One Sunday, One Family: Muna Kalati’s New Concept of Practical Application

We previously published an article that extolled the richness of nursery rhymes for children in terms of cultural and historical content. Long before this reflection, researchers reflected on the question. These include Keziban Tekşan [1] and Mina Akhavan Tavakoli [2].  The former demonstrated that it was easier to use nursery rhymes as a didactic support for phonics and as a means of acquiring reading competence in relation to fluency. Following on from the previous work, and wishing to move from theory to practice, we have developed the concept of one Sunday one family, which is a kind of practical application of the theoretical data related to nursery rhymes. Through the sociological method of investigation, in addition to confirming the assertions made in our previous article, we have detected additional axes that could be explored by parents and children’s centers. To conduct our research, we visited four families and one orphanage (the Cibaeva Orphanage in Dschang). The first step was to play the nursery rhymes. Afterwards, we had to observe the children’s reaction. So we came up with some results.

The African nursery rhymes help the children to improve their knowledge of wildlife

Indeed, as the African nursery rhymes unfold, we regularly notice the presence of animals.  This presence allows the children to name them as soon as they appear on the screen. It happened that they discovered some of them for the first time. It is at this very moment that the parent intervenes to ensure the transmission of this new knowledge.  To do this, they must watch the nursery rhymes first and make sure that they master the names of all the animals that appear on the screen. When the time has come for children to watch the rhymes, they can easily assist them if they face any challenges. This will make it easier for the toddlers to remember the new names. In addition, children may use their creative minds to generate songs that will allow them to fossilize these skills.  For example, in the nursery rhyme Amina [3], animals appear and disappear in the background.

    Nursery rhymes stimulate learning of choreography and rhythm

Baleghizadeh and Dargahi [4] stated, “Nowadays, research shows that nursery rhymes have much more to offer than just an entertaining value.” In other words, beyond the purely playful side, there are other aspects to explore in nursery rhymes. When it comes to choreography in general, professional dancers are usually technical and masterful. With some of the more animated nursery rhymes, there are dancing choreographies that are sure to arouse aesthetic enjoyment in children. Moreover, it can happen that the video looks like some tutorial through which instructions or indications can be repeated simultaneously. As an example, we can cite the nursery rhyme: clap your hands [5]. We can find the choreographic dimension in the nursery rhyme I make my hair dance [6].

African nursery rhymes help to overcome shyness in children

 During our different sessions, we noticed that African nursery rhymes have the power to do away with shyness in children.  In a family located in the political capital of Cameroon, we noticed that the children were rather shy, so we made them watch the nursery rhymes. As they watched the various animated videos, they began to react progressively and interactively to what they were seeing. This approach helped us to promote better contact. The nursery rhymes acted as a stimulus for the participants.  After a long moment of silence and observation, they began to imitate the rhythm in the mamaoulé rhyme [7] by clapping their hands.

In short, our analysis shows that through the new concept of One Sunday, One Family, we identified new ways of using African nursery rhymes through the ‘edutainment’ sessions with the children. In view of the above, we can say that parents and education centers now have an accessible corpus to update the training of children.

Do you know an example of an African nursery rhyme in which one of the above points can be found?

About the Author

Christian Elongue

Christian Elongué is the author of “Introduction to Children Literature in Cameroon” (2019) and researcher on children and young adult literature. Dismayed by a lack of black characters in books available to African children, Elongué founded Muna Kalati in 2017 with the goal of building international recognition for African children’s book authors and increasing access to African children literature. Muna Kalati, was founded at a time when African children’s books were poorly promoted, and African authors and illustrators were virtually unknown. In 2018, they started publishing Muna Kalati magazine, which is becoming a reference for writers, publishers and illustrators of children's and Young Adult books, as well as librarians, teachers, editors and parents. Lifelong learner, he holds a postgraduate certificate on children literature (University of Liège, France) and 3 master’s degree

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