listen to the wind72324379

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea
Written by Greg Mortenson
Illustrated by Susan L. Roth

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
ISBN: 0803730586
Ages: 4 to 8

Review and Lessons Plans by Donna O'Donnell Figurski

If folks took time to listen to the wind, imagine what they might hear. When Haji Ali told Greg Mortenson to listen to the wind, Greg was confused. All he wanted to do was help the people of Korphe. After all they helped to heal him when he stumbled off the mountain he was climbing in northeastern Pakistan into their tiny village. Greg didn’t understand how listening to wind could help them. But, he took Haji Ali’s advice anyway and soon he heard the voices of young children.

Greg knew the children of Korphe had no school. Korphe was a small village and could not afford a school or to pay a teacher full time. A teacher came to their village only three times a week.
The children studied outside, under the trees and used sticks to write in the dirt. Hearing the happy, learning voices of the children on the wind gave Greg an idea.

He vowed to build a school for the children of Korphe.

For me, sitting in the canyon surrounded by the Taos, New Mexico mountains and watching clouds flit through the blue sky, the wind brings the sound of swishing leaves, chirping crickets and the hum and the buzz of hummingbirds. I hear the footfalls of my granddaughter as she runs through the gravel - destination unknown. As I sit quietly, I wonder if I truly take the time to listen to the wind what messages it might bring to me.

Many times our busy lives … grocery shopping, carpools, doctor appointments, and everyday errands stop us from appreciating the simple things in life. The shape of a cloud, the smell of a sunflower, the erratic behavior of a lizard can all bring such joy, but too often we don’t even notice them. Haji Ali’s idea was a good one and I’m going to try to do as Greg did. No, I am not going to build fifty-seven schools, but I am going to listen to the wind. Who knows what it may bring!

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“There once was a poor village,” said Daisy.

 “Korphe,” said Caden, “… in the mountains of Pakistan.”

“A stranger came,” said Juliana.
“He was cold and thirsty,” said Caden.

“He was sick,” explained Daisy.

“The villagers gave him tea. He was from America,” said Juliana.

“Dr. Greg,” said Tala wanting to tell his name. “He climbed a mountain and almost died - but he didn’t.”

“He looked very, very sick,” said Lucy. “So the people helped him to get better.”

“After he got stronger, he wanted to help the people of Korphe,” said Caden.

“He asked what he could do for them,” said Tala.

Juliana nodded. “He wanted to pay them,” she said.

“Greg found a man named Haji Ali,” said Diego. “Haji Ali said, “Listen to the wind.”

“At first Greg didn’t understand what Haji Ali meant,” said Mikaela.
“Dr. Greg thought Haji Ali was crazy,” said Juliana with a giggle. “But he did listen to the wind.”

“He closed his eyes,” explained Tala.

“Then Greg heard children,” said Diego.

“There were a lot of kids in Korphe,” said Abby.

“And there was no school there,” said Juliana.

 “Korphe needed a school,” exclaimed Lucy.

“Before the school was built,” said Abby, “Children learned by drawing in the dirt.”

Lucy nodded. “They used dirt as paper and sticks as pencils,” she said.

“Can you imagine writing on the ground?” asked Brayden. “It wasn’t fair for the Pakistan kids because they could only learn a little each day. We have five days of school, so we have more time for education,” he added

Lucy’s eyes widened. “It’s a true story!” she said.

“But I can’t believe that the teacher only stayed there for three days a week,” said Brayden.

“I don’t think it was the teacher’s fault,” said Mikaela. “I don’t think it was anybody’s fault. They didn’t have enough money to pay the teacher,” she explained.

“So Dr. Greg went back to America to get tools,” said Juliana.

“And he came with loads of wood,” said Abby.

“Then all the kids helped him to make the school,” said Lucy.

“He built the school for the children to learn,” said Abby.
“It was generous of Dr. Greg to build a school for the people of Korphe. He knew how they felt without a school,” said Lucy.

“If I were a kid in Pakistan and I was writing in the dirt, I would be sad not to have my own school to learn in,” said Callie.

“It would be a really hard way to learn,” interrupted Mikaela.

“… And I really like to learn,” said Callie.

“But now they have a new school and they have paper and pencils,” said Mikaela. “So they can learn much more.”

“Dr. Greg made more than fifty-seven schools,” announced Juliana.

“Can you believe that?” asked Brayden. “That’s amazing – isn’t it?”

“Greg is a person who really cared about the people,” said Mikaela.

Tala agreed. “I think that Greg was really helpful to the Pakistan people,” she said.

“Greg helped all of those people,” said Juliana. “I think the lesson of this story is to be thankful for what you have,” she added.

Abby nodded. “The children in Korphe were really lucky that Greg was climbing a mountain that day.”


It’s Just a Penny: Social Studies/Math

What is a penny worth? Not much in today’s standards unless you live in a country like Pakistan. Then a penny can buy a pencil. A collection of pennies can pay a teacher’s wages. Pennies can provide education for the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Dr. Greg Mortenson began a program called Pennies for Peace. He wanted to help children in Central Asia. Some schools in the United States heard of Dr. Mortenson’s project and they wanted to help. You can help too.

  • Read and discuss Listen to the Wind with your class.
  • Tell them about the Pennies for Peace Program.
  • Have children brainstorm how they could earn pennies to donate to the children of Central Asia. (earn money doing chores around the house – setting table, take out trash, baby-sit)
  • Be sure to send home a letter to parents to explain why the children will be attempting to earn money (or breaking into their piggy banks).
  • Then put out a big jug in the classroom and start collecting.
  • When all pennies are collected, have children count the coins in groups of ten.  Then have them make groups of fifty. Next roll the pennies into penny wrappers before taking them to the bank to trade for bills.
  • Write a class letter about what activities the children engaged in to help earn money for the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • Send the donation and the letter to Dr. Mortenson at the Pennies for Peace organization.
  • Feel good about helping children less fortunate than you.

Dream On: Language Arts

Most people have dreams. They want to help the homeless, find a cure for cancer, or lose five extra pounds. Some may wish to walk on the moon, win an Academy Award, or write a best selling novel. Others may want to get married, have children, and live happily ever after. All are good dreams. All are goals to obtain. Some are harder than others. Greg Mortenson had a dream. He wanted to build a school for the children of Korphe. It was a huge dream. It seemed near impossible, but he put his mind to it and he made it happen.

Most of the time we turn our backs on our dreams because they seem hard and unattainable. But step-by-step and with fortitude, patience, and persistence most dreams can be found.

  • After reading and discussing Listen to the Wind with your class ask the children to identify Greg’s dream.
  • Then have them name all the problems that Greg encountered while trying to build a school.
        No money
        No lumber, tool, or building supplies
        Had to build a bridge to bring building supplies to Korphe
        People had to carry the lumber across the bridge
  • Next have children work in small groups to dream up dreams. They can be real or hypothetical. (get an A on the spelling test; hike across America}
  • Have each group make a plan explaining how it can accomplish its dream.
  • Have the children plot their ideas on paper.
  • Give each group time to share their plan with the class.

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Pennies for Peace
NEA - Students Build Schools for Kids in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Listen to the Wind 2 Minute Statement by Greg Mortenson


Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan written by Jeanette Winter
Afghan Dreams: Young Voices of Afghanistan written by Tony O'Brien and Mike Sullivan; photographs by Tony O'Brien
P Is for Pakistan written by Shazia Razzak; photographs by Prodeepta Das
Nadia's Hands written by Karen English; illustrated by Jonathan Weiner

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