Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Miss. Rumphius Element five

Miss. Rumphius

Written and Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Grades 1-5

Summary: Miss. Rumphius, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney is an American Book Award winning book that should be a staple in every classroom. Alice Rumphius is a young girl living in America with her grandfather who is an artist. He tells her that he must do something to make the world more beautiful. Although Alice does not understand it at the time, she accepts the challenge. Once Alice is grown up, she moves away and decides to plant flowers around her beach house she is living in. By the time the next spring comes around, Miss. Rumphius is very ill. However, her flowers still bloom and she longs to plant more the next year, unfortunately she is still unable to. When she finally felt better she went for a walk and upon the hill that she had not been on in almost a year, her favorite flower that she planted around her house, lupins, were blooming all over! Miss. Rumphius discovered how she was going to make the world a more beautiful place in honor of her promise to her grandfather; she would plant lupines all over town! Years later her granddaughter listens to the stories she tells of the lupines. Miss. Rumphius carries on the tradition and tells her granddaughter that she too must do something beautiful to make the world more beautiful.

Element Five: Miss. Rumphius very easily relates to element six, taking social action. Miss. Rumphius is told from when she was a little girl that she needed to do something to make the world more beautiful. Although it took her years to figure it out, she discovered that planting flowers and helping the environment is how she was going to do this task. She not only helped the environment but did something that she loved and something that her neighborhood loved. She also passed the tradition on to her granddaughter to do something different to make the world beautiful when she becomes an adult. Helping the environment is something very important in today's world. Having our students help out and understand the concept is even more important. Miss. Rumphius did not have to do this environmentally friendly action, she chose to; and that is what we need to instill in our students heads. That doing something nice whether it be for the environment or not, should not be something you are told to do, but something you want to do.

Activity: There are numerous activities that can be created as a post lesson to reading Miss. Rumphius. to give one example, we can have the students begin with a class discussion if they or their families have ever engaged in any type of social action or movement to help the environment and what they do at home to help the environment. Once we have this discussion the teacher will distribute seeds of flowers that the students will take outside and plant in the school yard. The will be responsible for the life of this flower. When the flower is planted they will write or discuss why they think planting flowers is important for our Earth and what they plan to do in the future to continue helping our environment.

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