Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bal 1 - It Sorta Worked! Tic - Tac - Toe

A few of the kishores have been helping out with Bal 1 lately. It has been working out quite well. We made a conscious effort to give them latitude to try out different ideas even if they seemed misguided. One idea they had was to have the kids play checkers on the iPad as a reward for paying attention during a prasang. We held our breathes and decided to see what would happen.

Playing checkers on the iPad caused some commotion. Every kids wanted to see so they crowded around the iPad. It got loud and unruly. But the real downfall was that neither kid who was chosen really understood how to play checkers and the ones that did not really pay great attention during prasang varan really did know how to play checkers. We stepped in and said we would rethink this idea and did another quick activity (we had the kids try and jump up and reach the ceiling, to segue into never giving up).

During review we discussed some of the things that did not go so well with the kishores. To their credit they came this week with a similar but revamped idea - each kid would play tic tac toe on a custom made board. This worked out much better. The kids understood the game at least to the first degree. It was much faster so all the kids got a chance to play. They timed each game so it was speed tic tac toe.  The kids overall enjoyed the activity as you can make out in these pictures.

During review (which occurred while we put away the trash after dinner due to lack of time) we talked about how to take this activity to the next level. This time it was just a reward for listening. What if we use it as a tool for comprehension. We could have each child say one line of the story before making a move - if they don't know what happened they cannot place their piece. We are also focusing on the kids be very familiar (to the point of memorization) two dhoon, two prarthan, and two kirtan before leaving Bal 1. So another idea would be to have them sing one line before playing their piece. In the first round we can help the ones who don't know their lines, and in the second see how they do.  Any other ideas?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bal 1 - It Worked! Hari the Humble Ape

Using a prop seems to enchant Bal 1. This week a Yuvak used Hari the Humble Ape in a story he made up to make a point about how we should act. Watch the kids - they were enthralled. The ape was the first step - unexpected. The simple message was clear. Be humble. The last step was the story. SUS in a nutshell. Each child gave Hari a hug and promised to stay humble by saying please and thank you and also bowing down the their parents every morning. We are going to send an "what we did in sabha" email to the parents and hopefully a few with reinforce these ideas at home.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Desh Kaal - Unexpected

Priority Sabha this Sunday.
Topic: Desh Kaal

Our environment, our peers, when we are living, where we are living - all have an effect on us.

Unexpected: The Broken Window Theory
Surrounding have an effect on behavior.

A few videos below. Choose one or just summarize on your own.
This can be linked to Seven Story Haveli (Vachnamrut G I-18).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bal 1 - It Worked

Glow Sticks.

We have our sabha in what is essentially a very large closet. One of the strengths of having our sabha in a large closet is that it is very easy to make it really dark. One of the kishores who was a guest speaker this week decided to use this to his advantage. He bought glow sticks. He gave each balak three of them, turned out the lights, and had them raise the glow sticks to answer questions. They all got to take the sticks home with them. The kids were happy. They paid attention. It Worked!

The challenge was handling their excitement and realizing before hand that they will swing those sticks around. So we needed to give them opportunities to do so during the story.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bal 2 - It Worked

From a fellow Sabha-ologist:

Keeping balaks well behaved is essential to having an effective sabha. While it may be difficult to control balaks, there are tricks to getting their attention.

Connect Before You Direct

"Tilak, I need your eyes" 
"Chandan will you please..."

This requires knowing all their names and also having a working relationship with them.

Have you guys tried any other ways?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bal 1 - It Worked!

Our bal 1 sabha sanchalak in training has been working very hard on using stuffed animals and a toy car to tell different stories as part of his MC. The kids have taken to the characters he has created. This week however he forgot to bring the stuffed animals. He had prepared the story already. What to do?

He decided to level with the kids and tell them he forgot the stuffed animals. These are balaks, they did not really mind that the animals were not there. Then he pivoted and said he was going to need helpers who would take the place of the stuffed animals. This Worked! The kids laughed out loud and at the antics the helpers went through. The helpers were not embarrassed but enjoyed moving about.

During review we commented on how well this worked. It seemed to me that if we started by picking people and having them act things out, it would not have worked so well. The fact that the last three weeks we had stuffed animal characters do stories, and now the kids were acting as stuffed animals who in turn were acting out a story made it easier and Worked! We decided to add more characters to this weekly on going story until all the kids have a role. We will see if this also Works!

Two volunteers who acted out characters, plus many show of hands to be then next character.

Kids reaction to the story.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bal 2 - It Worked!

Creating order in sabha is a challenge. We looked at several go to moves in the past that would stop the sabha from sliding down a perilous slope. One very salient point is that boredom is usually the precursor to bad behavior. Not all the balaks will pay attention but if we can win over a few bright spots then the tide may change.  From a fellow sabha-ologist.

I've come to recognize boredom to give way to bad behavior in sabha, but there will be the few pockets of kids who just don't want to pay attention. 

One interesting thing I've noticed is that the really engaged kids will actually try to silence the talkers, so if your presentation can interest these bright spots, they can work to maintain order among themselves. Of course, this point alludes to a sticky sabha, but try to see if you can't throw curve balls at your balaks. We call it unexpected, but narrating examples or prasangs in ways they aren't expecting gets them to pay attention.

Sunday, I had a talk on Gunatitanand Swami's greatness and how only a few truly understood his mahima. We started off by listening to the instrumental version of Gangnam Style. I told them that if they knew what song it was that they should stand up, so they all got perked. In a matter of ten seconds, the entire sabha stood up with some actually showing off the moves. I then went on to describe how record-breaking the video was, how many countries played it, etc.

Then, the kicker - how many of us know the meaning? The song itself parodies Gangnam for its willingness to imitate Western styles which is ironic in that the song has become a hit in the West. The link from here became simple, but I did the same technique with each of my prasangs as well.

 I feel the more order we impose, the more they will resist. If we can find a way to empower them to maintain order, it's win-win.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bal 2 - It Worked

From a fellow sabhologist.

Lately we have been working together to figure out a way to change the balaks' attitude towards sabha. While our sticky prseentation definitely affects how balaks view sabha, so does the environment. 

So, we tried something new this week. We made a seating assignment for the kids. Compared to every other week, they were very well-behaved this week. While we were making the seating assignments, it was sort of like arranging a puzzle. We had to take multiple things into account: 

1)  make sure that the mischievous kids were sitting separately
2) the quiet kids sit near the front, 
3) Put a well-behaved kid in between two talkative kids, etc.

We are still experimenting to see what the best version of the seating assignment will be, however, from the results of this week, it seems like we may be doing this every week.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bal 1 - It May Work!

This Sunday, Bal 1, guest speaker, topic: I Will Not!

I had no idea from the title what that was about, after reading the presentation it turns out it is about niyams with prasang from Gunatitanand Swami's haribhakto.

We have started requesting SUS from guest speakers and this is what we received for this talk.

Niyams help us

1. I will not game
Kids say I will not or I will based on what we say.
We say Do puja, They say I will
We say Eat eggs, they say I will not

If this gets too loud, then we will have them stand for will not and
sit and fold hand for will.

2. Story review
For review we are going to have each balak act out one line from the story.

3. Ask each Balak favorite niyam, one new niyam they will take.

Abhesinh Darbar (say this with emotion) for review act out.

I think this Will Work! It really depends on execution. The ideas are good. Interactive, well thought out games. Not using every single prasang in the syllabus. And lastly reviewing the entire story in a different way. The acting out was a creativity tip right from the presentation. We don't do much (read we NEVER) act things out. The change of pace should be good. May update with a picture or two on Monday.


As promised pictures below.

We added the make a gesture when I say this name to the story. Finger in the air for Abhesinh Darbar, two hand in on head in a crown for the king, thumb in mouth for drinking, and an X with both arms for no. We thought this would help the kids with acting.

Did it work? It Mostly Worked!

They kids loved it. Maybe too much. There was so much interaction that the kids enjoyed but seem to only focus on that. In review when asked about the story one response was - "Did he do a story?"

Basically too much unexpected AND not enough story and repetition on the simple made it less sticky - but fun none the less.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bal 1 - It Worked!

As a group we have been experimenting with an ending song for sabha before going to Shri Harim. Coming from Shishu Mandal, many of these kids were used to having some kind of song to signal different parts of the sabha. They are now getting attuned to dhoon and prarthna signifying the beginning of sabha, but the ending seems to take them by surprise. It is a good surprise since they get snack and get to play afterwards.

We have mentioned Kirtan For Kids before. I bought a copy and at home the kids have taken to it. I really think that this is a very good way to mix the different sensibilities that our kids are growing up with - a blend of both East and West. So we took a page from the CD, a track called Namaste and changed the words to Bolo Jai and have used this as our ending song. It Worked! Actually this is a work in progress. The kids like it, it helps them get refocused before Shri Harim and snack and play time. Results below.

If you like this whole east meets west sensibility check out the Darohar Project by Laura Marling and Mumford and Son.

If you think we could make our own version of Kirtan for Kids with an east meets west sensibility, email the site we want to help.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bal 1 - It Worked!

We have kishores who help out in Bal sabha. This is a blessing since to do a bal mandal talk requires a great deal of energy. If it does not then you are probably doing it wrong. Look around how many kids are not looking at you, picking lint off the carpet, doing summersaults - if the answer is greater than 10%, you probably need to increase your energy level.

One kishore in particular has been working really hard to use objects in telling a story. He has settled on two characters represented by stuffed animals that he has been bringing back every week. While he is finding his voice, this unexpected idea of using the toys to represent characters, well It Worked! The kids got a bit rowdy, but he had a tough slot - just a little after the half way point. Also our room is now super cramped, we cannot really do activities like coloring since there is not enough room for each kid to put down a piece of paper and color. The AC was also spotty so it got stuffy in our small room. All this led to a some restlessness. However you will notice that the rowdiness was concomitant with the kids being engaged. Trust us - It Worked! Better yet see for yourself.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bal 1 - It Worked!

This week in Bal 1 there were a few prasangs about Gunatitanand Swami. One was when he drank milk before his mom, Sakarba, offered it to Thakorji and then Thakorji had milk on his lips.

What really worked was getting very animated and saying: he was hungry he said Mama Mama I am soooo hungry I want some .....

Rub your tummy while you say this and you will not even have to ask the kids to fill in the blank. When we did this we had a ton of hands fly in the air as each kid said what their favorite food was.

It worked!