Just one of Val’s many activities for the day – 12Nov2010 [Photo: Suneeta]
It was the evening of 12th November 2010. As darkness fell, the children at SHS gathered around for a special session with Val. The BBC was doing a spot on Sugata through their ‘Culture Show’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YcMHxCSx_M and wanted to film the children from the Granny’s end of things. Val is one of our distinguished grannies and she has been there from day one! The clearest ever diction and deliberately slowly paced verbalizations are just a few strategies that Val uses to make it easy for children completely unfamiliar with the English language to catch on and understand what is being said. You can add facial expression and the images and objects she shows as she speaks and you begin to understand why she is one of my all-time favourite Grannies; specially for children having their first exposure, or for the really young ones. But it doesn’t stop there. Val was among the very first to introduce craft activities alongside of stories and conversation as a staple part of Granny sessions.
One of the books Val read to the children – 12Nov2010 [Photo: Suneeta]
And this day was no different. SHS is located in Shirgaon in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra and though, being a village and a government funded School, there was plenty of space; the children themselves came from homes that had access to relatively limited resources. And they typically did not have paper, colours, cello tape etc. around – not even in the school. So when Val, in preparation for the session, asked if they would have paper; I told her the children could be requested to bring some from home.
And there was much that happened in the session. Filming was going on so they went through many different activities, from the photographs Val often shared in sessions, to a couple of books including Val reading them the story of Jack & the Beanstalk followed by a demonstration of making a beanstalk.
Excerpt from Val’s post on the solesandsomes wiki re the 12th Nov 2010 film shoot at SHS
Suneeta asked me to write about the film the BBC made early in November. To be honest, I didn’t realise what I had let myself in for until the BBC rang to say they would be coming to film a skyping session! I thought they just wanted to talk to me about the sessions! However, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the children who had waited patiently all day for us to connect and had awful weather to contend with on their journeys home. I hadn’t met these children before and so I had to hope they hadn’t already heard the story I had decided to read (in the event they had, but listened again with good grace!) which was Jack and the Beanstalk. I read this as I wanted to make a beanstalk with them out of newspaper, but they were too shy to join in with the ‘Fee fi, fo fum’ bits!! They were dab hands at making the beanstalk, though and we made a ladder out of paper too! I was able to share the screen with them and showed them the area round where I live and explained about the various seasons and showed them the impact autumn has on the countryside. Tim (the man from the BBC) and I played a game wearing different hats, e.g. a queen’s (or king’s!) crown, a pirate hat, cowboy hat, policeman’s helmet etc and we asked them to tell us who would wear the hats. Tim and I enjoyed this and I think the children did too! I ended the session with an ‘odd one out’ game using ginger biscuits of various animals and cars, trains etc, then made the mistake of asking them to make an ‘odd one out’ for me. They chose: gold, silver, oxide!! Hey, I said, this is getting too hard, not like my ‘dinosaur, elephant, bear’!! …. it only needs one like this to make me realise how worthwhile the whole project is, how wonderful children are and how honoured I feel to be a part of it! Val Almond
The children and Val were brand new to each other and they had been a bit shy about joining in on the “Fee fi, fo fum” bits but they were enthusiastic as they spread out their sheet of newspaper and chattered away as they made beanstalks too.
Then Val took another sheet of paper and started making a ladder. And the children?
They just opened out and unfolded their beanstalks, smoothed over their sheet of paper and began making their ladders. And far away as the filming continued, the crew probably had no idea that that was all that the children had – one sheet of paper.
Just one sheet of paper…
Postscript: It is often difficult for Grannies (specially new ones), or other folks interested in The Granny Cloud to fathom the extent of the lack of resources at many of the centres. Though the situation has changed to an extent over the years, ensuring that some specific material is available during a session does need to be thought of beforehand. The children had come in during their holidays, in the evening and stayed past 8:30 pm, especially for this session and that was a tall order. One that the film crew possibly didn’t realize how tall. Because their homes were not in walking distance of the school and in these remote parts there was no public transport available for them to return home at that time of the night. Thanks to the teachers, several residents from Shirgaon and neighbouring villages, the children were dropped off to their homes to anxiously waiting parents….
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