This summer we begin an exciting new activity where Nyansa students in New Orleans will be paired with students of matching age and gender in Haiti. Students will exchange letters, photos and videos and learn about each others’ lives and cultures. Students in Haiti will come from College Susan Schuenke, a private school located in Cap Haitien, Haiti. Angel Parham, Nyansa’s Executive Director, and Maryka Zee, an intern who works with Nyansa, will travel to Haiti in late May to deliver letters from the children in New Orleans and to collect them from students in Haiti.We are excited to begin this journey.
A photo of College Susan Schuenke in Cap Haitien, Haiti
Nyansa students working with Maryka to compose their letters to their counterparts in Haiti
March and April 2017
Nyansa students learn cursive writing during our Saturday sessions. Many schools no longer teach cursive, but it remains a very important skill. Adults who never learn cursive are at a disadvantage when colleagues write in cursive or when they need to read historic documents written in cursive. The skill of cursive writing also adds a beauty to writing that is its own reward.
At left, a volunteer helps a young student form cursive letters. At right on the board is a story written by three students who each used a different color for their cursive writing.
In the photos above students in the Bible activity group do a lesson that involves spelling out different people and concepts from the Bible.
During our family style lunch on Saturdays, volunteers facilitate discussion by asking questions designed to get everyone talking.
Loyola University students from the Knowledge Empowering Youth (KEY) program visited Nyansa to do a lesson, craft and game on the importance of recycling. The craft consisted of making a simple toy out of recycled materials.
Following this, the KEY instructors explained what kinds of materials can and cannot be recycled. The children were then divided into two teams. Each team member grabbed an object from a box and then ran to the other side of the room and had to drop it either in the box marked for trash or recyclables. The team that had the most correct division of materials won the game.
This spring we are happy to begin serving meals on both Wednesdays and Saturdays to Nyansa participants. Because we have a three hour session on Saturdays we have a sit down, family style meal and each table has adult volunteers who are equipped with questions designed to get young people engaged in conversation. We are grateful to the HOPE Food Pantry for providing these meals.
Enjoying a Saturday lunch and conversation
We’re back after our Christmas and New Year’s holidays. In keeping with our new schedule of meeting on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, our first day was Saturday January14th. What a wonderful day is was! We took the children on their first field trip. This outing was to the Stella Jones Gallery where they held a storytelling session and craft activity for children in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
We arrived to find that C.C.H. Pounder–the noted actor–was present with us. She addressed the children, told them about growing up in British Guyana, and read King’s speech from a children’s picture book in her beautiful, sonorous voice.
Actor C.C.H. Pounder Reads to the Children
After the reading of the MLK speech, Dr. Stella Jones, the owner of the gallery, introduced a children’s book version of Fannie Lou Hamer’s life story. As an introduction, Dr. Jones explained that when Ms. Hamer was a child she and others in her family had to pick cotton as sharecroppers. Dr. Jones explained that picking cotton was not like touching the cotton balls the children are familiar with. In order to show them what the experience was like, she passed around the branch of a cotton plant and told the children to feel how rough the part surrounding the cotton is. In the photo below we see children from Nyansa passing the cotton plant around and feeling its roughness.
The children pass around a cotton plant to feel its roughness and better understand the hard labor of picking cotton.
The event at the gallery also included giving away lots of books to the children. These were books that dealt with different aspects of black history and the Civil Rights Movement. Every child received a book. As an added surprise, the program organizers decided to donate all of the books that had not been given away to Nyansa! Children who were not able to be present for the field trip will receive a book and all the rest will be added to our small, but growing program library. What a blessing! The entire day was so beautiful and the children had a great deal of fun. We look forward to more of the same this semester.
Everyone enjoys and delights in their new books from the book giveaway.
In the photos below you will see the kids playing during their transition time from school to the program. Then inside they learn about chemistry by doing an experiment with cranberry juice, lemon juice and baking soda–all led by the Xavier University chemistry club.
Xavier Chemistry Club Activity
More Fun Chemistry Photos
This month we began to create a physical timeline of historical events beginning with the creation of the world. We will continue to work on this throughout the year. The children also learned new Bible verses,created clay cuneiform tablets, and made “slime” with the Chemistry club of Xavier University.
Learning Romans 6:23
Timeline Panels for Creation, The Fall, The Flood, and the Tower of Babel
Creating Clay Cuneiform Tablets: Learning About Sumerians
Chemistry Experiment with Xavier University Students: Creating “Slime”
Photos from the “Slime” Experiment. Lots of fun!
In the photos below you will see some of the activities that kept us busy during the month of September.
Opening Prayer and Bible Lessons
Learning about Ancient Sumerians: Cuneiform Drawing
Opening Week September 6-9, 2016
We’re Back!!! After a restful summer, we are back for a new year with our young students. This year we have grown from nine to fourteen children and are now meeting daily rather than just once a week. We have also been joined by Quaneisha Reynolds, our new Community Ministry Intern who is a student at the New Orleans Baptist Seminary. She is doing some wonderful, creative Bible lessons and activities with the kids and also helping with some of our other learning stations. Here are some scenes from the week:
Starting at the top from left to right: 1)working on language arts through phonics bingo; 2)spelling practice with movable letters; 3)Michelle and her family came as volunteers and led our history and culture station by singing the Classical Conversations Timeline Song and challenging students to put history cards in the right order following the cues in the song; 4) Coreen works on addition with number cards and cubes. .
Quaneisha presents a Bible verse for memory by using hand motions.
Quaneisha reads from the Creation Story in The Message as students follow along verbally.
April 12, 2016
After learning about the history and culture of Mesopotamia, the students began to learn about the story of Gilgamesh, a mean king who is thought to have lived thousands of years ago in the ancient town of Uruk. Here is the story of Gilgamesh, briefly told:
Once there was a king named Gilgamesh who ruled over Uruk. He was very hard and mean and made the people work hard doing building projects for him. The people protested, praying to the gods that someone meaner and tougher than Gilgamesh would be created to challenge him. The gods listened and created a strong wild man named Enkidu. Enkidu lived like an animal in the forest until the gods sent a woman to tame him and show him how to live a civilized life with other humans. After this, Enkidu met Gilgamesh. After initially fighting, the two became great friends and went off on many fighting adventures together. Unfortunately, Enkidu was killed during one of their adventures. Gilgamesh was heartbroken and decided to look for the secret to eternal life.
In the photos below, first we see Sabrina reading the story of Gilgamesh to the group. Following this, she guides them through a re-enactment of the story. This re-enactment helps the students to take their understanding of the story to a deeper level. Gilgamesh is an epic story originating from the Middle East, and learning about it broadens students’ understanding of different societies and cultures.
Sabrina begins by reading the story of Gilgamesh.
In the photos below, the children act out the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
Gilgamesh forces his people to build a big wall.
The people rebel and accuse Gilgamesh of being a dictator. They demand change.
The people pray to the gods for a new, strong man to be created. A man so strong that he will challenge Gilgamesh. The gods agree and they make Enkidu (played by the boy in the red shirt).
Students Move to the Homework Room Where they Work on Core Academic Skills
In the homework room, two students work on an arithmetic puzzle that helps them to practice addition and subtraction.
Another group of students plays a game of word bingo which helps them to work on quickly recognizing sight words.
March 31, 2016
For the past few meetings students have been studying the societies and cultures of Mesopotamia. In a previous week they drew on wet clay and then let it dry to simulate the process of cuneiform writing. Today they listened to a story from Mesopotamia and colored in a map that showed them Mesopotamia in relation to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Students also recognize the name Mesopotamia from the Timeline song–a 12 minute song where they are learning to sing history from the ancient world up to the present. So far we are about 2 minutes into learning the song, around 2000 B.C.E.
After we finished with academic enrichment, we went into the homework room. In the photos below we see two students working on homework with teacher Sabrina. When students do not come with homework, they work on academic skills using games or one-on-one help with a volunteer. Below, some play phonics bingo, and another works on her reading skills by reading a Bob Book with a Nyansa staff person.
Time to say good-bye for the day and thank you to Nyansa supporters. Here some of the students hold up cards they made which will be included in thank you notes to Nyansa supporters.
Nyansa Classical Community Receives Zawadi Award from the National Association of Black Social Workers!!!(NABSW)
March 23, 2016
Each year the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) chooses an organization in the location of its annual conference to receive the Zawadi Award–a financial contribution toward the organization’s work. We at Nyansa Classical Community are honored to be this year’s Zawadi recipients. On this Tuesday evening, Angel and Danielle attended the fabulous opening plenary celebration where we represented Nyansa. Below are photos that convey a flavor of the festive spirit reigning over the evening’s events.
March 8, 2016
For the next few sessions we will be studying the Sumerians and their use of clay and stylus to create writing through a system known as cuneiform. This week they mold wet clay into medallions and then inscribe a figure or form into the clay. This will dry and then next week students will paint them. This activity reinforces what they have been learning through the Timeline Song and through readings about ancient Sumerian civilization.
January 26, 2016
We are back for the winter/spring semester and excited to work on some new projects. The children started learning the Timeline Song by Classical Conversations last fall. Now they will start to work on creating a hand-made timeline portraying the events they have been singing about.
In the video below, a student sings the first section of the Timeline Song. Because her voice is soft, the words to this segment of the song are included in the caption.
Timeline, this is my timeline
Timeline, this is my timeline,
Timeline, timeline, we start at the beginning of the ages
Age of ancient empires,
Creation to circa 450 A.D.
Creation and the Fall,
The Flood and the Tower of Babel,
Mesopotamia and Sumer, Egyptians.
3000 B.C., 3000 B.C.
In the video clip below, Danielle does an introduction to ancient Egypt. She draws on what the children have already heard about Egypt and prompts them to remember the words to the Timeline Song in order to chronologically place when the ancient Egyptians lived.
Next, Danielle shows the group Egyptian hieroglyphic stamps that they will use to write their names. These name pictures will be added to the Egyptian panel on the hand-made timeline.
Students gather stamps to write their names in Egyptian hieroglyphics
A second student proudly shows her name in hieroglyphics
After working on their ancient Egypt project and doing some math games, students and tutors moved to the homework room. Some students work individually with tutors while others who are not doing homework read or work with Danielle on math skills with manipulable cubes.
Chuck E. Cheese End of Semester Celebration: December 21,2015
Throughout the semester, students earned the privilege of participating in the end of semester Chuck E. Cheese celebration trip. They earned “gems” by participating in learning activities, helping others, and exhibiting good behavior. From September through December they worked hard at math, writing, homework, and more and reaped the benefits today. Here are some scenes from their celebration.
December 15, 2015
In the photos below we see Nyansa students studying cursive writing as a way to practice fine motor skills, attain beauty in writing, and to reinforce basic phonics.
Danielle demonstrates cursive “d”.
On the board, Danielle has written some of the students’ names so they can see them in cursive.
Student shows off his cursive writing.
Another student demonstrates her cursive writing skills.
In the video clip below, students excitedly participate in a math game to practice learning number combinations that add up to 10.
In the video clip below, students practice the words and motions for the Timeline Song. This is a 12 minute song created by Classical Conversations. Over the course of 12 minutes, students sing history from Creation through the 21st Century. The song inter-weaves Biblical history with important historical moments from the beginning of the world to the present.
Learning the Timeline Song from Classical Conversations.
December 1, 2015
We return today after our Thanksgiving break. In the photo below, a student shares from an activity she did over the break. Parents were given MP4 players loaded with Anansi stories and scripture set to songs. They were also given a unique notebook with blank pages on one side and lined pages on the other. With this notebook, students were asked to draw something they heard from the story on the MP4 and then on the lined side of the page to write 1-3 sentences describing their picture. This take-home work is meant to keep students and parents engaged in learning work during the break. On returning to the program today, students who shared from their work received gems for their work and participation. These gems can be used to buy small prizes throughout the semester.
Reviewing work after Thanksgiving break.
In addition to learning math through games and homework help, students learn to do skip counting set to memorable music.
Counting by 3s
Students counting by 3s through song.
Every session we read aloud to students using stories that help them to draw ethical and moral lessons. Today we read and discussed The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle.
Reading The Grouchy Ladybug
Students listen and draw what they hear in the story.
More listening and drawing from The Grouchy Ladybug
Part of our discussion about The Grouchy Ladybug
November 10, 2015
After playing outside, we come back inside to share how the day was and to open in prayer.
Danielle does a math game with the children. Today the focus is on the number 10. The children help Danielle make a “10 train”–a pairing of all of the numbers that added together make the number 10.
The beginning of the “10 train”.
The “10 train” at its completion.
The 10 train activity in action with Danielle and several students.
In the photo below a student proudly holds up her drawing of events in the day’s story. Beneath this is a video clip of her giving her presentation of the picture and the story to the group. All students are encouraged to present and are given feedback on their presentation skills and how to improve them.
Drawing of the day’s Anansi story.
Student presentation with feedback on presentation skills.
Here we see photos of the “gem system”. Gems are given to students for excellence in participation, listening, and helping.
Number of gems is tallied on the program board for each day and for the semester.
Once they have five or more gems, students can buy prizes with them. Here are boxes with the prices of the different prizes they can buy.
Students line up to receive the gems they earned for the day and to place them in the jars they decorated for this purpose.
November 3, 2015
In the pictures below, students draw in response to the story of Anansi, the Owner of Stories–a story about how Anansi dominates story telling. This cunning spider is always using trickery and wit to outsmart others. Students draw their own versions of Anansi and then share the pictures and their oral summary of the day’s story.
Listening and drawing
One version of Anansi
Two more versions of Anansi
The photos below show our homework time. Danielle and the tutors work with students on their assignments.
Danielle helps with math
Working on math
A spelling lesson
October 27, 2015
We begin each meeting with a circle where students and teachers share how their days were and then open in prayer.
Danielle leads sharing and prayer time
In the photo below students are excitedly decorating their “gem” jars. Today we introduced the gem incentive system that allows students to earn gems–shiny beads–which they can exchange for prizes over time. Here volunteers are helping to pass out fun adhesive decorations the students use to personalize their jars. Each student begins with 15 “gems”.
Decorating “gem” jars and anticipating rewards.
Today’s story was about Anansi the spider. The Anansi stories are West African folktales which have spread across the African diaspora.
A brief reading from the Anansi tale.
A pictorial response to the Anansi tale. If you look closely you can see Anansi the spider hanging from a web.
Sharing picture response and giving oral presentation in response to the Anansi story.
Today’s math lesson focused on different aspects of the number nine. First students respond to orally posed math questions verbally and in writing. Then Danielle prompts them to think about the different number combinations that add up to nine.
Written response to a math problem.
More students participate in the math lesson.
Students call out different ways to get to the number nine by adding two numbers.
October 20, 2015
Today we are back after a week off for fall break. In the photos below Nyansa students listen to an Aesop fable and respond through drawing what they hear. They are then invited to stand and present their work to the group.
Students listen and respond creatively through drawing.
Danny’s pictorial response to the story
October 6, 2015
One of the disciplines Nyansa students learn is to listen carefully to stories and to process and express what they hear through drawing and oral narration–or telling back the story in their own words. In the clip below, a Nyansa student practices his presentation skills as he presents his oral narration and drawing to other students. This presentation is in response to Aesop’s fable, “The Eagle and the Tortoise”. Below the presentation clip is the longer written version of the “The Eagle and the Tortoise”.
Danielle holds up the picture book with Aesop’s fable of “The Eagle and the Tortoise”. Here is a version of the fable:
A TORTOISE, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. “I will give you,” she said, “all the riches of the Red Sea.” “I will teach you to fly then,” said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: “I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?’
If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.
In the photos below, the children are doing an arithmetic lesson based on a classic math text, First Lessons in Arithmetic on the Inductive Plan, published in 1878. The method uses inductive questioning to help students think and reason mathematically. It combines a narrative approach to teaching math with reinforcement of written math skills. This method is supplemented by the use of manipulatives.
Two students respond to Danielle’s questions about a drawing used to elicit discussion of mathematical concepts.
Danielle helps to guide a student who is responding to an arithmetic problem based on the drawing.