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How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice RULE
Proverbs
Rationale

This activity provides an opportunity for children to identify the meaning and significance of proverbs, to consider common themes in proverbs across cultures, and to create new proverbs that can teach lessons.

Requirements


Age: 6-9 years This activity can be divided into two parts:
Part 1: Procedures 1-7
Part II: Procedure 8

Age: 9-12 years FOR OLDER CHILDREN:
Additional Activities 1 and 2 only

Time: 60 minutes; additional time may be required depending on discussion

Materials:
  • pencils
  • current world map
  • paper
  • 3"x5" cards, multicolored and cut into various shapes
Key Words
proverb, culture, generation, values, value (verb), interpretation

Procedures


1. Begin this session with a discussion of proverbs by writing the following proverbs from the United States on the chalkboard or on chart paper. Refer to each proverb, one at a time, and ask children to determine the possible meaning(s) of each proverb.

  • A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED - A real friend is one who can be counted on in difficult times.

  • THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM - Those who get things done sooner reap the rewards.

  • BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER - People with common interests and ways tend to stick together.

  • WHEN THE CATíS AWAY, THE MICE WILL PLAY - When the person in charge is gone, people donít do their work.

2. Use the following questions to encourage discussion:

  • What is a proverb?
  • What is the purpose of a proverb? What kinds of messages or lessons do the proverbs teach?
  • Where do you think proverbs come from? How are they passed down from generation to generation?
  • What are some possible reasons why proverbs are easily remembered?

3. Write the following proverbs from different countries on the board and have students discuss the possible meaning(s) of each and the message(s) and/or lesson(s) that are reflected. Compare the messages of these proverbs from different countries to those of the United States. Discuss any similarities or differences among the proverbs:

  • GET TO KNOW NEW FRIENDS, BUT DONíT GIVE UP THE OLD ONES (Bulgaria)

  • A MAN WHO HAS COMMITTED A MISTAKE AND DOESNíT CORRECT IT IS COMMITTING ANOTHER MISTAKE (China)

  • HASTE MAKES WASTE (Great Britain)

4. Locate the country of each proverb on a world map. Discuss if the meaning of the proverb could relate to only one country or culture or could relate to other countries and cultures as well. Have children explain their answers.

5. Ask children to share proverbs that they have learned from family members. If they do not know any, have them ask family members and report back at another session.

6. Have children choose a partner. If there is an uneven number of children, three children can form a group. Using the list of proverbs below, give each group of children one proverb that is written on a 3" x 5í, card. Ask partners to discuss the meaning of the proverb and decide on the lesson/s it illustrates.

Attach the proverb to a piece of 12" x 18"construction paper. Have children design and color a picture to illustrate the proverb.

7. When pictures are complete, have each group read its proverb out loud and share the illustration and interpretation. Ask the whole group to share other ways in which the proverb might be interpreted. Display pictures around room.

Optional: After each proverb is read and explained, help children
find the country or state of origin on the world map.

  • TODAY IT IS FIRE, TOMORROW IT WILL BE ASHES: Arabia

  • A SINGLE BAMBOO POLE DOES NOT MAKE A RAFT: China

  • THE ONE BEING CARRIED DOES NOT REALIZE HOW FAR AWAY THE TOWN IS: Nigeria

  • BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO CAN PLEASE THEMSELVES: Zulu (South Africa)

  • SILENCE IS BETTER THAN SPEECH: Cambodia

  • A HANDFUL OF FRIENDS IS BETTER THAN A WAGON FULL OF GOLD: Czech Republic

  • GET TO KNOW NEW FRIENDS BUT DONíT FORGET THE OLD ONES: Bulgaria

  • YOU CANNOT BUY A FRIEND WITH MONEY: Russia

  • TO A GOOD HEARER, A GOOD SPEAKER: Spain

  • IT DOES NOT REQUIRE MANY WORDS TO SPEAK THE TRUTH: Native American

  • ONE CAN STAND STILL IN A FLOWING STREAM, BUT NOT IN A WORLD OF MEN: Japan

  • A SINGLE KIND WORD KEEPS ONE WARM FOR THREE WINTERS: China

  • NICE WORDS ARE FREE, SO CHOOSE ONES TO PLEASE ANOTHERíS EARS: Vietnam

  • MAKE A FRIEND WHEN YOU DONíT NEED ONE: Jamaica

  • WISDOM IS EASY TO CARRY BUT DIFFICULT TO GATHER: Czech Republic

  • THE PERSON WHO ASKS FOR LITTLE DESERVES NOTHING: Mexico

  • WHEN AN ELEPHANT IS IN TROUBLE, EVEN A FROG WILL KICK HIM: India

  • MAY YOU HAVE WARMTH IN YOUR IGLOO, OIL IN YOUR LAMP, AND PEACE IN YOUR HEART: (Alaska)

8. Have children print other proverbs on 3" x 11,, pieces of construction paper. Encourage children to decorate paper with a design or picture that reflects the meaning of the proverb. Display a current world map on a bulletin board. Post each proverb along the side of the world map and extend a string or yarn from the proverb to the country of origin.

9. After proverbs have been posted and countries of origin located, conclude the activity with a whole-group discussion using the following questions:

  • What did you like about this activity?
  • What did you learn from this activity?
  • What proverb had the most meaning for you? Why?
  • What proverb would you like to take home to share with family members? Why?
  • What do proverbs show about what people believe and value (e.g., friendship, hard work)?

Adapted by permission and reprinted from U.S.: A Cultural Mosaic. San Diego Public Schools, San Diego, CA, 1977 and Tiedt and Tiedt, Multicultural Teaching. Copyright ©1986 by Allyn and Bacon. ©1994 Anti-Defamation League.

Additional Activities:


1. FOR OLDER CHILDREN: Discuss proverbs, their meaning and significance. Select five proverbs from the list of proverbs (Procedures #1,3,7). Write on the chalkboard or on chart paper. Ask children to decide the meaning and the lesson of the proverbs.

Discuss how and why proverbs are passed down from generation to generation. Discuss ways in which culture is reflected in proverbs and how and why the meaning or lesson of a proverb might be cross-cultural.

Play "Charades." Write each proverb on a 3" x 5~í card. Give each child a card to pantomime for the group. A limited time of 2-3 minutes per proverb might add to the excitement. (Teams could also be formed for "Charades.")

2. Have students write their own proverbs. Show the children how some proverbs are written. Write the following verse on the board to illustrate:

If there is love
There will be happiness

If there is happiness
There will be peace

If there is peace
There will be harmony in the world.

Students might find the following an easy model for writing their own sayings. Illustrate how repeating the pattern helps to add more verses.

If there is _________________________
There will be _______________________

3. Discuss how community agencies and embassies often represent a variety of cultures and nationalities. Have children find the names and addresses of at least two local community agencies or embassies using such references as the library, phone book or local newspaper.

With the input of all children, write a letter that briefly describes the proverb activity and asks the recipient of the letter to share a proverb of the country or culture that the agency or embassy represents. Ask that the importance of the proverb to the people of the country be explained. Write the letter on the chalkboard or on chart paper. Allow time for each child to rewrite the letter and address it to a community agency that he or she previously identified. Be sure to provide stamps and envelopes to all children.

Share the responses as they are received. Add to the proverb bulletin board.

4. Ask children to select a proverb, either one they have written or one written by another person, to write or illustrate artfully. For example, the proverb below was written by a Chinese philosopher and scholar, Lao-tzu (spelling varies).

A journey of a thousand miles begins
with one step.

5. Have children discuss the proverb activity at home. Ask family members to share proverbs that reflect the message(s) and/or lesson(s) that they learned from their cultural heritage - ones that they might have heard as children. Have the children and/or their family members write the proverbs on cards or paper and bring them to class to share and add to the bulletin board display.

 

A Joint Campaign of ADL and Barnes & Noble to Break the Cycle of Hate Through Reading
Additional Resources

A World Of Differenceģ
  • Recognizing bias
  • Exploring diversity
  • Combating prejudice
Related Links
What to Tell Your Child about Prejudice?
No Place For Hate:
101 Ways You Can Beat Prejudice!
Discussing Hate & Violence with your Child
Talking to your Child about Hatred & Prejudice
 

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