filled with the purest, most genuine thoughts. I knew I had to do more, so we started designing a Peace Quilt, based upon all the beautiful ideas. That quilt is a masterpiece and hangs in a national museum.
Our world today needs peace more than ever! Therefore, my class is embarking on another journey of peace. Gloria, our classroom puppet, started the whole thing. She is very real to the children and this year she is exceptional. I can’t put my finger on why, but she is beloved; carried and cared for, part of all our activities. She started our new journey by telling the children that her blankie was not a blankie at all. It was her peace quilt, because it made her feel good…peaceful.
Gloria started the entire conversation, and children knew exactly what she meant. They had things that made them feel the same way. They knew what peace looked like. Children poured their hearts out to Gloria, telling her all the things that made them feel peaceful. I wrote all their thoughts, every word they said, and put it into a poem:
Peace is my new baby sister, butterflies and stars, and playing outside.
Peace looks like a gingerbread house, falling leaves, and dancing.
Peace is Black Baby and cookies, the ocean, and reading.
Peace looks like the beach, my dog, and dinner with my family.
Peace is playing with a good friend.
Peace is my brother and my sister.
Peace is my family; peace is peaceful.
Children are remarkable, full of wisdom that adults sometimes miss. This poem is what peace is all about, and we need this in today’s world more than ever. The poem is just the beginning of what my class will do. A book will follow:
The cover page was created by one of the youngest children in my class who carefully watched other children making a host of drawings and word writing for the book. That speaks volumes for how children feel about peace; it is the core of goodness, and children know it and feel it.
My classroom has just tasted the waters. Stay tuned for much more.