One of our targets, as you know, was to take some creativity to the Abugida school. As in many schools in many other places, they are afraid to make changes to the daily routine and teachers’ fears of making mistakes were some of the difficulties we foresaw.
But as Goethe said: “I love those who dream of the impossible”, so we set to work and started by converting the largest classroom – which was being underused – into a large games room divided into areas: for the rainy season and for the rest of the year.
To begin with they didn’t really understand why we wanted to create the games room because the teaching there is based on repetition and there is very little creativity. Playing is seen as rather a waste of time at the school.
But when they asked us to help them improve their work we decided to send two teachers, Laura 2 and Nikki, to give them some training but always showing respect to the local teachers and their country’s culture.
We were also fortunate to have the help of Laura 1 and Cristina, who took part in creating the games room so we were very lucky to have four creative women there at the same time!
Nikki painted a fish onto a blackboard against the backdrop of sea that was painted by Sami.
Together with Phil and an Ethiopan volunteer, the girls laid a new floor (softer and more hygienic) and they finished decorating the walls.
The games materials were distributed around the room to make different playing areas, space to stimulate the sensorimotor system, more symbolic and cognitive, another area more cognitive, manipulative and with artistic and creative expression.
Nikki and Laura have been working in the different classes – 3, 4 and 5 year olds – alongside the teachers using the resources available and their imagination which has no limits.
They explained to the teachers that it was important for the children to move around the classroom instead of sitting down the whole time. They should be able to move and choose their learning games and learn through playing, with the teachers also seated on the floor.
Along with the help of the teachers, Sami and Kedija, the girls reorganised the class for the 3 year olds – KG 1 – and the children were delighted with the change when they arrived in the morning.
Today they are working in KG 2 – 4 year olds.
All the children above the age of 3 will spend time in the games room each day.
We hope to show you some photos of the children playing in the games room but the photos haven’t arrived yet! For the time being you can see how nice it looks! The children are able to enjoy the activities and the appropriate infrastructure which is lacking in their homes and neighbourhoods. During the rainy season they have to stay inside their houses which consist of just one room with very little space for movement.
There is an area with fancy dress outfits and wigs, dolls (all black except a “farenji” - white foreigner – and a Chinese one), puppets, lego for building, an area with handicrafts and beads for threading etc., puzzles, a “goal” area with numbers in circles for throwing balls and scoring points, a large round trampoline, limbo, giant dominoes, giant Twister, hopscotch, pretend fruits and vegetables to play shopping games, cars, balls, toy tea sets, musical instruments... just imagine what else we could add!!