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A Family Spirituality The Family: We, the synod fathers, gathered in synod around Pope Francis, wish to thank him for calling us to reflect with him, under his guidance, on the vocation and mission of the family today. In humility, we offer him the fruit of our work, aware of its limitations. Nonetheless, we are able to say that we have constantly taken into consideration the families of the world, their joys and hopes, their sorrows and anxieties.

For theirs is a community composed of human persons. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for everyone. We thank the Lord for the great number of Christian families who generously and faithfully respond to their vocation and mission, despite the many obstacles, misunderstandings and trials. These families need the encouragement of the entire Church, who, together with her Lord and supported by the action of the Spirit, knows that she has a word of truth and hope to address to all humankind.

Pope Francis recalled this in opening the final phase of this synodal journey dedicated to the family: He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them,[ It is the same plan which Jesus presents [ This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life!

In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning. Despite signs of a crisis, in various contexts, in the institution of the family, the desire to form a family remains vibrant among the younger generations. And where did he send his Son? To a palace, to a city, to an office building?

He sent him to a family. God came into the world in a family. And he could do this because that family was a family with a heart open to love, a family whose doors were open. With this in mind, the family ought to rediscover that it is an essential agent in evangelization. The Holy Father called the Synod of Bishops to reflect on the reality of the family. In the span of two years, the Extraordinary General Assembly and the Ordinary General Assembly have undertaken the task of reading the signs of God and human history, in faithfulness to the Gospel.

The first synod, to which the People of God made an important contribution, resulted in the Relatio Synodi. A tri-fold approach characterized our dialogue and reflections, namely, assessing the complex reality of the family today from the vantage point of faith, indicating both its lights and shadows; looking to Christ so as to contemplate once more, with renewed freshness and enthusiasm, what Christ has revealed and is handed down in the faith of the Church; and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit so as to discern ways in which the Church and society can renew their commitment to the family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman.

The Christian proclamation on the family is good news indeed. The family, beyond being called upon to respond to today's challenges, is primarily called by God to a greater awareness of its missionary character. The synodal assembly was enriched by the presence of couples and families in a discussion which directly concerned them. Preserving the invaluable work of the preceding assembly, dedicated to the challenges of the family, we now turn our attention to its vocation and mission in the Church and the contemporary world.

The Church Listening to the Family. The family, founded on the marriage of a man and a woman, is splendid to behold and irreplaceable in an interpersonal loving relationship which transmits life. In promising mutual love, in both good times and bad, love wants itself to continue until death. At the Synod, the fundamental desire of forming loving relationships, which are sound and inter-generational in the family, was significantly discussed, even beyond cultural and religious lines and the changes in society. The Christian family is, therefore, a part of the life of the Church: The couple and conjugal life are not abstract realities; they remain imperfect and vulnerable.

Consequently, an act of will is always necessary in changing oneself, forgiving and starting over. In our responsibility as pastors, we are concerned about the lives of families. We want to heed their real-life situations and challenges, and accompany and illuminate them with the love of the Gospel. We want to give them strength and help them grasp their mission today. We wish to accompany them lovingly, even in their concerns, giving them courage and hope which come from the mercy of God. The Family and the Anthropological-cultural context. We are aware of the principal tendencies in anthropological-cultural changes in which individuals, in their emotional life and life as a family, receive increasingly less support from social structures than in the past.

We are thinking of mothers and fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, immediate and distant relatives and the bonding of two families at every wedding. We must not forget the lived reality: People are strongly dedicated in caring for the dignity of every person — man, woman and child — and for ethnic groups and minorities, as well as in defence of the rights of every human being to grow up in a family. Their faithfulness would not be honoured, if we did not make a clear reaffirmation of the value of family life, especially in relying on the light of the Gospel, even in different cultures.

We are aware of the major anthropological cultural changes today which have an impact on all aspects of life. We remain firmly convinced that the family is a gift of God, the place where he reveals the power of his saving grace. Even in our day, the Lord calls a man and a woman to marry, abides with them in their life as a family and offers himself to them as an ineffable gift. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which people ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other.

The Christian faith is strong and alive. Some regions of the world are witnessing a significant drop in religion in society, which, consequently, has its effect on family life. This approach tends to make religion a private matter and to relegate it to family life only, thus running the risk of reducing the witness and mission of the Christian family in the modern world. In places of advanced social well-being, people are likely to set all their hope in a frantic quest for social success and economic prosperity. In other regions of the world, the adverse effects of an unjust world economic order leads to forms of religion exposed to sectarian and radical extremism.

We should also mention movements based on political and religious fanaticism, often openly hostile to Christianity. In creating instability and spreading chaos and violence, they are the cause of much misery and suffering in family life. The Church is called to provide guidance to families in their practice of religion so as to give it a Gospel orientation. The family provides the opportunity for personal fulfilment and contributes to the growth of other persons in society-at-large. The Christian and ecclesial identity received at Baptism comes to fruition in the beauty of family life.

In today's society, we observe a multiplicity of challenges which manifest themselves to a greater or lesser degree in various parts of the world. In different cultures, many young people demonstrate a resistance in making definitive commitments in relationships, and often choose to live together or simply to engage in casual relationships. The declining birth rate is a result of various factors, including industrialization, the sexual revolution, the fear of overpopulation, economic problems, the growth of a contraceptive mentality and abortion.

Consumerism may also deter people from having children, simply so they can maintain a certain freedom and life-style. Some Catholics have difficulty in leading a life in keeping with the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage and the family, and in seeing, in such teaching, the goodness of God's creative design for them. The number of marriages taking place in some parts of the world is declining, while separations and divorces are not uncommon. In great areas across the planet, cultural situations affecting the family display a conflicting character, even under the extensive influence of mass media.

On the one hand, marriage and the family are held in high esteem and the idea still prevails that the family represents a safe haven for the most profound and gratifying sentiments. On the other hand, the concept of the family is marred by excessive expectations and, consequently, exaggerated claims on each other.

The tensions caused by an overly individualistic culture, which concentrates on possessing and gratification, leads to intolerance and aggression in families. Mention can also be made of a certain feminism which looks on motherhood as exploiting women and as an obstacle to her full realization. Furthermore, we are witnessing an ever-increasing tendency among people of conceiving a child simply as a means of self-affirmation and, at times, by any means possible.

This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative guidelines which promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, which can also change over time. According to our faith, the difference between the sexes bears in itself the image and likeness of God Gen 1: Modern contemporary culture has opened new spaces, new forms of freedom and new depths in order to enrich the understanding of this difference.

But it has also introduced many doubts and much skepticism. The affective and spiritual quality of family life is seriously threatened by the proliferation of conflicts, impoverishment and the migration process. Violent religious persecution, particularly the persecution of Christian families, is ravaging entire areas of our planet, creating an exodus of persons and masses of refugees which exert great pressure on the capabilities of the host-country.

Families enduring these trials are very often forcibly uprooted and, in practice, completely shattered. The loyality of Christians to their faith, their patience and their attachment to their countries of origin are admirable in every respect. The efforts of all political and religious leaders to spread and protect the culture of human rights remains inadequate. While respecting freedom of conscience, living in harmony with each other must be fostered among everyone, based on citizenship, equality and justice. The burden of economic policies and social inequity, even in affluent areas, has a severe impact in providing for children and caring for the sick and the elderly.

Dependence on alcohol, drugs or gambling sometimes results from these social contradictions and from the disadvantages caused by these contradictions in family life. The accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few and the misuse of resources allocated for family programmes increase the impoverishment of families in many regions of the world.

Nonetheless, the family is also demonstrating its ability to find in itself the courage to confront the inadequacy and failure of institutions in the formation of the person, the quality of social ties and the care of the most vulnerable. Therefore, a proper appreciation of the resilience of the family is particularly necessary in order to be able to strengthen its fragile character. As wounded as the family may be, it can always grow beginning with love.

The Family in the Socio-Economic context. The Family as the Irreplaceable Resource of Society. While in some regions of the world this is deeply a part of culture, in other places, it appears to be waning. The authorities responsible for the common good must be seriously committed to the primary good of society, namely, the family.

The concern guiding the administration of civil society must provide for and promote family policies which support and encourage families, primarily those of modest means. Families foster the solid bonds of unity on which human coexistence is based, and, through the bearing and education of children, they ensure the future and the renewal of society. In cultures where relationships are weakened by an egotistical manner of living, loeliness is increasingly becoming more common.

More often than not, only a sense of the presence of God sustains persons in this emptiness. A general feeling of powerlessness in the face of oppressive socio-economic situations, increasing poverty and a lack of employment require people increasingly to seek work far from the family in order to provide for its needs, thereby causing prolonged separation which weakens relations and isolates family members from each other. The State has the responsibility to create conditions and legislation to guarantee the future of younger generations and to assist them in fulfilling their desire to form a family.

Corruption, which sometimes undermines these public institutions, deeply affects the trust and the hope of future generations and others as well. The negative consequences of this mistrust are evident, from dramatic demographic change to difficulties in raising children, from reluctance to welcome newborn life to looking upon the elderly as a burden, until emotional distress is so prevalent that it sometimes results in aggression and violence. Material resources and economic conditions affect the family in two ways, by either contributing to its growth and solidity or by impeding its strength, unity and cohesion.

In many ways, the present-day economic situation is keeping people from participating in society. Families, in particular, suffer from problems related to work, where young people have few possibilities and job offerings are very selective and insecure. Workdays are long and oftentimes made more burdensome by extended periods away from home.

This situation does not help family members to gather together or parents to be with their children in such a way as to nurture their relationships each day. Adequate policies on behalf of the family are needed, if, in the future, the family is to live in a harmonious and dignified fashion. Everywhere, certain religious and social groups of persons can be found on the margins of society: The Holy Family of Nazareth also experienced the bitter experience of marginalization and rejection cf.

The present-day economic system causes various kinds of social exclusion, which often make the poor invisible to society. The prevailing culture and the media contribute to making this invisibility even worse. Because idolatrous worship is devoted to money. Despite the enormous difficulties they face, many poor and marginalized families strive to live their daily lives with dignity, relying on God who does not disappoint and does not abandon anyone.

The Church, in response to papal teaching, wants people to thoroughly re-examine the overall orientation of the global system. From this vantage point, she collaborates in the development of a a new ecological culture which includes a new mentality, new policies, new educational programmes, a new manner of living and a new spirituality. The family, which is part of a significant human ecology, should be adequately protected cf.

Through our family, we belong to the whole of creation; we contribute in a specific manner to promoting ecology; we learn the meaning of the body and the language of love from the difference between a man and a woman and we collaborate in the divine plan of God, the Creator cf. LS , 5, To be aware of all this requires that a real conversion takes place within the family. One of the most serious and urgent tasks of the Christian family is to preserve the link between generations to ensure the transmission of the faith and the basic values of life.

Most families have great respect for the elderly, surrounding them with affection and considering them a blessing. We extend a special word of appreciation to persons in associations and family movements who are engaged in work on behalf of the elderly — spiritually and socially — especially those who work in conjunction with priests in the care of souls.

In some places, the elderly are considered essential in ensuring stability, continuity and the historic memory in families and society. In highly industrialized societies, where their number is increasing as a result of a decreasing birth-rate, they risk being seen as a burden. On the other hand, the care that they require often puts a strain on their loved ones. They are men and women from whom we have received much. The elder is not alien. We are that elder: Grandparents in a family deserve special attention. They are the link between generations, and ensure a psycho-affective balance through the transmission of traditions and customs, values and virtues, where younger persons can recognize their roots.

Background to the Project

Moreover, grandparents frequently collaborate with their sons and daughters in economic matters, the upbringing of their children and the transmission of the faith to their grandchildren. Many people can testify that they owe their initiation into the Christian life to their grandparents. As the Book of Ecclesiastes states: We hope that in the family, in succeeding generations, the faith might be communicated and preserved as a precious heritage for new families.

Widowhood is particularly difficult for those who have chosen to live marriage and family life as a gift. However, from the vantage point of faith, various aspects can be appreciated. From the moment of enduring a loss, some display an ability to concentrate their energies in a greater dedication to their children and grandchildren, finding in this expression of love a renewed mission in raising their children. Those who do not have relatives to whom to dedicate their care and from whom to receive affection, should be aided by the Christian community with a particular attention and availability, especially if they are poor.

Those who have lost a spouse can celebrate a new sacramental union without detracting from the value of their previous marriage cf. From the beginning and in the course of time, the Church has paid special attention to widows cf. Illness, injury or old age which result in death greatly affect family life. Mourning is especially heartbreaking at the death of children and young people.

This painful experience requires special pastoral attention and the involvement of the Christian community. The importance of the final stages of life is all the more necessary today, when many make the attempt to remove every trace of death and dying. The elderly who are weak and dependent are sometimes unfairly exploited simply for economic advantage. A great number of elderly people are received into church institutions, where, materially and spiritually, they are able to live in a peaceful, family atmosphere.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are serious threats to families worldwide, practices which are legal in many countries. The Church, while firmly opposing these practices, feels obliged to assist families who take care of their elderly and sick members, and to promote in every way the dignity and worth of each person until the natural end of life. Particular attention needs to be given to families whose members have special needs. This situation gives rise to mixed emotions and difficult decisions in coping and planning, while imposing duties, urgencies and new responsibilities.

The reality of the family and every aspect of its life are profoundly disturbed. Families which lovingly accept the difficult trial of a child with special needs are to be greatly admired. They render the Church and society an invaluable witness of their faithfulness to the gift of life. In these situations, the family has the opportunity to discover, together with the Christian community, new approaches, new ways of acting, a different manner in understanding and identifying the family and in welcoming and caring for the mystery of the fragility of human life. People with disabilities are a gift for the family and an opportunity to grow in love, mutual aid and unity.

The Church, God's family, wants to be a welcoming home to families with persons with special needs cf. The Synod expresses profound gratitude and deep appreciation to these institutions. The process of integrating people with special needs into society is more difficult because of an enduring stigma and prejudice — even to the point of a theorization based on eugenics. On the contrary, many families, communities and ecclesial movements become aware of and celebrate the gifts of God in these people with special needs, particularly their unique communication skills and ability to bring people together.

Special attention needs to be given to disabled persons who outlive their parents and others in their family who assisted them in life. The death of those who loved them and whom they loved makes these persons even more vulnerable. If the family, in the light of the faith, accepts the presence of people with special needs, they will be able to recognize and guarantee the quality and value of every human life, with its proper needs, rights and opportunities. This approach will encourage care and services on behalf of these disadvantaged persons and will encourage people to draw near to them and provide affection at every stage of their life.

Many people who are unmarried in life are not only devoted to their own family but often render great service in their group of friends, in the Church community and in their professional lives. Sometimes, their presence and contributions are overlooked, however, causing in them a sense of isolation. More often than not, many exhibit noble motives in their full engagement in art, science and the good of humanity. Many put their talents at the service of the Christian community in the name of charity and volunteer work. Others remain unmarried, because they have consecrated their lives for love of Christ and neighbour.

Their dedication greatly enriches the family, the Church and society. Migrants, Refugees and Those Suffering Persecution. Special pastoral attention needs to be given to the effects of migration on the family. In various ways, migration has its effects on entire populations in different parts of the world. The Church has exercised a major role in this area. Maintaining and developing this witness to the Gospel cf. The truth of the history of humanity and the history of migrants is inscribed in the life of families and entire peoples.

Even our faith makes this clear: This conviction ought to lead to understanding, openness and responsibility in the challenges created by migration; those challenges from experiences of suffering as much as those looked upon as an opportunity for a better life. Human mobility, which corresponds to the natural historical movement of peoples, can prove to be a genuine enrichment for both the family that migrates and the country that welcomes these people.

Furthermore, forced migration of families, resulting from situations of war, persecution, poverty and injustice and marked by the vicissitudes of a journey that often puts lives at risk, traumatizes people and destabilizes families. In accompanying migrants, the Church needs a specific pastoral programme addressed to not only families in migration but also members of the families who remain behind. This pastoral activity must be implemented with due respect for their cultures, for the human and religious formation from which they come and for the spiritual richness of their rites and traditions, even by means of a specific pastoral care.

Our Wheels Project: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary

Migration is particularly dramatic and devastating to families and individuals, when it takes place illegally and is supported by international networks of human trafficking. This is equally true when it involves women or unaccompanied children who are forced to endure long periods of time in temporary facilities and refugee camps, where it is impossible to start a process of integration. Extreme poverty and other situations in the break-up of families sometimes even lead families to sell their children for prostitution or for organ trafficking. The Christian community is directly concerned in such a task.

A Challenge to Solidarity , They bring to light new suffering in second and third generation migrant families, fuelling fundamentalism and a violent rejection by the host culture. A valuable resource in overcoming these difficulties can precisely be found in families coming together, in which a key role in this process of integration is often played by women in their sharing their experience in bringing up their children. In fact, even in the insecurity of their situation, they bear witness to a culture of family love that encourages other families to welcome and protect life by practicing solidarity.

Women can pass on to future generations the living faith in Christ that has sustained them in the difficult experience of migration and has been strengthened as a result. The persecution of Christians, as well as those of ethnic and religious minorities in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, are a great trial for not only the Church but also the entire international community. Every effort should be made to encourage, even in a practical way, families and Christian communities to remain in their native lands.

Some societies still maintain the practice of polygamy; in other places, arranged marriages are an enduring practice. In countries where the presence of the Catholic Church is in the minority many mixed marriages and marriages of disparity of cult exist, with all the difficulties they entail with regard to the form required by canon law, Baptism, bringing up the children and mutual respect from the vantage point of the differences of belief.

Where relativism or indifference may pose a threat to such marriages, there may also be a chance to promote the spirit of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in a harmonious co-existence of communities, living in the same place. In many places, not only in the West, the practice of living together before marriage is widely spreading as well as a type of cohabitation which totally excludes any intention to marry.

In addition, civil legislation often undermines marriage and the family. Secularization in many parts of the world is greatly diminishing any reference to God and inhibiting any sharing of the faith socially. Children are a blessing from God Gen 4: Children, however, often become the point of contention between parents and real victims in families with grave problems. In many ways, children's rights are neglected. In some areas of the world, children are considered a real commodity and seen as cheap workers to be used in fighting wars and as victims of all kinds of physical and psychological violence.

Migrant children are exposed to various types of suffering. Sexual exploitation of children is one of the most scandalous and perverse practices in present-day society. In societies marked by violence due to war, terrorism or the presence of organized crime, children are forced to be raised in degrading family situations.

In large cities and their peripheral areas the so-called phenomenon of street children is a dramatically worsening situation. Women have a crucial role in the life of the individual, family and society. A mother conserves the memory and meaning of birth for a lifetime: Truly, however, the status of women in the world varies considerably, primarily because of socio-cultural factors. The dignity of women needs to be defended and promoted. The problem is not simply a result of economic resources, but one of different cultural outlooks, as highlighted by the plight of women in many recently developed countries.

In many places, discrimination results simply because one is a woman: Likewise, in some cultures, sterility in a woman is the cause of social discrimination. Not to be overlooked is the growing phenomena of violence in which women are victims within the family. The exploitation of women and violence to their bodies are often linked to abortion and forced sterilization. The emancipation of women requires a rethinking of the duties of the spouses in their reciprocity and shared responsibility for family life.

The desire for a child at any cost has not resulted in happier and more sound relations within families, but, in many cases, has actually worsened the inequality between women and men. A contributing factor in the social recognition of the role of women is a greater appreciation of their responsibilities in the Church: Man plays an equally decisive role in family life, particularly in reference to the protection and support of his wife and children.

A model for a man in a family is St. Many men are aware of the importance of their role in the family and live according to their masculine role. The absence of a father gravely affects family life and the upbringing of children and their integration into society. This absence, which may be physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual, deprives children of an appropriate model of paternal behaviour. The increasing duties of women working outside the home has not been suitably compensated by a greater commitment by the man in the home.

Today, a man is increasingly losing sight of his role in protecting his wife and children from all forms of violence and degradation. Do you love your wives as Christ loves the Church? This seed of evangelical novelty, which reestablishes the original reciprocity of devotion and respect, matured throughout history slowly but ultimately it prevailed. This assortment provides vital brief works from his writings in ethical philosophy. They exhibit Plutarch at his best--informative, sympathetic, wealthy in narrative--and are followed by way of an intensive observation that situates Plutarch and his perspectives on marriage of their old context.

During this pithy two-part essay, Marshall Sahlins reinvigorates the debates on what constitutes kinship, development on the superior scholarship within the box to supply an unique outlook at the inner most bond people may have. More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, Extra other halves Than One bargains an in-depth examine the long term interplay among trust and the perform of polygamy, or plural marriage, one of the Latter-day Saints. The focusing event happened one day when we noticed the children wearing bungee cords around their waists, pretending to be workers, for the entire day.

They used the cords to pull and move things as if they had wheels attached. I decided to attach wheels to the bottom of one of the many boxes in the room and let children pull it around by a cord. I used large paper fasteners and packing tape to attach four of the shelf wheels to a large box. The children were curious about what I was doing, and a crowd began to form. I was afraid the wheels would break off, and, in fact, quite soon wheels began to come loose see Figure 2.

The children wondered why the wheels were breaking and why the box would not stay attached to the wheels. They tried to ride in the boxes without wheels, which they discovered was much harder. Wheels were important to making things work! Denise went to the public library to find nonfiction books on wheels, gears, axles, and pulleys. The teachers also looked through book collections at home and at the center and placed selections on tables throughout the room.

We posted pictures collected from our personal files and the Internet on the blackboard. One wintery day in January, I talked with a small group of kindergarteners and suggested taking the camera around the center looking for wheels they could photograph see Figure 3. Toy cars and trucks were easy to find, but the children and I also discovered that the toy pirate ship had a steering wheel and the iron had a wheel dial for setting the temperature. Then the children started to look for wheels that were not vehicle wheels.

Janice, the cook, had a pizza cutter with a wheel. The children found a wheel on the can opener; they knew it opened cans but could not figure out how it worked. They noticed the computer mouse had a wheel, but they did not know what it did. I pointed out that the tape dispenser had a wheel; they saw it turn when we pulled a piece of tape off the roll. They were very involved in taking photos; we took about 75 pictures that day see Figures 4—7. I made a teacher web to identify what we thought these children could learn about wheels. We thought they would be interested in what wheels do, jobs that wheels do, what materials wheels could be made of, why there are different sizes of wheels, the history of the wheel, and what different kinds of wheels feel and look like.

The next day I printed and shared the pictures the children and I had taken. We wrote what they said on sticky notes and posted them on the blackboard Figure 8. One child knew that cars have wheels. Another said that wheels can hurt you if they go over you. Someone wanted to know how to make a wheel and another child asked what wheels are made of. They noticed pictures of pulleys and gears and wanted to know what those were. One child noticed pictures of knobs and handles and did not think those were wheels; most of the children thought wheels were found only on vehicles.

After identifying parts of our teacher web that we could cover with the children, we decided we could make this a project. We also realized that this project might go in an entirely different direction. The children might show interest in something we had not thought of, so we went into it with open minds and no firm expectations, which was quite easy because it was our first project. We began Phase 2 by asking the children to bring in pictures of wheels that they could find in or around their homes.

Kaitlyn 4 years, 5 months brought in a page of pictures of wheels she and her sister found. I expected this to provoke discussion among the children about different kinds of wheels, and I laminated the page so it would survive more than one day. We marked a vinyl tablecloth with a masking tape starting line and the children rolled each vehicle until the front wheel had gone around once.

Grazyna marked where each wheel finished. The children noticed right away that the biggest wheel made the longest line of chalk. Some children measured the lines with a ruler, and they discovered the large tractor wheel went the farthest 13 cm , the medium-sized wheel went 9 cm, and the smallest wheel went only 4 cm. Some of the children remembered the earlier force activities and recalled that bigger tires go farther than smaller tires when the same force is applied.

He also thought larger vehicles went in mud more often and mud is hard to drive in, so that is why people use bigger tires on work machines. We displayed some of the paintings on the blackboard so the children could look at them. The staff then discussed how the children might make three-dimensional representations. A few of the children had painted odd-shaped wheels on their vehicles, which provoked us ask them to make wheels using clay.

Denise gave six children each a ball of clay. A couple of them had previous knowledge of how to form a wheel, but younger or less experienced children benefited from a demonstration of flattening the clay and rolling it into a circular shape. We recognized and acknowledged these feelings of frustration and reminded the children how important it is to keep calm and keep trying. We put a few straws on the clay table, and soon Scott had poked a hole in the middle of his wheel with the straw.

Denise also made triangular and cube-shaped wheels; as the days went on, children kept asking what they were for. When the clay was dry, we set out tempera paint and different-sized brushes. The teachers invited children to experiment with putting a straw through a circle-shaped wheel, a triangle-shaped wheel, and a cube-shaped wheel and rolling them on the table.

The children could see firsthand why wheels are shaped like circles. The reasons they identified were because the circle was not bumpy and needed less force to move. We asked them to draw with markers and pencil crayons to create imaginary vehicles with wheels in silly shapes to provoke more discussion about shape and size. Late in January, we asked the children what types of materials they had found in wheels so far. A few of the children were becoming skilled at identifying the materials wheels were made of.

As we looked at online pictures, books, and real objects, they identified materials such as rubber, soft plastic, hard plastic, wood, metal, painted metal, and even cheese! They found out that some wheels, gears, and cogs are made from two or more materials. When I turned it upside down to show the wheels, some children were drawn to this strange sight. The teachers asked what they thought the wheels were made of. They soon turned it into a stretcher for injured kids, which evolved into an ambulance to take patients to the hospital Figure 9.

They transformed the carpet area into a hospital using wooden blocks and many boxes 20 or more boxes had recently taken up residence in the room. At one point, at least six patients were in the hospital with various injuries bandaged up with tensor bandages and fabric. After some time, the children asked to turn the wagon upright again.

What’s it like to be the Yellow Wiggle?: Inside the life of Emma Watkins

They then used it as a police car, a horse wagon, and an ambulance again. Discussion turned to how community helpers rely on wheels to do their jobs and help people. Many of the children had experience with community helpers, and this conversation was very long. To introduce gross-motor activities, we brought square scooters in from the playground shed. The children were excited and proud to be able to use the scooters, which were primarily for the school-age children Figure The children quickly determined that the scooter wheels were made mostly of plastic and metal.

At first, we let children sit on the scooters and move them around the room with their arms and legs. Eventually they put boxes and toys on them and moved those items around. They then joined the scooters together with the bungee cords to make a train. When someone sat on the wooden dramatic play chair that was on top of a red scooter one day, I decided to make it safer and more secure by fastening the chair to the scooter using a bungee cord. This began the wheelchair experiment Figure Sydney wanted to sit in one to eat lunch; the teachers let some children try that. It was interesting to hear how they thought the wheelchairs should be distributed because there were just five—not enough to go around.

The children soon took wheelchairs into the hospital play area, where the doctors and nurses used them to move patients. They decided to attach bungee cords around their waists and walked instead of crawling. The children were proud of their solution. In this activity, the children learned the parts of a car by making a model from a box, some straws, water bottle lids, and thin wood sticks. The children helped her label the main parts including the steering wheel, tires, wheels, and axles. When we asked if they thought every wheel had an axle a center part around which to turn , most said they thought so.

Focusing Event

The question provoked investigation of all the wheels in our room. The teachers helped the children take apart an old clock and investigate what was inside. They discovered some very small wheels, which we explained were called gears. We put the parts of the clock into a transparent container for the children to examine.

Grazyna asked the children why we put them into a container. She had noticed it had a rotating disc that could hold an apple in place and wondered if the children would notice the disc looked and acted like a wheel. Someone noticed the apple was held on with spikes that dug into the fruit. They guessed that when the machine was plugged in and the apple turned, the blade would cut off the peel. Grazyna asked how they knew it could do that, and they said the blade was shiny and looked very sharp. We were impressed by their growing abilities to reflect on past learning experiences to reach conclusions like that.

One child noticed that the Rotato box showed pictures of a pear and a potato, and right away the children were interested in using those foods on the machine. Finally, with some prompting the children identified the part of the machine that was a wheel as well as the axle that held it on the base. He brought in three different-sized tires, an old steering wheel, and a hubcap. The morning he put them on our playground, it was too cold to go outside, but many children looked out the window and asked about the tires. It was great to see their faces when we told them they could play with the tires outside later—yet another opportunity to explore materials that many of them had never played with before!

Denise and I apologized to a few parents about that, but no one was too concerned. The children had noticed that vehicles might have differing numbers of wheels, so we provided some opportunities for them to represent those differences. Some children grouped pictures of vehicles according to the number of wheels they had. It was helpful that we had many models and examples of the vehicles they identified, although we could not find anyone with a unicycle to bring in for our children to observe!

They grouped vehicles with two wheels, three wheels, and four wheels, then organized our toy cars, trucks, planes, and trains into groups with the same number of wheels. Children also helped tally how many cars their families had. We invited some senior kindergarten children to take a tally sheet around the classroom, asking classmates and teachers to print their names and put one sticker next to their names for each car their family had Figure