“Ma’am, what is that box?”
“Ma’am, is that a puppet?”
“Ma’am, I think that is a suitcase from which you are going to take puppets out!”
These were the questions and thoughts that were running in the minds of the curious Grade 1 students as they entered the storytelling classroom 😊
And yes, they were looking curiously at the Butai I had kept on the table.
As part of the World Kamishibai Day celebrations, I was happy to play my part as a Kamishibai Champion representing Indian Kamishibai Association (IKA). The story adapted from “Neelu and Peelu”, written by Viky Arya and published by NBT, India was waiting to come out of the Butai through the beautiful illustrations by Raghavendra.K from Bengaluru.
As the children settled down, I began in the traditional way of Kamishibai Storytelling.
They were still questioning, “Ma’am, why have you got a wooden suitcase?” and so on…
“It’s not a suitcase but a magic box!”, I replied with a smile.
“Really Ma’am! Are we going to see magic?”, they asked
“Oh yes! Through stories in Kamishibai style!”, I said.
And slowly told them the brief history of Kamishibai.
“Ooooh! I love candies”
Came the responses from the students. I told them about World Kamishibai Day and why I will be telling the story in this style today. The students got excited as I slowly opened the Butai and the story unfolded.
“Ma’am, the drawings are so beautiful!”, said one seeing the first story card.
As the story slowly unfolded, students were asked to guess what the saplings would grow up to be, in the story, and they were quite surprised when it turned out to be flowering plants.
“Wow! They are so cute!”, they exclaimed looking at the smiling buds.
To make it livelier and more participative, I added conversations between the flower-friends and songs as the students joined in to sing along like the flowers.
It was yet another interesting guessing game when the students were asked about who could be pulling the branches of the red flower in the story when one came up with,
“Ma’am, humans it is. Because they have to trim the overgrowth!”.
Wow! How profound it is, if we interpret that at different levels! 😊
As the story progressed, the students could relate to the pain of the yellow flower and authority of the red flower. One student went on to relate an incident from his kindergarten days where he went through a similar situation. The funny part was that the boy who had acted like the red flower and dominating was right there in the same class and he could not believe that he had done anything like that!
It was a hearty laugh that all of us had.
In the later part of the story, the students were asked to imagine themselves to be in the situation of the yellow flower.
“If you were the yellow flower, what would you have done?”
While some students clearly said they would not help the red flower, some were very sweet to say, “No matter what he did, he is still my friend. So, I will help him”. But the interesting response was from a boy who said,
“Ma’am, I don’t want to be alone. So, I will help.”
When I asked the boy to explain he said, “if I don’t, the goat will next come and eat the flower itself after finishing off the leaves. Then I will become alone and will have no one else around with me, to talk to.”
And I told myself, “Where and why does all this innocence disappear beyond a certain age!”
At the end, students shared their reflections and learnings from the story as they drew their depictions of the red and yellow flowers.
Overall, It was indeed a nice session with smiles, songs and sweet thoughts and conversations with a story through Kamishibai!