FIFTY: Oklahoma— "Migrant Mother"
Each story in the FIFTY collection focuses on a remarkable American from a different state. Below are some recommended topics to inspire further investigation of the history and geography of the state, as well as themes that can support our children's growth and development.
The photograph that is most associated to the 1930’s dust bowl of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas is the iconic “Migrant Mother” photographed by Dorothea Lange. The subject of the photograph is Florence Owens Thompson, mother of seven who was stranded at the time on her way to California. This story is based on her real life journey and what it meant to do whatever was needed to not only survive during a national crisis … but to make the most of any situation.
Parental Note: Though this is historical fiction and the characters have been developed to accommodate a story, their attributes and development may be useful as reference points and inspirations.
- History of the Dust Bowl and the reasons why it happened
- History of Oklahoma including the official “Indian Territory”
- The Migration West in the 1930s
- Changes in the Oklahoma map through time
- Map of the common route from Oklahoma to California
“Migrant Mother” Study Topics
Botanical study of the natural grasses and how they can weather a drought - in comparison with growing wheat
Topics for Reflection:
From a Child Development Perspective:
- In this story, your child might learn about the far-reaching power of sacrifice, dedication and perseverance, the most basic and most admirable qualities in being alive as a human being. Florence Owens Thompson’s example shows us what it is to endure hardship without complaint or self-interest while caring for the well-being of others. Her legacy lives on in her children and in history.
Topics worthy of exploring with your children could be:
Older members of your family and community hold a wealth of unexplored stories.
Changes in environment can have a big impact on people.
Difficult circumstances can lead to difficult choices.
Difficult circumstances can also help to clarify the most important things in life.
Even when there seems to be no way out of trouble, keep looking — the road will appear.
Challenging events in our personal history shape our outlook on life.
Happy stories are nice, but hard stories are good too.
Here is an intersting article for older children about the "Migrant Mother" photograph by Dorthey Lange.
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About the Authors
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.
Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.