Finding out about animals
January 27 2016

The STRIPE Program that we are working with as the basis for our basic life skills course includes one element of helping the children to become 'Enquirers'.  This means we’d like them to ask questions and know how and where to find answers.  We also want the children to develop personal interests, as well as ambition in wanting to do well; not giving up if problems arise.

This year’s first Kids Club at Natebe School used African animals as the means to introduce the learning objectives of the day’s lesson.  A board game was played where there were many questions which required the children to find out where to get the answers.  For the game, information cards were placed at the back of the school building and the children had to look up the correct answers there.  This mini scenario of knowing where to find answers, looking them up and remembering them was later compared to real life situations, for example when students can’t answer a teacher’s question, they can look it up in the textbooks.  The children were also asked to compare questions to challenges that they might come across in life.  They were encouraged to keep trying, even if the solution might not be in sight immediately.

Before the game, the children interacted with volunteers and staff members, playing with skipping ropes and balls.  Then the older students went into the classroom, while the smaller children were busy with colouring books.  The session started with the students asking the volunteers lots of questions in order to get to know them better.  There were a lot of giggles of disbelief when they found out that there are neither elephants nor giraffes in England or Switzerland.

Afterwards, the students were introduced to 'animal cards' which each showed information about an African animal, such as mass, lifespan and maximum speed.  The volunteers and staff members sat with small groups and made sure all children understood the terms and the meaning of the numbers on the cards.

After the children had stuck their animal cards onto the outside wall of the school building, the game began. Each group of five or six students was supported by a volunteer, who was designated the group leader. Depending on which number the dice showed, they moved their counter and read the question on that particular square, such as 'What is the maximum speed of a hippo?'   The children ran to the back of the school building to find the answer on the correct card and ran back again to tell their group leader.  If they answered correctly, they rolled the dice for another turn.  If they were wrong, they had to run back and try again.  The winning team was the one that got round the board first.

The children were grouped according to their level of understanding, allowing group leaders to manage the learning at a comfortable pace.  Where strong learners competed individually within their group, others formed teams to work together, so that everyone experienced the feeling of completing the game successfully.

It was most likely the subject of African animals that made the children engage quickly with the game.  The Kids Club team observed a high level of motivation and ambition.  It was also impressive to see that the children remembered the answers after the first round of the game and then were able to present them straight away without having to run back to the wall.  More importantly, they knew where to source the cards with the specific information they were looking for, meaning they could find the answers quickly; the aim of this session. 

Feedback from the children was a big thumbs up.  Even those parents present for the mobile clinic, which shares the same timetable as Kids Club, were impressed with what their children were able to find out, advising the team to “Carry on with the good work”.  Encouraged by this feedback, the Kids Club team is looking forward to seeing everyone again in two weeks’ time.

About Kids Club

Kids Club is our opportunity to implement our Basic Life Skills Course.  The aim of the course is to assist children and adolescents to gain essential skills needed to operate effectively in society in an active and constructive way.  Topics in the course include; self-esteem, coping with stress, effective communication, decision making, problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution.  The course has been developed by David Brackstone of John Taylor High School, UK using a programme in use at that school and adapted for use in our schools in Africa.

About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)

Basic Life Skills courses are one aspect of the work of our ALERT Education Centres.  The AEC operations at Livingstone (Zambia), Victoria Falls and Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) are all aimed at supporting the formal education system by offering extra-curricular activities to enhance student learning, and assisting with access to education for vulnerable students.  Current programs include the provision of classes in conservation education, basic life skills, and English literacy.  In addition, we provide funding to pay the fees of vulnerable students to take part in education from pre-school to university level, and fully funded internship and facilitated research placements for university level students.  Future programmes will incorporate classes in numeracy, health & nutrition, physical education and business studies/entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of vocational training.  The AEC is operated in association with Coventry University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and Copperbelt University (Zambia), and with the assistance of David Brackstone of John Taylor High School (UK).   The first AEC, at Antelope Park, was opened in 2012 by the then Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Mr. David Coltart.

Join us at the AEC

There are a number of ways you can join our AEC projects to assist in the delivery of the AECs various programmes.  Click on the following links for further information:

Those with some teaching experience can join our Teaching in Africa internship

Researchers interested in assisting us assess AEC programmes can join our Research in the Community Internship

If your interest is in teaching about conservation, you can also join the programme as a Conservation Education Intern

Even if you have no teaching experience, there is still much you can do to help deliver our various courses as part of our volunteer programmes

Support the AEC

If you would like to support the activities of our AEC operations please click here.



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