Mărțisor is a celebration unique and very dear to Romanians, thus learning about its origins and making handmade trinkets were at the top of our activities list for the end of February. Fortunately, there is no shortage of interesting children’s events happening at this time of the year. Unfortunately, it is hard to choose or know which are the best. For our family, almost always a sure bet are the events put up by Asociatia DaDeCe.
The workshop offered on February 21, 2016 started with getting together in a circle to discuss the imminent arrival of the spring. Ms. Cristina led an interactive discussion about what signs of spring the children have already noticed and what else was expected to happen in the coming weeks. As a parent, I liked that the questions were open ended, the answers were received with enthusiasm and the children enjoyed participating in the discussion. Then the workshop continued with telling the story of Baba Dochia or at least a variation of it.
I liked that other adaptations of the legend were acknowledged. I also appreciated that the story was not just a boring retell but a full sensory experience. With the help of two doll puppets and a number of natural materials, the children were able to integrate and likely better retain elements of the story. For example, wool fiber was given to all the children to feel and explore. The children also had the opportunity to see, touch and play with a spindle (no Sleeping Beauty spell to worry about, the spindle was not sharp). The process of hand spinning wool around the spindle was shown briefly. And more, but I will let you find out the rest.
The children were then given white and red threads and Ms. Cristina demonstrated how to make a Martisor (by twisting the two threads). With that important asset in their hand, the children split and found their place at one of the three tables previously set up. There, a variety of paper materials were ready to be crafted by their little hands. Most children chose to make cards but other trinkets could have been made, if desired.
A summary of what we liked the most. Great quality workshop at a decent price. The attention to details. The integration of sensory materials. Learning new things. The giving of name tags to children and the use of their names when addressed by the instructor. The quality and variety of paper used for crafting. The availability and amicability of the staff present at the event (e.g., Iulia Iordan was also present and helped me selecting some books, answering questions about other workshops, exchanging opinions). The feedback questionnaires were not only for the parents to fill out but children also had their own opportunity to give opinions (my children were very excited and precise about it). The location of the workshop is absolutely amazing and truly a gem of a place (Seneca anticafe).
What else we would have liked. There is really nothing we did not like about the workshop. But what I would like to see, or better-said hope to find some day, is some sort of cooperative learning angle to these children’s workshops. There were opportunities to share and talk when the children made their crafts and a little of it occurred. But generally, and this workshop was no exception, everyone seems so absorbed in their own experience, there is very little collaboration or verbal exchanges between children. Of course, the parents present could lead the way in facilitating those interactions. A lot of additional learning opportunities could occur if cooperative interactions or projects are somehow intertwined with the other objectives of the workshops. Not to mention the fun children could have together, even if they may never meet again.
I have been told that the workshop (and most of the workshops offered by this Association) can be offered in English as well. For a minimum of 8-10 children, an English-exclusive presentation can be arranged. This workshop was held in Romanian, but I had enough opportunities to translate for my children. However, in the past, at two other workshops, when I brought along American friends who did not speak Romanian at all, the instructor happily translated herself. Thus, I really encourage expatriates living in Bucharest to reach out to this Association if they are interested in attending but have concerns about the language issue.
This workshop will be held again this coming weekend, on February 27 and 28 2016. Don’t miss it, if your schedule permits!
Text written by V, mother of two great children.
Thank you, V!