Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How to Develop a Culture of Life in Your Home and Classroom

During January, teachers and parents often weave lessons and discussions about the dignity of the human person into their plans and activities.  This truth is important every day of the year, but remembering Martin Luther King Jr., the anniversary of Roe V. Wade, and the March for Life present us with teachable moments that are relevant today.  As I make plans for some of those important discussions in the coming weeks, I am excited to start using The Culture of Life Study Program created by the America Life League. I'm so impressed by the curriculum they have created and grateful to add this new resources to my classroom content.  Go click on over to their website to explore all the things they offer (including both print and digital lessons for purchase and many FREE instant downloads to get you started, like this set of sample lessons.).  If you'd like more info or to hear my humble opinion about some of the resources they offer, read on :).

Disclaimer: American Life League provided me with free lessons and materials in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own!  I'm happy to share this solid resource with other educators.

Across Content Areas and Grade Levels:
This program includes lessons for preschoolers through high schoolers, organized into both stand alone mini lessons as well as full units of study.  The cohesive nature of the units would allow a religious ed program, school, or family to develop continual growth of understanding about the culture of life over the education of its students.

The lessons are also supplemented with Scripture, art, hands-on models, literature, and media, providing opportunities for all types of learners to engage with the material.   They cover pro-life topics with both depth and breadth.  Many times kids (and adults) think that pro-life topics are limited to pre-born babies instead of recognizing the dignity of each and every human person.  The Culture of Life Study Program offers materials on babies, the elderly, disabilities, eugenics, diversity, marriage, euthanasia, social justice, and more.  The cross-curricular lessons are intended to tie into literature, science, art... and even foreign language classes!

All of the Units of Study and Mini Lessons are organized, complete, and thorough.  As a teacher, I love that the authors have included not only the recommended steps for an activity or lesson, but also objectives, ideas for reinforcement and evaluation, supply lists, sample discussion questions, color photos of sample student work, opening/closing prayers, etc.  They really have thought of everything related to this curriculum and have organized it into easy to follow lessons, including appendices of handouts/printables.  From the experienced to the novice, I know that any teacher, catechist, youth leader, or parent could comfortably and successfully use these lessons.

Some of the lessons are created as one time activities, like this book study, discussion, and art project about Mother Teresa.  Others are multi-day units covering more content, such as The Beauty of the Developing Human Being for 7th-8th graders.  And other materials, like the sweet Miracle of Life Coloring and Activity Book, could be used time and time again to promote pro-life conversations and formation.

Units of Study:
The Culture of Life Units of Study are setting up a sequence of lessons for the full education of a student.  The units begin with the  Life Primer in elementary, move to Life Foundations in middle school, and offer Life Lens, Life Scope, and Life Quest in high school.

Included in the Life is Precious Unit Study for K-2nd grades is the video Baby Steps, which offers 4-D Ultrasound imagery of babies 8-34 weeks.  Menu options let you watch the babies grow at each week of development, seeing them kick, wiggle, smile, and yawn.  There also is a Guided Tour feature, which gives a five minute narrated week-by-week overview of fetal development.  (You can watch the English narrated version here.)  They also send a Precious One 12 week fetal model for the students to see and touch.  I've written here before about how much I love the Touch of Life Fetal Models.  They continue to be one of my very favorite pro-life resource.

Books and Movies:
Teachers of any kind will tell you that time is at a premium.  Adding in another unit might seem impossible, but these lessons fit well within many different subject areas and even use books and movies that are often already in a classroom curriculum.  Content in the Life Primer Unit (K-2nd) includes popular picture books (like Horton Hears a Who and On the Night You Were Born) to introduce each topic.  Discussion guides are available for chapter books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Giver series, and To Kill a Mockingbird, just to name a few.  There are also a whole collection of discussion guides for modern movies, teaching kids to look for culture of life themes in everything they read and watch.  There are lessons for some of my favorite movies including The Blind Side, August Rush, The King's Speech, Bella, The Magic of Ordinary Days, and It's a Wonderful Life.  Those movie discussions would lend themselves perfectly to a youth group or pro-life club.

And so much more...
The exciting thing is that the Culture of Life Studies Program is still in development.  More and more lessons will be added, creating a full K-12 scope and sequence.  I'll be keeping an eye out for the additional curriculum, especially in Life Foundations.  In the meantime, you should go check out the current materials in their store (including many FREE downloads!), the ever-growing topics and ideas on their blog, and consider making a donation to fund the next unit of study.

I hope you are feeling inspired this month (and always!) to weave culture of life conversations and lessons into your classrooms and homes.

And if you are interested, here are some of the pro-life resources I have on the blog:
Touch of Life Fetal Models & People of Integrity
Favorite Pro-Life Videos
Spiritual Adoption Prayer Coloring Page
Spiritual Adoption Bookmarks and Culture of Life Discussion Guide/Bible Study
Spiritual Adoption Update Postcards

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