Written by Joana Alsina, volunteer of Bhimphedi Children’s Home.
Quite often, the little ones have already finished their homework when we start studying in the morning. For this reason we divide them into small groups and do activities that allow them to learn while they play. When I arrived in Balmandir I realized that it was quite difficult to read in English for most of the kids. In the home there are many story books so we started reading every day. But many of the children did not understand what they were reading. So, we decided that we had to think of another activity to be able to improve their reading and writing skills and acquiring new vocabulary while playing.
Laura, a volunteer of the Atrapasomnis, suggested I could make a mobile alphabet so children could form words by playing with letters. With cards of different colors we made the vowels and the consonants to be able to differentiate them easily. With the letters of the alphabet each child forms a known word. In this way we try to isolate the sounds of the word one by one. As the child says the sounds, he places the corresponding letter in each phoneme. From here all the letters are joined, thus forming the whole word. This process is repeated to form 8 or 9 words, depending on the child. One day we work on words about animals, another day on fruits and vegetables, another day on the objects we see in the room or through the window. Little by little the number and the length of the words increase, and we form even simple sentences.
We also use the mobile alphabet to add new English vocabulary. We started this activity in the girls room. They had to make some cards with the name of the objects they saw and hook the names onto the object. First they had to write the nouns with the mobile letters and then they had to make a card with the name of the object. In this way, each time they enter the room they read the cards hooked on the objects and they become slowly familiar with the vocabulary. Once we finished the objects in that room we continued with the computer room and the study room. Balmandir is very big so we have many more words to write.
Although we did this alphabet to help the little ones to read and write, the other kids also use it. They use it to play crossword puzzles. Each boy creates a new word adding new letters to the words that are already in play.