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Aug 21, 2019

Play - An opportunity to share & collaborate

Children learning shapes together
Children learning shapes together

Almost all children are possessive about a favorite toy or game. At our Play Centers as well, we have observed that majority of children find it hard to part away from a game and hesitate to invite a friend in playing together or refuse to lend their game to a friend for a little while. This habit is primarily seen in pre-school and if children aren’t inculcated with positive ways of living with others at an early age, their social skills are affected later on as adults.

Children growing up in challenging circumstances, in the 21st Century, need to be able to adapt to new situations, take risks, develop a variety of skills, explore alternatives, share and co-exist with each other. These skills will not only help them navigate through adversities and successes that come their way TODAY, but will prepare them for FUTURE endeavors as well.

In this report, we’re excited to share, how we build social skills in children through play methodologies, as well as highlight how play, through our intervention, brings together individuals from various walks of life to accelerate development in the lives of vulnerable children.

Stories of Change 

At a community center we work in, a group of 4 children refused to play with each other because of a feud that had been going on for a while. They were adamant on playing separately.

An idea sprung up in my mind. I gave them to make a 200-piece jigsaw puzzle which had over 6 types of dinosaurs. Although it was one big puzzle, I told them that they had to make one dinosaur each. They sat at a distance from each other with a huge pile of jumbled up pieces between them. Each with an individual goal in mind, started putting together their dinosaurs. 

As the game progressed, they searched for puzzle pieces with their respective dinosaur’s color and patterns. Gradually, as their dinosaurs took form, the pile in the center grew smaller. Whenever they would find someone else's dinosaur piece they would give it to the other person. They were so engrossed in playing, they unknowingly started to help each other. They started talking about their dinosaurs, which part is missing and whether the other person had seen the missing puzzle piece.

Eventually, when they couldn’t find the edges of their puzzles, they realized that this was all part of one big image. Finally, when they finished the whole puzzle they were very excited and appreciated each other efforts.

- By Toybank's team member.

 

Outreach in June, July and August 2019

This quarter we worked collaboratively with close to 300 partner facilitators in implementing our play methodologies via 800+ Play Sessions to reach over 7,000 children (as of 20th August 2019).

Play sessions:

Over the last 3 months, our focus was on interpersonal skills and eating healthy food through a diverse set of board-games and interactive conversations. It's the monsoon season in India, and many children are at-risk of falling ill due to inadequate sanitation and unhealthy eating habits. We addressed these issues through fruit and vegetable puzzles and flashcards. We also conducted a special coloring session on healthy eating and oral hygiene. We also played games that encourage teamwork and collaboration.

Rural Visit:

We’re thrilled to announce that, our work has kick-started in Latur district of Maharashtra with 16 new Play Centers providing access to quality playtime for over 1000 children.

We also visited Beed and Nanded districts of Maharashtra. We had an entire day of intensive games learning where we took feedback from the teachers regarding facilitation concerns they have had during play sessions. We shared some essential tricks on how to manage a class in a child-friendly manner. We simplified complex games to suit the developing needs of their students, so that they joyfully play and learn. Post this, we visited Play Centers to ensure they're smoothly running.

Awards:

On 19th June, Toybank was honoured as the Gold recipient of the Global Good Awards, UK under the Education category. Our intervention has truly brought unique learning opportunities for at-risk children and above all it engages every child, irrespective of gender, age or impairments. Play is a language all children speak and rightly so, this recognition is a testament to all our stakeholders coming together to accelerate children’s empowerment through play.

Thank you for taking time out to read this report. We look forward to your continued support to ensure that all children in India are given this opportunity for early childhood mental well-being.

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

The dinosaur puzzle finally bringing them together
The dinosaur puzzle finally bringing them together
Outreach in June, July and August 2019
Outreach in June, July and August 2019
Fun vegetable puzzles to talk about healthy food
Fun vegetable puzzles to talk about healthy food
Teachers learn to use puppets to weave a story
Teachers learn to use puppets to weave a story
Our brilliant team driving change through PLAY!
Our brilliant team driving change through PLAY!

Links:

May 29, 2019

Play - A foundation for Early Learning

Children learning word building through puzzles
Children learning word building through puzzles

Early education expert Dorothy Strickland said that a child's first learning experience determines a child's attitude toward school for years to come. Current education practices in classrooms are constraining a child's intrinsic curiosity to learn, paving way for boredom, absenteeism, and disinterest in learning. These constraints prohibit children from learning a breadth of skills required to thrive in today's complicated and dynamic reality. Children need relevant skills to help them counteract negative challenges, build self-confidence and positivity to make a difference in their own lives and thus the society at large.

In the areas of Maharashtra that Toybank works in, we have seen learning doubly restricted due to lack of quality play opportunities. Toybank's play-based intervention seeks to bridge this gap and expand learning opportunities for children. Our Play Sessions equip children with life skills and provide for safe and healthy space to be curious, explore alternatives & solve problems while playing board games. Play drives a child's natural ability to learn and does so in a positive and hands-on manner, which academic textbooks and instruction don’t always provide.

Stories of Change

At one of our Play Centers in the slum dwellings of Ambernath, located in Thane district of Mumbai, we planned a special creative session for the children using a fun interactive craft-kit donated to us.

Together with the children we made two paper bag puppets - a bird and a frog and narrated stories about protecting animals. Young Kiran (name changed) volunteered to narrate a story in English. Since most of the children speak fluent Marathi, we encouraged the children to express in a language their most comfortable with. Yet, Kiran wanted to use this puppet to practice English sentences because in school his English teacher used puppets to teach sentence formation. He asked us if he could use this as an opportunity to improve his speaking skills. His classmates were surprised and were teasing him, trying to pull him down. But Kiran proudly and confidently shared the story of an eagle and the importance of protecting it:

"I am an eagle and I live on a hilltop. I eat snakes. Every time I come near humans they cage me. Please do not cage me. If I'm caged, I cannot save your life from snakes"

This creative and imaginative session saw the children creating characters and using storytelling to give out a social message. The puppets allowed them to gesture, make sounds and tell a story without worrying about language barriers. Learning from textbooks only make a difference if children can apply and implement it in their daily lives. Gaining factual knowledge and information is important for scoring well in school, but to make an impact for life children need to actively engage with information and have a deeper understanding that allows them to connect concepts and skills, apply their knowledge to different situations, and spark new ideas. (Learning through Play: a review of evidence by Zosh J.M et al. The Lego Foundation, DK. )

(Our Outreach numbers are in the image below)

Play sessions :

March is the month of examinations and April bringing in the summer holidays at schools, this quarter we focused and regularized our engagements at shelter homes and community centers. Unlike school where there are clearly defined age groups, fixed schedules and curriculums in classrooms, shelter homes and community centers have a mixed age group of children attending a single play session, children come to the centers depending on work timings of parents and have a semi-structured curriculum. This irregularity makes it difficult to gauge whether the children are continually receiving quality learning and recreational engagements. Toybank’s Programme Officers with volunteer support have put in efforts to regularize Play Sessions at these centers. This has led to better partnerships and the children have started to explore challenging games out of their comfort zones.

Capacity building:

This quarter the Toybank team actively reflected and built on the quality of our programme by nurturing partner relationships, learning innovative methods to teach math-based games and attending workshops. Aamod Karkhanis, the director of Nova Via educational tools and games conducted a workshop for our team to train us into using the math-based games designed by him. The workshop was a treasure of learning methods and interesting historical facts about math and mathematicians. We strongly believe in the need to incorporate children’s learning abilities and styles in order to make efficient use play to empower children.

Our team gained a fresh perspective on child behavior through a hearing awareness programme conducted by Montfort Care and The Stephen High School for the hearing and speech impaired. We realized that sometimes children don’t pay attention or isolate themselves because a hearing loss affects their classroom interactions and not because they’re mischievous or want to avoid people.

Our team went on a two day off-site, which was a major team building activity. We identified four essential goals to achieve Toybank’s vision of happy childhoods for better futures: Communication with impact, Collaboration, Ownership, and Execution Excellence. We also played outdoor games, spent quality time getting to know each other and collaboratively set goals to achieve for the year.

Celebrations :

We celebrated the International Day of Happiness uniquely by hosting an online haiku contest where participants described their #HappyPlayMoments. Alongside this, we organized a small distribution event where 70 children danced cheerfully, learned about colors and animals through flash cards and puppets and finally took home with them a stuffed toy to keep as their own.

On 28th May we will celebrate World Play Day with children of sex workers. During the two hour session, we will ask them to reflect on what makes them special and they will express this by making their own jigsaw puzzles. We will also play several board games to sensitize them about Play as a right to connect, have fun, explore, move and participate.

We look forward to your continued support to ensure that all children in India are given this opportunity for early childhood mental well-being. 

Thank you and Happy Toybanking! 

Puppet making and Play through Stories
Puppet making and Play through Stories
Outreach in March, April and May 2019
Outreach in March, April and May 2019
Hearing loss effects on academic development
Hearing loss effects on academic development
Our program officer teaching alphabet blocks
Our program officer teaching alphabet blocks
Our team went on a major team building offsite
Our team went on a major team building offsite

Links:

Mar 4, 2019

Play to be patient, be kind & be better!

Post a massive session at our rural Play Center
Post a massive session at our rural Play Center

'Play' is often defined as children’s work. It is through play that children organize and make sense of the world. 'Play' also helps children unwind from the tensions in their lives. It brings out children’s creativity and so much more. Many of the skills children need as adults to compete in a global economy are not easily taught in a typical classroom setting, yet play offers ideal experiences for learning the 6 Cs: collaboration, communication, content knowledge, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence, according to the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Toybank allows children opportunities for freely chosen, open-ended play that have a lasting impact on development and benefit them in their future endeavors as adults. This is done through a play-based curriculum that builds the ability of children to identify and access choices that will enable them to improve their life opportunities. 

Stories of Change:

Sagar (name changed), a hyperactive kid; who always ran in and out of the classroom came into the notice of Toybank Field Officer (FO). The FO observed him for 2 sessions with the hope that he might sit and play. He participated in the ice-breaking activity but refused to sit to play Board Games. In the third Play Session, the Field Officer conducted a theme-based activity on Anger Management - Role Play.  In this activity, the kids were given a situation and had to act accordingly. The situation was of a sibling making a drawing and younger sibling spoiling it. The siblings have to portray 2 characters- one where both of them lose temper and another where they control their anger and are empathetic. After the activity was over, Sagar got up and claimed that no one follows the second act. He shared that other students in the classroom bullied him and that is why he is always angry at everyone. 

The Field Officer sat with him and quietly chatted with him. All the while, Sagar was patiently listening and understanding what the FO was trying to explain.

After thinking about it for a while, he voluntarily sat for playing Board Games, which he usually ran away from. The FO was very happy. She gave Count-N-Link to Sagar, which helps in Alphabet & Number recognition. Initially, he refused to play with that particular game. Although, he took the game when he saw that others were accepting the games given to them, as per the rules of the Play Session. Sagar sat in one place till he had joined all the pieces, this was also a surprise for the FO as Sagar never liked sitting in one place. As soon as he finished the game, he rejoiced and smiled widely.

A kid, who was hyperactive and refused to sit at one place for a long time - because of the Play Session module of Activities and Games - understood the value of expressing and its appropriate use and developed the skill of patience. 

This is what goes around during the Toybank Play Sessions, where the children imbibe life skills which are necessary for them to become better people.

Outreach in December 2018, January and February 2019:

The months of December, January and February have been filled with action as always.

With a total of 390 Play Sessions, impacting 9316 children, the sessions were focused on developing their cognitive and social skills. Through the 11 Teacher Training conducted, 260 teachers were empowered with the Power of Play.

2 Football Training Sessions were conducted by a dedicated Toybank Volunteer in these months where more than 25 of our students participated enthusiastically. 1 Awareness Campaign was conducted for a School to sensitize 80 children. The students reciprocated with beautiful ideas of how they plan to work with children at-risk through Play. 
3 Volunteer Inductions were conducted where 11 young volunteers were sensitized about the Power of Play and were given Code of Conduct during Play Sessions. 2 game distributions were held where 282 children were given toys and games to call their own. 23 new Play2Smile (P2S) centers were set up by collaborating with a children's hospital where more than 300 children who come for getting treated are impacted on a regular basis. P2S centers have been opened in various wards of the hospital.

We have been able to work relentlessly and continuously with all our children, thanks for the amazing support we receive from friends like you through the Global Giving network. We look forward to your continued support to ensure that all children in India are given this opportunity for early childhood mental well-being. 

Thank you and Happy Toybanking! 

Teachers enjoying a training by our Field Leader
Teachers enjoying a training by our Field Leader
Awareness Campaign at a School
Awareness Campaign at a School
Developing Patience by solving a Puzzle
Developing Patience by solving a Puzzle
Children being taught through Play by a Teacher
Children being taught through Play by a Teacher

Links:

 
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