At this time of the year children begin to ask all types of interesting questions. Isn't it fun?
You can see their little minds are just churning away.
How does Santa Claus really get from the North Pole on a sleigh? Does he really exist? I also love to watch the older children just go along with the fairy tales just to rekindle the familiar warmth of their childhood memories. I can't really remember when my children were told about Santa Claus? Naturally I try to stay clear of anything commercial in my classroom and inspire the children's imaginations.
I believe that as a parent you just have to be ready each Christmas for that ultimate question and be able to think fast on your feet. Are you willing to tell the truth or play along with the child's imagination of believing in our myths and fables that we are accustomed to during the holidays?
While we were in class this past week, the children began to tell the story of Santa Claus that has been passed down from generation to generation. I was trying to tell them one of the fables that has been told about Saint Nicolas.
Some of the children blurted out,"They are the same, Chandi." I said. "Santa Claus and Saint Nicolas are the same? Interesting? How do we know?' They all jumped in with their answers.
I began to tell them that the story of Saint Nicolas is a folktale. The folktale is a story, passed down verbally from generation to generation. Each storyteller tells the stories a little differently, making them more interesting and fascinating as the ages passed. Different folktales bear the characteristics of the culture, folklore and customs of the people from which they originate.
Intentionally in the Education for Life methodology we try to make teachings practical and real for children. I had to come up with something fast to make my point. This is called a direct experience using a practical method . So all at once I thought of the game,"Telephone". Maybe this will bring out the point of teaching about fables and folktales.
I had all the children gather in a circle. I started the game, gently whispering a small part of the Saint Nicolas story immediately to my right. Then that child told the story to the partner on his right, thus continuing around the circle. When it got about half way through the circle, the whispers became completely different. Joyful smiles appeared along with silly glances towards me as they whispered.
In our anticipation a new part of the story had just began. As it went completely around the circle, there were many joyful laughs and surprises. The story was always very different from the one that was first whispered. The children love this game and they could quickly experience how a story could change over the course of many years and even centuries.
Christmas is for the children. I love the familiar stories but also the sheer delight of the little daily experiences that make Christmas magical. I am blessed to be in their company.
May this day be merry and bright.