Activities with Auntie Laura

Other than being generally awesome (jk) the thing I am most well known for at Rafiki is coming with a plethora of activities for the kids. In fact, this summer, when Joshua got home from school on my first day in town he immediately asked me if I brought activities for them.

Creativity isn’t really a thing at school in Uganda. Kids aren’t taught to think for themselves. They also aren’t taught to read from books. Being a kindergarten teacher, I am a big believer in all of these things. Thanks to generous supporters, both summers I’ve ended up with extra money that I’ve been able to spend at Oriental Trading, buying kits for tons of crafts. Thanks to my mom and the scholastic warehouse sale, I’m also able to bring lots of books.

After the kids eat their snack and before bathing time, it is prime activity time. I like to start with a book so we learn a little something, and then turn them loose with a craft or project. The best is when we can follow it up with a game with Auntie Jessica. I’ve been proud of the kids this summer – not only are their fine motor skills improved upon from last summer, but also they are a lot more independent and willing to try new things. Last summer I constantly battled against their school-ingrained need to copy from an example and make theirs exactly like mine. I’m proud of my sweet kiddos for their learning and growth.

Highlights include:

  • Pinwheels. They actually worked! And the kids ran around like crazy people forEVER to make them spin. It was great because it wore them out. It was hilarious because they watched the pinwheels and not where they were going. Many collisions ensued.
  • Black scratch paper that reveals colors below the black layer when you scratch it off. The kids all were shaking their wooden sticks to try and get new colors. Hilarious.
  • Minute to win it games that I somehow made connect to a Bible story. Yes, cotton balls stuck to your nose with petroleum jelly can totally be connected to Jesus being our shepherd.
  • Glow sticks at campfires.
  • Making leis – I was actually super impressed by the way they stuck with it! (well, except for Don. He discovered the shortcut of using a lot of straws and few flowers).

One afternoon, while we were sitting around the table working on an art project, one of the kids said, “Auntie Laura, why do you bring us activities?” and without missing a beat, Joel replied, “It is because she loves us, right Auntie Laura?” “Yes, that is absolutely why.” I’m glad that in addition to snuggles and games, the kids also speak the love language of activities.

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