Sunday, July 17, 2011

Arts & Crafts: Marionettes

I teach four arts and crafts classes (40 minutes each) a week for the kindergarteners. The lessons are already planned out for me (easy, right?!). All the materials are pre-separated into individual baggies for each child and one for me to make/practice with. The baggies are good and terrible at the same time.

They are good because all the materials are already divided for you (yay!). They are bad because if you give the kid all of the materials at once they will make a huge mess/break something (and then cry)/use all the tape and then need more (the other kids don't really like sharing, "no, that's my tape!")/lose something (and then cry)/tangle up the string/et cetra (not so yay). It took me a few classes to figure this out. There was a lot of Maggie Teacher saying, "DO NOT TOUCH THE STRING YET!" and "Robbie, I said don't touch the string yet!" and "Be careful or you will tangle all the strings up!" FYI, the kids are either 4 or 5 years old and English is their second language. They don't know what "tangle" even means.

What can I do? This is all part of the learning curve of teaching English in South Korea. Most of the time, you screw up the first time you do it. Luckily, most of the kids don't know what they're supposed to be doing anyway so it doesn't really matter. The kids that do understand that you are winging it, don't care because they are probably too busy thinking, "Yes! This teacher has no idea what they're doing! I can be crazy!" and are standing on their chairs while tangling up their marionette strings and speaking in Korean (a big "no, no" at English school).

Eventually, I figured out how to handle letting tiny kids make puppets while ensuring that I was not finishing every kids project while they ate lunch (which I had to do in the first class, whoops!).

The Answer:
1.) One step at a time (very important!)
2.) Simplifying the process--by the last class they were only making the arms move and not the legs. I noticed that if we attached the arms and legs, they would just tangle them up in five minutes or less. Then they would get very frustrated and sad (some crying) because they could not figure out how to fix it. Plus, we were extremely rushed if we attached them all and the kids didn't have time to play with their projects before shoving them in their backpacks (and probably breaking them).
3.) Smile A LOT - even if you are screwing up, just smile a lot! The kids will think you're doing everything right and seem to be happier when you're smiling. :) (probably the MOST important thing)

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