|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
WHY THE CROCODILES WERE NOT KILLED
By Hindowah Kamara
Our great grandfather who built Kambama was called Fahguie. In those days, Kambama village was a very big village with many people. The great grandfather, Fahguie, was afraid for his people, the fishermen and bamboo trappers who roamed on the Moa River, that the crocodile would catch them and eat them. Because of this, Great Grandpa Fahguie thought of an idea. He sent for a Kamokoh (a Moslem man who made charm rituals), and he told the Kamokoh to work for him by praying to God to prevent the crocodiles from killing his people. This Kamokoh did the. work by giving an order to the villagers to catch a crocodile. When the villagers caught the crocodile, Kamokoh put some ritual charms into the mouth of the crocodile and bound it with a red cloth and let it go. God answered his prayers, and a law was passed that no one born of Kambama should kill a crocodile or eat it. From that day onwards, crocodiles never disturbed anybody in Kambama. The villagers and the crocodiles all became one family.
Of late, the Government sent people from Mali to kill crocodiles because the Mali people were in need of skins. From that time on, the people of Kambama started to eat crocodiles.
THE CRICKET STORY
Adapted by Rona Leventhal
One day, when I lived in the city, I was going to eat with a friend. It was lunch hour, and we were walking down one of the busiest streets. There was all sorts of noise in the city...cars were honking their horns, you could hear feet shuffling and people talking! And amid all of this noise, my friend turned to me and said, "I hear a cricket."
"No way," I said. "You couldn't possibly hear a cricket with all of this noise. You must be imagining it. Besides, I've never seen a cricket in the city."
"No really-I do hear a cricket. I'll show you." My friend stopped for a moment, then took me across the street, and found a big cement planter with a tree in it. And there beneath the leaves there was a cricket!
"That's amazing!" I said. "You must have super-human hearing. What's your secret?"
"No, my hearing is just the same as yours. There's no secret -really. Watch, I'll show you." She reached into her pocket, and pulled out some loose change, and threw it on the sidewalk. And amid all the noise of the city, every head within twenty feet turned to see where the sound of money was coming from.
"See," she said, "it's all a matter of what you're listening for."
Rona Leventhal is a storyteller, writer, performer, and environmental educator from Massachusetts who conducts workshops throughout North America.
FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES FOR "THE CRICKET STORY"
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TELLING THE STORY
I have found that this story is best told in the first person, although it can be told in the third person (i.e., "One day two friends were walking down one of the busiest streets in the city"). The story as I originally heard it used a Native American as the wise friend.
I usually include some audience participation by dividing the listeners into three sections: one group makes noisy car sounds, one group makes noises like people talking, and one group makes feet-shuffling noises. During the telling, when the first group hears me say, "Cars were honking their horns," the first group makes their noise, and so on.
I have used the following activities both in residential environmental education work as well as on public school grounds. They include both indoor and outdoor activities, and can be done with approximately ten to twenty-five students. Most can be adapted to either rural or urban settings.
SENSORY AWARENESS ACTIVITIES
The story speaks to the need for us to be more aware of our surrounding environment, whether in the woods or in the city. Below are some activities that use our various senses to heighten awareness.
This activity addresses several areas: listening awareness, sound localization, and predator/prey relationships.
* Participants stand in a circle.
* One person sits blindfolded in the middle of the circle, and a stick is placed approximately six inches away, to his/her side. S/he can't hold or grab the stick at any time.
* When everyone is ready, the leader selects someone in the circle to be the stalker (by pointing or tapping on the shoulder) and says, "Someone is coming." The stalker's goal is to get the stick and get back to the circle without getting caught.
* The person in the middle "catches" the stalker by pointing at them. The teacher responds to the pointing with either "yes" or "no." Let several stalkers try before switching the middle person.
NOTES ON FACILITATING THIS ACTIVITY As the judge, you need to decide the accuracy of the pointing. Some children try to point all over the place at once. Explain that the blindfolded person should only point if s/he thinks s/he has detected the stalker. You might need to add a rule limiting the number of times the blindfolded person can point.
Because the blindfolded person is depending on the sense of hearing to determine where the stalker is, the people in the circle should be instructed to keep their feet still, and be totally quiet.
This can be played on gravel or in a wooded area with leaf litter to make it more challenging. It is interesting to try it on different terrain, such as grass or cement, as a comparison.
Between rounds of the game, it is worth taking a moment to discuss the methods different stalkers tried in order to avoid being heard, comparing them to the ways real animals behave in the wild. (Keep in mind that in nature, the predator can also become prey.) If no one has tried a technique that you would like to illustrate, take a turn or two yourself as a stalker. Different stalking methods include going very slowly (like cats), stopping if you've been heard (like rabbits and deer), going very fast, distracting the prey (throw pebbles), and walking on padded feet (taking shoes off).
* Participants stand in two lines, facing each other. Arrange the lines so that each person is standing across from another; they will be partners.
* At a signal, both lines turn their backs to each other. Each person changes three things about the way he or she looks. (You might use five things for older children). Discuss the idea that a subtle change, like removing a belt, rolling up a sleeve or putting your hair behind your ears, will be harder to guess (and therefore more fun) than a major change, like taking off a shoe or a jacket. Behavioral changes, such as crossing your legs, are not allowed.
* At the leader's signal, the lines turn to face each other again. One at a time, each partner tries to guess which things the other person changed. It helps to designate one of the lines to be the first to guess what their partners have changed.
NOTES ON FACILITATING THIS ACTIVITY: It is a good idea, especially with young children (first and second graders), to quickly demonstrate this activity as part of the instructions.
This is a good activity to do before going out for a nature walk. At the end of the activity, I like to briefly explain that we often are not aware of details around us, both natural and non-natural. I encourage them to really notice things around them on the walk, or any time they are outside.
While on a nature walk, there are several trail activities to focus children on things they might otherwise not notice. Below are several ideas:
A. Give each student a color card. These can be
either small pieces of construction paper, or samples from a fabric or wallpaper
store. Instruct each student to find something in nature that has a similar
color. Encourage them to think expansively. For instance, a blue color in winter
could be the sky, or a yellow could be a shade of tan on a winter tree bud.
B. Give each child a card-or tell each child secretly-something you want them to find on the trail. These should be things that expand the way that they look at things in nature. For instance, you might ask a child to find:
* something that is as old as s/he is
* something that is fuzzy or furry when you look closely
* something that is slimy
* three shades of the same color
* evidence of an animal
* three things in pairs
* something that looks lonesome
* something that smells good
* or something with the texture of sandpaper.
This activity is best done outside.
* Students need to be in pairs. All pairs start at a centralized location. One will be blindfolded, the other sighted (the leader).
* The leader gently directs his/her partner to any spot outside (it doesn't have to be far away from the class meeting place) so that their partner is looking very closely at something (e.g., bark, grass, a flower, a fern). When they are situated, have them lift their blindfolds for five seconds-just long enough to get a quick, close look at something (like a camera shutter). You might want to go on a longer walk and take several "snap shots" as you go.
* The leader then takes the blindfolded person back to the starting point, where the blindfold can be removed. The "camera people" can then discuss, draw, and/or write a description or a fanciful story about what they saw.