Today’s post is from Momentous School third grade teacher, Anthony Castro.


This week, my third-grade class and I talked about the invasion of Ukraine during morning meeting. My students watch a short news program every day during breakfast, so a lot of them knew that something had been happening with Russia and Ukraine for a few weeks. 

I asked the following questions one at a time. 

What have you heard?

What are you curious about?

What are you feeling?

Some kids wanted to talk a lot. Others showed less interest. A few of the comments and questions asked were:

“Why is Russia invading Ukraine?”

“If people in Ukraine don’t want war, why don’t they join Russia?”

“Are we safe?”

My responses tried to capture a few guiding thoughts:

- I don’t know everything. I have to learn just like them. There’s a lot of history to understand, but I will do my best to explain what I have read and seen.

- War is scary, and the war is far away from us.

- Even if we are safe, we should still have empathy and understand that this is impacting people’s lives.

So my responses to the three questions above were along the lines of:

“Why is Russia invading Ukraine?”

This is yeeeears of history, but in five minutes, here’s my attempt at explaining it (and we should always look things up): Countries are made of people, and in this case, Russia has a President named Vladimir Putin. Well, as I understand it, Ukraine used to be a part of a country called Soviet Union, of which today’s Russia was a part of. Ukraine declared independence and the leaders of the Soviet Union essentially agreed at the time. The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, doesn’t think Ukraine is its own country and is actually a part of Russia.


“If people in Ukraine don’t want war, why don’t they join Russia?”

Well, the people in Ukraine have their own government. They voted for their own president and lawmakers. They didn’t have a voice in Russia… and a lot of countries and organizations don’t really think elections in Russia are fair or safe. Ukrainians want to keep their government. A lot of people in Ukraine are also proud the country itself. I can empathize with that. My family is Cuban and I’m proud of our history, food, music, language, and accents. If I found out that another country invaded Cuba, I would be very emotional.


“Are we safe?”

Yes, we are safe. War is scary and terrible. But where we are, we are safe. But we should remember that there are families that are not. You are my hope. As you all grow up, and some of you work in governments and other jobs, I hope you work toward finding peace in our world.


I’ll be following up once a week with them during morning meeting during the course of the war and available to answer questions as they come up. My students truly are my hope – that they can become informed young people who understand the world and are prepared to make the world a better place for future generations. This is only possible when we help them work through complex events and give them comfort while also giving them real information and insight.

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