South Hebron Hills,Umm alKheir
Purpose of the trip: Activity in the Umm el Kheir kindergarten
Topic of the activity: Colors and basic skills
The Umm el Kheir kindergarten has many children now – forty, we’re told. There are four teachers – Ikhlas, Dalal, Na’ama and another teacher whose name I’ve forgotten. Many children registered after transportation became available. Most of the children are aged 3-5, a few are 6. The teachers usually divide them according to age. But when we arrive, around 10 AM, fourteen children are there, most appearing older than 4. Now it’s exam time in the schools and when exams are over the older children go home and take their younger siblings with them. Today is also the final activity in the kindergarten this year, which ends at the end of May.
The Umm el Kheir kindergarten is a residential building serving as a kindergarten. Therefore, there isn’t a large room but about two and a half rooms that aren’t very big. When we arrive the children are sitting in one room around a few tables that have been pushed together. We ask to go to the other room which has a rug on the floor and sit on it. The teachers remain standing – and only after urging join us on the rug.
We brought three children’s books (in Arabic) and began by reading “A Tale of Five Balloons” by Miriam Roth. We asked one of the teachers to read it aloud – that’s also something worth practicing – reading while displaying the illustrations, reading the actual text rather than the teacher simply summarizing what’s written, etc. We don’t know whether there are any books in the kindergarten – we weren’t able to find out. After the reading we organized a game in which five children play the part of the children in the story; all their balloons burst except for the last one, etc. They were embarrassed at first but became enthusiastic and they made us tell the story three times.
After the game we returned to the first room to make pictures from sand, leaves, colors and glitter, for decoration.
The children went outside to collect sand in saucers. We handed out A3-sized construction paper and the teachers wrote the children’s names. We placed dishes of white glue in the center of the table. We had to show them how to use the glue – spread it on the paper with fingers or toothpicks. Then we handed out leaves to glue down, and then glitter. At the end each child displayed their picture.
Some took their picture with them and others left them behind, but – there’s no way to hang them!
When we finished we asked them to help clean up, collect the trash that was spread around during the activity.
Our impression: There’s need for much work on content and activities. The kindergarten has almost no equipment, there’s almost no storage area, no books, and in particular – there are no supplies: paper for drawing and coloring, scissors, glue, etc. Donations are welcome; whoever wants to contribute is invited to do so.
Photos from the activity: The album for 14.5.15:
We sat and talked, over tea and cookies, about future activities. Ikhlas announced she plans to open a day camp and would be happy for us to conduct activities there. We talked about arranging the kindergarten, panels on which pictures can be hung, activities. There’s much to do here, but it’s worth trying. In addition to the plans we made, we feel we’ve made a personal connection which hadn’t previously existed.