With the theme of The Magic of Language (including storytelling and a magic show), parents arrived with their children at The Markaz on the third Sunday of March as directors Lynne Mangione and Bassam Aljazairi greeted them and settled them into seats with cold drinks.
Twelve children, ages 5-13, gathered in rows of chairs at the front while mothers and a father sat together in the back. Parents were from Morroco, Lebanon, India and the United States and children spoke a variety of languages, including English, Arabic, French and Spanish.
Lynne started with a warm up exercise, asking students to say words they knew in other languages. Children were excited and enthusiastic to share their knowledge!
Bassam began by teaching children how to say “My name is…” in Arabic. Each child had a chance to practice the phrase, and it was a wonderful way to learn everyone’s name. Then Bassam read a brief Arabic story about two friends, a worm and a bee, on a journey through the four seasons, translating into English as he went. Children learned other Arabic words, for example “hello” “thank you” “worm” and “bee.” They loved practicing these words aloud as their parents beamed with pride.
Next, parent Camille read a cute short story in French about an ant and a caterpillar, translating into English as she went. This story reinforced the theme of friendship, and the children learned how to say “please,” “thank you” and “goodbye” in French.
After practicing language skills, children were treated to a snack of Pirates Booty and milk or juice, served by volunteer Suzanne Bronson. They practiced their Arabic and French words using puppets and enjoyed playing the doumbek with the help of Bassam.
Lynne spoke with parents about the importance of supporting workshops of this kind, and she received very positive feedback from each of the parents. All were committed to attending the next one on the third Sunday in April and were happy about their children learning to speak other languages.
At 4 pm, Magician Stoil appeared with a rabbit, a wand and a bag full of tricks. He amazed the children and adults alike, mesmerizing them with music and magic for 45 minutes, and then it was balloon time! Children received flowers, hats and swords, all made from balloons, and had fun playing with them at the finale. Everyone went home at 5 pm. —Staff Report