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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Sandwich Swap

Authors:  Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah
Kelly Dipucchio

Illustrator: Tricia Tusa
Grade Level: Pre-K-3rd grade

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About the Author


Lily and Salma are best friends at school.  They enjoy doing everything together from drawing pictures, jumping rope, and playing on the swings to eating lunch together.  Lily and Salma realize they love doing all of the same things except-what they eat for lunch is a little different.  Lily eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Salma eats a hummus and pita sandwich.  Conflict arises when Lily decides to help Salma by blurting out insensitive thoughts and feelings about her sandwich.  Soon, the peanut butter vs. hummus story spreads throughout the school and the student body begins choosing sides.  The conflict escalates into students making rude remarks and insults about things that no longer had to do with peanut butter or hummus.  After an epic food fight in the cafeteria and a visit to the principal’s office, Lily musters the courage to speak to Salma.  Lily and Salma become best friends again after tasting each other’s sandwich.  Lily, Salma, and classmates learn that it is easy to dislike something new or different; but once you stand in each other’s shoes, you learn something great about someone else and about yourself. 

Element 2: Respect for Others

The authors provide an opportunity for readers to embrace and respect the diversity of two best friends from two very different cultural backgrounds.  On one hand, you learn the value of friendship from two best friends who love to do everything together.  On the other hand, you learn how two people who like the same things can also like things that are different.  The authors depict what happens when the relationship between two best friends is torn apart because of a difference as simple as the type of sandwich one chooses to eat for lunch.  Students learn empathy and the importance of putting differences aside in order to create the possibility of learning something new about someone else and about oneself.

How to Use The Sandwich Swap in the Classroom to Introduce Element 2: Respect for Others

Discussion: On the first day of school, a teacher reads The Sandwich Swap aloud to his or her students in a community circle or class meeting time.  Then the teacher facilitates a classroom discussion about Lily and Salma’s friendship and how their relationship falls apart.  The teacher asks his or her students think about a time when they were treated “unfair” by a friend, sibling, or any other family member because of a difference in point of view, interest, life experience.  The purpose of the discussion is to set the stage for students to openly share, have respect others, and embrace differences in a safe and welcoming place. 

Activity: All About Me Bag.  
A teacher fills a small brown lunch bag with items that best 'describe' him or her.  She or he pulls out each item and tells the children a short story about it. The bag might include things such as a baby picture, picture of pet, a food he or she does not like, something that represents their culture, an object from a collection, and so on. Then students are given brown bags to decorate.  For homework that night, the student must fill their bags with items that tell about themselves. Depending on the number of students in the classroom, the bags are shared throughout the first week of school in a community circle or class meeting time.  For homework the next night, the student must discuss the activity with their parents or guardian and share one thing they learned about another student in the classroom that is different from their own point of view, life experiences, or interests and discuss and why it is ok to be different.

Learning Opportunities for Teacher & Students:  This activity gives the teacher a great understanding of each student right from the beginning of the new school year.  In addition, this activity gives the teacher the opportunity to set the stage for each to student to safely share about his or her own experiences and feel embraced by his or her peers for their differences.  As the facilitator of the discussion and activity, the teacher is a model and also sets clear expectations for his or her students on how to learn and listen with kindness and empathy to other students’ experiences.  Lastly, the teacher has the opportunity to observe and give immediate feedback to students which will further their ability to implement Element #2.   

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