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Possible learning experiences for years 4-6

Understanding change and loss

Possible Learning Activities

  • Read a story to the class about a child’s experience of loss, for example, Fred and Edna through the Fence by Jenny Hessell. Students can share any of their experiences of loss. Make a list headed “Losses in Our Class” for the classroom wall and invite students to contribute to the list, describing how the loss made them feel – physically, socially, or emotionally. Use this opportunity to reiterate that everyone experiences losses of some sort in their lives – sometimes small, sometimes big.
  • Divide the class into at least four groups, giving each group a task card with questions that will help them think about the losses and gains that change brings. When all groups have had time to read and discuss these questions, students can share their findings as a class. Focus on the physical, social, and emotional effects that each change had on students. The task cards are:

Me and my family:

What have I lost and what have I gained since I was born? Think about these things:

  • What changes have happened to my body?
  • What have I learned to do?
  • Has my place in the family changed since I was a baby? How?
  • Does my family treat me differently now that I am at school? How?
  • What things do I have to do now that I didn’t have to do when I was younger?
  • What changes have happened in our family since I was a baby?

Our school

What have we gained and what have we lost at school? Think about these things:

  • How has our school got bigger or changed?
  • What changes have happened to things inside the school?
  • What staff members have left, and what new people have come?
  • Have the school grounds changed? How?
  • Do I get to school differently?
  • What things do I have to do at school that I didn’t have to when I was younger?
  • Do we do things differently now at school?

Our house

What have we gained and what have we lost at our home? Think about these things:

  • Have we moved house?
  • How has our house got bigger or changed?
  • Do we have more buildings at our place?
  • What changes have happened to things inside the house?
  • Has the garden been changed? How?

Our community

What have we gained and what have we lost in our community?
Think about these things:

  • How have the people in our community changed?
  • How have the buildings or the shops changed?
  • What changes are there to roads or gardens?
  • Do we do things differently now in our community?
  • To explore the concept of change, briefly discuss with students how things are constantly changing, how changes bring new things and leave old things behind, and how sometimes it is hard and other times it is a relief to let go of old things. In small groups, students could explore their own perceptions and experiences of change. Each group writes the word “Change” in the middle of a large sheet of paper and then creates a learning web of ideas, understandings, experiences, and questions that arise from that word. Each group can share their web with the class. Focus discussion on the range of changes identified and the fact that some changes bring gains while others bring losses, using the questions that are asked as points for further discussion and possibly as a basis for research.
  • To explore the concept of loss, briefly discuss with students times when they lost something important in their lives, for example, when a pet died, when a grandparent died, when they lost friends by moving school or house, when they broke familiar things or when they lost regular contact with one parent in a family break-up. In small groups, students could explore their own perceptions and experiences of loss. Each group writes the word “Loss” in the middle of a large sheet of paper and then creates a learning web of their experiences and of questions that arise from that word. Each group can share their web with the class. Focus discussion on the range of losses experienced (see Common losses for children on page 8), using the questions students ask to increase their understanding of the normality of loss in their lives.
  • Students could draw a picture of themselves or write their name in the centre of a page and draw or write around it words for all the people, places, things, and events that have been or are special to them. This could include: such people as grandparents, heroes, or characters in a book or film; such places as holiday homes, farms, or homes in another town or country; such things as pets, toys, and clothes; and such events as religious, family, or traditional events. Discuss with students the sense in which nobody and nothing is ever completely lost because people, places, and things live on in our hearts and memories. Students can then write about how particular people, places, or things that they have lost or may lose are important to them and why they will be remembered (3A1).
  • To help students experience a little of what it is to live with a disabling loss, pair them up for part of a day. One person in each pair can spend part of the time with their eyes blindfolded, with one arm tied up, with earplugs in their ears, or with their legs tied together while the other acts as their minder. Halfway through the time available, the students could exchange places. The minder does not do things for the “disabled” student except to ensure that he or she does not harm themselves. While there will probably be a lot of laughter, performing classroom tasks and participating in playground activities with some “disability” is a very effective way to help students understand a loss of this sort.

Teachers’ Notes

  • Students often consider the word “loss” as applying to something they can’t find but which they may eventually recover, for example, losing a pencil or their shoes at school or losing their temper. You may need to explain quite often that the word “loss” also applies to objects, people, animals, or situations that we once had or experienced but now do not and that won’t turn up again later. This includes the loss of dreams and aspirations, for example, missing out on being selected for a sports team, for the school choir, or for the school play.
  • Before undertaking the disability exercise, discuss with students how the minder can ensure the safety of the “disabled” student. Make sure that these safety measures are clearly displayed in the classroom and well understood by all students. See Adventure Experiences in the School Grounds: Outdoor Education Years 4–6, The Curriculum in Action series, page 10, for information on safe practices.
  • Refer also to the teachers’ notes on Understanding Change and Loss for years 1–3 on page 22.

Hauora

Contributing to their own mental and emotional well-being/tahahinengaro and their own spiritual well-being/taha wairua by developing an understanding of what change and loss mean.

Socio-ecological Perspective

Identifying how change and loss affect their well-being.

Suggested Learning Outcome

Students will identify how change, disappointment, and loss affect them (3A1).

Understanding the feelings of grief
Coping with disappointment, loss, and grief
Helping others who are grieving
Building a supportive environment


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