Third-Grade Students Find Words to Change the World

Over the last few weeks, third-grade students in Mrs. Belasco’s class at Matthew Paterson Elementary School have been examining powerful words and statements from famous poets, activists and other historical figures. They also discussed how to be “change agents,” or people who make the changes they want to see in the world.

The class recently read the book “More Than Peach,” which is based on a true story of a young girl named Bellen Woodard who worked to transform the crayon industry to include a wide range of “skin-colored” crayons that could represent anyone. The students learned how Woodard began her quest for change when she was only eight years old, a similar age to the age they are now.

“The book was about how we are the same, but different. We are like crayons,” said Charlotte F. “Crayons are the same, but they are all different colors, and we are all unique.”

“After reading the book, now I am going to ask, ‘What color crayon?’ every single time someone asks me for the skin color crayon or colored pencil,” said Patrick F.

Class photo in front of the bulletin word

Belasco used the story as a lead into a lesson on how the students could advocate for change.

“An eight-year-old can cause change in this world. Did you think that was possible?” she asked the students. “Do you think you can create change in the world?”

She prompted her students to think about how they can change the world with their words. Each student was given a piece of paper to write a powerful word or a statement that they believed could lead to change.

“I want men and women to make the same amount of money if they have the same job,” said student Megan V., who chose the word ‘equality”’ for her card.

“If someone pushes you down for what you love, every time you get up its going to be easier,” said Paul R. who chose “acceptance” as his word.

Isabella M. kept her word choice simple and powerful: Love. “Because people would be more respectful,” she said.

Topics for change throughout the classroom included health care, world hunger, wars and more:

Mayari M. wrote a statement on how gender has no color. Her explanation was matter of fact: “If you are a girl, you can like blue and if you are a boy, you can like pink.”

“Love yourself, no matter what,” wrote Sophia B.

“It does not matter about you in the future, it matters about now,” wrote Chase M.

“Don’t let anyone crush your imagination,” wrote Colin H.

“Courage sets you free,” wrote Charlotte F.

Together, the students' cards now create an inspirational bulletin board in the classroom. The display is a daily reminder to them that their words are powerful and can change the world for the better.