The next three days in the school passed by in a blur. Because of the overwhelming response, it was decided that I would continue to see patients while the rest continued with the lesson plan. We had to make adjustments to our schedule as some of the activities took longer than expected.
Sunday, 29th sept 2013
The first lesson of the day was the alphabets with class 1! In order to make something as simple as the alphabets more interesting, we had none other than Alynn on the ukulele while the rest sang the alphabet song!
As she played, the rest of the volunteers got the children to join in the singing as well. The children were obviously fascinated by Alynn and her ukelele judging by the looks on their faces. Most of them were also able to sing the alphabet song. After singing the song, we then provided the children with plasticine for them to shape into alphabets!
It was a really fun lesson as the children got to play with plasticine which is a treat for them. It also made their learning more interactive and fun. Hopefully this will also help them to remember their ABCs! Part of our intentions is also to show the teachers that there are many fun and interactive ways to conduct lessons so that they can engage the children more effectively.
After alphabets, it was time for farm animals for class 2! For farm animals, the ukulele and its talented player once again played an important role in engaging the children. The lesson started off with Alynn playing the well-loved nursery rhyme Old Macdonald and the other volunteers wearing the sample masks that Alynn made to represent the different animals. This brought about much laughter as the children were highly amused by the antics of the volunteers.
After singing the song and wearing the masks, we then placed them with proper pictures of the animals to help the children with naming the animals. This is to help them recognize the different animals. For class 2, we did both farm and wild animals as we felt that wild animals should be a part of their syllabus as well. After showing them proper pictures of the animals, it was time to make the mask!
It was rather tiring and hectic for the volunteers to supervise the making of the masks for all the children as many of them were vying for our attention. Like most children, they wanted certain colours and needed help with the cutting and pasting of the different parts and also to attach the strings to the mask. But it was worth all that effort as the children obviously enjoyed themselves making the masks. In fact once the masks were completed, many of them refused to take the masks off. They were also the envy of the other classes. There is no reward greater than hearing the laughter and squeals of excitement of the children.
So while the other volunteers were busy with teaching, I was in the clinic with Naia seeing villagers. These villagers are the ones I did not manage to see the previous day due to the crowd. Initially I was not expecting many of them as most of them had to work but in the end, I had to spend the entire day seeing patients as many of them eventually turned up. At this point, please allow me to indulge by telling you the story of a little girl. This story is perhaps one of the most significant thing that happened to me during this trip.
This little girl is Dachiri. She is about 4 years old. She came to see me together with her mother. Throughout the entire examination, she was quiet and didn’t smile at all. She was as most of the children are, shy and reserved. As I was listening to her lungs, I could hear her stomach growling. She was otherwise in good health. She and her mother left after seeing me. Halfway through my examination, Lester came in and passed me a hard-boiled egg that one of the villagers gave me to thank me for helping her. But I didnt want to eat that egg then as I was in the midst of seeing patients. Lester then told me to pass the egg to someone else if I didnt want to eat it. I remembered how Dachiri’s stomach was growling so I decided that the egg was going to her. So after I finished seeing the patient, I took my egg and ran out into the courtyard hoping that Dachiri was still around. And there she was, sitting at the courtyard with her mother observing the lessons. I walked to her and passed her the egg. The egg was still warm.
As she took the egg from my hands, she looked at me and pure delight broke out on her face. The smile on her face was not dazzling or beautiful but it was pure, unadulterated and innocent joy. Joy at receiving a hard-boiled egg. For the first time in my life, I saw delight and joy. How I felt at that moment cannot be described. I still cannot describe it. But I knew then that this girl and her smile and the story of the egg will forever remain etched in my mind and my heart. That no matter how bad things may be, I will remember this girl and her joy in receiving an egg.
So after finishing the lessons, it was time to paint the world map again. As I mentioned in my previous post, we usually started and ended our day with painting the world map.
Monday, 30th sept 2013
The next day, it was decided that I would join the rest of the volunteers if I could as by this time I had already seen the vast majority of the villagers. I also really wanted to spend some time with the children as I hardly interacted with them during this period. However, I also had to finish seeing all the children as some of them had not yet been seen. So the morning started with me grabbing the children before they started the lessons so that I could get a headstart to my day.
For the rest of the volunteers, they had a full day ahead of them. The first lesson of the day was body parts with class 1. We started off the lesson once again with singing a song. This time round we sang If you’re happy and you know it. The catchy and simple song combined with the actions did the trick in entertaining the children and helping them to learn the different body parts.
After singing the song, we moved on to the second part of our lesson which was to draw one of the students out and have the other children name the body parts. For this, we chose one of the smaller children to be our volunteer.
After we finished drawing out Maya onto the paper, we got the children to gather around and we started asking them to name the body parts that we had just taught them using the portrait.
The children were very tickled by the drawing and many of them were clamouring to see what we were doing with Maya. As for Maya, she was smiling the entire time she stood there although Im sure she was wondering what we were doing. But it was a success as most of them were able to name the body parts we pointed to without much prompting.
After class 1 body parts, it was time for class 2 body parts. For class 2, we did the same thing using the song to teach them the various body parts and also to break the ice and get them to be more vocal. Since class 2 is more advanced, we also decided to challenge them by teaching them more difficult body parts such as elbows, shoulders, back and knees which we did not teach class 1.
After singing the song and getting the children to relax, we then taught them shoulders, knees, elbows and back. We then got children to volunteer and point at the body parts of each other.
Although it was a simple exercise, it served its purpose in engaging the children and getting them to participate vocally in the lessons. We had noticed that for many of the children, they were very hesitant in speaking up. At first, we thought it could be shyness but later we soon realised that part of it was because they did not have the confidence to speak in english. Hopefully, this area will be something that we can improve on in future.
After we finished with class 2 body parts, we moved on to teach family to class 3. We were unsure about the children’s grasp of knowledge when it came to naming family members in english and decided to start with the basic. For this lesson, we had Alynn draw out her ‘family’ to illustrate to the children the different family members and who they represent.
So after we drew out our family, it was time for the children to draw their own families. Class 3 is the most advanced class and they generally had a better grasp of english as well as more abstract concepts. In thinking of a lesson plan for them, I was worried that they would find drawing a family too simple and childish. However, I was reassured by Sox that they would enjoy it as they usually do not get to draw. And Sox was right. There was much giggling and whispering among the children as they settled down to draw their family.
Somehow while they were drawing, they were also competing to see who could hide their drawing better. It was rather endearing to watch. Once they finished drawing, a volunteer would go through their drawing with them getting them to point out the different family members. They were by and large able to draw an accurate representation of their families with the correct number of siblings. Some of them even wrote their siblings names rather than just brother and sister. Once that was done, everyone of them got their picture taken with their drawing.
We managed to take photos of all the children with their drawings. If you wanna look at their photos, it will be up on facebook page soon but please give us some time to upload the photos!
After we finished with class 3, it was time for our last lesson of the day which was math with class 2. When we were planning their lessons back in Singapore, we were under the impression that they could not really count up to big numbers and so Mei had very pretty flashcards made for them to serve as our teaching aids. However, after discussing with the teachers, we realised that they were far more advanced than we had thought which meant that we had to come up with a different plan. So we decided to teach them the concept of greater than and less than. This was something that the teacher had been trying to teach them but was struggling slightly with it. As we did not prepare for this, we had to make do with the materials that were available to us.
We decided to first break the children up into 3 groups – strong, moderate and weak. For the children who were better, Lester asked them to indicate on the board one by one. For the moderate and weak group, we made use of materials such as buttons, ice cream sticks and counting dice to teach them the concept of greater than and less than. It was actually rather challenging as there was a language barrier. However, the use of the different items really helped a lot in teaching them the concept and also allowing them to grasp the concept.
After the last lesson of the day, we went on to painting the mural and also observing the rest of the lessons. Lester and I slipped into class 3 during their lesson and Tractor was there teaching the children a song. It was fun to watch.
The song was a tad long but it was so so fun to watch them. They were having a lot of fun doing it too. And so our day ended on a high with the sound of singing and cheering in our ears. It was certainly tiring and hectic but it was extremely rewarding as well.