Thambu School learns the nativity story - In English!
Firstly, I worked with the children in their Standards (or small mixes) – 4 children at a time, reading a very basic nativity book. Very few children knew the story of Christmas, so I helped them understand by acting it out and using songs : “Hop Skip Jump Dance” (which showed the children how exhausted Mary and Joseph were travelling to Bethlehem); “Sing a song of Shepherds” (showing the excitement of the shepherds) and “3 wise men” (showing their pride as they traveled on their camels).
The following week, some children started exams, so the rest of the children were free. They watched a Powerpoint presentation which I had developed from the book and I made sure each child fully understood through the images and actions as we read it out.
Once the children had learned most of the nativity action songs, I introduced new Christmas songs – “The 12 Days of Christmas”. It was definitely a favourite. The words were a bit difficult for most students, but the children enjoyed the actions and very quickly learned “5 gold rings”! To mix it up, I sped up after singing 5 gold rings. The children loved this part and tried to speed up whenever we sang it, however they were very well behaved and followed me (probably because of my booming voice). They learned the clues in my movements and enjoyed the moment they could jump and act whilst singing!
In the penultimate week, parts were handed out. The 4 best readers became the narrators: for which I adapted the words from the nativity story we’d been reading. We gave the youngest children the parts of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the sheep. The angels, wise men and the innkeeper were then chosen and everyone was happy.
For the final week, parts of our morning consisted of rehearsals, and the rest spent remembering and drawing scenes from the nativity (for the older ones, with sentences) . We also made Christmas decorations for their homes and amazing Christmas Cards.
The costumes were found on base: emptying the cupboard of pillow cases, flat sheets and towels. Tinsel, spare material and objects from around the base to be decorated as gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were also hunted out. The sheep ears were adapted from our monkey ears we had used at Cottolengo a few weeks ago during our Jungle Book performance. Also, RAKSHA school kindly lent us a baby doll to play Jesus.
Once the children were in their costumes they were very excited. We performed a dress rehearsal the day before the performance: their singing was amazing.
Parents, teachers and GVI came to watch, which the children were very happy about. We had been gifted some presents from our previous volunteers (thanks to Michelle and many others) and a few more items were bought to make sure everyone had an appropriate gift. Our health and construction teams (who had dressed up as Santa and the elves for RAKSHA the previous day) were on hand to bring in the presents after the nativity was completed. It was an amazing day for all and there were lots of happy children going home with big smiles on their faces!
Now is the Christmas Holidays, so I am experiencing new projects – working with adults with special needs at a Relief Settlement (PRS), painting murals in a classroom in a Special Needs School (RAKSHA) and learning about music Therapy from a fellow volunteer.
I have to say I am really looking forward to the start of term though… First time I’ve ever said that!