Calvary Christian kindergarten through fifth-grade students spent a month studying India using an integrated curriculum that included geography, math, history, art, music and food.
The program was designed by Suzanne Baraff, Calvary’s director of educational technology, and supported by classroom teachers, art teacher Carol Cooper, and theater and music teachers Lydia Medeiros and Tritia Lau.
“This year, our goal was to create a richer, more personal experience of a country and its people,” Baraff said, noting that each grade level highlighted their classroom research by creating a teaching video. The video was filmed in front of a green screen and later edited to include images and visual effects. It was showcased on March 14 on the final day of Cultural Arts Week.
Cooper created Indian-specific art projects for transitional kindergarten through third grade that included paper collage bowl and teacups; Indian weavings using paper from Nepal; a Sari pouch pot; a peacock with felt feathers; block paintings produced with an antique textile-carved block of wood; and elephant drawings using Indian pencils and chalk to which students glued on copper and gold leafing and Indian jewels.
Fourth graders participated in an Indian cooking project led by culinary expert Mita Pakianathan. Baraff filmed her at an Indian market as she described different spices and products. Students were told that India produces most of the world’s tea. After viewing the film, students made egg curry, chana masala, rava kesari and chai tea.
Fifth-grade students, after learning that most Indians survive on less than $2 a day, participated in a paper bag project, “Could I Survive on the Streets of Kolkata?” In that city, some people earn a living by constructing paper bags out of recycled waste paper and then selling them to shopkeepers.
Calvary students made bags and then, using real cost-of-living prices and wages, figured out if they could survive selling those bags. During the video, students showed how the bags were assembled and described the difficulty.
Students attended two assemblies. On March 13, Dr. Gyanam Mahajan, UCLA professor of Hindi-Urdu and South Asian Languages, spoke on India’s people, geography and history. Mahajan also brought four of her students, members of a UCLA Indian dance group, to perform traditional Indian dances.
“It was such a pleasure for me to be a part of this unique educational experience at Calvary,” Mahajan said. “I was impressed by the program and the opportunity provided to students to be a part of the global community.”
The next day’s assembly showcased the students’ teaching video and the Lunasha Bollywood Dance Company, who performed four styles of dance: classical, folk, modern and a popular Western-style dance.
Students then performed a Bollywood-style dance from the pews of the church, and afterwards shared a buffet lunch of naan, tikki masala and saffron rice from India’s Oven at Wilshire and Barrington in the school/church courtyard.
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