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Children always surprise us: Notes from our weekend club- Apr 30, 2012

We have a weekend club going about once a month for a few children. Usually, one of the parents facilitates some interesting activity and this time I volunteered. The idea was to get the kids to think and write creatively, focusing on narration.

The children, seven children aged about 6-9, were first asked to talk about their current favorite book or story, highlighting what they particularly like. Words from their narration were written on chits, which were then folded and placed in a box. The chits were jumbled and each child picked about 4, using which they had to come up with a story of their own, in written!

The results varied, but some attempts were pretty amazing. Aarush, younger than the rest, made up for lack of writing speed with his brevity. He wrote :

Once aliens invaded the galaxy. they used to be eating dictnory’s for power. the aliens were as stupid as idiots. like if sombody said something to them they jumped about.

I’ve transcribed the spellings and punctuation precisely to indicate that skill levels have nothing to do with how well someone can narrate! This was simply amazing. The other kids were also quite appreciative.

Nitya’s piece was notable as well, in which she described the joy experienced by a geeky kid who got to spend a day with his favorite author Roald Dahl. Most interestingly, they “ate ice-creams, they went to a movie and had lots of fun.”

The second exercise split the kids into two groups. They were each given a picture cut out from Lonely Planet Magazine. They were to include the picture in a verbal narration. One group, which included Udai, Utsa, Aarush and Aryan (below), chose to each make a story; then they found a clever way to weave it all together into one story and they took turns to narrate different bits. Nicely and confidently done.

A confident narration of a story built through teamwork and consultation. Kids make this stuff look so effortless!

Sushant and Nitya (below), on the other hand, decide to dramatize their narration, even weaving the toy wooden horse into the tale and using it as a prop!

There was lots of movement, well delivered dialogue and clarity of sequence in this dramatization. Little Aadyaa (at the back) thoroughly enjoyed being a spectator in this entire workshop!

Medha, who had opted out of this activity, was a bit sulky at this point. To cheer her up, I gave them a short lecture-demo on how a solo actor can essay multiple roles on stage, or show the audience that there are other imaginary people with her on stage.

Four children chose to go solo with the ‘dramatize a picture’ format. Medha did a really professional puppet show (I was so engrossed, I don’t have pics!) using the little half wall in the room (she was quick to spot that opportunity, totally appreciate that!). All the others did a great job of incorporating the elements I had spoken of in their little skits. Pretty amazed we were to see how quickly they picked up the nuances and were able to translate it into their own imagination and the context of their narrative!

Well done, kids! We have a lot to learn from you all…..


Outside in the fading winter in Gurgaon- Feb 19, 2012

I love winter, despite the extreme discomfort in unheated homes during the 2-3 chilliest sunless weeks of the year. The mellow winter sun, birds, flowers and endless possibilities for outdoor fun make up for the shivering many times over.

After yesterday’s stint at the Tau Devi Lal park in Sec-56, Gurgaon, we were back for more today. This time, the rendezvous was a picnic with the families of Aadyaa’s classmates. A younger kid’s group found us doing a different set of activities- walking, playing, eating (a lot!), chatting and really unwinding; forming bonds, some of which we know will turn into lifelong friendships.

Once again, the vital role that public spaces play in urban life, came to the fore. The park charges Rs 5 per adult entry between 9AM and 5PM to build revenue for its maintenance, and maintained it is. Despite a sizable number of picnickers, there was barely any litter. Of course, the crowds are nothing compared to the hordes that descend on Kalindi Kunj or Buddha Jayanti Park in Delhi; Gurgaon is still a suburban setting with manageable densities of people (ironically that isn’t apparent in the sorry state of infrastructure!). Local villagers and Gurgaon’s urban population are sharing this park amicably and this is a great example for many of us who think these are two different worlds, the collision of which usually ends in disaster!

Once again, I thought of how citizen initiatives can significantly change this city, if we could find a way for the government (in this case, Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon or the MCG) and citizen groups to work together. Here are some shots from today’s picnic, which was just the kind of simple, mindless, relaxed fun holidays that Sundays should entail! Of course, we headed back home and topped the fun of with a satisfying snooze under the razai 🙂

Walking with the little ones- imagined games and innocent pranks!


Loads of bonding, sharing, eating...

Kids this age do the darnedest things- roll down a mound of grass, climb trees, form human chains, run around the trees...

Well, the mood was infectious- piggy back rides for the entire class!!

Dekho Ma, gobhi jaisa phool...

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