Guntown Middle School Discovery students were excited to become “parents” to “flour babies,” but a week later they were saying, “They are too much trouble” and “I have too much to do to keep up with it.”
These gifted students were participating in a life skill simulation designed to help them understand the tremendous responsibility and hard work involved with being a parent.
The students made their babies from 5 pound bags of flour, pantyhose and stuffing. The babies were amazingly life-like once they were dressed in infant clothing that the students chose for them. Due to the weight of the flour, they even mimicked the weight of a newborn baby quite accurately.
After making them, the students couldn’t wait to begin taking them with them from class to class. Their assignment was to take the babies with them everywhere they went, or they had to have a reliable baby sitter for any time that they were unable to care for them. Also, with permission from www.totsite.com, the students were able to set up websites containing pictures of their babies and keep a journal on the Web site telling of their experiences as parents.
However, it wasn’t long until Angela Doty and Mimi Blanchard, the gifted teachers, were hearing:
n “Do we have to take them everywhere?”
n “Can I leave it in my locker while I go to football practice?”
n “What if I have a soccer game?”
Of course it was explained that you can’t leave a real baby and the flour babies were to be treated just as if they were real. If a student was caught being irresponsible or mistreating their babies, they were confiscated and placed in “protective custody” with the teachers.
After carrying the babies for a full week, the babies became “ill” and were “hospitalized” in an area of the classroom. The students drew slips of paper which had the names of diseases and conditions that sometimes affect children. The students had to find information on the disease that their child had and write a research paper about it. The paper had to contain information such as symptoms, causes and treatment, and it also had to be written in the proper format for a research paper.
Besides meeting several of the goals of the gifted curriculum, this simulation was a great learning experience for the students.
When asked what knowledge they had gained from the activity, some of the comments from students were:
n “I learned that babies are hard work.” – Payton Pearce
n “It’s harder than most kids think it is. – Chanler Samples
n “Even fake babies are a big responsibility.” – Logan Gray
n “I definitely will not have a baby at a young age.” – Kelsey Turner
n “I’ve been telling my friends to be sure to wait until they are older to have children.” – Annie Price
n “I want to make sure that I achieve a lot of the goals I have set for myself before becoming a parent, because it is very difficult to go on with your life as usual when you have a child.” – Elizabeth Littlejohn