I got a new book on Scholastic Teacher Express $1 book sale – Read Around the World With 20 Great Picture and Chapter Books. It gave me an idea to restart our country studies but focus on one book only. The first country in Read Around the World was Afghanistan, but after consulting Amazon I chose a different book to read with Anna:
Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter is a picture book, but the topic is quite serious and not suitable for young children. I thought my daughter will be interested though, and she was. She loves her school and cannot imagine a place where girls are not only allowed to go to school, they are not even allowed to go outside without a male relative. She said that she would grow up to fight with people who rule such countries and make sure that girls and boys have the same rights.
I discovered a great way of recycling printed pages by making small books (3 pages each). These books are perfect for a project I have in mind to go with each of our “Read Around the World” selections. The first double page has a title shot of the book and a “book report”. Anna was very fascinated with the thoughts that the main character had to go to the school secretly and in fear of being caught by soldiers.
The second page is “country facts”. I mostly wrote them myself. We learned by looking at the map that Afghanistan is located in the heart of Asia and landlocked. I also gave Anna a brief summary of Afghanistan history of the last 30 years or so. I still remember Soviet side of the story as I was an elementary school student in Minsk when Soviet invasion happened in 1978 and I grew up with my college friends coming back from serving there.
My husband and I think that it’s never too early to talk to our daughter about drugs. This is how we were brought up as well, and we were never tempted to try something that might be habit forming. I told Anna about poppy growing and opium trade of Afghanistan and she illustrated the page about opium. I like her label of “bad drug” next to the bottle. I’d better never buy “Opium” perfume
It was a very interesting mini-unit that I hope to repeat and maybe make a recurring feature on my blog. I also made a tiny sticker with the book we read (similar to what Five in a Row recommends) and we pasted it into Anna’s IKEA atlas of the world. She immediately picked the next country – Russia. Before we leave Afghanistan though, we’ll have a nice Middle-Eastern lamb pilaf for Passover.