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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Earth House field trip to explore aquatic animals of Bay of Bengal

Learning about aquatic animal life of our own region comes into areas of learning i.e Science, animal habitat, and Bangladesh studies. On 12 March, Saturday 2016, 'Earth House Alternative School' planned a field trip to discover 'Bay of Bengal Aquatic animals'. This workshop was organized at 'Bays Galleria' at Red Shift Book Lounge, Radius Centre, Gulshan.

This event was organized to discover Bangladesh's ocean giants: Dolphins, whales, sharks, rays and marine turtles. The hour-long program was tailored towards children.

The event was open to all but most of the participants were foreigners.

Main workshop leader was Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur (Environmental Educator and Director Education and Livelihoods of the Wildlife Conservation Society Bangladesh) with her team members Farhana Akthar and Abdullah Al Masud. There were some English and Bangla books for sale about aquatic animals.

Cetaceans include all whales, dolphins and porpoise. They are marine mammals. Dolphins, whales and porpoises are among the largest and most intelligent animals living on our planet. They live in oceans all over the world. Some dolphins like the shushuk in Bangladesh live in large rivers. Some dolphins like the shushunk in Bangladesh occur only in large rivers. Bangladesh supports an extraordinary variety of cetaceans in a small area of mangrove forest, coastal and submarine canyon waters.

Why are some cetaceans threatened with extinction? 

Cetaceans face many threats from humans. Thousands of cetaceans die each year when they become entangled and drown in fishing nets. The widespread use of mosquito nets for catching shrimp fry has depleted populations of fish prey. Pollution from pesticides and industrial waste make cetaceans sick and reduce their resistance to disease. River dolphins are particularly endangered because people are draining the rivers where they live and dams have isolated groups from coming together to reproduce.
Scientists recognize Bangladesh as a global 'hotspot' for cetacean diversity and abundance. This means that the rivers and coastal waters of the country support numerous species and that their populations are generally more healthy compared to neighboring countries in Asia.

Why should we save cetaceans from extinction?
Our challenge is to protect these amazing animals from extinction.
Dolphins, whales and porpoises are fundamental to life in rivers and the sea. They are symbols of the need to take good care of aquatic resources that are essential for the survival of human communities. Humans have long been fascinated by cetaceans.

Our KS2 students

Few words about Bay of Bengal:

The Bay of Bengal, the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. Roughly triangular, it is bordered mostly by India and Sri Lanka to the west, Bangladesh to the north, and Myanmar (Burma) and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the east.

The Bay of Bengal is one of the World's 64 largest marine ecosystems.

What can we do to help dolphins, whales and porpoises?

  • Being well informed is the first step. 
  • By visiting their website and reading about dolphins, whales and porpoises you are already helping to save cetaceans. 
  • When decisions are made by your family and friends to take actions that might endanger cetaceans you have a responsibility to speak out for these animals. 
  • Tell others about what you know and ask them to join you in protecting cetaceans. These animals are part of the rich wildlife heritage of Bangladesh. Many dolphins die from entanglement in fishing nets and lines. 
  • Encourage fishermen not set 'current jahls' in areas where they see dolphins and to stay with their nets. If a dolphin gets caught its life can be saved by quickly pulling the animal to the surface and setting it free. The net may have to be cut. It can be repaired but a dead shushuk is gone forever.
  • If you find a live cetacean stranded on the beach get it back into the water as fast as possible. 
  • Make sure to keep the cetacean cool and wet. Do not touch, cover or splash water on its blowhole. 
  • A simple carrier can be made from a lunghi for transporting a dolphin or porpoise back to the water. 
  • Never attempt to catch a shushuk or keep it in a pond. It will not survive. Information from dead cetaceans is valuable to help others survive. 
  • If you find a dead cetacean make sure it does not wash away or get eaten by scavengers. 

Cetaceans are protected by law. It is illegal to catch these animals or to sell or buy the whole animal or any parts of it.
Reference: 'Share our smiles- Whales and dolphins of Bangladesh' by Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur
You may get all information at following link:

*'Wildlife Conservation Society' saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education. WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Spring vegetable show and mini master chef competition

Cooking is a development and learning tool adopted by many schools in the world. The best way of learning is by touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, and listening and cooking offers use of all these senses. Children love activities relating to cooking because they can use all their senses.

Our 'Spring vegetable show and mini master chef Plan' was made few days ago, and we decided to add more activities for this evnet. Cooking and baking is part of our curriculum at our school so learning objectives were to teach kids about local and seasonal vegetables, few spices, variety of eggs and then making omelet with these ingredients.

March 3rd, Thursday was not a very bot day but as we arranged all the activities at outdoor, sunlight became uncomfortable after 10 am. Still all kids, few parents and teachers were excited to participate in activities.
In the ground we set up the tables with vegetables, few fruits, different kind of eggs, spices for omelet making, coriander leaves, mint leaves, soy sauce, tomato sauce.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Yearly sports day celebration at Earth House

Sports day of 'Earth House Alternative School' was being waited for many weeks. There was no doubt that it may be an event full of fun, exciting, challenging and rewarding. 'Earth House' at Kashimpur was the perfect place for celebrating these kind of events.

Why sports or games day?

'Earth House' school strongly believes that sports/games should be included in school curriculum and students should be provided enough time for play/outdoor activities.
Sports and games are the ways of enhancing the children’s mental and physical growth. Sports help them in character building and provides them energy and strength. Sports also eliminate mental exhaustion of the children.

Exercise is also known to relieve stress. Some children experience as much stress, depression, and anxiety as adults do.  Even moderate physical activity has been shown to improve a child’s skill at arithmetic, reading, and memorization.

Sports Day at Earth House, Kashimpur:
so finally the day came when we all students, teachers and few guardians went there for this yearly event.

Day before, weather became windy, and showers started pouring for some time. Fortunately, on 25th February, weather was dry from the morning, not so hot or cool. We left school a bit late, but could reach the destination safely.

Exited faces of students at bus
Early years and KS1 kids ready to leave for 'Earth House Kashimpur'


Theater place at 'Earth House'
Prize distribution ceremony and excitement of getting rewards, medals etc
 All students were wearing same sports dress and even early years and KS1 students wore a sleeveless t-shirt. Events started with games such as race, sack race, chocolate race, egg and spoon race for younger kids and same games were repeated with elder kids as well. Vast ground was distributed into various parts, so that kids could play games in rotations.

KS2 and KS3 students played more games till Zuhr salah. Lunch was provided after salah break. After lunch and and a rest of few minutes, sports events started with hula hoop race, badminton and football matches. After these games we proceed towards our small 'theater place' where early years and ks1 students performed a role play based on the story 'Three Billy goats' and recited the rhymes.

Importance of physical activities, sports or games is obvious, but unfortunately many schools are focused to engage students in educational and text based activities.

Promoting physical activity should start from the nursery room, according to Jean Zimmerman and Gil Reavill, authors of "Raising Our Athletic Daughters."

According to Theodore Hesburgh, author of "The Importance of School Sports and Education," it is imperative for school age children to have access to sports and games. Not only does it empower youth and promote higher self-esteem, it also motivates students, enables them to earn better grades, especially in schools where obtaining certain grades is a pre-requisite to staying on the team.

Numerous physical benefits include maintaining a healthy weight, preventing chronic diseases and learning the skills necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle after graduating. Medical researchers have observed that highly active children are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer of the colon, obesity, and coronary heart disease later in life.

  •  Education is incomplete without sports.
  • Sport develops a sense of friendliness among the children and develop their team spirit. 
  • It helps children to develop mental and physical toughness.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Visit to birds zoo with early year kids

The grace and beauty of birds give us simple aesthetic pleasure of enjoying. Diversity among their looks, color, their habits simply amazes us. Birds symbolize freedom for many because they fly with such ease. For some, it has spiritual qualities and evokes feelings of peace and tranquility.

Their exquisite plumage and vivacious songs enliven our sense of the magnificence and beauty of the world we share.

 Allah has created the birds, and their aerodynamic is a miracle of Allah.

In Quran, Allah says:
“Do they not see the birds suspended in mid-air up in the sky? Nothing holds them there except Allah. There are certainly signs in that for people who believe.” [Al-Qur’an: Surat An-Nahl (The Bee) – 16:79]

The way that birds comply with the principles of aerodynamics continues to astonish scientists. Using no form of trial and error, they cope with the laws of aerodynamics in the most perfect manner.

Few years ago, I heard about mini bird's zoo and got chance to locate that place which was situated at Sonargaon Road. I was amazed to see variety of birds at this privately owned zoo. There are various kind of rear and expensive birds which you cannot find anywhere else in Bangladesh.
As an educationist I believe that connecting with nature is the best way to teach kids. Nature itself is a teaching tool which can be effectively used by teachers.

We planned our visit to 'The Bird Zoo" with a small group of early year kids. Students were very excited learning about 'birds' in literacy, Science, or Bangla language classes.
Teachers told them stories, rhymes, facts about birds.

Our goal was to create an opportunity to learn about diversity in nature, Geography (relating our local birds to migrating or foreign birds), food chain ie, what they eat, prey, predators etc.
I was simply amazed to see so many vibrant colors in variety of birds. Chirping of birds was really loud when we entered into the wide open space of zoo. Our kids noticed their food which was served in their cages and it consisted carrots, apple, grains, nuts etc. We learned that birds are omnivores that eat seeds, nuts, fruit and insects. Some tropical birds eat small lizards and animals.

By visiting bird's zoo, kids learn about "environmental responsibility" for example, how environmental catastrophes, natural or man-made, can impact birds. As a result, we hope that children will learn to be more environmentally savvy in order to protect different bird species and their habitats.

Owner of the zoo, Dr. Abdul Wadud has a large collection of exotic foreign birds. The scarlet macaw, hahns macaw, Bourke's parakeet, rainbow lory, sun conure, African grey parrot, rock pebbler western rosella, port lincoln, electus parrot, kakariki, eastern rosella, chattering lory and black-capped-lory are some of the species in his collection.

The blue and gold macaws are the prime attraction of the zoo. These are the largest and gaudiest of all parrots, familiar worldwide as show birds. The highly intelligent and beautifully colored Macaw species come from deep within the Amazon rain-forest. The pattern of dark lines on the face of these parrots is unique to each individual bird.

How this mini zoo was started?

Rainbow Rosella
Dr Wadud's grandfather was a forest officer. Sometimes he visited the forest with his grandfather and observed birds. The bird chirping and twitting made him happy. Sometimes he used to draw birds in the pages of his notebooks instead of doing homework.

After finishing his academic career from Dhaka University he devoted his life for preserving various species of birds, especially exotic birds. He is a prominent bird specialist of our country who has been actively involved in collecting and preserving birds for the past two decades.

blue and gold macaws

National Bird of Bangladesh:
The Doel is the national bird of Bangladesh. The Magpie Robins are mostly known in Bangladesh as the Doel. Doel is a Bengali word.  The color of the male bird is a combination of black and white.

Many people keep the birds as pets in their homes. In Dhaka, Katobon is the most famous place to buy various kind of birds such as Bojrica, Fizz, Love birds, Pocatello, Java Sparrow, Parrot, Myna, Pigeon etc.
Australian Love Bird is a very popular species. Besides, Macao, Gray bird are very expensive species and these rare and expensive birds delivered upon advance order. Birds are mainly imported from India, Pakistan, Australia and China.

Bird watching as a hobby:

A bird watching hobby can be adopted by anyone as you can watch birds anywhere you like - even in your own backyard. those that take up a bird watching hobby are fascinated by different species of birds, their behavior, their color and migration patterns. Depending on which part of the country you live, you can see different types of birds every season as they migrate from north to south.

Importance of bird watching/Observing:

Bird watching also involves serious study of physiology, behavior and the role of birds in the ecosystem that sustains life.
Studying birds can teach kids great secondary skills, such as:
  1. Observation skills to find birds around their locality.
  2. Listening skills to identify birds by their songs 
  3. Deduction when comparing two challenging bird species 
  4. Research skills for following clues to a bird’s identity (linking to habitat)
We should not forget that birds are not just for enjoyment, but also because birds and wildlife need friends who care enough to protect them.

Few of 'Earth House Alternative School' pictures:

In Science class kids learning parts of the birds (before bird's zoo visit)
Bangla writing after story telling, relating to 'Bird' theme
Excitement of getting ready for visit to bird's zoo

Monday, May 18, 2015

Water play on a hot day at 'Earth House'

Today it was a hot day and perfect occasion for a 'Water Play'. Under hot, shining sun, kids enjoyed playing with water. The ground looked like a battle field where kids were shouting, running and throwing water at each other with their water guns.

We know that play is essential for children’s development and early learning. It helps children to develop and improve their gross and fine motor skills, co-ordination and concentration.

Importance and learning benefits of water play for kids:

Playing with water fosters learning in all developmental areas. It provides opportunities for children to experiment with math and science concepts, strengthen their physical skills, advance their social and emotional skills, and enhance language development.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

An adventure and learning tour of Earth House School

Earth House- Kashimpur (Gazipur District) was created few years back "to be a place where learning in natural environment takes place" 
Learning can be fun when it is integrated with play or leisure activities and creating links with real life situations and 'Earth House at Kashimpur is the place where it happens.

Our Friday 8 May 2015, trip was part of 'Adventure Journey' program for 'Duke of Edinburgh Awards' and as being an award leader, I was excited too.
Earth House- Kashimpur
We left Dhaka at 7.30 am (morning) and reached there at 9.00 am and the first view of the place was enough to refresh our minds and souls. After breakfast we were ready to explore the place and do some educational activities. The first part was to gather the group of our children and ask them to follow teacher's instruction while following safety rules.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Story of a travel and learning- Part 2

Manali (Himachal Pradesh)Tour:

Manali is a hill station nestled in the mountains of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh near the northern end of the Kullu Valley, at an altitude of 2,050 m (6,726 ft) in the Beas River Valley. It is located in the Kullu district, about 270 km (168 mi) north of the state capital, Shimla.

This small town, with a population of 8,096, is the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and from there over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin.
It has become a tourist attraction in recent years.

Manali welcomed us in morning 9am with cold breeze
The climate in Manali is cold during winters, and moderately cool during summers. We visited Manali during first week of April, and it was cold there. Weather is very uncertain, as within few minutes, you can feel warm sun light and other few minutes, rain starts with cold wind.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Story of a travel and learning -Part 1

Someone said 'We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment'. We four people traveled for around 15 days in neighbor country 'India' but cannot say for sure 'if we could feel fulfillment (deep inside us) or not',  but I can say for sure that this long trip gave freshness and vigor to our mind and souls.
I would start my post by referring to more quotes:
  • “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
  • “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
  • “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
Our travel plan was discussed few months ago, when my husband felt that he needed further medical checkup at Calcutta. We Bangalis frequently visit our neighbor country India to avail medical treatment and our closest and first destination is Calcutta.
I have visited Inida two times before, but it was long ago (once 15 and then about 12 years ago). Both times I could travel Calcutta and Darjeeling. This time our plan was different from the past ones. Our nephew searched online and found a ready made plan (many travel agents offers these kind of plans). It was a twelve days package including travel to Calcutta, Delhi, Agra, Shimla, Manali etc.
Manali (picture taken with a DSLR camera) 

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