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Ada's songs

To suggest that children living far away are very much like children in the UK but that sometimes their lives are much harder.

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 1

Aims

To suggest that children living far away are very much like children in the UK but that sometimes their lives are much harder.

Preparation and materials

  • You might like to prepare one or more children to read Ada’s words, or you can do this yourself.

  • The assembly includes a simple song to the tune of ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’, which can be sung easily accompanied or unaccompanied.

Assembly

  1. Talk to the children about their mornings on school days: What time do they get up? What do they have for breakfast? How do they come to school? What time do they arrive at school? What do they do when they get there?
  2. Tell the children about Ada, who lives in Mali in western Africa. How much you explain about the country will depend on the children’s knowledge: some may have come from African countries or have visited relatives, others may have little idea of the continent. Ensure that the children understand that Mali is a long way from the UK and that many people there are farmers without much money.

    Ada is six years old and she goes to school when she can, but she also has to help with the harvest: helping to collect the crops (plants) from the field when they have fully grown. Point out that Ada’s life might seem very different from the children’s lives, but listen to the words of this song that she sings about her mother:

    My mother, I love my mother, who took care of me when I was a baby,
    When I was crying she comforted me,
    When I was hungry she gave me food.
    She taught me how to speak, step by step from one word to one sentence.
    I will love my mother all my life and I will do everything I can to make her happy
    .

    So perhaps Ada is not so different from us after all!
  3. Explain that in a moment you’re going to teach the children another song that Ada sings, but to understand it you need to tell them about a problem that Ada and everyone in Mali faces: swarms of locusts. Thousands and thousands of these insects, like grasshoppers, try to eat the crops that Ada’s family and friends have grown. Here’s what Ada says about them:

    ‘I remember the locusts coming. We were in the fields at the time. People came and told us locusts were coming. We just stared at them. They sounded like a car motor, a prrrprrprr noise. They smelt like fresh fish, like when you’ve touched fish and then you smell your hand.’

    If the people hear the locusts coming there is something they can do: they can make a big noise to frighten the insects off. Everyone rushes outside, shouting, banging drums or pots and pans – doing anything they can to make a loud noise. One time the swarm of locusts just missed them; they swerved away just in time because of the loud noise.
  4. Optional: Play a game where the children make a controlled loud noise, such as clapping and calling out ‘Locusts be gone!’ when you say the key word ‘locust’; but only when you say that word. Ask everyone to look at you, then you very quietly whisper ‘locust’. Then hold up your hand for silence. Do this a few times. You could throw in some wildcards to trick them, such as ‘locomotive’ or ‘lowdown’ or ‘loads of chocolate’. Before moving on, stress that this noisy game is now over!
  5. Another thing that the people can do about locusts is destroy the tiny eggs that locusts lay, whenever they find them. Ada likes doing this and she sings a song as she does it. Here’s an English version of it (to the tune of ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’):

    Here we are squashing locust eggs, locust eggs, locust eggs,
    Here we are squashing locust eggs, squash, squash, squash
    .

    Teach the song and add some simple squashing actions.
  6. End by saying that life is very hard for Ada and her family. She is often very hungry because the locusts have eaten their crops. Here’s what she says:

    ‘The hunger we are going through in our village, is not because we haven’t worked hard. It’s because of locusts not laziness.’

Time for reflection

Reflection

Spend a few moments thinking about Ada and how different her life is from yours:

She has to work in the fields.

Sometimes she is very hungry but there is no food.

She has also been ill because of lack of food.

But Ada is just the same as you in lots of ways too:

She goes to school.

She loves her mother and father.

She likes to sing.

 

Prayer

Dear God,

We pray for people like Ada and her family as they try to grow crops and beat the locusts.

We pray for a fairer world, where everyone has enough to eat.

Amen.

Publication date: February 2009   (Vol.11 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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