查理是我们的故事《小蜗牛找房子》里头的主角。故事里好多朋友都给他出主意，但是怎么都不适合。这一期，我们让小朋友了解了其中的因果关系。故事里刺猬大妈建议查理织个暖和和的蜗牛房子，但是下雨后房子太湿了 -- 于是我们让小朋友也尝试“织”个蜗牛房子，然后观察并感受“下雨”后，房子会变成什么样。
让孩子们了解因果能提高他们的观察和推断能力。除此之外，我们也希望通过这个体验，在不刻意的情况下介绍简单的词汇并让孩子们通过亲身感受，明白 “湿”、“软”、“粘” 究竟是什么。这一班的孩子大部分都是听惯了英语，所以我们很谨慎地处理华语的部分。我一直都认为孩子们的读写能力不是以他们懂得多少个字来判断，他们必须明白如何运用词汇，识字才有意义，但是要在懂得如何运用之前，他们必须先明白字的意思。当孩子们在最自然的环境下学习，他们就不会感受到压力，能避免他们对华语的抗拒。
Charlie Finds a Home - Cause and Effect
In Charlie Finds a Home, Charlie is the main character, and on his journey to find himself a new home, his friends thought of many ways and ideas but none of it seemed to work. This week, we let our 12 children understand cause and effect.
In the story, Mama Hedgehog suggested for Charlie to weave his own cosy snail home, but that soon became a flop when it rained and became far too wet - relating it back to real life to make it easier for children to understand, we let children try it for themselves. The kids had a go at “weaving” their own snail shells, and then observed and felt what the house became after it got wet from the “rain”.
Little Rat then brought Charlie to the rubbish dumps to search for a home, but both were disappointed to only find houses that were either too narrow or sticky. Just like Charlie, the kids also went through the same sensorial trail in the mini tunnel we had built, where they had to climb across narrow and sticky parts as a simulation of the same path Charlie took in the story.
The garden fence that we got the kids to paint in the first session had turned into flowers this week, on which children could freely paint and decorate in any way they fancy.
Letting children understand cause and effect can increase their ability to observe and hone their inference skills. In allowing kids to follow through those hands-on processes, we created an environment that is naturally conducive for the kids to pick up new Chinese vocabulary, in which they learn what exactly constitutes the words “wet”, “soft” and “sticky”. The current batch of children attending the workshop are mostly used to speaking and listening to English, which is why we are especially cautious with how we incorporate Mandarin during the sessions.
I have always believed that a child’s ability to read and write should not be evaluated by just the number of words they can identify. Having a thorough understanding of each word itself lays a solid foundation for what is key to one’s language ability and comprehension, with which they can then smoothly grasp the vocabulary usage and thus gain semantic and syntactic knowledge. When we provide children with such a non-deliberate and natural environment for these learning processes to occur, children do not feel pressured, reducing the likelihood of a kid’s repulsion against the Chinese language.