Creative Learning at Chelsea Education Center

After several years of being camp counsellors in Kansas, we (Allison and Jana) had numerous games and activities for kids which focused on non-traditional types of learning. We had witnessed in our short time in Nepal how studious the kids of NOH were. We wanted to pair fun with education during a week long program we helped facilitate with Emma (volunteer from Melbourne). Every day focused on a different key word which we paired with fun activities and English writing tasks.
 
Day 1: Trust 
 
We started our week with the word trust in mind. We asked the students every day what each word meant to them, and why it was an important concept in their lives. Our first activity involved breaking the kids into groups and having them complete a task while trusting their teammates. As an added challenge, the kids could not speak during the activity and had to be creative to complete the task. The kids also participated in trust falls with partners. After the games, journal questions were posed such as: who do you trust? When have you had to trust someone? How can you be more trustworthy this week?
 
It was beautiful to read and see how children who have recently experienced devastating earthquakes, among previous traumas and other trials easily and excitedly speak to the people they trust in their worlds.
 
Day 2: Gratitude
 
We had the idea of gratitude in mind from our individual practices of keeping gratitude journals and calendars. The day started with the kids expressing their understanding of gratitude and what it looked like in their daily lives. After a small discussion the kids had the opportunity to create their own gratitude journals with the supplies gathered by Emma from an Australian art store. The students loved using art to express the ways they are daily grateful. 
 
This day was one of our favorites. We try to live with the understanding that "gratitude turns everything into enough" and the resilience and grace found among these kids encouraged us to seek gratitude at a deeper level.
 
Day 3: Innovation 
 
This was a day for exploring new ideas. The students were each given a prop (ranging from gadgets lying around the volunteer house to commonplace stationery) and had to tell a story about the prop by giving it a new name, meaning and purpose. It became a metaphor for something else, which was a new way of thinking about an object. The students then shared their ideas with each other, played some games and did a reflective writing task. 
 
Day 4: Creativity 
 
The purpose of this day was to think about stories and do some activities to spark creative ideas. We broke up into our smaller class groups and started the lesson by sharing with each other the books and stories we love. What made them so good – was it the twisting plot? The loopy characters? The magical setting? The way the words made pictures in our minds? 
After that, we completed three creative writing tasks: weaving a verbal group story, writing short stories that used the senses to describe things and creating and fleshing out characters (name, gender, physical appearance, hobbies). Then we started brainstorming ideas for each of our own stories and wrote out a detailed plan. 
 
Day 5: Writing 
 
Today the students worked hard penning their stories to paper, using the plans and ideas they’d generated from the day before. The stories ranged from college love stories between boys and girls to showdowns between kung-fu warriors and autobiographical tales of coming to Nepal Orphans Home in Kathmandu from village regions. We collected all of the stories at the end of class and put them together in a big book, so now they stand as an eclectic, creative collection. 
 
Thank you to all of the incredible NOH students for taking part in our week of creative learning at Chelsea Education Center! 
 
By Jana Bersted and Emma McDonald.