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Seeds of Change: Planting a Path To Peace



Last updated Thursday, April 10, 2014

Author: Jen Cullerton Johnson
Date of Publication: 2010
ISBN: 160060367X
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2014

Synopsis: As a young girl in Kenya, Wangari was taught to respect nature. She grew up loving the land, plants, and animals that surrounded her - from the giant mugumo trees her people, the Kikuyu, revered to the tiny tadpoles that swam in the river. Although most Kenyan girls were not educated, Wangari, curious and hardworking, was allowed to go to school. There, her mind sprouted like a seed. She excelled at science and went on to study in the United States. After returning home, Wangari blazed a trail across Kenya, using her knowledge and compassion to promote the rights of her countrywomen and to help save the land, one tree at a time.

Note to readers:
•  The book tells the story of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman, and environmentalist, to win a Nobel Peace Prize. You may want to read the inside front cover before or after reading the story.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Where do you think this story takes place?
•  What does "seeds of change" mean?
•  What do you do with seeds?
•  How can something change from seeds?

Vocabulary:
•  mugumo - an evergreen and a type of fig, whose wood is unusable for lumber or firewood. The tree can grow as tall as 90 metres, or 295 feet, in forest or savannah and is invaluable in conserving soil moisture and increasing soil fertility.
•  millet - a type of grass that is grown for its seeds which are used as food; also, the seeds of millet
•  molecule - the smallest possible amount of a particular substance that has all the characteristics of that substance; a very small amount of something
•  sapling - a young tree

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What type of animals feed from the mugumo tree?
•  Why did Wangari want to go to school? What was her favorite subject?
•  Where is Kenya? Where in the U.S. did Wangari go to school?
•  How many trees did the Green Belts plant in Kenya?
•  Why did the wealthy businessmen want to stop Wangari and the Green Belt Movement?
•  What are some things we can do to protect trees & the environment?
•  Have you ever had to stand up for something you believe needs protecting?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a colorful tree mosaic/collage. Volunteers, this will be a great opportunity for us to be environmentally friendly & use lots of scrap paper! Collect lots of small pieces of paper (not too small or the kids may not have time to finish) in lots of colors to make a simple design. Have the kids cut out different shapes for leaves, flowers, &/or animals.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!