Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Draw the Best for Afterschool!

Here is a wonderful workbook on drawing from Eklavya. It is ready to use 'off-the-shelf'. More importantly, it will help you in designing more activities to help children draw creatively (rather than restricting themselves to copying a drawing).

Do not miss browing around Eklavya's site. There are some great books for download. Also, do look at the list of publications. You might like getting some for your afterschool library.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A great book for Afterschool

It is important for preteen and teenage children to read biographies - of political leaders, scientists, artists...and entrepreneurs. Thanks to Amar Chitra Katha - Indian children have access to life stories of many Indians who have made a difference in the political, historical, cultural, and industrial arena - Gandhiji, Shivaji, Meerabai, J.R.D. Tata... to name a few.

But a significant gap that needs filling up is life stories of 'extraordinary ordinary' Indians. People in flesh and blood who have done (and are still doing) things that are making a difference.

A new book on the scene which will help fill this gap is Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish by Rashmi Bansal. Published by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad it captures the 'inspiring stories of 25 IIM Ahmedabad graduates who chose to tread a path of their own making'.

While this book seems to target the young MBA graduate - the style is simple enough to make it relevant to those in the 12-17 age group.

I would recommend the book as a valuable addition to school and afterschool libraries.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Prepare for Disasters Afterschool!

Floods, fire, quakes...children hear news of these disasters with alarming frequency on the news. Disaster education is important for helping children be safe in the event of an actual disaster. It is also important for helping children feel reassured that they are 'prepared'.

What resources does India have on disaster education that you can use to build an afterschool module? The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has a National Disaster Management Division. Its website offers some useful resources for disaster education. For instance, there is a 26 page coloring book for children that has tips on safety measures during earthquakes, floods and fire. There is a 46 page handbook on school safety for administrators, principals and teachers. There is an Earth Quake Survival Pocket Guide. There is also a preview of a Vulnerability Atlas of India here. I found the 3 maps on areas prone to earth quakes, cyclones and floods interesting. They may be useful in sparking off a discussion with children on 'if we know the risk can we be better prepared?'.

Browse around...you are likely to find more stuff on the site. I just wish it was more organized...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mission Moon - Afterschool!

Get your afterschool programme to focus on India's first mission to the moon - and fast (the launch is due in a few weeks time)!

Chandrayaan-1 (Chandra- Moon , Yaan-vehicle) is a scientific investigation of the Moon by spacecraft. Chandrayaan-1 is the first Indian planetary science and exploration mission and will be launched soon from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota (SHAR), India.

The Indian Space Research Organization website has some good resources on the mission you can use. Here is a well-written booklet.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Click! Click! Afterschool

NCERT has announced a photography contest for Indian children (12-18 year olds / standards 6-12). The announcement is here. The contest rules are here.

Here is another recent photography contest for children - Sanctuary Cub's contest themed on Climate Change. Sorry - entries closed on 15 September!

Meet Potter Afterschool!

Yes, the REAL potter - who can teach you to make pots yourself!

Pottery is catching up on the afterschool scene. Here is an article about pottery workshops in Hyderabad that got me looking around for more.

A listing of the pottery resources in other Indian cities:

Hyderabad: Saptaparni
Chennai: DakshinaChitra
Mumbai: Sophia
Delhi: Delhi Blue Pottery Trust

Create Comics Afterschool

Yes! Don't just stop at reading comics - you can try creating your own.

There are some great resources to help you craft a good afterschool literature activity for children. The newly revamped Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) website for starters - it has a Create with Us section where you are invited to share your own ACK story (if accepted it actually may get published!) and your art (for cover pages of ACK comics).

Another promising resource is ToonDoo - a very desi website with a global following. It is a cartoon strip creator (yes, only online) that lets you pick and choose your background, characters, etc. and type in your text to create a comic strip - just like that!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Resources for Afterschool

Spark-India is a teacher resource unit that brings quality teaching-learning materials. It offers audio, video, printed material.

What I like about Spark-India's books for children is that they are books with sense and sensibility. The publishing space in India is cluttered with any number of books for children that are just a bunch of badly written, badly illustrated and badly produced bunch of papers (with four colour printing on art paper!) bound together.

Spark-India's books are refreshingly different. An example is Spark-India's Empathy series 'designed to get children to understand and appreciate differences, whether related to physical and mental ability, personal choice or feeling'. The current titles in this series are The Helping Hand and The Little Grey Hare.

I have both the books. Both my daughter and I love them. And not without reason...

Let me tell you a little more about The Little Grey Hare. Anita R. Singh's writing is smart and sensible. Sarada Natarajan's illustrations are detailed and delightful. The best part for me was at the end of the book - with photographs and notes on the animals featured in the story complete with a map showing their range in the Indian sub-continent.

It is books of this quality that Indian children deserve - nothing less!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Learning Basket for Afterschool!

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has a learning basket on its website. The site offers interactive learning modules relevant to high school science - electricity, energy, cell division, genetics...

Navigation seems a challenge if you directly click on the links to the modules - so try right-clicking on the links and choose the 'open in new tab option'.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Media Literacy Afterschool

A young girl took her life over fear of the world coming to an end following the start of the LHC experiment. Amidst the fierce competition between TV channels for dishing out sensational news - a life is lost.

It brings home some harsh facts:
  • If you do not give people the right information - they will have access to only the wrong information
  • People have any number of information sources today - but do they have access to media literacy skills?
Media literacy should be a core part of any afterschool curriculum - how to access information and how to critically evaluate the information you access.

Afterschool services in India also need to have many avatars - there are thousands of school drops outs like the unfortunate 16 year old who will benefit from a non-formal flexible educational experience. Is there a local learning club that she could have gone to - to discuss her fears and to seek facts? I find it so disturbing that the child was constantly asking her family questions about the end of the world. She did not get her answer...

My dream is to have a network of afterschool learning centres that anyone can walk into - to learn and to share their own learning and life experience.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Teachers Day!

Today is the birth day of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second President of India. It is celebrated as Teacher's Day.

I had two wonderful teachers - Mrs. Kankana Rani Das and Mrs. Kameshwari who taught for a few years at St. Ann's Girls High School in Hyderabad (1980s). Thank you, teachers (with all my heart)!

Listen to a Tale Afterschool!

Another great education resource from India - good for afterschool time: Karadi Tales

Many of us are familiar with the Karadi plastic pouches hanging in book shops - with an audio CD and a book to go with it. I just stumbled upon their site...

What information does the site offer?
Karadi Path to language learning.
Karadi workshops on language learning, nursery rhymes and early learning (not updated?! events of 2007 are listed on the site).
Charkha audio books for young adults and adults

I like the concept behind Karadi. I just wish their rhymes rhymed a little better...!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Green Ganesha Afterschool!

Ganesh Puja or Vinayaka Chathurthi is tomorrow! What better activity than to let children make their own eco-friendly clay idols afterschool?

The activity has great educational value. For a good backgrounder, it is useful to refer to this study by researchers from the Kakatiya University (Warangal, Andhra Pradesh, India). Hyderabad is already getting more enthusiastic about eco-friendly idols - here is a news article on this. Also important to remember is that our ancestors (who were definitely more religious and traditional than our generation is) always used clay idols. Several families still follow this tradition - buy a freshly made simple clay idol - without any colour - on the morning of the puja.