The 60 students in grades three and four at Laurentian Hills Christian in Kitchener, Ontario, have written and illustrated an ABC book for people who are new to Canada. The project tied together the grade-level emphasis on learning about Canada and the ongoing resettlement of refugees in the area, which many students witness through their churches.
The students were assisted in their work by visits from Maral, a newcomer from Syria, and Mary VanEs, a student’s grandmother who has worked with refugee resettlement. Following these talks, students brainstormed a word wall of things they already knew about Canada and did additional research on the internet to fill out the list. Students then narrowed the list to 26 Canadian icons; they then divided into 26 groups, each with an assigned topic. Groups researched, wrote, and typed up their sections, and then, with the assistance of Della vanDokkumburg, a parent at the school and a published author, created illustrations using Plasticine clay.
Teachers Terri-Lyn Mantel, Janine Jorritsma, and Kiersten Luyt-Dozois think the most successful elements of the project included having speakers come into the classroom, which helped the students to understand the perspective of someone new to the country and helped the students to own the project. They also felt that the collaborative nature of the project was beneficial.
The teachers have secured an ISBN number for the book and are working with printers to create a finished project. They plan to offer it for sale when the book is completed.