Huda's preschool, Thu 23.2.12, Morning

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Judy (photographer), Yael (activity leader), Mohammed (driver, activity helper), Eid (translator), Huda (preschool teacher) and one of the mothersa


The topic: Games to encourage communication between the children


Because the previous two meetings had been cancelled, there was some confusion about today’s program.  Huda had prepared the children for a different program but she and the children easily accepted the change in the program.

When we entered, the children were happy to see us and stretched out their hands to greet us.  Only two new children cried when we entered.  Crying was a behavior that characterized our first meetings with the children in the preschool.
For today’s activity, it was important that the children did not sit at tables facing the blackboard.  We came with two blankets and recruited the adults and children to move the tables and chairs so that the blankets could be put down in the center of the room.  The children found the idea of sitting in a circle on the floor unusual but eventually, they were seated in a circle on the blankets and we were able to begin the activities.
Circle Games
A.    A child throws a ball to another child in the circle as he calls out the child’s name.  He/she also asks the child a question, which he/she needs to answer.  The children found the game complicated so Huda gave an example of a question.  All the children then asked the same question when they threw the ball.  Not one was able to come up with an original question.
B.    The children sit with their hands behind their backs and an object is passed from child to child while music is playing (played from Mohammed’s cell phone).  When the music stops, the child who is holding the object leaves the circle which becomes smaller and smaller as more children leave the circle until only a couple of children are left  The children had difficulty understanding that they needed to hold the object behind their backs and in that way, pass it to the next child.    Mohammed and Judy, standing behind the children, helped those who found it difficult to pass the ball.
C.    Three hand movement games in which we tried to get the children to repeat a series of hand movements.  Yael demonstrated the movements for each game.
 1) two claps on the knees, two hand claps, and twice extending hands out at the level of the head.  After practicing in the circle, the children then worked in pairs, clapping their hands together when they extended their hands.  The children found it difficult to maintain the sequence of movements but all enjoyed the game.
2) hands above head,  hands on head, hands on shoulders – one, two, three (clapping).  Eid translated this popular Hebrew children’s song into Arabic while we sang.  The children also liked this game although once again they found it difficult to follow the sequence.
3) My hat has three corners.  Again it was difficult for the children to follow the sequence of movements.
In summary, the children actively participated but mixed up the sequence of movements, perhaps because the sequence was too complex for them to follow and/or from lack of experience with these types of activities.  We also didn’t see much communication among the children during the activities.  Huda promised to continue the games for part of each day, thus it is possible to say that we contributed to an increase in the repertoire of games that Huda can play with the children.
 Telephone – outdoor game
We brought with us a large number of small plastic yogurt containers (a hole had been made in the bottom of each container) and embroidery twine 3 meters in length.  The children helped to anchor the ends of the twine into the containers so that each length of twine connected two containers (the telephones) – an activity the children enjoyed.  They then went outside to play with the telephones.  
It was difficult to explain to them that they should take turns being the speaker or the listener and when they changed roles, they needed to change the position of the telephone (mouth to ear).  As speakers, they often didn’t seem to know what to say so we found it necessary to give them examples of what to ask.  The children became entangled in the string if it was not stretched to its full length but if it was stretched too tightly, it was pulled out of the container.  Some of the children quickly lost interest and went to play on the carousal, presently the only piece of play equipment in the playground.  The other pieces of play equipment have been taken for repair and will be returned to the new preschool.  
At the end of the activity, Huda gave each child a small package of cake that had been left earlier in the day by workers from the branch of the UN responsible for matters pertaining to Palestinian children.
We finished our visit by walking through the construction site of the new preschool.   The floor tiles have been laid in the preschool; the small building housing the restroom has been plastered and the floor and wall tiles laid.  A low wall now surrounds the area of the preschool.  One can begin to envision the final product.  We saw the contractor and one worker who complained there is not enough money for the project.  We hope that the work will be finished quickly.  Mohammed claimed that two weeks of intensive work would be enough to finish the project.
At our next visit in two weeks, the topic will be fruit and vegetables. 

For photos taken press here and here.