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Chimbel after a long, long time…
August 10, 2014

Written by Barkha

I have to admit I missed the Chimbel group while I was away. It has been about a month and a half since I last went to Chimbel. I think we were doing the session on ‘The Sea in a Bucket’ that day.

Today was an absolutely delightful session. I wasn’t supposed to go initially but I missed the Thursday session and somehow today worked out for me. We had over 30 children and we were running three stations simultaneously. While Melcom worked his magic with the little ones using ‘Billi ke Bachhe’, a lovely Eklavya publication; Meenal and I started our stations for the older children.

Meenal worked on story comprehension with the children, encouraging them to write critical answers about the story like ‘Who were the main characters in the story?’etc. I started games with the Dolch list. The Dolch list sight words contain 220 commonly used words that should be recognized by “sight” for fast or “fluent” reading. The compilation excludes nouns, which comprise a separate 95-word list. Many of the 220 Dolch words do not follow the basic phonics principles, so they cannot be “sounded out”. We started with level one of the list. I asked every child to pick up one word from the list while they were all upside down, identify it and make a sentence. To my amazement, the children not just made their own sentences; they altered words and made other sentences. While Jennifer wrote ‘I like to play’ with the word play, Muskaan changed it ‘The girl/boy is playing’. This went on for a while as there were about fifteen children in the group. They tried using new words and asked for the spelling as we went along.

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After making individual sentences, we did one on connecting the sentences. I picked Rafik’s sentence with little. He had written ‘I have a little ice cream’ to which I said ‘Will you give me the ice cream?’ This went on till everyone had finished their portion in the story. The sentences ranged from ‘No, I will not share the ice cream’ to ‘I don’t like ice cream’ to ‘I love eating ice cream’. The children enjoyed the session thoroughly.

The next activity was to write sentences using verbs/action words/doing words by looking at the picture. I had five pictures and we wrote about all five of them. There was one with a dog sitting, one with a child holding an umbrella, one with a juggler at the circus, one with a heap of leaves and one with a child sleeping. The children made lovely interpretations of what was happening in the picture. They wrote about the leaves falling, the leaves floating on water, the wind blowing hence leaves falling, many colours of the leaves etc. For the child with the umbrella, they wrote about the rain falling, about the child liking the rain, about the child holding an umbrella in the rain etc. For the dog, they wrote about having a dog, playing with a dog, being chased by a dog, the dog chasing a cat, the dog barking, liking dogs etc.

After all of this, the children were still engaged in the games. The last game we played was doing the Dolch list in teams where one calls out a word and asks another to find it from those laid out and vice versa.

The feeling of contentment as I walked back to the car was more than ever. The children had taken back so much from the session but more than that it was how much they had taught me. For a long time when I would go to Chimbel I would see something not working out and be very disillusioned and negative about it. As I walked out today, I had just witnessed a miracle. I was full of hope and strength for an even better session next week!

The Chimbel MOP sessions are barely three years old, probably as old as MOP itself but there is already such a huge leap one can see from then to now. Books and access to books and reading completely changes life in the most wonderful ways!

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