SAIIER 2013:Nandanam Kindergarten
Introduction to 12 colors project
12 is a very special number as indicated by the Mother. In Mother‘s symbol there are twelve petals. Each petal represents a certain quality which then is related to a specific color. In Matrimandir, the spiritual center of Auroville, twelve rooms for meditation have been created as per the petals. Each room has one of the twelve colors of the petals and is associated with the related quality. People have the choice to meditate in any petal following their inner need.
Since there was a very special date occurring this year, on the 12th Dec 2012, there were lots of events taking place in Auroville (seminars, workshops, performances etc.) in which the community as a whole was involved.
We at Nandanam thought that it would be very meaningful to celebrate it together at the school level too, so that we, the children and the teachers, assimilate more deeply and integrally what was happening at the community level and find a way of connecting more profoundly to ourselves and being more aware all the different movements within us, relating them to the twelve qualities that we wished to explore.
We therefore took up the project on the twelve colors and their qualities relating it to the Matrimandir Petals and the very special date 12.12.12.
Goals of project
Children are naturally and deeply attracted to colors in general and we suppose spontaneously relate to the energy that each color emanates. Our challenge was how to help children and ourselves experience and understand the quality of each color, and see their relevance in our personal life. In short we wanted to bring things down to our level so that the experiencing is concrete, dynamic and fun.
We brainstorming for quite some time and many different possible approaches to the project were discussed. Though nothing was finalized, yet this process helped us internalize the concepts. At the last moment we just decided to start the project in a very simple way and build on it intuitively, feeling the pulse of the children and their response.
Program and activities
We decided to work with one color and its quality per day and at the end, on the 13th day take up all the colors and qualities together. Obviously we planned the 13th day to fall on the date 12.12.12.
We informed the parents about our project and invited everyone to dress according to the color of the day. It was beautiful to see the children, teachers, school staff members and even some of the parents, dressed in shades of the same color.
Meanwhile we had also bought twelve cloth pieces (2mts long) with the exact shade for each color. Every morning we would hang one cloth at the entrance that would represent the color of the day.
Activity corners were created in the morning by the teachers based on the color and /or quality of the day. As children came in they were invited to explore these activity corners in a mixed age group. Children could explore as many corners as they chose. All the school children participated and even some crèche children joined in, though activities for the crèche children were offered to them separately in their own classroom so that they may not be too overwhelmed by the number of big children and challenging activities.
As part of the activity corner everyday a sheet of white hard board paper (110x70cm) was spray painted with watercolor, by the children using the color of the day. On the board the quality of the color was written with white stencil so that even after the sheet was fully sprayed by the children, what was written could still be seen in an embossed form.
After about an hour we would close the activity corners, clean up the spaces and all the children would move up to another area of the school where with the help of some puppets etc story telling was organized. Teachers would tell a story based on the quality of the day. Children were so fascinated that after a few days several of them wanted to take part in the story telling. Thus creating a story with the children and presenting to the whole school became a very dynamic part of the project.
It was only after the story telling that children would go to their own classroom, where other activities were organized by the individual class teachers so that they could continue experiencing the quality and the color in a more intimate atmosphere of their own classroom.
We also took our children regularly to Matrimandir to experience these meditation rooms. Children loved going there and often asked us to take them to the one which had the color of their choice. We always tried to facilitate it as much as possible.
Just as we were planning out this project we were contacted by some community members asking us if we could do a short performance with children in the gardens of Matrimandir on 12.12.12 evening relating it to the twelve colors. Without hesitation we accepted the challenge even though we had short time to prepare for it. We felt that it could be a very meaningful closure to our project and a deep and unforgettable experience for the children.
Mainly the older children took part in it (Agni group and some Vayu group children) while the rest were happy simply to be in the gardens of Matrimandir and enjoy seeing their friends perform.
Closure of the project
On this special day 12.12.12 we wanted children to experience all the qualities and all the colors together. During the whole morning we did several activities where they could explore all the 12 colors.
Just before lunch time some teacher arranged the twelve petals (the twelve boards with names of the qualities that the children had painted in the past twelve days) in a circular shape on the floor of the main hall, respecting the sequence of colors as given by the Mother for her symbol. At the center of the circle some jasmine flowers were arranged and beautiful big candle, made by the children previously, was lit.
After snack all the children went to their classrooms. They were invited to lie down on the floor and relax for a few minutes. A soft music was played and each child received a gentle massage. Then we sat together in a circle. Each child was given one of the two candles he/she had made in the morning. We lit the candles and holding the lit candles in hand one by one they all walked down to the main hall where all the twelve petals had been arranged. They placed their candles on the floor around the petals and sat down quietly. At 12.12 p.m., once all the children of all the classes were settled we mentioned briefly the twelve qualities and their colors and then had a few minutes of silence so that we could all experience quietly the beauty of the twelve colors and their qualities. And that is how we closed the project in the school… although children still today often talk to us about these qualities and these colours, especially when we go to Matrimandir.
After lunch children took home the second candle that they had made on that day, so that they could bring it to Matrimandir in the evening to celebrate the special day with the entire community of Auroville.
At 4.30 in the evening, in the gardens of Matrimandir, the Agni Group and some Vayu Group children presented to the entire community of Auroville the performance they had prepared for this special occasion. There was a magical atmosphere… and there was so much of love and oneness that was felt by all.
After the performance everyone present was invited to light a candle in silence and place it in the Unity Garden under the Banayan Tree (the physical center of Auroville). Children accompanied by their parents, lit the candles they had made in school and brought it silently to the Banyan Tree.
About a month after the project was over, for the annual ‘Open House’ of the school, we presented the project to the parents of the children and the entire community of Auroville.
- Through outdoor games, circus and dance children improved their gross motor skills.
- Introduced to diverse forms of craft work children improved their creativity and fine motor skills.
- Listening to stories regularly children improved their language, comprehension and imagination.
- By taking part in the forming of the story, and acting it out in front of all the children and teachers of the school, children became creative and self confident.
- By doing so many activities collectively and in a mixed age group children improved their social skills, their capacity to learn from each other and to adapt to special situations.
- Exploring the twelve colors in so many different ways, children refined further their sensory awareness.
- Reflecting upon the twelve qualities through stories, discussions and activities, children became more aware of their inner movements.
- The ‘Open House’ was a very special experience for the children. All the craft work were displayed beautifully in a proper sequence, supported by all the photos documenting the activities. Children were amazed, proud and happy to see all that they had done. It was also a wonderful revision, through which the experience of the project sank in deeper.
- The performance at Matrimandir, we feel, was very special experience for the children that will always stay as a beautiful memory in their heart.
- Since we had never dealt with such a topic before it felt like a daring adventure to all of us, in which we really had to find our way and hold each other together.
- We learnt to give and receive ideas from each other for the project and built on them harmoniously as one strong team of twelve teachers from different classes, giving a hand to each other as and when required.
- Being able to bring some of the ideals and aspirations of Auroville, down to the level of the children in a concrete and playful manner gave us confidence that yes we could work more in this way and take this experience deeper each time.
- Seeing the way ideas flowed and things fell in place filled us with enthusiasm and a deep sense of gratitude, confident that something would guide us through this project. In other words, we learnt to rely on our inner resources.
- By exploring these twelve qualities within us, we too became more aware of our inner world, holding in our hearts the aspiration to manifest these qualities in our lives as much as possible.
- Like the children, seeing the whole projected presented in detail during the ‘Open House’ suddenly we realized the beauty and richness of what had been done.
- The encouragement of parents and the community as a whole, gave us more confidence in ourselves and the aspiration to go further with our work.
- This project gave us a great inner joy and feeling that yes we had taken one tiny step towards an education that Auroville aspires to give to its children.
- Parents were deeply touched by the project and felt more confident of the learning experience the children were having at school.
- The performance at the Matrimandir and the ‘Open House’ was lived by many community members as ‘magic moments’ that they cherished in their heart with love and joy, full of hope for the children.