I have loved the story from the first time I read it and after hearing how the children would like to use paint, my favourite story got a chance to come out.
We began with the session with a popular game called, Fire on the Mountain, using the noun Mountain as the key link to the story.
We used the holding on to friends in the game to introduce a lonely mountain who falls in love. Sumera guessed it was a bird. Other possibilities were the rain and the trees. We had the setting, and Elaine read out the story
This is a long book. A lot of textual imagery to conjure up the story and we decided to not show the pictures. The idea is to use a powerful story like this to allow the children to imagine. To let them allow their experience to play in the mind and then express on paper. The children at NAB are always open to our ideas. They agreed to give this a try. It is also that a read aloud of this length is possible because the children at this site, have very good auditory memory, auditory comprehension is heightened as they have to rely on that sense rather than the visual and we learn every time how to design our sessions based on the children.
At the end of the story, we thought for a bit, and then spoke about the story, retelling it around the circle of listeners, trying to bring every one on the same page. It was amazing to see how closely they had followed the story line, how key actions, moments were picked up and held as special moments and how a story like The Mountain that Loved the Bird can touch every listener.
Venkatesh liked that the bird circled the mountain
Abhinav was touched when the mountain started to cry
Kookie liked that the mountain and the bird came together in the end
Anthony remembered that it was 99 springs before the mountain started to cry
and story elements and characters took shape from the listening experience.
We then asked the children to choose one frame, one moment they would like to share and this is what we got. A visual experience from visually impaired children who had never seen the picture book before. It is always interesting to look at pictorial expression of children to observe how much experience and imagination marks our expression.
We realized that Swami had never had the experience of seeing a bird and how we must carry tactile aids for experiential learning. How Yogesh was very clear about the elements in his story and once on paper, his picture was complete and how Kookie can discern light and dark shades and played with water colour to allow her mountain to be both light and dark.
Every session at the NAB center, leaves us feeling that we have learnt so much. We are so blessed to be a part of this circle of children who embrace the story and make it their own and remind us to be grateful, every time!