Raymond Briggs whom I have always loved for his wordless book The Snowman, helped inspire Sandmen at Cacra MOP on Tuesday 18th Dec, 2012.
As we all arrived at this site, with visitors from SRTT – Urvashi Nangia and SRTT Fellow Jennifer Thomas, volunteers from Goa College of Home Science and MOP Cacra team, the sand awaited as did the children.
Power Ranger books continue to hold a fascination and as our experience tells us, once the feverish excitement of getting the book you want and exploring the pictures wanes, there is space in the mind and imagination to explore some others. I was struck by how 2 of the boys were trying to squirrel the Power Ranger books into their shirts to ensure no one else borrows.
We explored the theme of a snowman in MOP lesson plan format with – talk before and about , an active game of ice- melt, a snowman poem that allowed us to imagine him in shape and size – ” The Snowman is so big, so fat
He walks like this , he walks like that
He has no ears, he has no toes
But Goodness Gracious What a fat nose!”
We sat down to listen to the story. The Snowman Storybook with words by Raymond Briggs. O ! How I love this one!
It was magical , both the book and the telling. I am often struck by how a good book can work its magic with a wee bit of help from a mediator.
The children most of them , were familiar with the concept of a snowman – TV apparently!
This group, whose spoken language is Konkani ( a lyrical form!) have a good listening comprehension of English and are able to process story ideas very well.
As The Snowman and James come alive, the crayon drawings of this master artists Raymond captivated, Children followed the frames in the book, making sense, sequencing and predicting with all the skill of good story listeners.
I am struck by some learning here, as always.
The linguistic profile of the group is Konkani, they go to a Konkani medium school and this must help their language comprehension. But, of course! We know that having a strong foundation in your own language allows you the good basis to them acquire ‘other’ languages. We see that at the Cacra site and can compare it across the multi lingual sites we work with, recognising how significant this factor is.
That story telling is a rich tradition in this tribal community. The Children are organic story tellers and listeners and go into story mode very easily drawing on deeper reserves of story comprehension than what our MOP exposure delivers. This too is very significant and is not often present in the other migrant very low socio economic groups.
The location of a MOP site on a small beach must have some significant impact on the soul. Space and thinking just deep intertwined factors for learning and growing and so often so many of our other MOP sites do not have this advantage.
Once done with the Story and able to express some ideas about what they liked, I was struck by Thomas who said he did not like the story and I asked “why?” and he said ” because Shubham was disturbing him during the narration” – what a perfect answer to a disturbing response. Even the Snowman would get that!
The children then had a short word building activity with the word SNOWMAN and most of them could create up to 5 words which was positively reinforced. It is always gratifying to see how literature and literacy intersect and how meaningful that process can be!
We then borrowed books to take home as the sun was going down and moved onto the sand to build our Sandmen. Raymond Briggs would have been so proud that in a small wee village on a river bank so many Sandmen came alive and were loved by so many hands who will carry The Snowman Storybook in their heads and hearts.