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Activities
Reading Susheela’s Kolams with Pratham Books
September 10, 2012
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8th of September, WORLD LITERACY DAY and Bookworm agreed to participate in Pratham Books program to read Susheela’s Kolams.

We read the book at 4 locations on the day

  • Bookworm Library Space – on preschool morning
  • Bookworm MOP – Taleigao – evening
  • Bookworm MOP – Merces – evening
  • Bookworm MOP – Chimbel – evening

Once the books and banner were delivered to us, we spent some time exploring the story, ideating the extension ideas and getting seriously muddled up. Maya Hemant of Pratham Books posts about possible extension ideas triggered creative process at Bookworm and we felt ready by the 8th am.

Our reflections on the story and activities are here:

1. Preschool Morning: Under the able and creative vision of a fine preschool planner, Elaine –  the idea about kolams brought in by using play with rangoli powder. The young children moved around creating designs with their feet, creating new colour and got into the celebrations around kolams.  Elaine writes:

” I drew a kolam pattern which the kids filled in using coloured chalk. Then using the coloured-in kolam we played a game loosely based of the popular game – Fruit Salad. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the experience and freedom of using chalk.

With regards to the story, the kids said that they wouldn’t be able to draw on the train, even if it was to beautify it, and that they would get into trouble with the train conductor.They appreciated the kolams on the kites and thought it was do-able. After the kolam pattern was drawn and coloured in , it was stuck on a brown paper bag and turned into a gift bag.

While the story was simple enough for the kids to engage with, I was wondering if another story more connected to reading or going to school could have been selected in keeping with World Literacy Day.”

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2. At our MOP sites : Children are mixed age groups from 6 – 14 years. Library sessions follow a structured pattern with an oral component, read aloud and extension activities.

At Taleigoa, Krystal writes,

” My kids saw the cover and were certain that the books were about kites.

The length of the book was nice, though I think what really caught the kids was the illustrations. Because in Taleigao (and I learned this only yesterday), we have a higher number of Christian and Muslim kids, not too many of them were very enthused by the concepts in general of a Rangoli. it was in fact one of the last responses I got when I asked the kids what we do to decorate our homes  for festivals ?. “

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At Chimbel, Sujata writes,

” We shared the idea about World Literacy day – about reading, writing and drawing and how we celebrate with literacy. This seemed important to understand the context of this book as well as to explain the sudden presence of the Pratham banner;-)

Children engaged quite easily with Susheela providing multiple opportunities for further spaces for kolams, including terrace tops, clothes, books and paper, floor tiles, blackboard decorations, window panes and more.

We then used grids on paper and asked the children to create their own kolams. As often happens with meaningful engaged paper pencil work, a quiet stillness came over the sessions, children bent down and joined dots, ran over them, under them and around them and created wonderful patterns that would welcome and celebrate”

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At Merces:

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This was Bookworms first collaborative project with a wider world, we are thankful that we participated and have some reflections to share with Pratham books from our experience and learning.

  1. Give partners the rationale behind why this book over any other.  We have not figured. The story line is not engaging by itself. If Susheela’s mother allows her to make one  kolam how does she make so many? Which child as little as Susheela can make kolams on big buildings as the text claims? Is kolam making an acceptable practice on public spaces? What messages are we sharing with this idea of drawing on trains? Will any rail official approve of a child drawing on a train? Stories are carriers of many things deeper than the story line and the story choice should be carefully thought of before it is disseminated so widely.
    At Bookworm we deconstruct our stories before we go out to read them, we think of them in minutiae so that we allow our children to explore a story deeply and take away messages that help us all learn. We had many struggles with this one, and would appreciate a discussion  on the choice.
  2. Give partners a range of books – possibly shortlisted by Pratham team so that suitability in terms of content, context, age can be worked with. Some of our older readers could not connect with Susheela at all.
  3. Rather than a banner share some participatory marker for the children themselves? A sticker? A small certificate? A Pratham bookmark? A book? This makes participation memorable and links readers together.
  4. The size of the book being small does not lend itself to group read-aloud. Bookworm invested in enlarging Susheela’s Kolam to enable a better reading, sharing experience.

We look forward to future collaborations and to a larger community of people who work with story and books to enable better literacy.

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