Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 15 - National Shoe the World Day



All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.

This story pretty much sums up the purpose of Shoe the World Day in a way kids here can understand. Many people around the world - around 500 million - don't have shoes at all, and not having those shoes can mean the difference between going to school (or work) or not. Going to school can make the difference between living in poverty or not. In a country where everyone has the right to a free education, that can be a difficult concept for kids to grasp. Wanting something that is out of our reach, however, is something most kids can understand: as is the concept of helping someone who has less than us!

I want to balance the lessons for this holiday between serious and fun - we want kids to be motivated to help, not guilt-ridden and sad. With that in mind, a couple fun titles to get us on the topic of shoes:

Feet got bigger, heel to toe. Time for new shoes, off we go!

This is one of the first books Sheridan read all by herself. The rhythm and rhyme are perfect for beginning readers, easy to predict but fun to read. Laughead's illustrations perfectly match the text, as Hippo tries out every possible type of shoe in the store!

Extension: Draw or print an outline of a basic shoe, and decorate it with markers, glitter, sequins, colored paper scraps, yarn, etc.


We love Pete! (The original Pete. We don't talk about the knock-off Pete.) Be sure to use the link to hear the song for free, and then be ready to read this one over...and over...and over...until your child is 'reading' it on his own!

Extension: Grab some white canvas shoes at the dollar store, and decorate your own one-of-a-kind footwear!

And then, back to serious:


When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp, everyone scrambles to grab whatever they can. Ten-year-old Lina is thrilled when she finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly, until she sees that another girl has the matching shoe. But soon Lina and Feroza meet and decide that it is better to share the sandals than for each to wear only one.

As the girls go about their routines -- washing clothes in the river, waiting in long lines for water, and watching for their names to appear on the list to go to America -- the sandals remind them that friendship is what is most important.

Extension: Do you have shoes you have outgrown, or don't really wear any more, but which are still in decent shape? Donate locally, or search out organizations that can take shoes to people in other countries. I have found the following, but I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THEM other than what you can read online. I do not know anything about their trustworthiness, efficacy, etc. If anyone has first-hand knowledge of these or other organizations, I would love to hear of it!

Soles 4 Souls - distributes shoes in the US and other countries, also gives people shoes to use as a business start-up
The Shoe Project - shoe distribution, microenterprise, young entrepreneurs
Shoes for the Homeless - shoes for homeless people in the US, seems to run by smaller chapters (?) in various places, but I couldn't find a list of locations

Language Arts

Choose a character in either the first or second book above, and write a letter to him or her. Let them know what you thought of the choices they made. (Talk about basic parts of a letter - date, greeting, body, signature).

Social Studies

Where do you wear shoes, and where do you usually go barefoot? Do you wear different types of shoes in different places? Some places have rules about the type of footwear you may have on - schools, work places, swimming pools, gymnasiums - can you think of others? Why do they have these rules?

Culture has much to do with why and where we have our shoes on. Within a single neighborhood in the US, you will find different 'rules' in different houses. Do you wear the same shoes inside and out? Do you keep slippers for each person by the door to change into? Or do you go barefoot all the time?

In most Asian countries and many European homes, it is considered unsanitary and/or ill-mannered to wear shoes inside. For many cultures, it is also a matter of religion. In Islamic areas, for example, you must remove your shoes before entering a mosque, as the dirt on your souls would be considered bringing in filth from the outside. Yet padding through most churches in your socks would be looked at as disrespectful!

There are other shoe customs that don't just deal with when we wear them:

- Some Greeks burn old shoes during the Christmas season, to avoid bringing bad luck into the next year.
- Some Americans still tie old shoes (as well as tin cans) to the back of newlyweds' cars.
- In some countries in Europe, shoes are hidden in the walls of buildings for good luck.
- Jewish tradition states the shoes of a deceased person must be thrown away, never given to another person.
- In Sweden, gold or silver coins are put in a bride's shoe.
- In some countries, shoes are left out for Saint Nick rather than stockings.

Can you think of, or find information about, any other customs involving shoes? 


Ready for some gross science? School and work aren't the only reason people need shoes. Take a walk outside, wherever you find appropriate, without shoes on. Don't damage your child's feet or cause them pain, but talk about how uncomfortable it can be for just a little bit. Now imagine living where there are sharp rocks and thorny plants everywhere - and you have to walk for miles each day to get food and water! Ouch!

Now, imagine that the soil and water around you are also...full of parasites. Hookworms. RoundwormsJigger fleas.  Podoconiosis is a disfiguring condition caused by exposure to soil with too much alkaline in it. While many people advocate taking your shoes off at home, and I love a barefoot run through the grass myself, in many parts of the world that is not in your best interest. Unfortunately, for the most part, those are the same parts of the world where people are less likely to be able to afford shoes! Research soil-transmitted diseases and parasites, how they multiply and what problems they can cause. I have not been able to find any kid-friendly resources, so I'm afraid you will have to read and rephrase a lot. 

Is anyone else suddenly really itchy???


* Matching: Draw, print out, or cut from magazines, pictures of different types of shoes. Try to get matching pairs! Mount them on tag board pieces cut to the same size, and play Go Fish, Old Maid, or Memory with them.

* Ratios: Count how many shoes there are in your house, and divide it by the number of people. This gives you a ratio of shoes to people (i.e. 8:1) Find out  how many shoes are sold in the US each year (2,373,750,000 in 2013), and divide that by the population. Is that ratio higher or lower than your household? Worldwide, about 20,000,000,000 shoes are produced in a year. Divide that by the world population. How does that ratio compare?


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do!
She gave them some broth, without any bread,
Then spanked them all soundly and sent them to bed.

So...we could either focus on the lack of family planning, poverty issues, or domestic violence...or, we can call this a silly rhyme and draw pictures of what the shoe house might look like. Your call!

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