As the exams were over, there was a week to spare to the start of the Diwali break. We had to get the children into the holiday mood and get preparations underway for the Grand Diwali Carnival. What a week it was! Looking back we can safely say that it was ‘Family Fun’ for Team Walnut – the students, the staff and the parents too!
As it was the week before term end, there were no formal academics. But, ask any child and they will tell you that they have never had a busier day in school. As soon as they came in on Monday, they got busy making mud forts (killas). They had organized themselves into groups and each group had to prepare a proper fort. For the students of Std. 3, 4 and 5 this was also a competition.
These days, with the urban lifestyle and the rush that our routines have become, few parents get the chance to teach the children about planning, execution and the actual craftsmanship that goes into building a fort. So, we had a teacher show the children what the main parts of a fort are, how they can be constructed and simple tips and tricks to make a fort look good. The children loved the lesson and started planning. They were given equipment – stones, sacks, soil and water. Every day they came to school, the first thing they worked on was their killa.
Parents could oversee the killa making activity if they wished. We had so many parents come along with the students that we had to keep reminding ourselves (and them!) that school was for children 🙂 . Many parents confessed that it had been a long time since they also sat down to do something like this and were having so much fun too. So, over 5 days, the killas took shape. As they neared completion, children added in the finer details, gave their killa a name, got the characters and practiced their narration too. After all, it was an exhibition. Since they had put so much effort into it, it was only right that they presented it to the audience too!
Making the killa was the activity that occupied the kids before recess. After recess, they learnt how to make lanterns. Each class made their lantern in a different style. This was another very hands on activity and the children went home and taught their parents too. They made many more lanterns to decorate their homes and gift their friends and family!
In addition to that, the children also learnt how to paint and decorate diyas. Needless to say, many more diyas got painted at home. Children were excited to learn new things and experiment with their new found knowledge. The whole family got involved in it at home and it turned out to be a very pleasant experience from what we hear!
So, in each activity the carnival preparation was finding its way to each home. Parents and children all seemed to be enjoying this week to the fullest. What the children didn’t realise was how much learning we sneaked in. Planning a fort, executing it, realising mistakes, replanning, reexecuting – all these are parts of the product development life cycle as we know it. Coming up with an idea, convincing the team, looking for the most efficient way of implementing it – all these are skills of entrepreneurs. Trying things on your own in an unstructured activity comes with an inherent element of risk. Unless we teach our children to take risks, they cannot dream or innovate. This activity provided the perfect platform to practically experience and get a feel of all these skills.
On the last day, the children had to draw rangolis in the basement. Initially many boys snubbed the activity as being a ‘girl’ thing. The girls had a great time and as the boys watched they realised what they were missing out on. One by one the boy groups started participating too. Finally, everyone got the rangoli experience as well. That was a cute display too. Some tried doing rangoli the traditional way, some had stencils.
With all this happening in the primary section, could KG be left behind? No way! KG children made their own forts (one for each class).
On the last day, the children came dressed up in traditional wear. They looked so cute! They were enjoying showing off their accessories to their friends and of course, their teacher. They played some traditional games and also had a Bhondla. Though the youngest in the school, they got a taste of the Diwali party too!
What a fabulous evening it was! There were more than thousand plus visitors who came in to see the various displays put up by our children – the forts, the rangolis, the diyas, and of course, the parade! Parents came dressed traditionally too – after all, there were prizes for the best dressed mom and dad too! 🙂