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In "Moral Tales," a Tapestry of Faith program
Say in your own words:
Just as in our story, where some people didn't have enough food while the king had very extravagant amounts of food, people around the
and all around the world have different amounts of food to eat. Some have plenty and even have too much sometimes. Other people have just enough. Some people have too little food and some people are even starving.
Today we are going to have a special snack so we can see what it is like around the world in terms of how much food different people get to eat.
Ask one or two children to volunteer to be the first watchdogs for justice. Explain that they will bark like the dog in the story until the snack is fair. Tell them that after a few minutes the children will trade roles and everyone will have a chance to be a watchdog for justice. Assure them that the watchdogs will have a chance to eat snack, too.
Give all participants a number. NOTE: it may be best to control which child gets which number such that any children whom you know to be especially wealthy get higher numbers (less food) and any children whom you know to be impoverished get lower numbers (more food).
Have participants sit at the table or tables in groups based on their numbers. Explain that if the watchdogs for justice bark, no one can eat. Everyone must wait until everyone has been served and the watchdogs are silent.
Position the watchdogs for justice by the tables. Tell them to start their job as soon as you start serving the food. Give children with the number "1" the overabundant snack. Give children with the number "2" the abundant snack. Give children with the number "3" the "no frills" snack. Give children with the number "4" the insufficient snack.
Once everyone has been served, tell the children they may begin eating. Have the watchdogs bark as long as the situation is unfair. They can go right behind the children with plenty and bark loudly. After a few minutes, rotate and have two new children take on the role as watchdogs for justice. Give each child the opportunity to be a justice maker in the role of watchdog.
Help the children make the situation more just. Ask the children with more food what they can do to get the dogs to stop barking at them, i.e., to make the situation more fair. Encourage them to think about the experience from the point of view of their less fortunate peers, to look around and see who has less and — hopefully — offer to share some of their snack with them. Ask the children who have less food what they can do in order to get a fair serving. Encourage them to advocate for themselves by naming the injustice and asking for more food.
If the children who have more food are not willingly redistributing the food, ask the rest of the participants how they can respond. Meanwhile, the watchdogs should still be barking. Ideas include having the rest of the children join the barking watchdogs, taking the food non-violently from the children who have a lot, appealing to the leaders to act on their behalf, eating less (not the desired outcome!), staging a protest, assigning the children who are not sharing their abundant snacks the job of being watchdogs.
If an equitable food situation is accomplished, have everyone sit together and eat the snack. If it is not accomplished, intercede and make it fair, either by taking some food from the children who have too much, or by adding food from the snacks you saved aside. Enjoy the snack!
The goal of this activity is to make unfairness concrete and real for participants while also providing the opportunity to address the unfairness and act as justice makers. By practicing the role of "watchdog," all participants become empowered to stand up against injustice.
It is important to remember with this activity that there is likely to be economic disparity within the group, with the possibility of extreme disparity such as a particularly wealthy child alongside a child who is living below the poverty line. Avoid using language that assumes one financial situation for all participants, such as "in our town we all have lots of food to eat." In addition, as suggested above, if you are aware of any children who are living in poverty, you may wish to place them in groups that get enough food in this exercise.
In planning your snack for this activity, be aware of any allergies or dietary restrictions in the group. You may decide (if no one is allergic to wheat) to use only pretzel nuggets and potato chips, with portions ranging from large handfuls or bowls full (extreme abundance) to a pretzel nugget and a potato chip (inadequate snack).
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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