BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - On November 5th, Governor Livingston students enrolled in the schools’ Strategies for Living course took on the roles of parents. While there are no real babies crawling through the halls of the high school, the group of students carrying “flour babies” have certainly not gone unnoticed. Flour babies are made from sacks of flour, and are dressed and cared for by their respective student-parent. The project educates high schoolers on the challenges of parenthood and prepares them for their future families.
The flour babies helped engage students in the class’s larger unit on pregnancy, which focuses on topics from the development of a fetus throughout gestation to it’s parenthood. Lessons included video clips and a thorough analysis of the changes a fetus goes through on a weekly basis. Classes enjoyed comparing the size of the fetus to various fruits and vegetables. A fan favorite was the 21-week comparison to a carrot. The unit culminated in what has been cited numerous times as the best class of the marking period: the Birth. Each student received a untied balloon with a ping pong ball encapsulated within. They were tasked with pushing on the balloon until the ball was extracted. This was intended to simulate labor and contractions.
The flour babies were created by wrapping 5-pound bags of flour in plastic bags and duct tape. The leg of a stocking was stuffed and the pulled over the bag of flour to form a head. The assembled babies were inside onesies with stuffed legs and arms. To complete the baby, faces were drawn on the heads at the beginning of the three-weeks of parenthood.
As a part of their parental duties, students brought their child to every class and after school activity. They were also required to fill out lengthy packets describing what the baby did at every hour of the day, including feedings every 3-4 hours and diaper changes 11 times a day. GL junior Arielle Noguiera raved about the project, stating, “I never understood the many layers of pregnancy and parenthood. This project opened my eyes to so many new things, including the responsibilities of bringing a child into the world”. Students were also instructed to take three photographs of the child per day to ensure that the child was experiencing the world of his or her parent. Junior Olivia Mastria was happy to include her “daughter” Kendall in her every day life. “My baby was with me when I conducted an experiment in physics about friction. It was fun to have her experience it with me,” she explained as she held Kendall in Mrs. Cinquino’s classroom.
Meanwhile, class time was spent conducting extensive research on the cost of being a parent, as well as several birth defects that affect thousands of babies every year, including Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Overall, feedback regarding the flour baby project has been exceptionally positive, as the assignment seems to prepare students better for their lives in the future. While there are no real babies to coddle over yet, these exceptionally cute bags of flour will just have to do!
Editor's Note: The Highlander section features articles written for The Highlander, Gov. Livingston High School's student newspaper.