Cultivating Empathy with Rice-and-Stocking Babies


At Ross School, kindergarten is a time to learn about origin stories and new beginnings. One of the projects that best exemplifies this focus is the rice-and-stocking baby project, an integrated learning experience that allows students to personally connect to guiding questions about life’s beginnings and changes. The project helps young students to cultivate a sense of empathy by encouraging them to care for others and experience different perspectives.

Students began the unit by exploring creation myths from around the world. Then, after speaking with their parents about their own birth stories, they drew parallels between the origin stories and the beginnings of their own lives. Integrating the Math and Visual Art domains, students used rice and stockings to create babies in their own likenesses. Through shared storytelling, research, and observation, the students learned what is needed to take care of their babies and simulate the role of parents.

The unit culminated this week with a baby shower, during which students shared their newfound knowledge with family and friends. To demonstrate music’s universal power as an effective tool to both help people to express their emotions and soothe them, the students sang lullabies. They also displayed stories they’d written about their babies.