Do you have a minute to help me make some sugar cookies in the shape of a unicorn on this lovely autumn day, while I check the number of my son’s flute teacher which is buried somewhere under here?”

The significance of this whatsapp message may be lost on most of my American fellow slicers, but it brought such joy to me this morning…I can truly say my heart soared when I read it, as uniform is just part of the school day in India and our students have not worn it to school since the middle of March last year. For poor kids, it’s especially important because we have designed a cheap pinafore or pants in the practical material we buy in bulk from the capital that matches with a red or blue T shirt. Super simple, super easy and non-discriminatory. We have been running the school as unobtrusively as possible, because we are small in numbers.

And of course it absolutely clarified what was going to be my letter of the day….I usually wait for some little word to pop up from somewhere and give me the ‘go ahead’!

When we teach our students we usually focus on the short ‘u’ sound such as ‘up’ and ‘under’ or the ‘you’ sound as unicorn (every small kid’s favourite animal). But let’s not forget the ‘schwa’ sound as in ‘autumn’ that kind of sounds like ‘er’, but in ‘bury’ it is the short ‘e’ sound. In the word ‘sugar’ you need to use the short ‘oo’ sound, whereas in ‘flute’ you need the long ‘oo’ sound. In the word ‘suite’ we use the phonetic ‘w’ sound and in the word ‘minute’ the sound becomes a short ‘i’. Hence the title of this slice… minus ‘suite’ which I just couldn’t fit in…!

It’s unbelievable how useful all those five vowels are, despite having to learn which ‘u’ pronunciation is needed. Our kids can form the short ‘u’ vowel sound quite easily. There can be some confusion between the short ‘a’ and ‘u’ as they have to learn to open their mouths slightly differently. In Khasi they only have the longer ‘oo’ sound in their alphabet.

“Up.” I usually exhort my students,

“Look up and above and beyond,

And always, always try to UNDERSTAND.”

12 thoughts on “Do you have a minute to help me make some sugar cookies in the shape of a unicorn on this lovely autumn day, while I check the number of my son’s flute teacher which is buried somewhere under here?”

  1. I think your choice of letter for the day is perfect. Mixed with those adorable faces and your lesson, this was a fun and informative (!) post. You, obviously, are doing amazing work! Congrats that you get to wear those uniforms again!

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  2. This post has so much in it. First off, the faces of your kiddos. That made my heart soar. You do so much with these young ones. I am so thankful for the essential work you do. Primary teachers are the foundation we all rely upon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the last line of your post truly resonates — “Look up and above and beyond,
    And always, always try to UNDERSTAND.” This should be a mantra for each of us, everyday. Your post offers a peak inside your day and the photos open the door wide. Thank you for your generosity in writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I adore this long title, the photos of those beautiful children, and the colorful, festive u! Your posts are packed with so much joy, even while teaching our myriad complex u to students of another language. The uniform story especially touched my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your photos and graphics sparked so much joy for me.
    I loved hearing that your school offers cheap pinafore or pants so poor students are able to attend. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words, yes, we only take in poor students because a good education in English is so hard for them to get, they can go to school, but they don’t really learn, so we can make a difference, to a few!

      Liked by 1 person

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