In our current Unit of Inquiry entitled Sharing the Planet, the grade three students are learning about the importance of natural resources, how they are harvested and how to use them responsibly. Mom was able to come to school to do a read aloud with my students from the book The Curious Garden, which fits nicely within our unit. I love this book by Peter Brown because the artwork is awesome and it depicts what a great difference one dedicated person can make on their society.
Later in the day, in conjunction with our study on the human design process (exploration, extraction, processing, consumption), we took a field trip to a local clay mine to observe how clay is formed into bricks. In addition to observation, students were able to participate in some of the stages such as extraction and processing. The students were able to see how difficult manual labor can be and also realize how much hard work goes into making a single brick!
The workers in the "factory" came from an area of Central Java, near to where I lived last year. Since their children are young, they live with their parents in a shack at the extraction site. As they grow older, they will be sent back to their hometown to live with a relative and possibly attend school as their parents continue working here. The children wandering around were absolutely precious :) Also, as we were touring the drained rice pady, students from the local elementary school caught site of us and gave us quite a bit of attention. I briefly got the feeling that we were fish in an aquarium as they were cheering and waving as we walked by!