'Kids, I need your help', spoke the king of Belgium

Bom dia,

As you all know, last week the whole school worked around the subject ‘different countries’. This week was named: culture week. Preschoolers worked around Belgium. Every day I had my daily moment to teach the kids something about Belgium. This is what we did:

On Monday Arturio brought his little magic box with him. But it wasn’t just a box. No, in that box kids found a letter. But who had sent this letter? Kids were very curious. It was a letter from the king of Belgium. He wrote us, because he needed help. All the lackeys in the castle were ill and now there was nobody to take care of him and his wife, the queen. The king asked the kids if they would like to be a lackey of the king. Of course kids wanted to be his lackey. But being a lackey of the king is not that easy. First you have to have enough knowledge about that country. So the king decided  to send a letter every day of the week with a new mission. Arturio would help the kids and would give them all the information they needed. The kids were very enthusiastic to help the king and everyone did their best to acquire knowledge as much about Belgium as possible. To introduce Belgium I made a powerpoint presentation. By means of this powerpoint presentation, kids were able to understand something about my country. I introduced the Belgium flag, the world map with the direction to Belgium and Portugal and I let kids understand that Belgium is three times smaller than Portugal. After that I introduced the royal family and the most important places in Belgium with their important buildings, monuments and nature: our capital Brussels, the seaside and Antwerp, the province were I’m living. I know I didn’t introduce Bruges, Ghent, Liege,.. But that’s by purpose, otherwise kids weren’t able to remember the most important things. After that I let the kids meet the things were Belgium people are proud of: chocolate, beer, French fries, chicory, Brussels sprouts, Brussels waffles, mussels, a painting named ‘Kinderspelen’ made by Pieter Bruegel, lacing, het Lam Gods painted by the brothers Van Eyck. Our sports heroes: Kim Clijsters, Tia Hellebaut, Eddy Merckx, Philippe Gilbert and Vincent Kompany. Kids were interested and were concentrated when I told them stuff about Belgium. After that I had a question for the kids. I wanted to make a living Belgium flag, but had no idea how to make it. Kids discussed and had following ideas: we’re painting the flag, we’re drawing the flag, we make it by using clay,… But then I introduced my next problem: we can only use colored paper and children should be integrated into the picture. Ow, that was a difficult command. I gave the kids some time to think about this. When nobody had an idea I gave an example. I took a colored paper (black) and hold it above my head. Arturio took the yellow paper and hold it above his head and then… kids knew what I was asking them. We tried to work it out this way. Every kid took a color and took his right place, because we had to make the flag of Belgium. Black should always be in the front, yellow should be in the middle and red must always be on the right side. And after different spatial arrangements we had our picture. In the afternoon I taught the kids a song with Dutch words.

On Tuesday the king wrote us a another letter. This time we had to make something of Panamarenko. Panamarenko is a famous artist of Belgium who is very good in making flying carpets, airplanes, birds, zeppelins,… The command of the king was: make something like Panamarenko would do. So after an impression moment with different pictures of Panamarenkos work I invited the kids to have a brainstorm. What would we like to make? Something big or something little (big, obviously) Something that can fly or drive. Do we want a door and a window,… Kids discussed and their final decision was: we’re going to make an airplane. The characterize of the airplane were: something big, the colors would be: blue, black and the colors of the rainbow, we are going to have two wings and we need a door in our airplane, which has the shape of a circle. And then: worktime! We divided the tasks and kids were working together to make one airplane. Every kid  had his own subvention in the airplane. And when the airplane parts became an airplane, kids were very proud on their Panamarenko-spaceship! What would the king think of this masterpiece? We repeated the Dutch song and Tuesday was done.

On Wednesday the king asked us to learn something about Rene Magritte. Rene Magritte is a famous painter from Belgium. You all know him from the painting: ceci n’est pas une pipe. I gave the kids an introduction about Magritte. I showed them some paintings and kids were very excited about the man with an apple in front of his face. They didn’t think it was weird that, for example, men were flying in the air or that we saw a face without skin, just with two eyes, a nose and a mouth. And that’s the beauty about the world of kids. They look at the World with a whole different way than we do. They have an open mind without prejudices. Everything is possible and they don’t make an issue about things like a man with an apple in front of his face. It’s like it is and that’s it. We drew animals, like Rene Magritte should do, because the theme of the week was  a story about animals who wanted to taste the moon. And after that draw I taught them the Dutch word of the animals. The kids surprised me by singing the Dutch song almost by their own.

On Thursday, rarara, there was a letter of the king of Belgium with his final command: make the Atomium.  But what is an Atomium? I asked the kids to draw their thoughts about the Atomium. Kids drew a man, a house, a rainbow, a boat, a bird,… When I showed them the real Atomium, which was built in our capital Brussels for the expo of 1958, kids were astonished. Is that the Atomium? What is it?

I showed the kids pictures from the outside and the inside of the Atomium. After a conversation about the Atomium I had a question: ‘The king would like that we’re going to make an Atomium. But how are we going to do that?’ Kids said: we have to fumble up some paper. Then I said: ‘We’re not going to use paper, because we used it for the work of Panamarenko and Rene Magritte. Now I would like to work with something else.’ And that was, apparently, a problem for the kids. They had no idea how to make the Atomium. That was not what I expected. I thought that kids would have plenty ideas. The only idea a boy had was: we’re using tinfoil to have the metal color of the Atomium. But after that suggestion no other ideas followed. Just when I wanted to give them a tip, another kid walked in our class and she brought something with her. Surprise, surprise, it was the Atomium. She made it with her father and mother by using clay, tinfoil and wooden sticks. And then the problem was solved. We decided to make the Atomium by using tinfoil, clay and toothpicks. We had a great result.

On Friday the king wanted to know if the kids were able to be his lackey. So we decided to send the king some pictures. Every kid had a green and a red paper. When they liked the picture, they raised their green paper in the air. When they didn’t like the picture, they raised the red paper in the air. And so we did. We sent eighteen pictures to the king to convince him of our knowledge about Belgium. In the afternoon Arturio had some other news. The king saw the pictures and now he wanted to tell them the great news. Because the distance between Belgium and Portugal is too far to fly in one day, we decided to use the new media: Skype. Around 3 P.M. every kid was full of attention, because we were going to have a conversation with the king of Belgium. And… there he was, with crown and mantle and the Belgium flag in the background. The king had some great news for us: ‘I noticed you know enough about my country. I saw you had fun to learn about Belgium. I saw that you all are able to be… a lackey of the king of Belgium! Arturio has a surprise for you all. Thank you, my dearest kids, to help me.’ As a present the kids sang the Dutch song about the king of Belgium and after snack-time, Arturio gave every kid his own personal Belgium medal to remember the kids that they were a lackey of the king of Belgium.

Até logo,

PS: Thank you, dad, to act like a real king!