Monday, September 22, 2008

Continent Dolls Puppet Show

The pictures above and below are of the initial materials given to create the continent dolls and of the four small and one large figures that sparked the work.

There are times in our lives as teachers/guides that the phrase "follow the lead of the child" becomes so immediate that you don't dare hesitate our you will be left behind in the dust. The children become so focused on a specific work and the actualization of that work that your participation as an adult is peripheral, at that. When these moments come, the reason why Montessori adults are referred to as "guides" becomes so very obvious.

Recently, I bought four small Asian/Indian dolls from the Thrift and one larger doll. I was working with an older four-year old whose family is from this part of the world. Together we got out the continent map, the Asia continent folder and the dolls. We talked a bit about the pictures in the folder and about the costumes the small dolls were wearing. And then I said something completely unplanned, I suggested a work I have never had children do in the ten years that I have been a Montessori guide. I asked the child if she would like to make her own continent dolls. I am not even sure why I called them that. The words fell from my mouth. And then she looked at me, smiled and said yes. That was the beginning of work that lasted a week and eventually involved two other students. Finally, last Friday, they gave a puppet show/performance for the entire class and for the head of our school which had me almost in tears. We had only been back to school for a total of eleven days when all of this amazing work was achieved.

There were days that I looked at my assistant Patti and asked if we had better step in. Most of the time we decided not to. I used the new almost three year olds as a sort of gauge. I would see these three girls occassionally draw in other students or hear their voices raise and I would look over to see what the three year olds were doing. Everytime, they were completely engaged in one exercise of Practical Life or another. As long as they were able to maintain their focus, I pretty much felt that the girls doing the continent doll work were not disrupting the class.

However, there were a few times that we did step in. The first time was in regards to keeping their work area organized and not letting it get too messy.

The photos above and below show the students working on their "dolls."

The second was in regards to writing their play. I asked Patti to sit with the girls and help record their play and the songs that they were writing for it. The photo of this shows remarkable focus.

On the third day, they used the cover image of a book on India to assist them in designing jewelry for their performance. They made several other children not involved in the project bracelets also.

After they wrote their play and songs, they constructed the puppet theatre - stage. They used what was available. Nothing was brought in from home to assist in making it. In a wonderful moment of creative thinking, when tape failed to secure the ribbon "curtain," they found the laundry basket and used some of the clothespins.

Thursay evening, Ria's mother (Ria was the child who I first suggested the continent work to) emailed me and said that Ria would be arriving in the morning in a sari and that she was sending in several for the other two students to use. She also said that Ria was prepared to sing a song in Sanskrit for the class. I called the head of our school and suggested he have his camera ready.

The above photo is how Ria looked when she arrived. Below is a photo of some of the clothing sent in by her mother.

Zoe and Meaghan picking out ther outfits.

Below, Patti helps the girls get ready for their performance.

And then it began. First Zoe gave her performance:

Next, Meaghan:

And Ria:

Just before the end of the performance, all three girls came forward. Ria sang her song in Sanskrit three times. Next, they collectively sang the song they wrote, which included the lyrics -

"We are three sisters from India
The largest continent in the world..."

It was amazing. The other children loved it. They were so quiet and still during the entire performance.


Gina said...

That is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

My Child's Diary said...

You are doing such a wonderful job with the children! For me, this is what a true guidance is about! Suggesting a new path for the journey and providing a confident environment for making this walk. Keep listening to your heart. Thanks so much for sharing. Miri