It’s Tuesday morning. The schedule says we have an early start to get to Nuvem in time for class at Mae dos Pobres.
And so we’re off. Sparsh, Sheena and I. Sparsh is going to be shuttling between the 2 of us, Sheena is going through the her lesson plan for her chosen book and I’m singing my raindrops falling song in my head, trying to remember the words; all this as we’re driving through the rain.
It’s that time of the year, and the books we’ve both selected have rain as the theme. We’re in school in time to hear the bell ring signaling the start of the period. And we’re off to class, each with a box of books and a box of stationary and a Bookworm big book.
The first class I’m in is standard 4B. A pleasant class with eager faces; today we’re book browsing. As I pull out book after book and pass them around the class, the whispers begin. They’re all talking about what book they got and they also already figured out who they’re going to exchange books with. The pages start to turn and the stories start to unfold. I’m reading with the kids as they go along. Some of them are struggling with the words, some of them are managing with no worries, still others are just looking at the pictures.
They excitedly talk about what they’ve read, take a moment to peer into their neighbour’s books and before long, the first books are being exchanged. ‘Teacher! To mhaka book deena!’, someone cries. ‘Teacher mhaka te book zai!’ I heard. And in time, those battles got sorted out.
I was at this point, more intent on hearing what they were reading. Though there were some struggles, the determination with which they were going through the pages was wonderful.
In not too long, it was time, and we heard the bell go for a second time that day. Time to change classes.
I entered the next class. Lesson plan set. All required materials at hand. And one of my favourite monsoon time books- Rain, by Manya Stojic. This book with its colour saturated illustrations talks about rain coming to the parched African Savannah, the reaction of the animals and how they must wait for the next big rain.
This was my first time in this particular class. They were curious to see what this lady with the boxes and a book was going to do. And so the class began. The talking died down and we started making rain.
We tapped one finger on our palms….two fingers….three fingers….four fingers….five fingers…..slapped our hands on our thighs…stamped our feet…..and then the rain died down, back to a little pitter patter.
When the storm had subsided and the class had settled back into their seats; we began to talk about the creatures we see in the rain. ‘Frog’, ‘crabs’, ‘fish’, ‘lobsters’, ‘malin‘, ‘earthworm’, sheddo‘. We spoke about the things they do when it rains, and how they knew the rain was coming; ‘Kallok zaata!’ ‘Clouds come’, ‘godgodo!’ ‘Lightning comes teacher!’
And this brought us to the time for the read aloud. And somehow, I’ve found that this is always that moment when things settle and for a duration, all eyes are on the book, all ears are listening to the story and for that time, all other sound fades away.
Halfway done with this class, and it was going well. The kids then took on sketch pens to mark the books we had given them as their own; and then took to drawing an animal of their choice and write a line on how they know the rain was coming.
Porcupines, worms, snails, crows, lions, dogs…..they all either felt, smelt, saw, heard,or tasted the rain. And the kids were delighted to be turning the white page to colour with the sketch pens.
“See you next time” I called to them. “Byyyyyyyyye teacher!” they yelled as I walked out of class.
One more class for the day. A fresh set of faces. A fresh lesson plan. Still more rain. This one went by really quickly, standard 3 was all set to make thunder. How this class flew by, still surprises me. But before I knew it, the 40 mins was gone, and there was the bell again.
And the morning’s classes were through. I walked down and caught up with Sheena and Sparsh again. We got into the van and started retelling each other how our classes went. Sheena is telling me about the new words she learned in her class.
As we drove, we saw dark clouds approaching….the rain is coming I said. Rain or shine, on Tuesdays, the red Bookworm van will be heading to Nuvem. There’ll be stories and talk, colours and learning.