Syrian kiddos take two

Today I came armed with activities — books to read, songs to sing, games to play — and while it was still chaotic at times, I feel like the time was much better spent. I started our hour reading a few picture books I’d brought from home. They loved Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, but I lost them a bit with Peanut Butter and CupcakeIt occurred to me halfway through that the concept of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches might be a bit unfamiliar. I found the books with more prose were harder for them to follow, so next time I’ll try to pick shorter books with less words and more colorful pictures.

After a lively round of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, the girls were begging to color, so I left them to their own devices. Then our intrepid coordinator arrived with her laptop and a pair of speakers, and we spent the rest of the hour dancing to If You’re Happy and You Know It, Where is Thumbkin, and the like. Some songs we found they knew very well. Their English is better than I thought, at least when it comes to songs. I suddenly remembered one of my favorite songs from Liam’s preschool days, something about monkeys teasing alligators and getting snatched out of a tree. That was a big hit. All that jumping around and singing and I was totally breaking a sweat!

I made them all name tags with their names in English printed on them. I was trying to get them to write their names in English underneath, but they weren’t quite getting it, so they wrote them in Arabic. But I think if they keep seeing their names in English, it’ll sink in eventually.

Next time I’m thinking I might bring in some balloons. Maybe we can draw faces on them or something. Maybe English letters of the alphabet. I have to keep the craft simple because of the age range and limited space. And thanks to Liam, I’ve got an impressive number of Michael Jackson hits stored on my phone, so we could always have an 80’s king of pop dance party. I don’t care how old you are and where you’re from, that’s always fun.

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