Tropical Snow

Everyone piled in the dinghy and went back to the primary school here in Aneityum, Vanuatu. The grade 1 teacher, Grace, had invited us back to show the kids how to make paper snowflakes like the one Michael had made for our Colorado presentation. When we arrived, the teacher wasn’t yet there, but the kids were all seated and eager to hear from us, so we killed some time writing out our names on the board and asking the kids to say “good morning” to each of us as a way to practice saying our names. Funny enough, it was the pronunciation of “Mark” that turned out to be most challenging for them because the r sound isn’t used in their language at all.

Before getting to the craft, Michael modeled some of the clothing that we have to wear in Colorado when it gets cold - a warm hat, gloves, and a scarf. Then we taught them the song “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” in which the lyrics talk of being washed “white as snow”. I was thrilled to find that they didn’t yet know the song, after they had known all the songs I’d suggested we teach them the past Friday. In full teacher mode, I wrote the lyrics in chalk with my finest “teacher handwriting”, feeling very much in my element.  It had been a long time since I’d stood at a wall-sized chalkboard!

Elizabeth passed around the cup housing the crystals we had grown from a kit Michael got for his birthday. The kids oohed and awed at the spiky purple shards of crystals poking from the bottom of the container as I told them how snowflakes are made from crystals of ice.

Then it was time to get creative. I demonstrated first how to fold the paper, and quickly noted that the children did not know the English names for the basic shapes. Oops! I took the opportunity to teach them rectangle, square, and triangle as I showed them the folding steps in the process.
Soon, E and M were helping me pass out the scissors and white paper. I was amazed at how attentive the children were, and so quiet! I could barely get them to nod their heads in response to my asking if they finished each step.

The best part of the morning was the moment we all opened our cut papers to reveal the unique and spectacular snowflake masterpieces we had made! The children smiled widely as their snowflakes unfolded and revealed the fancy design. I asked them to look at each other’s snowflake - they were all specially designed, unique - just like God created each of us.

We put the snowflakes on our heads and shivered. Then we threw them up into the air to make a flurry of snow. Miss Grace said they would hang them up in the class to show the parents for parent night next week.

Elizabeth and Michael were brave enough to play two solos and a duet on their recorders in front of the class. True to their personalities, Michael, the extrovert took it all in stride, while Elizabeth worried herself sick but did a wonderful job in the end.

Many times in villages, I have been careful not to intrude on the schools - not wanting to intimidate them or put them on the spot by asking if I could help teach. But when I think of specific topics we could teach them about, my teacher training kicks in and I get amped up to compile a lesson for them. Today’s was a bit of music, science, geography, math, and art. A full curriculum all in one lesson!! It was great to be in front of a class full of students again.


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