Ubuntu! Bringing African philosophy around the World

This week our co-op travelled to South Africa! We had a display featuring some African arts, crafts and animals to set the stage for our journey and the word of the day was: UBUNTU
Ubuntu is a Zulu word that does not translate directly into English. The best definition I found was: “we are all family, belonging to God.” You see, Ubuntu is a concept rather than a word and this concept means that one person should never do something selfish because it would impact another member of their community negatively, or even better one can say that this word translates to “love your neighbour as yourself!” What a great summary of all the wonderful virtues are children are learning this year!

In circle time this week the children talked about the virtue of Honesty and Ms. M & Ms. C role-played a demonstration how even silence can be dishonest if you do not speak the truth when needed. Bible verse this week: Proverbs 12:19

We had a fantastic slide show from some far away friends telling us all about their life in South Africa and some special treats that they sent for us to enjoy! 
RECESS! With the glorious sunshine we spent about 20 minutes outside getting our vitamin D and practising our South African sports – soccer! We also learned about Cricket and had a brief discussion of how Rugby is played but due to the rather violent nature of Rugby opted to stick with soccer 🙂

In our discussion we talked about poverty in South Africa and as a hands-on experience of the innovations people can come up with, we played with a “ball” made from plastic grocery bags and string. We encouraged the children to think about how they can reuse things they have in their house for new purposes and hope you will all be upcycling all kinds of interesting things! 🙂 Please share pics and stories of any creations you make!!

Some observations after comparing the real soccer ball with our home-made one were: it doesn’t roll away too far, it is lighter and more fun to kick and easier to control. A great tool perhaps for teaching younger children some kicking skills without spending all your time corralling the ball! 🙂
After recess we learned about the African tradition of weaving and the children created their own book-covers and baskets.
Instructions for weaving the basic mat:
1) Using a piece of card-stock, fold in half and cut from the middle toward the edges stopping the cut about 2 cm from the edge of the paper.
2) Repeat all the way down so you have a folded piece of paper with a rows of slits going from top to bottom.
3) Taking strips of paper scraps weave them between the rows in an over-under-over-under pattern until each strip is fed all the way through.
4) Repeat this action with another strip of paper reversing the order from the previous piece (ie: under-over-under-over…)
5) Continue feeding strips through the slots in an alternating order and wiggle strips over until they are quite snug to each other and you have filled the page
6) Glue all the loose ends to the card then trim off any excess paper
 The kids were focussed and really industrious with creating these beautiful pieces!

 The skills in this activity were patterning (MATH), Three-dimensional art with found materials, paper craft, (ART), and great fine motor skill development (PE).

Instructions for turning your woven mat into a basket:
2) Figure out how tall the sides will be (ie, does the child want a taller/narrower basket or a wider/shallower one?)
2) fold the edges over to show where the sides will be
3) carefully cut in from each end to make three sections, and try not to cut along an existing slot rather cut just over on the card stock as it will be stronger
4) taking the outer flaps, you should be able to pull them toward the center and over lap them to create a 3d square. Glue the 2 outer flaps together
5) Lift the 3rd middle flap and glue it to the other two flaps creating the outside “cap” piece to the basket (you can also staple them)
6) repeat on the other side and you should now have an open basket without a handle
7) to make the handle take an extra strip of cardstock and glue a strip of paper on the outside or colour to decorate
8) Cut a small slit in each end
9) put one side of the slit on the inside of the basket and one on the outside then glue, tape or staple it to the base
10) repeat on the other side and your basket should be done!

Next, as part of our ARTs PLOs; (create movement sequence based on patterns, move safely in both personal space and general space, move in a variety of levels, move in time to a variety of rhythms), Ms. C taught the children the beginning steps of the African Gumboot Dance. Here is the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdvD5E4rZoE
Gumboot Dance Breakdown:
1) Quick hopping step of RIGHT – LEFT- RIGHT
2) cross right leg behind left and slap the sole of the right foot with your left hand
3) slap left thigh – right thigh – stomp right foot down – clap hands
do the above sequence 3 times then transition with the hop step (1) to the next move
4) criss cross arms while kicking right leg up and shout HA!
5) criss cross arms kicking left leg up and shouting HA!’
6) kick right leg and clap under knee while shouting HA! 

The tradition of this dance comes from men working in the mines and shuffling in and out of the tunnels while slapping out a marching rhythm on their gumboots!

We also learned some other South African words today: “a monkey’s wedding” – raining when it’s sunny, “robot”- a traffic light, and “Mbube”- lion
We played a game at the end of our lesson called Mbube, Mbube where 2 children were blindfolded while the rest formed a circle around them. One child was the lion and the other was the antelope.  The kids would say Mbube Mbube softly if the lion was far away from the antelope and louder as the lion got closer. The lion’s job was to catch the antelope while the antelope could try to hide  or keep away. They all enjoyed the game and loved switching roles and taking turns being in the centre! 
That was our day at co-op! The rest of the week looks to be good so stay tuned for more home learning adventures!

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