Jefferson Middle School fifth graders in Ruth Kriese, Allison Morganti, Mindi Lydell, Tara Mammoser Adam Mason and Gina Hess’s classes recently had an opportunity to better understand the main character in their English Language Arts book by creating yarn dolls and hosting a food tasting for students and their families.
The book, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, traces the journey of Esperanza, a young girl born into a comfortable life of privilege in Mexico in the 1930s, who is forced to flee to California and must rise above her difficult circumstances.
As part of their unit, which encompasses comparing and contrasting events, main ideas and supporting details, as well as learning more about themes, the yarn dolls represent a way Esperanza adjusts to her new life in California. The yarn dolls demonstrate bringing a part of the home she knew in Mexico to a home that’s unfamiliar to her.
The teachers also provided food that represented different phases of time in Esperanza’s new life, specifically her new job at the farm. This year, the teachers invited families to the food tasting so that they could learn more about what they children are learning in ELA and become part of the educational experience.
“This project enriched the literature that we’ve read,” said Mrs. Hess. “It allowed students, and their families, to experience parts of Esperanza’s life that were familiar and unfamiliar to the character, as well as, to many of them. Whenever we can bring reality to students through literature, there are many life lessons to experience. We were delighted to invite family members this year. The presence of the family members made this a rich, learning environment for all. The value of this project was immeasurable.”