Activity 4: The Clothes on My Back
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Garments and packaged food items
- Paper and pencils/pens
Preparation for Activity
- Gather garments and packaged foods that have labels identifying fabrics/ingredients and where the item was made. You will need at least one item for each small group of three to five children.
Description of Activity
Tell the children:
Like the society in the story, ours has many people whose work makes other people's lives more comfortable. People we never notice, like the Soji, do some of the hardest, lowest paid jobs that make our lives better. Sometimes these people are invisible to us because they live far away and do their work in farms or factories where we will never go.
Form small groups of three to five children, each with an adult facilitator. Give each group a sheet of paper and a pencil. Tell them:
I will give each group an item of food or clothing. Use any clues you can find on the item (without opening packages or taking any clothing apart) to list all the people who might have worked to bring the item to us.
Give each group at least one garment or item of packaged food. Allow up to five minutes for groups to generate lists. Walk around and affirm groups' work. You may wish to prompt with these questions:
- I see this item was made in China (Hungary, Guatemala , etc.). What kind of work do you think went on there? Who might have done it?
- How did this item get from its point of origin to us today?
- What exactly is the item made of? Where do those materials come from? Are they made, found, or grown? Where and how?
To conclude, reconvene and ask a volunteer from each group to present some of the formerly "invisible" people who helped create the item they analyzed.
Of course we have never met these people. Most of us eat food and wear clothes without ever meeting anyone who helped make them for us.
What are some ways we can express our gratitude for the people who make things we use-the invisible hands that help us? How can we affirm that the people who do these jobs are as important and valuable as you or I?
Allow some comments. Affirm that by treating every person we encounter with respect, we convey our gratitude for the things we use that others made, and affirm that every person is equally important, no matter where they live or what kind of work they do.