Overby-Sheppard Week 3 – Taylor, Julianne, Tracy, and James

It seems that as the weeks go on, our visits with the children at Overby-Sheppard keep getting better. Upon arrival, the kids were very clearly full of energy, so we started off by playing a number of games to calm them down while still incorporating the fairy tale theme. We began with a game that combined the story of Cinderella and the all-time favorite game of freeze tag. Several kids were chosen as taggers, and several were chosen “Fairy Godmothers”. When you were tagged, only the fairy godmothers could unfreeze you. The game ended with Evan eventually getting swarmed and dog-piled (which seems to be a common occurrence with these kids). After we sorted it all out, we played a simple game of Simon Says, and finally, we moved on to a game of Duck Duck Goose before we split into groups to read our stories.

Julianne, Taylor and I agreed to read the story of Beauty and the Beast to our group, using the book that we used last week. We started out with four children, but before we started, one boy immediately decided that he wanted to be in another group. Another girl asked what we were doing, and decided that she “didn’t want to read stories” and very sassily walked away to read stories with another group. To each his own, I suppose. Left with one girl and one boy, we made the most of the situation. Before we started, we asked them if they’ve ever heard the story, and we were able to find out that they already knew some major points of the plot. The kids were slightly antsy at first, but it was a pleasant surprise to see them settle down, stay quiet and pay attention as Julianne read.

We noticed that the little girl became suddenly interested every time Julianne turned the page to reveal a picture. The book we used didn’t really have many pictures, so halfway through the story, I proposed an idea to the kids to make the story more interactive.  Every time Julianne mentioned the word “Beauty,” we would put our hand under our chin like a dainty princess and let out a small little sigh. Every time we heard the word “Beast,” we would all make claws with our hands and roar. Both of the kids didn’t really care much about doing the action for Beauty, but the little girl loved doing the action for Beast. For whatever reason, the boy was a little hesitant, but after a while he agreed to “do it just once,” and let out a few roars here and there. For the remainder of the story, we had fun roaring every time we heard the word “Beast,” which seemed to hold their attention until we finished.

After we read, we gave paper and markers to the kids and asked them to draw something from the story. Julianne and I did this activity the week before and it worked really well, so we decided to do it again. We told them that they could draw their favorite character, a scene from the story, or anything related to the story that they wanted to draw. The little boy wanted to look at a picture in the book and tried to draw it verbatim, while the little girl drew…something. I’m not sure if we ever found out what she was trying to draw. We were limited on time so the kids didn’t have a chance to completely finish, but we gave them two Jolly Ranchers each and sent them on their way.

Overall, the visit was very successful. Not only did we get to play multiple games and have fun, but we got the entire way through a story and completed our drawing activity, for the most part. On the way back to campus, we talked about how tough it’s going to be to tell the kids that we won’t be coming back anymore after this coming week. We really wish we could continue going to Overby-Sheppard for the rest of the semester! Although our last visit will be pretty bittersweet, we hope that we can end our time with these amazing kids on a good note.

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Week 3 at Overby Sheppard

We started this week ‘s session off with another hybrid-fairy tale game. Instead of running away from wolves to get to grandma’s house, we played a version of freeze tag modeled after Cinderella. This game was surprisingly successful in getting the kids involved-they were running around in character and laughing-but not quite so successful in getting them calmed down. While last week’s game seemed to take some of the energy out of them, this week it just seemed to get them more riled up. We discussed this later as a group and decided that this was probably due to the fact that it was raining and they probably missed recess (that’s the story we’re sticking to at least).

Eventually we broke of into groups to read our stories. We read “Puss in Boots”, and as expected, we heard lots of references to the recent movie. It seemed like all of the children were engaged in the story though I’m unsure if they understood all of Puss’ trickery. Like last week, a topic of interest was the romance in the story. Some of the children bringing up the movie romance between Puss and his “lady friend” and were somewhat disappointed that it was not included in the novel. 

Having picture books truly helps the kids stay engaged. I think that the pictures are not only more interesting, but actually help them to better understand the story. By following along with the picture, the kids actually keep track and remember what is going on. Also, all of the kids LOVE to turn the pages. I’m not exactly sure why, but it helps them to focus, enjoy the story, and stay quiet (so I’m not complaining!) 

We’re still deciding which story to bring for next week but I’m interested to see if the kids manage to find another contemporary movie connection…

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Overby-Sheppard Week Three

Our third session with the children was really successful. This time, we also started our session with more games in order to make sure the kids expend their energy. The first one was similar to the game we played last week, but this time we had two fairy godmothers to save people who were caught by evil stepmothers. Another game we played was Duck, Duck, and Goose. In this game, we all sat in a circle, while the “picker” walked around tapping each person in turn and calling each a “duck”, until the picker finally picked one to be a “goose”. Then the goose had to chase the picker, and the picker had to try to return to the sit of the goose. Actually this was my first time to play this game, and I found it was really interesting to see the picker pointing each player and calling each a “duck”.

This time, Katherine, Maria, Evan and I brought some picture books from the library to the kids in order to get them interested in the story. This time our group consisted of three children; one girl and two boys. We selected The Ugly Ducking based on our vote and the Duck, Duck, and Goose we just played, and we started to read the story in turn. I thought the picture book successfully caught their attention, because this time kids began to ask us whether they could read the story. When we were reading the story, we asked the kids to act some of the characters in the story, and we could see that this time, they really engaged in the story. We will try to plan some other new activities and we are really looking forward to working with them next week!

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Week 3 at Overby-Sheppard

This week we started off with another fairy tale inspired game.  Featuring both evil stepmothers and fairy godparents (the kids wanted it to be a gender neutral title for the boys), everyone else took on the role of Cinderella.  As a whole it was a twist on freeze tag where if you were frozen by the taggers only the fairy godparents could save you.  The kids seemed to enjoy getting to run around and be a little silly, especially when they had to be frozen calling out to all their friends to save them.  We finished off our game time with a game of duck duck goose requested by the kids. 

After everyone was a little tired out, us included, we split up into our separate groups to spend a little time focused on the stories.  By group chose to read a picture book version of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”  I’ve always considered this a more obscure fairy tale so I personally was very surprised when the majority of the kids in our group had heard it before.  As we were reading it they were telling us what was coming next and making predictions about how they parts they did not quite remember would end.  They also seemed to enjoy the pictures that went along with the story, commenting on the ugliness of the troll and the increasing size of the goals.  

We then proceeded to draw pictures of scenes from the story.  All of us chose similar scenes featuring three goats and an ugly troll under the bridge.  I was excited about how interested the kids were with coloring this week, as last week their was less focus on their own pictures and more about comparing them with ours.  By the end of the group time everyone had great pictures covering their paper.  

We finished up the visit by playing the Sharks and Minnows/Going to Grandmother’s House game from last week.  It was requested time and time again over the course of the visit and how could we deny them another chance to run around before they had to go back and sit down in the cafeteria.

The picture books seemed to be a hit.  I had another little boy come over right at the end and ask to look at our story.  He seemed really intrigued by the pictures in the book, thinking at first that we had drawn in the book ourselves.  He flipped through the pages until the game at the end snagged his attention.  

Over all it was a very good week.  I think my favorite part was when before we started reading the story one of the girls in our group said she did not like books.  But by the end of the story she loved it, and afterwards was carrying the book around with her.  I wished so much that it had not be a library book so that I did not have to take it back with me after the visit.  

It’s going to be disappointing leaving after our session next week, I’ve had so much fun hanging out with these kids and getting to know them.  I wish that we did not only have one day left with them. 

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Overly-Sheppard Week Two

Our second week with the children was successful. As a class we worked together to start the evening with a game. In order to burn the kids out a little bit we played a game, which is originally called Sharks and Minnows, but for the sake of our fairy tale program we called the Little Red Riding Hood game. In this game one side of the gym is Little Red Riding Hood’s home and the other side is Grandmother’s house. One of the children volunteered as the wolf and stood in the middle, if he tagged you, you’d have to join him as the wolf next time around. The children had to run from one side to the next without being tagged. The kids really seemed to enjoy this, and sprinted from wall to wall each time. Eventually the group in the middle became really large, and no one stood a chance.

During one of my many runs back and forth I managed to trip over all the little feet and winded up on the ground. It was here that I realized how old we all were. All these little kids were running up and down no stop, falling and getting right back up, and the moment I tripped I couldn’t find the strength to get up, not until a group of about five of them surrounded me and asked if I was okay!

After the game we proceed to divide into smaller groups. This time around our group consisted of four children; three girls and one boy. Fortunately for us, we knew all three girls, from last week and so reconnecting was not difficult. They boy was also really sweet.

This week we decided to read them Cinderella without any pictures. Instead we had them use their imagination to picture what we were reading and then we made them draw pictures of what they imagined while we read the book. Since all our children are six and younger, they were all having a little trouble drawing pictures. Soon the air became really competitive and they would all put their drawings against each other’s and ours. However eventually they realized how well Kit, Hannah, Diana and I could draw and then they all wanted to learn how to make dresses and pumpkins from us. During one of these drawing moments, the boy drew a picture of Cinderella with a vacuum instead of a broom, and when asked about the reason he said that his Cinderella was modern, this really made me laugh, what a joy!

At the end we had them take their images with them and chose one of ours to take with them to their parents. They could not have been more proud of their accomplishments. I look forward to working with them next week and to making them smile once more. 

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Week 2 (Abby, Rosie, Ben, Rebecca): Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your…?

Though it was certainly eventful, I can definitely say our second time at Overby-Sheppard was a good deal calmer than the first. After wearing the kids down with a fairy-tale-themed version of Sharks and Minnows, we succeeded in getting the attention of three little boys and a girl. We read them a richly illustrated version of the story of Rapunzel, based directly off of the Grimm version, which really seemed to capture their attention. Predictably, there were points where the story blended in their mind with the Disney movie Tangled, but they were certainly curious, and loved to pick out small details in the pictures.
We often asked them before turning the page what would happen next, and interestingly a few of the kids did not expect the witch to be evil at all, despite the fact that the book depicted her as a “sorceress” which they seemed to understand. When they saw her towering menacingly over Rapunzel’s parents they simply called her an “old lady” who, in their mind, was morally neutral. Of course, when the witch cast the pregnant Rapunzel out of the tower, and tricked her prince, there was less ambiguity.
I was a bit surprised that the kids took a while to latch onto the phrase “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,” despite the fact that it was repeated about five times. What’s also interesting is the fact that when we later reconstructed the Rapunzel story (albeit a little unsuccessfully) the hair was not even considered essential to the plot. Of course she was beautiful and kept in a tower but the hair was not included, and the prince managed to find her and rescue her anyway. Actually the element of the story that they kept insisting on was that the prince and princess got married, and they continued to skip ahead to the marriage before the plot had really gone anywhere. It seems like despite the fact that we had a 3:1 ratio boys to girls, there was a strong emphasis on how the prince met the princess, whether they would be together, and how their marriage took place (the ceremony in the tower was a bit confusing to them, probably since it didn’t resemble a normal marriage).
However, in the end, they seemed interested in the direction of the story and at least one boy kept careful track of the recurring elements in the story (the reason for Rapunzel’s imprisonment, the pregnancy of Rapunzel’s mother and then, later, Rapunzel herself).
They seemed entranced by the visual aspect of the story, and I think next time we’ll try letting them draw or color in pictures.
We also already selected another story (based on popular vote), Puss in Boots. I’m guessing this is because of the new Puss in Boots movie (Shrek was mentioned quite a few times) so we’ll see whether they incorporate movie elements more often than they did with Rapunzel and Tangled.

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Week 2

This Tuesday at Overby-Sheppard Elementary school, we, as a class, started our session with playing an interactive and physically active game with the children. The game had themes and symbols from the Little Red Riding Hood. One side of the gym was labeled the forest, where the children started the game. As they crossed to the other side of the gym, which was labeled the grandmother’s house, they had to avoid being tagged by the people labeled as wolves. The game helped the children familiarize with the subject of fairy tales and also helped them expend energy, so that they could listen more attentively during our group time.

After we all played the game together, the children were split into smaller groups. James and I had a group of two girls, a kindergartener and third grader, and two boys, a kindergartener and a fifth grader. As we all introduced ourselves to each other, I asked the students how familiar they were with fairy tales. Both of the girls had watched many of the Disney Princess movies and read Disney versions of fairy tales. The two boys were not as familiar with the fairy tales. As James read the titles of the different fairy tales to the children, we all decided to read “Hansel and Gretel”. The two older students read some of the story, and I finished with the reading of the story. During different parts of the story, each child interjected with their own comments and questions. After we finished reading “Hansel and Gretel”, we all drew pictures that related to the story as we all discussed what we had read. The children offered insight into what they would do if they were to come upon a house made of candy and their thoughts about certain parts of the story that disturbed them.  

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