Rainbow Circus Project (Green Group, ages 5 ½ to 6 ½)
This year we started our circus classes early in the year, in September. The work with this batch of children turned out to be a real challenge, even though there were only 11 children in the group. They individually had many skills, but they lacked focus and had no team sense or spirit. They also displayed a lot of immaturity. We chose the theme of ‘friendship’ to counteract these problems.
For the children the rehearsals really only began in earnest after they saw the performance of the Nandanam kids. While discussing with them what they had seen, we stressed the need to become a team. This slowly emerging team spirit was reinforced when they got to practice with their rainbow decorated costume. We told them they were each a colour of this rainbow but had to cooperate to make it appear.
On the day of the performance, though most children were nervous and we gave everyone rescue remedy, they rose to the occasion and gave a focussed, joyful performance. Also as the Circus had been beautifully decorated with coloured cloths, ribbons, plenty of flowers and balloons, and they felt the mood of celebration.
The opening scene of the performance, which was gym floor work consisting of rolls, cartwheels and arches was the hardest because it included everyone simultaneously. Continuously one or the other was not ready and as timing was important this created a lot of frustration.
The second scene had 4 children on 4 silks. Everyone had to move at the same time and we used a bell to achieve this. The third scene involved 6 children with bouncing balls. This was so impossibly messy we decided to turn it into a clown act at the last moment by giving each one a big red clown nose! The audience of mainly children responded with the appropriate laughter. A few children did not dare to wear the clown nose in the end saying they did not want their parents to laugh at them.
The fourth scene was a set of moves with a shoulder stand contraption called a chair. They had to hold themselves head down and do moves with their legs in the air. Again this involved timing and we used the bell to coordinate it. We added an element of friendship here by including the theme of one child being late and being impatiently awaited and then happily welcomed into the group. While balancing, because they were facing outward and could not see each other they got mixed up. Still they moved simultaneously at the sound of the bell each doing a different move which also looked great!
The fifth scene was simply climbing on a rope. Only four children were good at this and they got a lot of applause. By then the children were confident and enjoying themselves.
The most exciting scene was the next which was jumping through the hoola hoop. The children loved this and it was easy to adjust to each individual capacity. It also meant only one at a time was performing which made it easier. The last act was the most easy to create and took the least time to learn. We asked the children to skip around the large mattress and then come to the centre and pause relaxing with their head on their elbows on the mattress. Next they went in partners to do something of their own choice such as splits, push ups, arches and candles. Then they finished by striking a symmetrical pose around and on the mattress. It seemed that this act was easy to co-create because now the team spirit was there and they wanted to do great show together.
We were really proud of our children and what they had been able to achieve!
After the show we continued the celebration and enjoyed ourselves with balloons, scarves and music. We also treated ourselves to pizzas, chocolate cake, and a smoothy.
Gardening with Moong Dhal (Yellow Group, ages 2 ½ to 3 ½)
The aim of this project was to show the children how and where plants grow, and to encourage them to eat moong sprouts (raw food). We chose moong dhal because it grows fast. It takes only 6 weeks from seed to seed. Small children don’t have patience to wait too long.
We chose a spot in our compound where the sunlight comes. The gardener prepared the soil with compost. Each child held some sprouts in their hand and planted them with help from the teacher. The children watered the sprouts every day. In a few days new leaves started to come. The children were happy to see their plant grow. After a few weeks they saw the flowers. Then came the seed pods. They liked to show their parents how their plants were growing.
When the seeds were ready for harvesting we plucked them. They all sat together and joyfully peeled and ate the seeds. They were also happy to show their parents and to take some home to share with their brothers or sisters. Even after we had harvested, the children were still checking on their plants. Finally we made sprouts with what was left and showed the children how it all began. By then the children ate the sprouts eagerly and they even went to share them with the older children in the school.
Doll House Corner
The aim of the Doll House Corner was to make time and space for free play so as to encourage role play, sharing, care for each other and materials, and general emotional development.
We created a space with plenty of play-kitchen toys, such as an oven, stove, fruits and vegetables and utensils to prepare and save food. We also put up a dollhouse and hung up some dress-up clothes. We displayed an assortment of dolls, animals and both soft and wooden toys. We bought some cupboards, trays and baskets, to store all these items.
Once the corner was set up, all the children were able to come once a week for half an hour to play. They were attended by one of the teachers who was observing, recording and ensuring order and harmony in the space. Their favourite game was to cut and cook vegetables and to serve their friends and the teacher. Dressing up as mother and father, brother and sister and taking care of the baby was another favourite.
The children were eager and happy to come and participate in this activity. It enriched the program offered; but only half an hour a week was not enough! We hope to be able to increase the time they can spend with this kind of play.