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…