Food and Families Around the World

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We began our sustainability project by looking at pictures from Peter Menzel’s, The Hungry Planet. These photographs (below) are of families from different countries situated with the amount of food they eat in one week. The pictures were hung in the classroom and the children went around the room, clipboards in hand, looking at these pictures and writing down what they noticed and what they wondered. They wondered why some countries had more food than others and noticed the types of food in different countries. They asked questions about agriculture and health. Next, we did a similar exercise using pictures from Menzel’s other book, Material World. This book uses photographs of families with all their belongings next to them. Students posed some of the following questions.
  • Why is it that some of the very poor families owned TV’s?
  • Why did many families have no books?
  • What are the jobs of the people?
Teachers were all impressed by the sophistication and sensitivity of the students' observations; children are learning about their global community through observation and inquiry. We wanted to look at commonalities and differences between countries. We asked the children, “What are the components of a good life?” Students also had that conversation with parents and family members.