Week 2 of Bookbus India is over. It has been great going back to the same schools for a second time and seeing the children and teachers again. We even got some excited children escorting us to school, in true Bookbus style.
This week we decided on a theme of numbers and animals. For the younger classes we read Walking through the jungle, which we brought to life with giant pictures of the 6 animals featured inside and then acted out. It was a great success and we really managed to bring the story alive, with all volunteers even learning the Hindi animal names so as to help the children in classes 1 and 2 who are just beginning to learn English. Many of the teachers watched our performance and really enjoyed seeing the children’s participation.
This kind of interactive learning is something new for them too. We then made snakes with them which were a massive hit, especially when we showed them how they could run along making their snakes twirl in the wind. One of my favourite moments of the week was when 2 very shy ladies who look after the preschool children at school on Friday came over to join us, with sign language and shy smiles, they signaled that they wanted to colour too . When we showed them how the flat piece turned into the twirling snake, they were amazed. It was a genuine moment of happiness and enjoyment that cut across all language and culture barriers!
Many of the schools which we are visiting don’t have enough teachers for one per class so often classes are combined or the teacher will write some work on the board and then leave the pupils to get on with it. In some of the schools, the brightest students of the upper classes are used to teach to the younger ones.
This was the final week of winter timetable in Rajasthan, where the children start school at 10.30 until 3.30pm. From Monday Schools will begin at 7.30 until 12.30 to avoid the heat of the day. Every day in India, every school child gets a meal provided free of charge. This is delivered each day by truck; this is an amazing feat of logistics, which is hard to get your head around, when you think there are hundreds of millions of school children all around India. It encourages school attendance and ensures that the children get at least one nutritional meal a day.
Last week we found almost all of the pupils can recite one to ten in sequence but that very few know the written words and they get easily confused if the numbers are out of sequence. So this week we based many of our activities on this theme, with a word and number matching worksheet, colour by numbers, word search and memory games. The book we used was Handa's Surprise, which combines counting with a brightly coloured and funny story. It also allowed us to reiterate the colour theme of last week. It was great to see how many kids had brought back their colour worksheets from the week before. The small group reading is a big hit with the children and teachers because they have neither the time nor resources to concentrate on a group of 3 or 4 pupils.
All the children at the five schools are enthusiastic and really keen to learn new things. We can even see an increase and confidence and willingness to try and speak English after just 2 weeks. Roll on week 3!!
Kelly - Mandore - 16th March 2013