Critique of session plans

Religious Education can be at times a subject that is marginalised (Revell, 2005) as it may not seem as important as teaching the core subjects such as maths, science and English which help children achieve better in further education. In the Non Statutory Framework for RE, Charles Clarke (the former Education Secretary states that, ‘Good –quality religious education can transform pupils’ assessment of themselves and others, and their understanding of the wider position of the world in which we live’.

The main purpose of RE is to ensure that children have the opportunity to consider who they are, what they believe and how they want to live. The regional I chose explore and teach to children is Hinduism. I chose this religion as I think it is a religion full of variety and gaiety. It is one of the oldest religions and has great cultural stories and epics woven into the religion. There are many festivals which are celebrated in Hinduism but I chose to focus on one festival to teach a Reception class. The festival I chose is Diwali because it is a festival of lights which celebrates the ‘triumph of good over evil’.

In some parts of India Diwali is celebrated as a New Year festival. The festival gets its name from the little oil lamps called Diva or Diyas. ’ (Bramhall,1997) Diwali is about realizing and understanding the inner light that reside within all of us. It is celebrated by decorating homes, temples and buildings with sources of light such as using Diyas. It is similar to celebrations of other religions in terms of food, gifts, wearing new clothes. As Diwali is celebrated in November I decided to plan my sessions around that period of time.

It is an interesting festival to teach to children as they are fascinated by the stories and lights. Below I will describe my session plans and how and why I chose the activities to teach to children. Session 1: Children have already learnt about the religion Hinduism in their past sessions. They have explored what Hindus believe in, how they worship, they have looked at a Hindu holy building which is a Mandir, and they have also looked at the Hindu symbols. I have done an activity with the children using a feely bag with some Hindu artefacts inside it. We looked at what each artefact represented.

What they haven’t yet looked at were the festivals that Hindus celebrate. So in this first session about festivals, I chose to teach children about the festival of Diwali and how some Hindus celebrate it. The aims for this session are for children to understand the meaning of the festival of Diwali and to know how Diwali is celebrated. In this session children learn about what Diwali is and how it is celebrated. In the introduction I have talked about how I can introduce the topic e. g. by asking questions to children, by discussing about the festivals they celebrate.

In the main teaching I will be showing them a PowerPoint presentation on Diwali. I think this is a good resource to show children as they will be learning about how Hindus celebrate Diwali which relates to the Attainment Target 1: Learning about religion. By the end of this session children will learn that Diwali is a festival of light and colour and is similar to the festivals of other religions including their own (Attainment Target 2). While showing them the presentation I will be asking children questions about what is happening in each picture and discussing with them if they also do similar things during festivals they celebrate e.g. Eid, Christmas, Hanukkah and if there are some children who do not celebrate any festivals I will also try and engage them by asking them the occasions they celebrate e. g. birthdays. Do you celebrate your birthday? What do you do on your birthday? Children will also learn about Diyas and what they are used for. I will teach them what Diya is, a Diya is an oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in ghee or vegetable oils. I will also tell them why Hindus use Diyas. I will show them an example of a Diya which I made and demonstrate it to them how it is made.

Then children will have a go at making their own Diya. They are creating something they have learnt about. They learnt about why Diyas are used in Diwali and they are now getting a chance to make one of their own. I chose to do this activity because children will enjoy making something which they may have never made before. It also gives opportunities for children to tell their parents of what they made and can tell what it is for. This activity will enable children to be creative deciding on what shape they will make their Diya and how they can decorate it.

This activity also develops other areas of learning such as physical development, using their gross and fine motor skills to shape up the clay. I also set up a few resources on other tables such as on the writing table I decided to put some Diwali cards so children could colour in and write a message in it to give to their parents, brothers or sisters when they go home. In the plenary I included the use of talk partners between children. Children will be talking about what they have learnt about Diwali how it is celebrated, what they made in the session and how they made it.

This will give me an insight about how much children have learnt during the session. I think using talk partners is a good way for children to share their ideas and to help out each other if one is struggling. This also develops their PSED. Using talk partners strategy also benefits the teacher to assess children. While they are talking the teacher or Teacher assistant (TA) can be observing some children and jotting down some notes if she sees something interesting or something which is lacking about a particular child or a group of children.

‘This type of observation is called incidental and spontaneous observations – things one notices happening which they felt were significant and should be noted down and some of them will be planned, where you stand back to watch the child. ’ (Effective Practice: Observation, Assessment and Planning, Online) She can also if she wants to, join in the conversation with the children to encourage them or to simply ask questions. This type of observation is called ‘participant observations’ which is carried out while playing or working with the children.

I will also carry this type of observation while children are making their Diya. I will observe how children are interacting with me and other children. It is very important that we carry out assessments of children because an assessment helps us to analyse and review what we know about the child’s development and learning. Practitioners see what the observations and evidence of a child collected tell us about the child’s learning and development. There are two forms of assessment which are assessment for learning (Formative assessment) and assessment of learning (Summative assessment).

(Early Years Matters, Online)Formative assessment is an on-going assessment which is what practitioners do regularly, to make decisions about what the child has learned and what they are struggling with and how they can help the child. ‘Formative assessment acknowledges the contributions of parents, carers and children to the assessment process and values the learning that takes place both within and outside of the setting. ’ (Assessment for learning, Online) Summative assessment is an assessment which takes place towards the end of EYFS. This sums up all the information from formative assessments that have been made about the child.

As I will be teaching this topic during November, I will be carrying out formative assessments through children’s observations, through questioning them, and looking at evidence of their work e. g. taking photographs of their work or looking at something they made. Session 2: The aims of this session are to understand the story of Rama and Sita, to be able to sequence the story of Rama and Sita in order and to be able to act out the story of Rama and Sita. There are many religious stories in Hinduism but I chose to tell children the story of Rama and Sita as it is quite a famous story of Diwali.

The story’s main purpose is to develop children’s KUW development but it can also develop PSED. In the introduction I will be discussing with children if they have heard this story before and if they can remember what it is about. I will also ask them if they know any religious stories which their parents told them. The children will listen to the story of Rama and Sita. The story shows us why many Hindus celebrate Diwali and why it is called the festival of lights (Attainment Target 1). Children will learn from the religious story that the Hindu religion consists of many stories just as other religions do e.g. in Christianity the birth of Jesus, in Buddhism the story of Buddha and many more (Attainment Target 2) All the stories have good and evil characters built in them with generally a victory for the good. Then in the first part of the session the main activity will be to sequence the story in the right order. The level of the story will vary according to the ability level of the children. I thought this would be a good activity for children to do as the story will be much clear to them and it will be easier for them to remember it as they are doing it themselves.

In the 2nd part of the session children will get a chance to act out the story of Rama and Sita. This is a very good activity which can achieve Attainment Target 2 (Learning from religion). Children will show how much they have understood the story of Rama and Sita through role playing. They will try to put themselves in the characters shoes and be imaginative and think of how the characters would be feeling, how would they react, what would they say, etc. While children are acting I will take their pictures to put up on display and will write the dialogue the children said in a speech bubble.

Taking pictures of a child working is a great way of assessing a child as it shows evidence. While children are doing these activities I will observe them by carrying out participant observations where I will be involved working with the children. I will note down if some children are struggling or if I notice something interesting. I will also carry out some planned observations as well. Planned observations are observations where the practitioner will stand back and just watch how the child is doing the activity.

I will also be questioning children during my observations and will observe if children are able to work cooperatively with each other. It is important to carry out these assessments so that I will be able to see if children are improving or struggling. Session 3: The aims for this session are: 1) To understand what Rangoli is and why many Hindus make Rangoli patterns. 2) To be able to use different shapes and colours to make a rangoli pattern. I decided to teach a session on Rangoli patterns as I think it plays an important part in celebrating Diwali. Many Hindus make a Rangoli pattern using coloured powder, rice, flour, sand.

I will explain children why some Hindus make these Rangoli. Some Hindus make Rangoli in front of their entrance to welcome guests and some Hindus make it to encourage the goddess Lakshmi to enter their house. (Activity Village, Online) Here children are learning about the religious meaning behind Rangoli (Attainment Target 1). After the main teaching, children will make their own Rangoli pattern outside on the ground using coloured powder. For most children it will be something new and different. I chose this activity because it is a creative activity it will give children an opportunity to be creative with shapes and colours.

When children learn something new and create something of their own they are likely to tell their parents about what they did. Here we can see that children will have learnt something from religion. They learn about different shapes and also the approach of using shapes and colours to make a pattern (Attainment Target 2). There are also other activities for children to do during this session such as painting Rangoli pattern pictures, making Mehendi patterns on their hand templates, making coloured pattern using fuse beads.

One of the main purposes of getting children to do these Rangoli pattern activities is that children will develop their PSRN skills as they are practicing to make different types of patterns. I will carry out planned observations as I will be watching how children make different patterns. I will also take some photos of children’s patterns and observe if they are able to describe how they made their pattern e. g. what shapes and colours did they use? I will look at if the child is able to achieve the aims. Are they able to tell me what Rangoli represents, are they able to create a Rangoli using different colours and shapes.

Session 4: The aims of this session are for children to be able to talk about Diwali festival from their own experience or from what they have learnt about Diwali. Also to look at the traditional food most Hindus cook and eat at Diwali. This session mainly focuses on the area of KUW but also links to other areas of learning. The introduction to this session will start off by looking back at what children have learnt about Diwali in the past sessions. I will use the ‘talk to your partner’ strategy as I think it will work well because the children can help each other if one doesn’t remember much and is struggling.

This is a good way of assessing a child as I will be able to observe their conversation. As Diwali is the festival of lights, crackers and sweets. There is lots of traditional food that people cook and eat at Diwali. On Diwali, there is a custom to exchange sweets to the friends and neighbours that is why Diwali can’t even be imagined without sweets and savouries that are specially made at home. (I love India, Diwali, Online) I will show children pictures of different types of Diwali food and discuss with them if they have eaten any of them, how do they taste like, which one is their favourite.

This is a good opportunity to assess children’s PSED and CLLD as children love talking about something they have experienced before and about their favourite things. Here children are learning about the different cultural foods eaten during the festival of Diwali and how it may be different from the food they eat on festivals/celebrations (Attainment Target 1). From this topic of food, children will also learn that food and drink are generally part of every celebration and so are they part of religious festivals (Attainment Target 2). Later in the session children will get a chance to make chapattis which a traditional Indian bread.

Children will enjoy doing this activity as they will be making the dough, rolling it, flattening it, making a circular shape out of it. I will let children make the shape without any dough cutter as that will really show their creativity. A child will feel very proud of the chapatti he/she made no matter what shape or size it is because it might be something which they have never made before. Children will then get a chance to see how a chapatti is cooked. During this session I will be carrying out observations of how children are interacting with each other and with an adult.

I will observe children making the chapatti. Are they able to describe what they are doing? What they need to do next and how? I will note down their responses. Photographs will also be taken while children are making their chapattis. There is also another activity set up which requires children to draw something which symbolises Diwali for them. Children have a choice of doing this activity if they wish to. During the plenary, I will observe children’s responses to how they celebrated Diwali at home in the last few days. I will look at children’s drawings and hear their thoughts about how it reminds them of Diwali