The kids 6 - 9 year olds had registered their attendance . At the doorway, having their names ticked off the list itself signalled something special.
The story theme was environmental. And World Forest Day celebrated on 21 March was a nice tie -in with my story written a couple of years back.
For a start, I asked myself. How do you bring the vast rainforest into a classroom? The beauty can't be replicated. How about the smells and the experience of trudging the moist forest floor? The task is impossible.
That's when I decided to create a collage to give my best shot for a great visual impact.
Well, the kids told me they have not been in a rainforest. For those who have trampled into the forest at FRIM, they actually had.
So there was a getting to know the rainforest in the chant.'There are layers in the forest'. We stood on toes to reach the sky for the emergent layer. The canopy must be the biggest umbrella in the world! So, arms outstretched, we made huge umbrellas. The understory layer below housing the snakes . For that we crouched a little. Then ... we sprawled flat on the floor for the forest floor layer. Oh! did we disturb the armies of ants marching with food to their queen?
It was indeed a swinging start to the session. Next, a quick 'dressing up' - I slipped into an eco- green shirt, slung a water bottle on my shoulder and held a pair of bins. Then I invited everyone to sing 'I've Been Walking In The Rainforest'. We marvelled at the parrot, iguanas, leopards, the ferns, the twisting, curvy lianas.
So, with knowledge of the rainforest, it was time to listen to my story, Paradise Lost. I wrote it in verse. The collage was propped on an easel. 'My' rainforest in its full glory was ready to do the story for me.
But all is not well as the story unfolds. Loggers, hunters come ...... decimation is their game. The animals cry out. Soon their homes are lost. Victory lies in the hands of the humans. They scar the land and when their handiwork is done and dirt dusted off their clothes, their heavy machines lumber out of the barren land.
But, listen, do you hear a pleading cry??... somewhere??
The collage worked nicely for it was laid bare by the kids who played loggers, hunters. The kids stripped the greenery and the inhabitants off the collage.
'ZAP! ZAP! GONE! GONE! they shouted.
Yes, the kids in front of me do realize it's human actions that mar and destroy the beauty and awe of our rainforest. I overheard an instant soft lament ,' Oh, the animals. Pity!'
So sad,' one other echoed.
These kids may be small but they learn. Fast too. My story does not have a cheerful ending but the truth lies there. These small ones can handle the truth.
To round off the session, they made an elephant out of recycled milk/juice cartons.
Happily they used their favourite colours to make their elepant their very own.
An hour well spent. I'm glad I got to tell my story. And to play with the kids.