don’t hurt people’s feelings

Today’s lesson: not hurting people’s feelings.

October 25, 2008: 9 kids(!), ages 6-9. 1.5 hrs.  Class was not too bad at all. we took the extra step this class of putting up a poster with the ground rules that we defined during last week’s class.  if nothing else, this helped the children remember the rules, and in the long term it should help the class become a little more manageable (“what’s rule #4?”)

we played a number of games today, and it worked out just as well, because I didn’t have the time to prepare the craft real well. a very bright spot was that the same parent who stayed for her children’s first class stayed again today, and indicated her desire to continue staying in the class throughout the year, in order to have some extra time with her children (being a single mother, she doesn’t have the chance to be with them all the time). having her in the class made it much more livable; otherwise, I would have been alone, and it would have been a lot more difficult to handle everyone.  the class built on the previous week’s theme of backbiting, and focused on gossip, using the “scattering feathers” story, which seemed to have an impact on the kids. (yay!) for some reason, toys seemed to start drifting into the classroom as the lesson continued; new rule required, perhaps? after we ended up with a squeaky ball on our hands (which I confiscated, along with a sort of LED taser/flashlight), we got in a circle and played a game of catch, where we had to say our name (to introduce the new children) and state a good quality (a virtue), without using the same ones more than once.  That worked well for a while, and then we switched to “telephone”, which we used to illustrate how someone’s words can be twisted during the process of gossiping.

by the time we finished the games, it was nearly time to finish, so since I didn’t have my other craft idea prepared on time (feather wreaths), we just busted out the stamps that were used for the greeting cards we made during the class on obedience to parents. the kids seemed to enjoy that; one of boys, however, figured he didn’t need to play with the stamps since he was there when we did it last time, so he busted out the legos instead. i didn’t notice this until it was too late, and soon all the other boys were following his lead.  whoops.  oh well, it happens.

avoiding gossip and backbiting (take 2)

Today’s lesson: avoiding gossip and backbiting.

October 18, 2008: 1.5 hours, 7 children, ages 5 to 9. This class went well; after an unpleasant attempt at going solo two weeks ago, I ensured we had another teacher present, and things went much more smoothly. We had two new children present, and their mother stayed for the class to help them feel more comfortable. The parents of one of our regular children also informed us that their child had been having behavioural problems at school, which was reflected in the class as well—but at least he didn’t melt down, and we found ways to encourage him (for reading a prayer beautifully, for example).  Anyway! After prayers (I suspect we really have to assign prayers rather than let everybody flip through the books), we started on the lesson, about avoiding backbiting.  Some of the kids had a tough time maintaining their focus—that’s actually pretty normal. I also have to learn not to waffle as much when I present the lessons.  More about that in a forthcoming post.

Next, we all stood up together and played Simon Says, which seemed to help them focus. Next, we presented the day’s game—a scavenger hunt of virtues.  Strips of paper were hidden throughout the Baha’i Centre with qualities written on them: some good, some bad.  The kids were instructed to ignore the strips with “bad” qualities written on them, and to bring back the ones with “good” qualities.  In that way, we demonstrated how to “overlook” the faults of others—which, itself, just happened to be one of the “good” qualities they had to find.  The game was a success, and it was different enough from a usual scavenger hunt to challenge the kids.  They couldn’t just pick up any old strip of paper; they had to read it and analyze whether it was worth bringing back!  Once all the strips (9 of them, of course) were found, we incorporated them into a textured collage, where they glued one of the virtues onto a paper backing along with several other types of material (like aluminum foil, crumpled paper, old denim, yarn, and so on) to remind them of how we should focus on the “good” qualities even if they are surrounded by not-so-good ones.

Lessons learned from this class?  Make sure all your activities support one central theme, so that the kids have the entire class to soak up the lesson (even if they’re not listening at the start!)  Also, it pays to have teaching support.  It pays big time!  That makes me think—I should start rewarding volunteers with donuts or something…

kindness to animals (take 4)

Today’s lesson: kindness to animals.

October 4, 2008: Argh! This class was a disaster, mainly because of me being completely unprepared for it, and being the only teacher for a class of five rowdy kids didn’t help either.  the idea of doing origami animals may have been a good one, but it was a whole lot harder to learn than I had originally thought.  most of the children just broke out the legos as I tried to wrap my head around making a crane with the one or two who actually wanted to stick with it.  In any case, I’m not sure it’d be very useful for me to report any further on this one x_X Maybe next time.