Written by Viola Rodrigues
I had received an email from Deepali enquiring if I would be interested in conducting a trail for the students at Bookworm, Goa. I agreed, considering I had a great time interacting with children from city schools during our monsoon trails. Well, when I got there, I was at a loss for words: these were very young children,aged 6 and less. Our crowd was small: 5 kids and 3 guardians. Now, interacting with older children is relatively easy, but how does one engage younger children?
So we decided to walk in the fields opposite to Bookworm. We began at about 5.35 pm.The field was full of bovines and a huge flock of cattle egrets hovered about them. I began of course, by asking them to observe what the egrets did. A cow got close to us and we could see all flies on its body. I explained how the egrets helped the cows get rid of the flies as well as obtain food. We walked into the fields and I noticed a pair of lapwings. I was pleasantly surprised when one of the kids actually knew the bird was called the red wattled lapwing. Just after I spoke about the calls these birds made, we heard a loud ‘did-he-do-it’ .
We also spotted a black kite perching on a coconut tree. The observant kids also pointed out to the other flying birds. We saw jungle mynahs, and a pair of Indian Rollers.
One of the kids enquired about the ‘sticks’ he saw on a plant. I tried explaining that it was a seed pod. The plant also had buds, flowers as well as the seed pods, hence I could explain the whole plant cycle in sequence.
There were Lantana plants too- and I could explain what weeds are. The kids were thrilled when I explained that the local name ‘ghanneri’ (smelly) comes from the smell of the leaf, and encouraged them to try it for themselves.
Just when I thought I was rattling on about weeds and birds, the observant parents enquired about the Colocasia plants. I tried explaining about the waxy leaves and then we tried a little demo by pouring a few water droplets on the leaves. I had their undivided attention during this time, and all the kids wanted to try it out! For me this was the best moment of our little trail.
We were so engrossed that we did not realize when it was 6.30 pm! Reluctantly, we headed back. I would love to interact with such enthusiastic kids again!