About three days ago, The Whirl Girl told me she was ready to return her Kenya books to the library and get some new books. Perfect timing!
I thought there should be some sort of closure to the month so we sat down at the table together with all of her books. We started a "passport" binder where we can keep some of the crafts that she made. I put the Kenya sign in first and asked her some questions about the month to write down on the back of the sign.
What was her favorite book? (she started listing off all of them, and then eventually came to Mama Panya's Pancakes)
I started vague, which didn't get me very far. What did she remember about "the Kenya project" as we call it? (silence)
So I got a little more specific. Did she remember what we cooked? Did she like dancing to the music? What kind of tree did we make?
These elicited various responses, but I would say on the whole, I was way more into the idea of a reflecting up on our month than she was. She was more excited to punch holes in her crafts projects and put them in the binder. And to pack the books into a bag to take them to the library to exchange them for new books.
For me, one of the biggest highlights from our Kenya month was how well everything came together, in unexpected ways. There were baobab trees in the play we saw, in her books, and on her walls. The play's narrator said "Jambo", as did the characters in her books and the singers in the music that we listened to. She noticed how the hands on the cover of my book about Wangari Maathai matched the illustrations in her book, and we were both inspired by Wangari's work. And the animals - the Kenyan animals were everywhere! At the zoo, in her books, in her crafts, among her stuffed animals, in photographs.
It was a delight watching The Whirl Girl make these connections for herself, learning that these things were all related to Kenya. And it was amazing to watch how she saw these different pieces come together as part of a bigger whole.
In retrospect, we got a little lucky picking Kenya as a first stop. The children's book selection was fantastic - great stories, beautiful illustrations and diverse settings. The animals provided an familiar and fun entry point. And the crafts projects sprung out naturally from our activities. In planning for the next month, I'm discovering that all countries may not prove so easy!
Any Kenya experiences you'd like to share before we move on?
Next stop is MALAYSIA! Hope you'll join us!