For the past several years, we’ve coordinated a spring visit with an HFP alumni family’s angora rabbits. Getting to visit, hold and pet “real rabbits” elicits great joy. Connecting with a fluffy, living creature will be a precious, memorable experience. I think about a way to build on the enthusiasm of the visiting rabbits as a foray to facilitate interest in a meaningful topic that might otherwise not get the attention, critical thought and support it deserves. I know of the perfect children’s book we can share to support children’s interest in immigration. We can help counter some of the prevalent, misinformed, racist and xenophobic messages that are circulating in the media. We can plant a seed for our daily rabbit themed activities to conjure up a deeper meaning of travel, home, immigration and freedom.
Dos conejos blancos (Two White Rabbits)
We share Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng’s powerful immigration story in which a child and her father journey north to the United States. Along the way, the girl is gifted two rabbits who they ultimately set free.
“As many thousands of people, especially children, in Mexico and Central America continue to make the arduous journey to the US border in search of a better life, this is an important book that shows a young migrant’s perspective.” (excerpt from book jacket).
We invite families to reflect on their countries of origin, considering where our non-native families first immigrated from. We also use a Family Share prompt to invite children to consider what travelers would need during their long journey.
Then we introduce a newly invented game in which some of us “travelers” move across the play yard obstacle course to make our way to a new home in the United States. Others are “helpers,” handing out necessary resources — the ideas we jotted down earlier for the Family Share — food, water, cozy blankets, flashlight, beloved “stuffy,” etc. Occasionally a “helper” tries to gift a couch or a table— items that we find so useful in our daily lives at home, but are too heavy to bring on a journey; so we explain we need to wait to receive those generous offerings until after we are settled in our new homes. This is a new game for us and the process of playing it a bit allowed us an opportunity to notice what children already know and where some of the gaps in understanding lie. Having an opportunity to use our bodies, assume imaginary roles, and assist others is key. We’ll likely revisit the game and see how we might adjust or build on it to deepen children’s engagement–most likely by sharing more immigration stories or family histories.
We use dry erase markers on laminate pages. Rabbits make their way through challenging routes to the ultimate reward–delicious carrots.
We build mazes using blocks. We spread out carrots and laminated veggie cards for rabbit figurines to hop and find.
We make carrot muffins; and include carrots with leafy green tops and rabbit-shaped crackers, along with some scrumptious fruits and dips.
We offer rabbit/conejo shaped paper and coloring pages, along with marbles to roll through the paint.
Ears & Tails
We offer rabbit ears and tails for children to don during their daily engagements of sewing animal and flower cards and balancing across the new obstacle challenge we built.
Thanks to HFP alumni families Karin & Zoe (16 years) of Sinfully Soft for sharing rabbits, and Hillari Montouri for curriculum planning support.