Today was truly awesome!!!!! After much planning and nervous anticipation, we arrived in the village to begin our reading camp. There were no children when we got there, so we had time to sweep out the classrooms and set up. And then they came—58 beautiful children ready for this new adventure. They had never experienced anything like it. Tooty ta, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. All of us will be singing these in our heads for weeks to come.
The most amazing thing for me was watching our team in action. Everyone gave it all they had. We all started with the same lesson plan and the same materials, and from that came four distinctively wonderful lessons. Of course, none of it would have been possible without our Ghanaian colleagues. Their efforts and obvious enthusiasm, not to mention their translation of the children’s words from Ga to English helped to make today possible. I can hardly wait to see what happens tomorrow.
Every teacher knows that even the best made plans don’t always go as expected. In fact, sometimes a teacher has to switch gears as soon as the lesson begins. This was my fear while planning for the reading camp for the children of the village this week. We were obviously planning for children we had never met, we weren’t sure how many were coming, and we knew the language barrier was going to be challenging. My apprehension quickly faded as the 58 SMILING children arrived at the primary school. I could feel the excitement as they buzzed around the school grounds. Many were peeking in the classrooms hoping to see what was going on. In fact, a few came in and learned how to sharpen pencils…I think they would have sharpened pencils all day! After everyone arrived, the goats were shooed away, and morning assembly was over, we launched into our first story. The children’s desks were set up in a circle so everyone could see each other. We sang some songs, recited the alphabet, and counted (all in English) as a quick icebreaker.
The children listened very quietly to the story “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” (an alphabet story). The more I read, the closer they moved to me…it was great! The children then worked on 3 different activities—painting a coconut tree using their arms and hands, using coconuts with the letters to put the ABC’s in order, and writing and illustrating something about the story. Megan, Felicia (the Ghanaian teacher) and I each worked on an activity. I am happy to say, the morning went just as planned! When we finished, the children had the opportunity to play outside for a few minutes before lunch. I was most shocked when several of the children asked me for paper and crayons. One of them drew another coconut tree, brought it to me and said, “tree!” I was elated…what we learned this morning had really sunk in! The other child also brought me a picture of a tree and had tried to write the word tree by herself…”terr”. They both were so proud!!
We had lunch up at the preschool and had to take our small bus to the school. We had 2 vans/buses, 58 children, and a few adults to transport. And yes…it worked! We piled about 30 or so in our bus with several adults. I think I laughed the entire ride! These children had obviously never had this experience either. As we drove through the village, they yelled and waved out the windows to everyone they saw. They couldn’t wait to get back on the bus after lunch.
After lunch, the team gathered the children all together in one classroom for a final story. Before the story began, we decided to let them dance and sing to the song “Tooty Ta”. I use this song with my preschool students at home and they love it. I had hoped that the Ghanaian children would also love it. Boy did they love it!!! I have a feeling “Tooty Ta” will be performed multiple times this week. It was heartwarming to watch 58 children perform this song in English and dance…having so much FUN!
After we bid them farewell, we climbed back on our bus for the long ride back to the city. I can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow!