Bal Vikas: Crosswords, Fortune Cookies, Peacocks and Parfait
This year the Sathya Sai Education Wing of Bangsar centre decided to take a different approach to the start of the Bal Vikas programme. Instead of the usual orientation and open day where parents and children register in and go straight to class, we wanted to start with a bang. So we declared the whole month of January as the month of fun. Which means classes will be conducted in a fully loaded fun manner for the whole month, and typical sit down and break up in groups would only start the month after.
It was a lot of work, but we were determined. This was also because we realised students trickle in throughout the month, making focused lessons rather difficult with a possibility of repetition.
We had four Saturdays to work with. The first was our orientation day. Instead of the usual flow of registration, prayers, bhajans and breakout classes, we set up activity booths that summed up possible fun fair throughout the year. We had a face painting booth, arts & craft booth, obstacle course, crossword booth and games. We also served a good spread of evening snacks and drinks. The centre committee contributed by having a book sale. Although we planned to have uniform (white kurta and suit) sale, it did not materialise as saree houses were too busy with ponggal to send representatives. (We will try again next year). At the same time parents attended an introductory session and briefing on Parentcare and centre activities. This way we got everyone involved in the Bal Vikas programme.
The second week we had a Chinese New Year race. Since the festivities were around the corner, we wanted to introduce the kids to various Chinese culture and tradition in a fun way. So again we broke up into stations, allowing the kids to experience the upcoming CNY. Each station presented a clue to the next station which they had to crack after participating. The race began with a fortune cookie hunt and progressed to angpow making, orange peeling, opera makeup, lion dancing, lantern making and a quiz that questioned all they learnt that day. At the same time, parents attended a talk on Web Safety and Online Presence.
The third Saturday was the day after Thaipusam. We took the kids out to Dhandayuthapani temple in Sentul where they attended an educational session on Lord Muruga, sang bhajans, recited mantras and partook in temple prasadam. The temple had a beautiful garden with peacocks and roosters for all to experience.
The fourth Saturday was the most exciting. We wanted to give parents and kids a taste of a well prepared vegetarian meal which need not be lacking in taste, texture and nutrition. We held Lil’ Masterchefs. Kids were broken into five groups. The first prepared an appetizer of tomato and cheese bruchetta. The second group made the ultimate mushroom soup. The third and fourth group prepared mains: mashed potato and cauliflower, and grilled satay. The fifth group prepared a scrumptious dessert, fruit parfait. Ovens, stoves and kitchen utensils were brought in, and the kids prepared everything from scratch.
The month of January proved to be an amazing start to the year. The children are now excited to attend class and teachers are enthusiastic to inject fun into the classroom. Parents too are more involved and have built a close relationship with teachers. It is still too early to call it a recipe for success, but it sure is a great jump start to 2014.
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