Thursday, April 11, 2013

Teaching the Children at KSEDO

Since this is the week before the Khmer New Year holiday, the children at KSEDO Orphanage are not in school. So we have had the great pleasure of getting to spend a lot of time with all of the kids, and playing teacher more than we might have otherwise.  This also means that we need lessons that are good for kids ages 2 - 17.

Kimsour, Chitra and Savath are not impressed by the boys' beach ball skills

Before we left Seattle, we bought a huge (50" x 80") laminated map at Metzger Maps at Pike Place Market. We also sorted through a lot of the currency and coins that we have collected from a lifetime of world travels, and brought that too.

On our first full day at the orphanage, we started off by having each child pick a coin or bill and then find the corresponding country on the map. Almost all of the 32 children were gathered around the map on the floor in the main room, and we went through a couple of rounds.  The kids had a great time.  Some of them are really good at geography.

We had a second geography lesson today with just the older children, this time in the separate classroom building.  We focused on Asia and South America.  We picked ten large and/or close countries in Asia, and taught the kids the capitals and population.  We try to alternate mental and physical activities, being cognizant of attention spans to keep the kids engaged.

Countries and capitals on the board tie in with map post-its
Sarah googles Malaysia's population while the kids take great notes

We also try to keep the learning part fun.  To do this, we did some straight teaching for a while and then played the game of "Hangman" using cities, countries or continents to reinforce the lessons.  The kids have clearly played Hangman before we arrived, and they are pretty amazing at it.

The older boys (10 - 17) are really athletic.  They conned John into playing soccer (football) with them two days in a row, in the 95 F heat.  In between, we taught the kids how to play indoor crab soccer with a tennis ball, which was highly amusing.

Crab soccer in the foreground, Bingo in the back

We also had a fun game of volleyball, which is the most popular sport in Cambodia.  John was wasted tired by the end of the first full day.  Two of the kids, Mesa and Savy, are potential future English Premier League players.  Mesa is a finisher.  It's not a coincidence that his name sounds like Messi.  John's soccer team was soundly trounced.

Other fun activities, especially popular with the girls, include blowing bubbles, playing a version of Bingo, and playing multiple versions of "Pick Up Sticks."

Sarah (above) and Savoaen (below) take Pick Up Sticks seriously

Tomorrow we are going to teach the kids how to play baseball, and possibly kickball.  John worked together with a couple of the older kids to fashion a baseball bat out of a 2.5" diameter section of bamboo, cut to the appropriate length using a hacksaw and a machete.  The tennis ball flies off that thing!  We frequently have to hop the neighbors' barbed wire fences to retrieve various balls.  Luckily their dogs are friendly.....

Another brief lesson today involved explaining to Savy and Mesa the meaning of similar words (savvy and mesa) in English.  Savy was pleased to find out that his name implies being smart, confident, and always knowing the right things to say and do.  We showed Mesa a photo of a mountain in South Africa that looks like a mesa.  Ironically, this was not Table Mountain!

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