International Peace day is a special holiday designated by the United Nations to celebrate and spread the ideals of “Peace, kindness and compassion”. It is celebrated annually on September 21st. The theme for this year, 2020 is “Shaping peace together”.
Schools and many organizations use this day as an opportunity to spread peace and kindness by sharing resources, book recommendations, arts and crafts projects, kindness drive, peace parade, pledge to the peace flag etc.
Peace Book recommendations
The Peace Book by Todd Parr: This book delivers positive and helpful messages of peace in a simple and colorful manner that would appeal to the child. It helps teach the importance of friendship, caring and acceptance , which are the most essential grace and courtesy lessons for children.
Have you filled a bucket today? By Carol McCloud: This simple, easy to read truly heartwarming book for children (and adults) that encourages kindness and positive behavior. It uses the concept of an invisible bucket to show kids how easy and rewarding it is to express love, appreciation and kindness by “filling buckets”.
Some other great Peace books are as follows:
I am Peace: A book of mindfulness by Susan Verde
Our Peaceful classroom by Aline D. Wolf
Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me by Harley Wood & Sy Miller
Peace Activities for children
Kindness jar: Set up a little jar on a tray at home /school. Keep a box of little shells, pom-poms or hearts next to the jar. Talk to children about being kind and respectful to others ; when they do, they get to transfer a shell/pom-pom/heart to the jar. When the jar is filled up, empty it and repeat. This activity gives a great visual representation of being kind and compassionate to one another.
United we stand, divided we fall: Collect sticks from the yard /park. Show the children how one stick can snap or break easily. Then start tying a few sticks together and see if it snaps or breaks. Do the same with all sticks. Explain to the children that it is important to work together, be peaceful and kind with one another in the community which is beneficial for everyone.
Help children find inner peace: Verbalize and validate child’s feelings, then provide them tools to navigate the situation and calm their feelings, emotions & express themselves better. This helps the child find their inner peace. Once they are comfortable with it, it would be a lot easier for them to be kind and peaceful with others externally.
“I understand you are upset……”
“I understand you are sad….” etc
Breathing technique and Yoga: Have a designated space for yoga. A simple yoga mat and yoga poses cards would be enough to start this activity for the children. This can be a great way to practice mindfulness and be calm.
Provide cues to the child like : “Let’s breathe in like we are smelling a flower, Breathe out like we are blowing a leaf”. Practice it with a flower and leaf initially for the child to understand the process better.
Gardening and Nature: Spending time in nature, whether it is walks, playing in the yard or sowing and harvesting produce in the garden are simple ways to calm and provide peace to children.
Of course, Peace is not a one day thing, it is something that needs to be done and built everyday… Talk to children about it every day, give them the vocabulary, resources & support to navigate the situations to be calm and understand their emotions. Help children understand the concept of working together, respecting diversity and that deep down all of us are the same, no matter our skin color, appearance or ethnicity etc.
Education is the best weapon for peace : Dr. Maria Montessori