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Educational materials for teachers , parents, and administrators, including lesson plans, creative tasks and activities
Interactive Games and Lessons through questions puzzles and creative activities the children can interact with the character building stories
How can we help teachers remember that a person is born in the world to create? How can we help our children develop in themselves these precious sparks of creativity? How can we turn our schools into workshops of wisdom and humanity?
What, above all, should we introduce to our children, what should we bring into their hearts and souls if not this ocean of spiritual aspiration, which has been recorded for us in the lives and work of writers and poets, artists and storytellers, composers and musicians, pedagogues and philosophers? Do we think there has been a shortage of them in human history? It is for us and for our children that they have sown the seeds of spiritual virtues in their creative work and in their lives.
The first goal of our books is to POPULARIZE THE SPIRITUAL INHERITANCE OF HUMANITY AND THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT in relationship to various subjects, chosen in order to:
a) be close the child and touch the inner reaches of his soul, for example: his own home, family, friends, secrets of the heart, beloved animals, etc.;
b) introduce the child to the beauty of nature surrounding him and teach him about the interdependence of all things, for example: the wonders of nature, stars - the eyes of the sky, flowers, our home the earth, etc.;
c) develop the spiritual qualities of the child: nobility, love, beauty, kindness, smiles, mercy, service to others, love of work, etc.;
d) teach the child to know and feel for the basics of the creative work of artists, musicians, composers and poets.
"Do one little thing better, and not plan a great deed," said the wise man. Thus, even more important than showing or telling the children about these things is what they do after our story: what they write, draw, what they think about and how they act.
Therefore, the second goal that we set for ourselves was to create methodological materials, intended to foster the development of the spiritual and creative potential of the child. Every story, saying or quotation is accompanied by a series of questions, games and activities connected with the child's own life and intended to help him internalize the material.
For example, following the saying, "A tree's strength is in its roots, and ours is in our friends" we offer the following activity for internalization:
Draw yourself in the shape of a tree, all of whose roots are your friends. Use the drawing to tell each other about your best friends.
Following the saying, "The sun shines on people with light, and mothers shine on children with kindness," the children are asked to draw on the board the sun of their mother's love, where each of the sun's rays is one of the mother's qualities, and then to think about what qualities appeared in themselves under the influence of that sun.
In talking with the children about the role of trees in our lives, we suggest that on the way to school they choose one of the trees they see and make friends with it. Over the course of the week we ask them to watch their tree carefully, writing down or drawing all of their observations.
The first time we used this activity with children and collected their drawings into beautiful albums, they continued for a long time afterwards to bring us their stories and pictures. Even in the following school year, when we were talking with them about completely different subjects, they would tell us about their tree-friends: "You know, all the trees are covered in frost today, but mine's got the thickest frost of all… My tree's got a huge, sparkling icicle hanging on it, so bright you have to close your eyes when you look at it. I looked at it up close and it's got air bubbles inside. I wonder how they got in there?"
During the lesson we call "The Pure Voice of Water" one of the children was the water fairy. He was supposed to go around to all his friends and sprinkle them with water from a cup. Whoever he got wet was to say something nice about the water and about the good things it does for people.
After this we divided the children into groups. One group was a sea, another was a river, a third group was a lake, and so on. Each group described its water, without saying its name, and the others had to guess which water they were talking about. We composed stories about the lives of raindrops, and asked the children for homework to write a story about a puddle of rainwater.
There were many activities of this kind, and the children were always happy to engage in them. We remembered this one activity in particular, however, because the next day one boy who came to class late said, "Don't get mad at me for being late. I was walking past my puddle and saw someone had thrown some dirty papers into it. So I got them all out, and that's why I'm late…"
In brief, we have attempted to put together our books in such a way that they will teach children to be observant and to love and understand the world of nature; lead them into the land of wisdom and teach them about the spiritual basis of creativity; help them to be creative in their relationship with the world; and develop feelings of respect and responsibility in relationship to other people.
Some teachers believe that activities of this kind take up valuable time that is needed to meet the minimal requirements of the school program. However, we ourselves and many of our colleagues have found over and over again that the opposite is true: the more attention a teacher gives to the soul of the child, the better the child's mind will assimilate knowledge. Ushinskii, for example, spent more than half of the lesson in primary school on talking with the children, and did not worry that there might not be enough time for the active transmission of knowledge. Here is what he wrote on this subject:
"It is much more difficult to have a discussion with children than to merely heap upon their heads a mass of facts, which an uninterested brain pushes away with all its might. Yet after discussion the child's brain is ready to accept these facts. It creates an appropriate atmosphere for teaching. In order to have such discussions, you must put your heart into it. The mechanical transmission of material does not put any demands on the heart. Do not hesitate to spend time on conversation. In the time that remains the brain will accept and assimilate twice as much."
Letters from many teachers who have successfully used our materials and methodology in their work have, again and again, led us to conclude that the educational process in schools must touch the child with the treasures of wisdom which human civilization has accumulated, and help them internalize from these examples a moral and spiritual relationship to the world. This is true regardless of the subject.
Here are some excerpts from the letters of various teachers who have used our materials in their work:
Penza. School No. 33, elementary class teacher Alla Viktorovna Markova
"… Working with these books, you understand that in front of you are children, every one of whom has a unique a precious soul. And you are impelled to create lessons and activities for them that will leave some trace in their lives… The children's hearts are incredibly sensitive in their reactions to creativity, they open up and fill with light, love, faith, hope and joy. They have become freer in giving their opinions. They try to understand the connections and interdependence between all things in the world. In every thing they look for its own amazing, one-of-a-kind miracle, and in ordinary things they see the extraordinary. I've noticed that they often try to get out of difficult situations in a way that respects their self-worth, they look for the right way out. "
Dnepropetrovsk, School No. 23, history teacher Ludmila Nikolaevna Balaba
"These wonderful books have served me as both methodological and didactic materials. Above all they have been a guide to the vast world of the spirit. Even I, an adult, have been moved to re-examine some of my views.
The children in my classes work with unfeigned interest, prepare seriously for their lessons, and their parents help them a great deal. The books help to create wonderful moments of interaction in the family. The children are learning to see and hear what is beautiful. For them, these lessons are a means of self-expression."
Kazan, "Illumination" independent school, human sciences teacher Marta
"I was endlessly delighted by the appearance of these books in my life. These materials for moral and spiritual education are exactly what I had been looking for! Now I don't get worried over what I can offer the children, because in my hands, and in my heart and soul, I hold these books… The contents of every page sound an echo in me, I can understand them and accept them. And I rush off to share them with the children and with other teachers…"
In pedagogical seminars and conferences we have spoken about the creative work of these teachers, and the work of their children, but often get the response from our audience that they can't work in this way. It's impossible, they say, given the overburdened school program and lack of time. And the demands of modern society are totally different: the children must be made ready to enter universities and institutes.
This is what gave rise to the idea of combining moral and spiritual education and general education into a single process.
Indeed, why can't lessons in one's native language become lessons in beauty, or lessons in mathematics become at the same time lessons in wisdom?
Taking this idea as our basis, we have attempted in our books to unite the general education of the child and his or her moral and spiritual development into a single whole. We wrote stories with both a moral or spiritual subject and with natural scientific content, which the child must study.