Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One Hen

Group: Susanna, Jasmine, and Elyse

One Hen
Written by Katie Smith
Illustrated by Eugene Fernandes

Link to where you can buy the book:


Inspired by true events, One Hen tells the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many. After his father died, Kojo had to quit school to help his mother collect firewood to sell at the market. When his mother receives a loan from some village families, she gives a little money to her son. With this tiny loan, Kojo buys a hen. A year later, Kojo has built up a flock of 25 hens. With his earnings Kojo is able to return to school. Soon Kojo's farm grows to become the largest in the region. Kojo's story is inspired by the life of Kwabena Darko, who as a boy started a tiny poultry farm just like Kojo's, which later grew to be the largest in east Africa. Kwabena also started a trust that gives out small loans to people who cannot get a loan from a bank.

One Hen shows what happens when a little help makes a big difference. This help comes in the form of a microloan, a lending system for people in developing countries who have no collateral and no access to conventional banking. Microloans have begun to receive more media attention in recent years. In 2006 Muhammad Yunus, a Bangledeshi economist who pioneered microloan banking, won the Nobel Peace Prize.The final pages of One Hen explain the microloan system and include a list of relevant organizations for children to explore.

Reflection: This is a great book to use in the classroom because it shows something that appears to be small can make a big difference, such as the loan to buy one hen. This book depicts the fact that one person can cause a change is he or she works hard enough. If people work together, they can help this individual bring about this change. Rich illustrations accompany the text as the theme of the book shows that change is possible, and it starts with just one person.

How the book can be used/curriculum units:

First Activity: Students will work in groups to research an organization
and write a proposal to the school for why they should support the
organization. They will present he proposal to the school, asking
them to vote on which program they would like to be involved with.
After choosing an organization, the students will create a plan to get
the school and wider community involved in their cause. They will
write letters to small businesses asking for donations, fundraise, and
set up food, clothing or school supply drives depending on their

Second Activity: Writing Workshop-- Students pick a change they would like to bring about and write about this in their writer's notebooks. They write about the first thing they should do, as the one who starts this change.

Third Activity: Teacher can hand out a "small loan" to all the students. For example, she can hand out a box of markers to each student. In 2 weeks, we can what we did with those markers and if we made any difference with the markers. Discuss the similiarities and differences between what we did and what happened in the story.

Websites: http://www.onehen.org/

Grades 3-5
Domains of Social Justice:
1. Self-love and Respect: The students will discuss how Kojo, a young
boy had a great deal of confidence and determination to help out his
family and village, and make a change in the world. Students of
African background may coke connections to the conditions in the book
and express love and respect for their culture. Students will learn
about their responsibilities in their families and how they are
important to their own families and communities as well.

2. Respect for Others: From learning about a different culture and
comparing and contrasting their responsibilities and structure of the
community, students will respect Kojo's culture and Ashanti region of
Ghana. They will learn about the different circumstances and
hardships of Kojo's community, but also how rich in culture and values
their community is, and how they all took initiative to make a change.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will learn about the
disparity of wealth from one country to another. Many countries in
Africa have had to endure many years of injustice, specifically, the
Ashanti region dominated by the British. Students will discuss the
history of Ghana, focusing in on the country and what hardships they
had to endure over the years, including colonization, political
strife, unfair trading. They will explore how other countries are
affected by modern industrialization and unfair trading.

4. Social Movements and Social Change: Students will learn about how
the people of Ghana took initiative to create an independent
government and make efforts to stabilize the economy. They will
discuss the steps people took to try and establish fair trade and
develop bank and loan systems to help small villages. They will learn
how people and organizations and are working to make larger changes in
political and economic systems.

5. Taking Social Action: They will earn about different organizations
(especially those included in the book) that help create positive
change in Ghana and other countries such as the Philippines, Uganda
and Peru by providing money for loans and outreach organizations to
help build schools and recruit teachers. Students will choose an
organization to become involved with, writing letters to local
businesses to fundraise for a loan, and also set up a relationship
with a school in Ghana to help provide school supplies, clothes and

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