The Karkhana team is safe and the worst is probably over. The relief efforts being made by various organizations as well as locals is laudable.
We wanted to contribute our part as concerned citizens. Ashim and Sachet volunteered for some organizations but were disappointed with the management team. Everything was disorganized and chaotic. Sakar, Rajib and Sunoj went to Kavre to assess what the actual needs of the people were and how we could help them. They realized that people like us without any specialized skills (like first aid, sanitation, structural engineering, veterinary doctors, nurses, paramedics) were of not much help. That made us think how we could contribute. Why not do something that we are already good at? Teach.
While most of the efforts are being spent on providing the basics to those affected by the disaster, providing medical care to the injured and rescuing people, some of us should also think about how children cope with these situations, address issues like sanitation that the kids need to be aware of and provide outlets for them to express their feelings. Lets combine our efforts to create a fun learning experience for kids.
Day 1: April 29
We came up with simple, low resource lesson plans that we could run for the kids who were staying in the camps. We met at Karkhana to gather the resources and review the activities before we went to the camps.
We first went to a camp inside the Kumari hall premise and asked one of the parents whether we could run our classes there. He was open to the idea and we started engaging twelve 7 to 12 year old kids. Suddenly, one parent told us to stop the activities. When we told him that we were offering fun learning experiences for the kids, his response was “What’s fun about an earthquake?” We took a few minutes to explain our classes and why it was important to keep the kids engaged in learning activities for things to get back to normal. By the time he was convinced and we could continue with our activities, the kids had dispersed. So we decided to go to the camp at Gairidhara.
Sachet had talked to the army personnel who were in charge of the camp and had gathered around 40 kids from ages 2 to 14. We had to adapt to the situation as we had planned our lessons for 8 to 14 year olds. We separated the kids into 3 groups according to their height, assuming kids of same ages would roughly be of the same height. 🙂
The elder kids were handled by Sunoj where they made paper towers using a single sheet of paper. They got to learn about stability, surface area, importance of risk taking and the Karkhana design cycle (TMPI: Think, Make, Play, Improve).
The youngest kids were handled by Ganga with the help of some volunteers from within the camp and mothers of the 2/3 year old kids. They did a great job engaging the little ones by playing fun games, dancing, singing and drawing.
The third group comprised of kids whose attention was really hard to grasp. We wanted the kids not just to enjoy the activities we had designed but also learn a few simple concepts. We started with some fun improv games and then moved to an English lesson about the use of ‘a’ and ‘an’. Hasin explained to the kids the basics of when to use the appropriate article. We carried two sheets of paper with ‘a’ and ‘an’ and the kids had to race to find the correct article. At first, the kids were concerned about just winning the race even though they got the wrong answers, but after a few words they began to get the articles correct and began shouting out the answers as they ran to touch the correct article.
After this fun activity, we tried teaching the kids binary counting. The kids enjoyed the individual maths challenges in which they had to find the possible sum of a given number by adding the numbers 8,4,2 and 1. For instance, to get 7, the kids had to raise the numbers 4, 2 and 1. They then had to flip a paper with 0 and 1 written on the two sides to find out the binary equivalent.
The kids enjoyed the learning experience and were asking us whether we’d come back the next day. We came back to Karkhana, reviewed our lesson plans and made some changes.
Day 2: April 30
Ganga, Suresh, Sachet and Hasin went to Gairidhara for the second day and the kids were excited to see us back. We started the day by playing hula hoop. There was one kid who was very agile and could spin the hoop for more than five minutes. After some energizers, we began our lessons.
Suresh and Hasin taught the kids graphical multiplication (Vi Hart’s video) and the kids had fun doing complex multiplication using that method.
Day 3: May 1
On the 3rd day, Sachet and Roshan went to a camp at Shalyani Durbar (at Kalikasthan) where there were 17 kids from ages 5 to 14.
After playing some team building games, we taught the kids mental maths tricks. We divided the kids into two groups, one who knew multiplication and the other who did not know multiplication. Sachet engaged the smaller kids who did not know multiplication by giving them simple addition problems while Roshan taught cool multiplication tricks to the kids. There were two kids in particular who were very sharp and they solved very complex multiplication mentally. We used the kids to teach the rest of the group the math tricks.
Suresh and Hasin from Karkhana were accompanied by Sarita Bhattrai, Bilques Banu and Sam who ran parallel session for different groups. Sam did a great job handling the kids from ages 2 to 5, keeping them engaged. Sarita and Bilques ran drawing session that all the kids enjoyed. Almost 50% of the kids drew images of buildings or houses. Bishwas was the most creative among the lot and drew the image of Durga.
Day 4: May 2
Roshan, Sachet and Ganga went to the camp at Salyani mahal for the 2nd day. They started the day by playing a concentration game called ‘Count to 20’. The kids were able to reach 20 after 7 attempts. Then the kids learned binary counting.
Suresh and Hasin from Karkhana were accompanied by Sarita Bhattrai and Bilques Banu at the camp at Gairidhara. It was really hot so our team decided to skip the games that required any physical activity and concentrated on mental challenges, brain teasers and puzzles.
Saraita and Bilques taught the kids to express their feelings through collage.
We hope to continue these sessions and engage the kids.