At the beginning of the summer I Googled “random country selector” to find inspiration for our next country (I totally forgot about my previous tactic of going through Give Your Child the World and choosing a country from a new section each time). The selector chose Palestine and I set out to build a unit around it. I knew it would be difficult, but I was amazed at just how hard it is to find resources to teach from.
The library, which has had copious amounts of fact books for each country we’ve done so far, had two books on Palestine. Two. I was able to order two more books through ThriftBooks and I found a memoir for myself on Scribd. This was definitely not as easy as France was!
I know that in this short blog post, I will not do this country justice. I fully recommend setting aside time to learn and read firsthand accounts and experiences if you’re not already intimately familiar with Palestine.
The Books We Read
The Palestinians was a typical country factbook; we skimmed through it and read age-appropriate sections. I was impressed by how much information it contained.. Sitti and the Cats was a great folk tale about greed and friendship that we all really enjoyed reading. The Shepherd’s Granddaughter we’re still reading through because it ended up being a little above what the girls are currently at, but I plan on cycling back through Palestine again and this is one of the books we bought from ThriftBooks so I’ll hang onto it for when they’re a little older.
We also bought the book to the right of it, which is a book of poems written by citizens of the Middle East. I love that it gives a voice to a group of people that aren’t normally heard from, but it doesn’t indicate what country the different poets are from so it wasn’t as useful for this study as I was hoping it would be.
For myself, I read Tasting the Sky. I started out reading it before bed, but it’s a little too heavy to read right before falling asleep. It’s a firsthand account from a woman who grew up in Palestine and explains the horrors of war and the aftermath of it. It made me feel so thankful for my life and the fact that I’m reading about situations like this and could put the book down if it was too much.
What We Watched
Like with the books, it was hard to find kid-appropriate movies about Palestine. I was able to find two that I fell in love with:
Both movies involved a lot of subtitle reading. Despite having to listen to me narrate it, the girls were riveted by Flying Paper. It’s about a group of kids and adults who set out to break a Guinness World Record for the amount of kites flown in one place. Their motive is to put Palestine on the map for something fun and beautiful. It’s a poignant, heartbreaking documentary, but so full of hope and really shows the humanness of Palestinians that we aren’t regularly shown.
The girls weren’t as riveted by Promises so I think we’ll try that one again when they’re older!
Our favorite part of each country is getting to try out new recipes – Palestine was no exception! We made Palestinian Lentil Soup, Fool Medames, and a gluten free flatbread. These recipes were absolutely delicious and we’ve made the lentil soup a few times since then! The foods always really tie everything in for the girls because they see that, despite geographical and cultural differences, they enjoy foods that people thousands of miles away enjoy.
We also made a dessert that I think was called King’s Bread, I can’t find the picture I took of ours, but it didn’t look as pretty as the recipe pictures since we used brown gluten free bread. It was delicious and incorporated pistachios, cashews, coconut milk, and rose water. If I find the pictures or recipe, I’ll add them to this post. We drank sage tea with the dessert and read this poem that is heart wrenching:
ALL YOUR ARMIES
ALL YOUR FIGHTERS
ALL YOUR TANKS
ALL YOUR SOLDIERS
AGAINST A BOY HOLDING A STONE
STANDING THERE ALL ALONE
IN HIS EYES I SEE THE SUN
IN HIS SMILE I SEE THE MOON AND I WONDER,
I ONLY WONDER
WHO IS WEAK AND WHO IS STRONG
WHO IS RIGHT AND WHO IS WRONG
AND I WISH, I ONLY WISH
THAT THE TRUTH HAS A TONGUE– A Child From Gaza
Supporting Palestine and Israel
In my research, I found a site that sells fair trade goods from Palestine. I came across a soap company that was started in the 90s between Jewish and Palestinian women to bridge the gap and create peace and I knew we had to buy from them.
I also picked out dove necklaces to surprise the girls with. This was a really great way to have a “souvenir” from a country we studied, something that I’ll be doing for future countries. I love any way that makes the place we learn about more tangible for them.
All in all, I’m really happy I briefly forgot about my country-picking method and randomly came across Palestine. It’s hard to teach little kids about such a war-torn place in a developmentally appropriate way, but there are children younger than them that live with this as their reality. It opened up a lot of discussion and successfully fulfilled what my goal with all our country studies – to make the girls more aware of the world around them.