Tuesday, 9 February, 2010

Creativity & Team-building Workshop for Secondary School Children

On Sunday December 10, 2009, four of us, Mona, Manish, Vinod and I had an exciting experience in facilitating a Creativity & Team-building Workshop for Secondary School Children residing near IIT Bombay. Four of us volunteer with an NGO called Asha, which works towards providing education to underprivileged children. Asha Mumbai chapter runs a center near IIT Bombay to provide tuition to underprivileged children who study in nearby schools but do not receive enough quality education in schools.

Being working professionals, we always found it difficult to commit to teaching either on weekdays or on weekends for an extended period of time. Hence we decided to conduct a day-long workshop where we could teach something useful, which is not covered in the curriculum.

On the workshop day, we started at around 10 am. We had 26 children from fourth to ninth standards as participants. We started with "Name Game" for which we wrote 20 adjectives on blackboard. We made all children sit in a circle and asked each one to tell his/her name by adding the most relevant adjective to it. Since initial few picked up the easy ones such as good, tall and perfect, we asked others to pick up other adjectives such as courageous, enthusiastic and cooperative. We found that the children had difficult time to pronounce the long words but they were equally enthusiastic to give a try. Interestingly, we ended the session with the same activity to check the effectiveness and we received descent feedback.

The second activity involved formation of 5 teams out of 26 children. Each team was given a packet consisting of 10 stationary objects (e.g. eraser, sharpener, etc). This activity, called as "Name the things", required each team to write names of all 10 objects on one A4 sheet. Two teams won the competition by scoring seven out of ten. We took this opportunity to write down all ten names on backboard and asked each team to learn all these ten names by heart. It was interesting to watch children helping others in their teams learn these words as we tried to emphasis the importance of teamwork to them.

The third activity was quite simple. We gave one jigsaw puzzle to teams and asked them to identify the picture once completed. The children found this activity quite easy though there was intense competition among teams to complete the jigsaw at the earliest! The next activity was equally easy. We had prepared 25 chits containing 4 letter-words (no pun intended!) with last two letters swapped. The teams needed to write the correct words on given A4 sheet. This activity had a simple objective of adding/reinforcing 25 words to the vocabulary of the participating children.

Now came the time for lunch! We had arranged for vegetarian biryani and raita for all children. As we served food to them, they patiently waited and then jumped on the food altogether once we finished the initial serving. After lunch we gave them 15-minutes break so that we could quickly clean the classroom and get ready for next activity.

The post-lunch activity was for boosting the creativity of children. Trophy building, as it was called, required teams to make a trophy out of 10 sheets of A4-sized paper. We first gave them one sheet to draw the trophy that they intend to make as a team. Though initially the children were seen clueless, quickly during team discussion they came up with enough ideas. Out of five teams, only one team couldn't make the trophy that could stand by itself for at least 30 seconds. Nevertheless all the trophies demonstrated high creatively among participating children.

The final activity was a Team Drawing Competition. We gave a drawing sheet to each team with one pencil and one eraser. We mentioned 26th January as the theme. We also told them that each team member had to contribute during the drawing exercise. With only one pencil and eraser, the team found it quite difficult to coordinate their actions and we had to cool off quite a few heated arguments. Nevertheless, each team completed the drawing and then got crayons to paint the same. At the end of this activity, we had five colorful drawings, out of which we picked up one, which was not only good-looking but also was result of excellent teamwork. We took this opportunity to advise children on how team work is important and how it can help bring out excellent outcome such as winner drawing.

It was 4 pm by then and we had to conclude the workshop. Most of the children were quite engaged and wanted next activity to start. Since time was constraint, we repeated the first activity, which also helped us assess its effectiveness and served as good wrap up. The children
bid farewell to us with a question on when we will meet again. Given our constraints, we chose not to promise anything though we promised to repeat this workshop for other children supported by Asha Mumbai.

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