What? Peace Tree Day is a celebration of peace and diversity through the arts, culture and literacy!
Why? With all the violence, global conflicts and intolerance on the rise everyday, it’s time for students and teachers to work together and take action ‘to be the change we want to see’ and create a world where we can all live together in peace! So, imagine a day when children, youth and teachers around the world unite under the schools’ Peace Trees adorned with symbols of peace from all our cultures and faiths thinking peace, creating peace and feeling peace! Imagine everyone sharing their cultures and traditions through songs, music, art, dance, stories, games and sharing their faiths and beliefs. It’s time for young people to unite to celebrate our diversity and make sure everyone feels included, respected and celebrated in our schools, communities, cities and villages!
‘If we are to create peace in our world, we must begin with our children.’ ~ Mahatma Gandhi
When? June 1st (raindate June 2nd or a date suitable in June for your school.)
Where? Underneath Your School’s Peace Tree(s)
Time? It could be all day classes under your Peace Tree, the morning, the afternoon or just one period! It’s up to you! The idea is to share and celebrate our diversity to create greater understanding and respect between children and youth of all backgrounds!
Select one, two, three or all of the activities below to celebrate Peace Tree Day in your school on June 1. This is our 12th year celebrating Peace Tree Day and this year we are sharing the philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941), one of the greatest poets, philosophers, artists, musicians and writers from India, who was the first non-European to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Rabindranath Tagore believed that the most enriching way to learn was in nature under the trees, so if you visit the school he established in Shantineketan, India, you will see all the classes of teachers with their students sitting under the trees in circles learning and embracing their education in nature. So, we are inviting teachers and children/youth to celebrate Peace Tree Day on June 1st, learning about peace and diversity in nature under their Peace Trees!
Before going outside, there are a few previewing activities and videos that will help you celebrate Peace Tree Day under your Peace Trees.
Select a peace symbol from any culture or faith to research and create the symbol for your Peace Tree. Stencils and descriptions for some peace and diversity symbols are available at http://peacetreeinternational.org/get-involved/create-a-peace-tree/ Students should research and create ones that are not listed as well. Make the symbols as colourful and creative as possible and make sure to write your message of peace on the back of your Peace Tree symbol.
Learn the song ‘I Dream of the Day...’ by Ron Korb and Mitra Sen and sing outside with the whole school around your Peace Tree on Peace Tree Day. http://peacetreeinternational.org/teachers-resources/lyrics-and- musics/ (Primary/Junior)
Learn the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon and sing outside. Students can bring their guitars to play along. (Intermediate/Senior) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwUGSYDKUxU
Aboriginal Education (for teachers)
Meditation • Tips for Teachers (for teachers)
Peaceful Music for Meditation
Intro to Yoga for Kids
Yoga Tree Pose (for teachers)
Malala • Watch Malala speak about right to education for every child
Paper Cranes for Peace • How to make an origami paper crane
Mandala • How to make a mandala for peace
Dance • Chinese Ribbon Dance
Indian Classical Dance Hand Gestures
Science • Importance of honey bees in our environment
Preview the video of the inspiring story of 11 year old Mikaila Ulmer, who is helping save the honey bees by selling lemonade. Discover her story.
Bring Back the Bees • Planting wildflowers
Teachers • Book(s) to read, 8.5x11 paper, pencil crayons, crayons, markers, cell phone with bluetooth speaker, music from different cultures, cards with words from different cultures for Pictionary, origami paper, peaceful music, items for games, streamers, masking tape, flower seeds, gloves, shovels, water bottle. Music for I Dream of the Day.
Students • Peace Tree Packs (small polyurethane or plastic bags) should contain a pencil, eraser, hard covered book or notebook (to draw on), item to share in Peace Tree Show and Tell, Peace Tree symbol (premade in class and strung), water bottles, sunblock, snacks (possibly cultural).
Select a tree in your schoolyard and create a Peace Tree Circle under your Peace Tree. Each class can share their message of peace written on their symbol and decorate the tree or everyone can decorate just one Peace Tree with symbols of our unique cultures and faiths and symbols of peace and inclusion.
Drama • Ask the students to sit in a circle and share the significance of the circle in the Aboriginal Culture and many other cultures. The circle is a very important symbol for the Aboriginal people as it reflects the many cycles in nature and forms the shape of the world, the sun, moon and many aspects of nature. The Aboriginal also believe that the circle is a symbol of equity where everyone is at an equal position and no one person is elevated.
To start the day, it is important that everyone feels safe to share and feels peaceful, so they can focus on the activities for the day. Introduce students to the practice of meditation, which helps to achieve peace, build internal energy, relax their minds and develop compassion, patience, generosity and forgiveness.
Meditation Exercise • Play peaceful music. Students may lie down on the grass in order to achieve a very relaxed and peaceful state of mind. (Refer to video on meditation.) (5 min.)
Yoga4Peace • Yoga, which originated in India during the 6th and 5th centuries BC, is a physical, mental and spiritual practice. Yoga emphasizes the practice of deep breathing - inhaling oxygen produced by our trees and plants to nourish the cells in our body and exhaling the carbon dioxide, which is needed for our plants in order for photosynthesis to occur. This is a great example of mutualism where both organisms benefit from each other. Our trees and plants provide 1/5 of the earth’s oxygen, so we need to plant more trees and prevent deforestation. Students can learn the seed pose and grow into a plant and then create the tree pose. Find a partner, link arms and raise the other arm in the air. Try to hold the post for 10 seconds. (Refer to Intro to Yoga for Kids and Yoga Tree Pose.) In the circle, ask each students to think of a unique adjective that makes someone a peaceful person: kind, patient, cooperative, understanding, giving, sensitive, trustworthy, respectful. (10min)
Literacy • Read and discuss any of the following books about peace, social justice and diversity..
For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story • Social Justice
Gandhi’s Glasses • Social Justice
One • Anti-Bullying
Tilt Your Head Rosie the Red • Racism
I’m New Here • Balancing Two Cultures
Keep Your Ear on the Ball • Based on a true story of a boy who is blind.
Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes
Lemon the Duck • Based on a true Story about a physically challenged duck.
Three Cups of Tea (Primary Book) • Social Justice
Four Feet, Two Sandals • Poverty
The Invisible Boy • Inclusion, Understanding Differences
Families Around the World • Diversity
Old Turtle and the Broken Truth • Every belief is part of a whole.
Gandhi’s Glasses • Social Justice
The Girl Who Buried Her Dream in a Can • Girl’s Education
Skin Again • Celebrates being unique and different.
1. Aboriginal Talking Stick • Find a stick and use it as your group’s Aboriginal Talking Stick. Only the person who is holding the stick can share their feelings about the story and one way he/she can create more peace and compassion in the world. Then pass the stick to the next person to share his/her ideas. (10 min.)
In small groups of 4 - 5, students can brainstorm anything one would find in a garden: a flower, a bird, a butterfly, a plant, an animal. Each group can draw their organism on Bristol board with the heading: ‘I can create peace by....’ Each student can write his/her idea on the image with a marker. At the end of the day, display every class’ images on a wall in the school to create a Garden of Peace with the heading ‘How We Create Peace...’. (10 min.)
2. Rap4Peace • Each group can turn their ideas into a rap to create peace and share. (15 min.)
3. Making Peace • Each student should write a half sheet of paper about a time when he/she felt excluded, bullied or disrespected. Ask students to express their true feelings and emotions in detail sharing how the experience made them feel. Make sure students don't write their name on the paper. Then everyone should scrunch the paper into a ball and through it into the middle of the circle all at once. Each student should then pick up a ball and read it silently. (They should make sure not to take their own.) Give students a chance to share the experience of they read. They should express how it made them feel reading about it and what the student must have felt. Then discuss as a group what they would have done to help the student in that situation. (40 min.)
4. Play Diversity Pictionary • Draw words like chopsticks, djembe, sombrero, Kwanzaa, Dreidel etc.
Social Studies • Sharing traditions, cultures and faiths. Students should research and share an aspect of their culture, faith or heritage OR select an aspect of a different culture that they would like to learn about and share in their Peace Tree Circle. (Similar to Show and Tell, but focusing on cultures and faiths.) Students should bring in items, books, photos and a drawing of themselves related to their presentation with a description (e.g. I love my hijab because it makes me feel...)
• Why I wear a hijab, keepah, turban, patka...
• How I eat with chopsticks and how did they originate?
• How to say a greeting in my language?
• My favourite food from my culture and why.
• My favourite festival from my faith and why.
• Share a dance from my culture and teach a few steps.
• Share a song from my culture and teach the chorus.
• My favourite cultural clothing and why.
• A tradition from my culture that I enjoy and why. (30 to 40 min.)
Art • Create a Peace Tree Day card for your family wishing them an ‘Inspiring and Happy Peace Tree Day!’ Or create a Story Book Picture with a partner of what peace means to you. http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/storybook-drawing/ (K to 3) (30 to 40min.)
• Make an origami paper crane for peace, hope, strength and healing. String the paper cranes together and hang them on the Peace Tree. (Gr. 4 to 7) (Refer Paper Crane video) (30 min.)
• Create a Mandala for peace. (Gr. 5 to 8) (Refer to Mandala video) (50 min.)
Create an original peace symbol for your class with your class peace quote. (group work)
Mandala by Sophia
Games • Games from around the world are a great way to learn about diversity and how children around the world have fun!
Un, Deux, Trois, Soleil (K to Gr. 2) Game from France and Belgium (15 to 20 min.)
Un, Deux, Trois, Soleil, similar to Red Light Green Light, is a very popular game played in France and Belgium. One person is selected to be the soleil (sun). The other students line up in a straight line at least 5m from the ‘sun’. The ‘sun’ turns away from the kids with eyes closed and the other kids run or walk towards the sun! The sun counts ‘un, deux, trois, Soleil’ then turns around and everyone must freeze. If the ‘sun’ sees anyone moving, the sun says ‘Je t’ai vu’ (I saw you). If you get caught, you have to go back to the line. The person to touch the sun first wins. Remind students that the sun is a vital source of energy that enables plants to grow, which provides nutrients for animals making it a critical part of the ‘circle of life’. The sun is very symbolic in the Aboriginal culture and worshipped in many different faiths.
There are many other peace and diversity games from around the world that may be more suitable for your class like Luta de Galo from Brazil or Catch the Dragons Tail from China, which are great games for all ages. Please see the link below. (K to 8) (20 min.)
Dance • Chinese Ribbon Dance originated over 1,000 years ago in China. Emperor Tang who ruled China had a dream of fairies wearing colourful long robes singing and dancing in the moon palace. His dream one day became a reality with dancers using long silk ribbons to create gentle, graceful and peaceful movements with ribbons and dance steps. Chinese Ribbon dance is performed every year during Chinese New Year celebrations and harvest festivals.
In groups of 3 or 4, students can create a short Chinese Ribbon Dance routine of 5 to 8 moves with the ribbons making figure eights, snake movements, swirls, twirls and more. Students can use a stick and tape a streamer (1 meter) to the stick to perform their routines in synchronization forming many graceful shapes with their ribbons along with Asian music or music from another culture. To extend the learning, students can add some hip hop, salsa or steps from any other cultural dance in order to create a fusion dance number. Teach the Classical Indian hand gestures that reflect different parts of nature that can be incorporated into their fusion dance. (Refer to Indian Dance Hand Gestures) (Gr. 1 to 8) (50 min.)
Science • Share and discuss the importance of honey bees in our environment Plant your seeds of peace (flower seeds) under the Peace Tree or in your Peace Tree Garden and save the honey bees. (K to 8) (45 min.)
End of Day Activity • At the end of the day, all classes can gather under one Peace Tree, create a large peace symbol around or beside the tree and sing the song ‘I Dream of the Day...’ or ‘Imagine’. Or classes can each form a symbol of peace from the different cultures and faiths around the Peace Tree and sing. At the end off the day, everyone can create a group peace hug around the Peace Tree. Please send us a video of your school singing the song along with the name of your city and we will compile a video of children around the world singing ‘I Dream of the Day...’ around the Peace Tree and post it on youtube.
Make sure to take a photo or videotape and post your Peace Tree with the name of your city on Facebook at Peace Tree Day 2016 and let’s plant the seeds of peace in every nation! Don’t forget to collect your Peace Tree symbols the next day and save them for your Peace Tree in the fall, which will be declared World Peace Tree Year on September 21st, 2016 by Humanity in Peace supported by the International Peace Bureau of Geneva and Peace Tree International! (30 to 45 min.)
Peace Tree Family Fusion Feast • To involve the families on Peace Tree Day (or a suitable day in June) and continue the sharing and learning, the school can hold a diversity potluck and raise funds for a children’s charity! Families can create and hang their symbols of peace on the Peace Tree. Parents and grandparents with their children can conduct diversity workshops sharing cooking, art, music, storytelling and dance. Students can perform cultural and fusion dances and songs to end their Peace Tree Day celebration under the Peace Tree!
Peace Tree Art Gallery • A Peace Tree Art Gallery can be set up, so students can auction their peace and diversity artwork including Aboriginal Dot paintings, mehndi art, rangoli art, African art and peace and diversity paintings they have created over the year. Funds raised can support a children’s charity of their choice or buy mosquito nets for $10 to save a child’s life from dying from malaria. https://nothingbutnets.callyourshot.org/call-your-shot Every two minutes a child dies from malaria. You can help by sharing your passion for art!
Create a Peace Tree in your front yard or in the foyer of your building with a friend(s) by hanging the symbols from different cultures and faiths on a tree with your messages of peace. Invite a friend from a different culture and his/her family to your home, so you can teach each other a new recipe from your respective cultures. Play music, read a fairy tale, play a game and learn a dance from each other’s cultures too! You will discover a whole new world, while realizing how much you have in common with your friend.
Make sure to take a photo of you and your friend at your Peace Tree Day celebration at home in front of your Peace Tree and post it at Peace Tree Day 2016’s Facebook page. Peace Tree Day will be a wonderful opportunity to learn about diversity and you’ll have a lot of fun!