Santa Claus does not exist. Or does he? PRAYATNA, Prashantnagar embarked on a mysterious trip during our December book club as we read the Polar Express and journeyed to the North Pole . During this ride, the little boy learns one of the important lessons of life i.e., “the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.”
The book begins with a roaring train whistle. The boy finds a train waiting for him. He finds a conductor who explains that the train is the Polar Express, and is journeying to the North Pole. The boy then boards the train, which is filled with chocolate and candy, as well as many other children in their pyjamas. The train takes the children to the centre of the city, where Santa and the elves have gathered for the giving of the first gift of Christmas. The boy is chosen to receive this first gift. Knowing that he can ask for anything in the world, he decides on a simple gift: one silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. When the children return to the train, the boy realizes the bell has fallen through a hole in his pocket. Heartbroken, he is returned to his home. In the morning, his little sister finds one small box with the boy’s name on it among the presents. Inside is the silver bell! The boy continues to believe in the spirit of Christmas and is able to hear the sweet ringing of the bell even as an adult.
The book club began with an explanation of the significance of Christmas and the story behind it. Children were also told about North Pole, where Santa ‘lives’. This was followed by a narration of the book and a quiz based on it. Later hot chocolate was served to the children and Christmas carols were played. Presents were kept under a Christmas tree and every child was asked to pick one at the end of the session.
(Nanditha is a special educator at PRAYATNA)
The October book club at PRAYATNA, Chennai, buzzed with excitement as children brought pictures of their grandmothers and fondly shared anecdotes about them. We spent some time discussing how parents were different from grandparents and the kids shared some interesting perspectives. For instance, one child said, “Parents look after grandparents and grandparents look after grandchildren.”
We chose to read an excerpt from the book Swami & Friends by R K Narayan. Set in an imaginary south Indian village called Malgudi, the story revolves around a boy called Swami. Like any other schoolboy of his age, Swami daydreams in his class, likes to loaf around with his friends, enjoys the pampering of his mother and grandmother and fears the discipline of his father. Listening raptly to the excerpt, children felt a sense of familiarity as they connected with the two main characters– Swami and his grandmother. The excerpt vividly described Swami’s relationship with his grandmother and recounts the events of a particular day.
Following the book reading, the kids enthusiastically participated in a quiz. We then introduced the concept of mono-acting, and invited children to come forward and mono-act scenarios presented to them. The scenarios were primarily based on the child, and their parents and grandparents responding to them. The scenarios included the child wanting to eat ice-cream, being asked to fold clothes at home by the mother, wanting to buy the latest watch etc. There was lively participation as kids incorporated out-of-the-box ideas into mono-acting their scenarios.
Towards the end children were asked to share one adjective that they thought best described their grandmothers. Each child was given a card to draw on or write and give to their grandmothers.
(Andrea Nirmal is a Special Educator at PRAYATNA.)
Ann Sarah Paul
Leading a healthy life is integral to the holistic development of children. With this in mind and to introduce the concept of a “healthy lifestyle”, the book Crocodile Smiles, was read to the children on 11 November, 2017 at PRAYATNA, Prashantnagar. This story is about a crocodile who was popular with nature photographers for his lovely set of teeth and good physique. On once such assignment, he is given a truckload of chocolate as a reward. Elated, he eats chocolate for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even between. Despite his friends’ counsel to think about the consequences of eating so much chocolate, he continues and finds that his teeth, health, physique and eventually his fame get affected.
The book club began with a narration of the story, followed by a quiz based on it. Later, the children were shown random pictures, which had to be categorised as either ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. The children were then divided into two groups and asked to enact scenarios exhibiting healthy and unhealthy eating habits. At the end, the children went home with fruits that were given to them and the value of leading and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
(The author is a Special Educator at PRAYATNA.)
RITHIKA GRACE ZACHARIAH
Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our nation was born on 2 October, 1869. Every year, his birthday is celebrated across the nation as Gandhi Jayanti. This September, we decided to give the children a brief insight into the life of Gandhi. My Gandhi Story, by Rajesh Chaitya Vangad, Nina Sabnani and Ankit Chadha gives us a visual and creative take on the life of Gandhi. The book is adapted to cater to the understanding of young children. In the book, there are three voices- the narrator, a child who questions the narrator and Gandhiji himself.
During the book club, the book reading was performed initially. A quiz was conducted to examine whether the children have gained an understanding of Gandhiji from the book. The children were given scenarios and were asked to come up in pairs and enact their response to that particular scenario in a non-violent and violent manner. The staff had modelled a few scenarios to enable the children to gain a better understanding. After the activity, the children were told that it is better to respond to situations in a non-violent manner. To wind up the book club, the children were asked draw a simple caricature of Gandhiji which was demonstrated by the teacher. Each child was given a small packet of rock salt to highlight the significance of the Dandi March.
(Rithika Grace Zachariah is a special educator at PRAYATNA)
Who would not like to go on a trip around the world? The sea snail’s wish is fulfilled by the humpback whale, who offers her a lift, for a voyage around the world. She is amazed by all that she sees in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, the whale gets stranded on a beach when he loses his way. The sea snail seeks the help of young children in a school nearby. They, along with the local firemen, help the whale get back into the sea and resume his journey. The humpback whale returns the favour to the snail by taking all the sea snails on another trip around the world.
The Book Club began with the narration of the story “The Lion and the Mouse”, where again the tiny mouse frees the king of the forest from the hunter’s net, to prove that size does not matter for helping somebody. Children were given pictures of the story, which they had to arrange in sequence. Subsequently, scenarios were presented to the children, where a young person helped an older one. They had to guess who had helped whom.
The book, The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, was read out and the children ably answered questions on a quiz that was presented to them. As the story was in the form of a poem, rhyming words were placed on the board, which they had to match. They also had to provide a third rhyming word to the existing pair. The children exhibited their poetic skills by coming up with sentences that ended in the rhyming words. It was an interesting conglomerate of verses!
(Gita Nambiar is a Special Educator at PRAYATNA)