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Peace Education | Wreath or Tree Craft Preschool Lesson Plan Activities

Activities Materials
What is the meaning of peace?  

There are separate parts to the answer according to all the dictionaries and encyclopedias I researched.  In a nutshell,
Peace is law and order, absence of war, a state of harmony and mental calm.

1.  absence of war -  freedom from war, or the time when a war or conflict ends
2.  law and order -  the absence of violence or other disturbances within a state
3.  state of harmony freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people
4.  mental calm a state of mental calm and serenity, with no anxiety

Surely, we will formulate a simpler explanation for our children that they can understand over time as they grow.

There are many other elements in our behavior that come into play when we talk about peace and how it is achieved and maintained:  forgiveness, caring, sharing, positive communication, tolerance, citizenship, embracing diversity, cultural unity, caring for all living things, individuality, freedom, and so much more.... Children learn about all of these a little bit at a time, every single day from interacting with family, their educators and the world around them.  Learning to live in peace is an ongoing process of education.

The following holidays and special occasions: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Peace Day, Race Unity Day and many others,  can help bring awareness to all of us of how important it is to address this subject with children.

One way to include peace education regularly is through children's literature or religious readings (example:  Bible Stories) that address the elements that are necessary to learn behavior that maintains and preserves peace.

Activity 1:  Unity Hand Flower, Unity Hand Wreath or Unity Hand Tree Craft  -  

*  Introduction:  What is Peace and Reading for Peace:
Share with the children they are going to READ FOR PEACE.  "What? A "piece of what?"  They will say.  You have their attention now, and this is the moment of truth, you have to discuss what is PEACE.  Prepare an choose those special words for preschoolers, you feel just flow out of your mouth like honey, because those are the words they will remember.
Every parent and educator can formulate them according to their particular needs.

* Craft Activity: Select from a Unity Hand Flower, Unity Hand Wreath Craft or a Unity Tree Craft as a foundation to start Reading for Peace.  Choose the craft that appeals to you.

1.   The instructions for the Unity Hand Wreath or Tree say to mix different shades of paint and make paint handprints, when these are dry, cut out and assemble the wreath.  This method works really well with one to five children and one adult on hand.
Suggestions for larger groups: 6 or more
Trace each child's hand ahead of time and cut the number of handprints needed for the craft selected on white paper or different shades of color paper.  Distribute the handprints on the day of the activity in badges of three's.  The children then paint the hand cut outs, they mix another badge of paint in another shade,  proceed to distribute more handprints.  Dry the handprints with a hair dryer as the children paint the next badge, and so forth.

2.  Reading Peace Day: Each month read and discuss a book or online picture book to the children that addresses peace education issues or simply introduces another culture to foster cultural unity: these may have topics mentioned above in bold lettering..  Below is a short suggested reading  list and these books should be available at the library or you may already have some in your home or facility.  Spiritual and/or religious readings are also a great choice for home or educational facility that allows it.

3.  If possible plan for a related craft or activity for each book. Then together write the title, author and date the book was read inside the palm of a handprint in the wreath craft or handprint tree craft.  You may want to write a title inside the dove or on the three trunk such as:  Reading for Peace or My Peace Reading Tree 

Alternative for Child Care Facility or Preschool:  
Make an enlargement of the three trunk template at a printing/copying establishment such as Kinko's or draw and paint one if you prefer to make a large tree.   A large tree is convenient because it will allow to include many little hands on the tree to accommodate large groups.

When all the peace readings/activities have been completed at the end of the school year,   make a picture of the children in front of the Peace Wreath or Peace Tree, and a have a simple Peace Day celebration.  Each child can receive the photo to take home with a typed list of the books s/he was read to related to peace education throughout the school year.  This makes a beautiful keepsake and also parents can revisit these books with the help of the list provided.   

A Peace Reading List:
Most of the books suggested below are for children between 2.5+ and 6.
Some have links to related crafts & resources (link is on the number):

1. This Is My House by Arthur Dorros (3.5+)

2. Martin Luther King Jr. first biographies for children,  Here are some book recommendations:
*Martin Luther King, Jr. (First Biographies)
*Young Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I Have a Dream (A Troll First-Start Biography)
*Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King

3 (Crafts).
  The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister  (2+)
4.  A Country Far Away by Nigel Gray (2+)
5.  What Is Your Language? by Debra Leventhal and Monica Wellington (2.5+)
6. A Picture Book of Anne Frank (Picture Book Biography) by David Adler and Karen Ritz (recommended for 4-8), parents and educators should assess if their four year old is ready for this book.
8.  Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Caldecott Medal Book, 2000) by Simms Tabak
9.  The Colors of Us by Karen Katz 
10. Title Yo! Yes? by Christopher Raschka (4+)
11.  The American Wei by Marion Hess Pomeranc

The above reading list is very limited in scope. There are numerous other excellent books that your librarian will be happy to help you select.  Many of the books suggested are to address the topic of embracing diversity and cultural unity.

Online Picture Book Stories:
The PeaceKidz Story Center
Wonderful online picture book stories for peace education.

Enjoy and read for PEACE!  


*glue or glue stick


Instructions and templates if applicable for:
*Unity Hand Flower

*Unity Hand Wreath Craft

*Unity Tree Craft