Westland’s Human Development Program – Written By: Ellen Sanchez

Midway through its third year, we’re strengthening Westland’s Human Development Program by enhancing the inclusivity and welcoming nature of the community and focusing on gender diversity.

We’ve developed a multi-layered approach to learning that offers students accurate information and opportunities to discuss issues pertinent to their experience, that are in sync with their cognitive, social, and emotional development. The framework includes a focus on: Bodies, Birth, Families, Friendships, Safety and Gender Development.

This year, the children are talking about…

• The power they have to make rules for their community that support each individual, without limits set by rigid gender roles.

• The courage it takes to stand up to someone who says you can’t do something because of gender.

• How we can help others when support is needed.

• How to take on the role of courageous bystander in the face of hurtful teasing.

• What makes a good friendship? How to resolve differences within friendships.

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The Westland Library has books on each topic to help start conversations at home. The photo above includes four of them. Idalee and the classroom teachers and I can all make recommendations.

I welcome the opportunity to hear from you at

Ellen Sanchez
Human Development Specialist

Looking Into the Cookie Factory – Written By: Karen Carothers

Group Two had the opportunity to visit a cookie factory as they explore the question, “How does food get to the table?” This visit provided a rich study of the different kinds of work necessary to produce and package cookies, as well as the interdependence of one job on another.

Before their visit, the children investigated packaged foods in their lunches and determined how the food traveled from the farm to the grocery store as well as what happened to the food on its journey. Six and seven year olds are very proud of their knowledge and tend to be reluctant to say what they do not know, so they were full of predictions about factories. Following this process, they prepared questions for the owner of the cookie factory.

After their field trip, Group Two worked in small groups to determine the most important areas of the cookie factory. They came together as one group to graph their ideas, observing which areas were noted the most. Graphing gave a visual representation to the children’s thinking and provided a springboard for more ideas, drawings and discussion.

The concept of sequencing underlies all of this study. Asking “What must happen before this can happen?” provides an example of how basic mathematical concepts are given context in the realm of social studies and internalized through experience. Group Two began to observe ‘sequences’ throughout their daily lives. After much discussion and some adjustments, the children pinned their factory drawings along a clothesline where they believed the drawings belonged in the cookie factory sequence.

This was the process that led to Group Two’s reconstruction of the cookie factory with large blocks, and illustrates the children’s understanding and appreciation of the interlinking facets of food production. Block building requires problem solving and committee work, especially when everything is linked together by a conveyor belt!