Sunday, November 3, 2013
We began the first language arts block with the stories of ancient India. The children heard an Indian creation myth and compared it to others they have heard over the years. They were able to highlight the similarities, as well as the differences. The story described the birth of Brahma, the supreme being, and told how the four castes sprang from different parts of his body. The class heard the story of the great flood involving Manu, a giant fish and the seven holy Rishis. They learned about the sacred Ganges River and the formidable Himalaya Mountains, both treasured gifts of nature to the Indian people. Next came a story from the Bhagavad Gita, the classic tale of the five sons of Pandu and the great battle between good and evil. On the field of Kurukshetra the mighty archer, Arjuna, along with his charioteer Lord Krishna, saw his enemies and recognized many of them as his kinsman. In despair, he faced a moral dilemma on whether he could fight them or not. The class talked about the ancient Indian principles of karma and reincarnation and pondered Arjuna’s difficult decision. Everyone enthusiastically shared opinions on what he should do!
We then moved on to one of India’s most revered tales, The Ramayana. The adventures of the incarnated god, Rama, his virtuous wife, Sita, his faithful brother, Lakshama, the evil ten headed Ravana and the warrior monkey, Hanuman, held everyone’s interest and sparked many lively discussions. During the daily review the children shared insightful questions and thoughtfully expressed their ideas. The Indian perspective on life and death, the relationship to the gods, the struggle between good and evil, and the implications of the caste system informed the discussion and made for a meaningful exploration into this rich ancient civilization.
Throughout the block the children wrote dictations that strengthened spelling, grammar and punctuation skills. We discussed ways to identify the main parts of each story. The children also independently wrote short synopses out of the stories. Out of the dictations and written work, I created daily lessons to address those areas that need more practice and clarity, such as the use of possessive, quotation marks, run-on sentences and common spelling errors. The children also created many wonderful drawings for their morning lesson books, including one of Arjuna and Krishna on the battlefield and another of Hanuman setting Lanka on fire with his tail.