Art is a great way to break down barriers ~ in my case language and cultural barriers instantly evaporated once art was brought into the classroom.
On the first day of my volunteer teaching at the Sri Narayani Vidyalaya School I was teaching in the three kindergarten classes. It is the first year of school for these littlies so English is still new for them with Tamil being the main language spoken at home.
Fortunately I had my wonderful friend, Reema, to ably assist me in teaching the class as the class sizes ranged between 35-45 students.
We started the lesson with a “The old lady who swallowed the fly” puppet which I had brought with me. Puppets are a valuable tool to quickly gain children’s attention. They really enjoyed feeding all the animals to “Granny” as they called her. Of course when it got to the bit where she swallowed the cow they were aghast and amazed she would eat a cow. Hindus of course believe cows are sacred and would never eat one! We then did some clapping songs which were sung with great gusto. We read a very simple story “Old Hat, New Hat”. The children found an old hat they had in the classroom which they gave to me to wear during the reading of the story.
We then went back to the tables and Reema and I helped the children to fold a paper hat. They decorated their own hat with oil pastels and watercolour paints. The children had a ball doing this. When you look at the photos you may think what serious children they were but it was quite the opposite. The children often have a serious rather than smiley face on when you take their photograph due to the fact that a lot had never had their photos taken before. I have found this to be very common during my travels in India. Even when you encourage people to smile they still retain the serious stance.
It was such a fantastic morning with lots of happy and satisfied children. The children proudly wore their hats home that afternoon to show their parents…very sweet.