All about arts and crafts

This year we’ve had a fantastic time making masks and crazy creatures in club. The students got to really let loose designing wonderful body coverings for their animals. I always try to build new skills into the activities, so we have experimented with cutting holes and braiding paper strips, as well as rolling and folding paper in various ways. It’s been a lot of fun exploring all the possibilities of something as plain as paper.

Small additions like googly eyes and straw handles really made their creations come to life. Frogs with lolling tongues and butterflies with beautiful, elaborately decorated wings flapped their way around the playground. Some students even got to complete their projects and then begin adapting them. They made Pokemon puppets and cute cartoon decorations which were mounted on strings.

It’s always so interesting to see how each student responds to different tasks. Some like to work carefully and methodically, using a traditional colour pallet. Others like to make wild patterns and abstract forms. Some of their drawings give you a real insight into how they view the world. It can be really fascinating. There are definitely a few budding artists, designers and illustrators in the group. I hope they continue to be able to express themselves in this way!

Chinese New Year

With Chinese New Year rapidly approaching, I thought we should warm up the festivities with a creative activity. Each student was given a worksheet on which were displayed the component parts of a Chinese lion. The students diligently coloured in their lions, using a rainbow of colours. They then carefully cut them out. A strip of paper was also coloured in on both sides before being consitinered, and stuck onto each set of legs, like an accordion.  Next, a drinking straw was attached onto each end of the lion, enabling it to dance. Then the mouth was folded down and the head stuck on. Our final embellishment came in the form of two googly eyes, which wobbled around as the lions danced. As the lesson drew to a close, those that were finished were kind enough to go around and help those who were almost there. Everybody was able to finish and take their lucky lions home to show off. What a lot of fun! Happy Chinese new Year everyone!

P2 Know How To Party

Yesterday saw the end of the MEP midterm exams, and with Christmas just around the corner it was time to let loose and party, P2 style!  And what a party it was! We made beautifully decorated Christmas cards for our friends whilst listening to our favourite Christmas songs. Next we played games such as ‘pin the hat on Santa’ and ‘pin the nose on Rudolf.’ Freeze dance is always a favourite with our class, so we finished up with that. Now everyone had burnt off some energy, we were getting hungry. Great timing, because our KFC delivery had arrived. Three huge bags of it! On top of the sacks of snacks that were already laid out on our banquet table. The students sat patiently, eyeing the food hungrily as we presented our secret Santa gifts. They were so excited, shaking and squeezing their gifts, trying to guess what might lie inside. With all the gifts now distributed, the students were given the go ahead to start helping themselves to food. They surged towards the table, paper plates in hand. Piles of crisps and biscuits were piled up in great mounds, alongside steaming fried chicken and succulent shrimp. What a feast! The food mountains were demolished, then they were back in for round two, then rounds three and four in some cases! Only when everyone had finished eating were they allowed to open their gifts. They were all super excited as they tore into the paper. Everyone seemed pleased with their new possessions, showing them off proudly to all their friends. What a fantastic party. We can’t wait until Christmas!

Loi Krathong

This year’s Loi Krathong festival differed from last year’s. Firstly, as with all celebrations since the passing of the King, it was a more subdued celebration. Whilst families still flocked to the river to release their beautiful floral krathongs in offering to the river, very few paper lanterns were lit and sent up into the night sky. This was out of respect for the King.

The festival, this year, also fell on a rare celestial event. The evening marked the arrival of the largest super-moon since 1948. It was pretty spectacular watching the swollen, yellow moon rising up over the city skyline.

I was lucky enough to have been invited to watch the events from the water on a friend’s boat. It was truly a spectacle to behold, watching the candle-lit krathongs cascading down the riverbank and floating serenely down the river. Throngs of families stood along the river and on the shores of Koh Lamphu. Special baskets on long sticks had been made to help people launch their offerings into the river.

I bought a beautiful banana leaf, and purple orchid krathong from the market beside the river. We sailed the boat over to a sheltered spot to light the incense and candle at its centre. I made a wish for my future before lowering it into the water and sending it on its way. Let’s see if all my wishes come true!

This year’s Loi Krathong festival differed from last year’s. Firstly, as with all celebrations since the passing of the King, it was a more subdued celebration. Whilst families still flocked to the river to release their beautiful floral krathongs in offering to the river, very few paper lanterns were lit and sent up into the night sky. This was out of respect for the King.

The festival, this year, also fell on a rare celestial event. The evening marked the arrival of the largest super-moon since 1948. It was pretty spectacular watching the swollen, yellow moon rising up over the city skyline.

I was lucky enough to have been invited to watch the events from the water on a friend’s boat. It was truly a spectacle to behold, watching the candle-lit krathongs cascading down the riverbank and floating serenely down the river. Throngs of families stood along the river and on the shores of Koh Lamphu. Special baskets on long sticks had been made to help people launch their offerings into the river.

I bought a beautiful banana leaf, and purple orchid krathong from the market beside the river. We sailed the boat over to a sheltered spot to light the incense and candle at its centre. I made a wish for my future before lowering it into the water and sending it on its way. Let’s see if all my wishes come true!DSCN6340.JPG

Time to learn

Prathom 2 have been learning to tell the time in Maths. It’s really lovely teaching them a life skill that they can now put into practice.

We began the topic by making moveable clocks using paper plates and split-pins. The students coloured their hour hands in red and their minute hands in blue, to help distinguish them. They then carefully wrote the numbers 1-12 around the clock face. Each student then decorated their clocks, whilst carefully avoiding the numbers and the center where the pin would go. Frozen and dinosaurs now seem to be out of vogue in Prathom 2, Pokemon and all things related are now most definitely in!

We can now read the time and draw the hands on a clock for o’clock, half past an hour, and counting in 5 minute increments past an hour. Everyone is getting really good at counting by groups of numbers. They seem to be excited to move on to our next chapter on times tables. I think they’re ready for it.

We’ve played race games, whereby a time is called out and students have to race to the whiteboard to draw the hands on the clock faces. To review, we also went outside and worked with a partner to show the time on a giant human clock. Twelve students stood around in a circle, each holding a number from 1-12. Two students stood, back-to-back in the center of the circle. The tallest partner represented the minute hand, whilst the shorter individual represented the hour hand. When a time was called out, they had to shoot to the correct position on the clock. It was a lot of fun!

St Mary’s Nativity

The birth of St Mary was celebrated at school on the 8th September. An assembly was held p_20160908_042850in the main circle, with all the students and staff present. It is always quite spectacular seeing the whole school gathered there in neat class formations awaiting the celebrations. Proceedings began with a group of teachers and students approaching the alter carrying the statue of St Mary as well as lots of golden bowls filled with tiny scrolls. Everyone had been asked the day before to write their name and one positive hope for the future on a small piece of paper. These goals were rolled up into tiny little scrolls which were amassed in their hundreds in the golden prayer bowls. As the procession moved slowly through the centre of the crowd, yellow flower petals were sprinkled on their heads.

All the teachers and some of the students had been given small garlands of flowersp_20160908_043031, delicately strung on brightly coloured ribbons. After the prayers and singing we were called up to join the procession. Shoes had to be removed first, as is customary for most school celebrations. We joined the throng of teachers in the centre of the room, trying to quieten our excited students as we passed by. Whilst the students sang, we slowly made our way towards the alter. Once there, we waied the statue of St Mary and lay down our garlands at her feet.

The singing continued loudly whilst the scrolls were taken to the front of the school where they were burnt, thus transporting our wishes up to higher powep_20160909_092933p_20160909_092924rs.

A Weekend Away

School was closed on Friday because of Mother’s Day, so we were gifted a three day weekend! In fact, school closed at lunchtime on the Thursday, so another half day was added on too. What a treat! A group of teachers from around Surat headed straight to the pier to book tickets for the night ferry to Koh Tao. I was itching to go diving again. The beach and culinary delights of the island were also calling. Much as I love the Thai food available throughout Surat, it is a real treat to sample the Western foods and flavours of home that Koh Tao does so well. Better than all the other islands I’ve visited so far, I’d happily argue.

The boat over involved 37 people jammed in next to each other, on tiny mattresses all in a row down each side of the boat. Pillows and blankets are provided, and the air con keeps the temperature pretty ambient. As long as you’re not a wriggler, it’s possible to get a reasonable night’s sleep. Waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the silhouetted form of the island, as the boat docks, makes it all worthwhile anyway.

The weekend was spent exploring the sea floor, with all its swim throughs and underwater critters. A highlight was swimming alongside a gigantic jellyfish, billowing along on its ghostly path. It was incredibly beautiful. No whale sharks this time though. Maybe next time!

We also took the time to visit Koh Nangyuan, purely to see what all the fuss is about really. Honestly, I wish we hadn’t bothered. Whilst, yes, it is incredibly beautiful, it is possibly the least friendly place I have ever visited. There is a fee as soon as you step onto the island, and a sign informing you the use of beach towels is prohibited. After you’ve paid your entrance fee, your water bottles are snatched from your bags and thrown into bins. Apparently water bottles are forbidden. I suspect smiling is too, I can’t be sure though, not many people were trying it! The white sandy beach is not so much white sand, as broken shards of dead coral. Not that comfy to sit on actually, without a beach towel. The long hobble out through the shallows, to swimmable depths is likewise hindered by quantity of dead coral and squelchy sea cucumbers. The main attraction of the island is the viewpoint which looks out across the bar of sand that connects the islands. Whilst the view is pretty impressive, the half hour queue you have to stand in before you get anywhere near the rocky peak dampens your appreciation somewhat. I wouldn’t recommend it!

The food, weather and nights out on Koh Tao didn’t disappoint. The journey back was a little more comfy. The boat offered bunk beds and air conditioning, even if my ticket dictated that I had to share a teeny ‘double’ mattress with a colleague. Fortunately there were a few spare beds, so we were able to find one each once we’d set sail. We arrived back in Surat at 5:30am feeling revitalised after our well-deserved break!

We Love Mum

The 12th Augus14074547_10153845884743595_630600442_ot is the queen’s birthday, and therefore Mother’s day is celebrated across Thailand. School was scheduled to be closed on the 12th, so we celebrated at school, the day before. All through the week we’d participated in activities in the build up to the big day. Most classes, throughout the school, made cards or small gifts for their mothers. Some also wrote letters, telling their mums what they were grateful for. In P2/12 we also drew portraits of our mums and got creative writing messages of thanks. We also made small pop-up cards complete with a miniature bouquet of flowers. We do love our mums!

There were two assemblies held throughout the morning for all the mothers. Anuban went first, and did a beautiful job of singing and dancing in their incredible outfits. They all look so grown up already with their perfect make-up and immaculate hairdos. The Prathom assembly was no less spectacular. The crowd was awash with blue shirts, as this is the queen’s colour. The students, however, were adorned with a rainbow of colours, from pale turquoise Hello Kitty dresses, to vibrant pink embellished gowns. It was a riot of colour. The performances were beautifully choreographed and executed. I had no idea my students could dance like that! It was beautiful to watch. The music and lighting really enhanced the magic and moods of the performances. What a spectacle!14060335_10153845851503595_1819749807_o14059935_10153845884753595_1136743024_o

Midterm Mania

August is our first semester, Midterm exam season. Our MEP studentP_20160803_035041s sit two days of Thai exams, then their English exams over another three days. Because of the dates of our August break this year, our review time had to be condensed into five days. Fortunately this was ample time to go back over all the topics from this year in plenty of detail. Energy levels were high as the exam dates approached. I’m sure I was more nervous than they were!

On the day of the first of our English exams the mood was apprehensive, but excited. The students were sat at their evenly spaced desks, with their bags lined up outside, and their stationary ready for action on their desks. There was silence as I entered the room, which is not a common occurrence in P2/12!

I distributed the papers, and then we began. Everyone worked away P_20160803_034909studiously, as I monitored the class, ensuring no pages or questions were missed out. Those that finished quickly sat happily colouring worksheets while they waited for the rest to finish. We finished each exam with a big cheer before playing some review games to prepare for our next exam. When the exams were over, we celebrated by playing our favourite games and singing our favourite songs from throughout the year so far.

Grading their exams and seeing just how much they’ve progressed is incredibly rewarding. I’m so proud of each and every one of them. Good job P2/12!

Creative craziness in Art club

Students from Anuban 3, up to Prathom 3 have been having a great time in Art Club this semester. We have been exploring lots of artistic techniques and creative ideas. It’s a really nice opportpic_01unity for students from different grade levels to mix. I love seeing the older kids helping out the younger ones with trickier tasks.

Allowing the students to express their ideas and interests in crazy new ways can be absolutely hilarious. It’s so nice to see how they view the world, and some of the bizarre things their imaginations conjure up.pic_04

This week we did a folding, cutting and sticking activity to help develop their fine motor skills. We made concertina dogs, a bit like Slinky from Toy Story. Instead of colouring our dogs brown or black though, we made them in beautiful rainbow colours, some with wings, stars and different magical powers.