Puppets, pebbles and black boards

Few tasks demand as much responsibility as moulding minds in their formative years, minds too young to even be exposed to school yet. Few tasks have as much scope for creativity and influence. Yet, few tasks are taken as lightly.

Some in the city, however, have gone out of their way to give young pre-schoolers experiences of value. Here are a few fun, unique ways city educationists have found to keep little minds engaged.

Nature walk

Play Coop, which has been moulding young minds for the past 30 years, makes full use of its friendly, green surroundings in Indira Nagar. Princess Naik, Principal, says that while the little children are taken to explore the flora and fauna within the premises, the rest are taken on walks around the neighbourhood.

These walks involve identifying the local trees of the neighbourhood, which is useful for the slightly older children, while the younger ones just learn to enjoy time in Nature.

“We usually take the children in small groups,” says Naik, adding, “We encourage them to pick up whatever they want, anything that catches their fancy. It could be a partly decomposed little leaf, an oddly-shaped twig or a colourful pebble. Whatever they find intriguing, they collect and bring back to class.”

These roadside treasures are then put into the children’s scrap books — an exercise that serves the dual purpose of letting their creative minds flow and help them bond with their parents.

The walks are not the only connection Play Coop’s children have with Nature; the terrace garden is filled with potted plants that the children have grown themselves.

Class pets

Kids Central, pre-school campus in Kotturpuram is comparatively new, but Huma Pershad, Pre-Primary School Coordinator, has a clear idea of her priority areas for the children. One of the school’s methods of building curiosity and responsibility is the class pet.

“The pet depends on what the children happen to be learning that week or that month. For example, when we teach life cycles, we bring in tadpoles or small froglets to class, so the children can watch it grow over time,” explains Pershad. She adds that none of the pets is kept for longer than two weeks. The animals are eventually released into their natural habitats — frogs out on the grass, fish in ponds and so on — yet another learning point for the children.

Naming, feeding and caring for the pet is a part of class activity. Deciding feeding time and diet — and following through on it — becomes one of the students’ “management” chores, which are meant to make them self sufficient and not take domestic help for granted.

Naming the pet is a whole different story. “When we learn the ‘f’ phoenetic sound, for instance, the class pet is a fish, and it’s given a name beginning with the same sound. It can be anything the children think up, like Faron or something as vague,” she laughs.

Puppet shows

One of the newer kids in the city’s pre-school block is Veranda, which, ironically, is looking at one of the most ancient art forms to get its students hooked to storytelling.

“Puppet shows have existed even before reading and writing came about, and children find them fascinating. They can emote with the puppets, and relate to them very fast,” says Andal Aghoram, who co-founded the school along with Mahalakshmi Ganesh and Meenakshi Suresh.

Aghoram adds that while professional puppeteers’ style of storytelling is too complicated for the students, they are brought in on a monthly basis to train the teachers, she says.

Puppet shows are done at least twice a week at the school, in addition to the hand puppets that teachers use every day in class. Aghoram says, “We try to keep it simple, and either tell animal stories or coax the children to sing and dance with the puppets.”

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 2:33:47 PM |

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