Tag Archives: Mathare Art Class

Every Saturday I go into Mathare and teach children, ages 5-12, how to apply their creativity in light of certain projects or concepts. This is a record of the classes I have taught.

Fijians eat Sweet Potatoes and Bananas Together


On Saturday we flew to Fiji. The night before I had to boil and peel 6 bags of sweet potatoes which kept me up til passed 12, but it was worth the work and preparation for class. The children are really remembering and understanding the vocabulary and concepts we have been discussing each week in class… continent, country, island, culture, etc. And what I have been so pleased about is that when I ask my children to tell explain a certain term, they do not just regurgitate  information, but instead express a concept in their own terms. This shows me that my kids are developing creative thinking skills and thinking independently which is a major accomplishment!

After reviewing, I introduced our culinary art recipe for the day… Sweet Potato and Banana Salad. The children sat on both sides of our long “table” (2 benches pushed together with a tablecloth on top) and I gave every 3-4 students a different job, “chop the onions”, “cut the potatoes”, “peel the bananas”, “crush the garlic”, “squeeze the lemons”…… “1,2,3- GO!”

All the children chopped, cut, peeled, crushed, and squeezed at once while I turned on our Australian Maori traditional music!

Afterwards, I brought over a small gas stove and we fried the garlic and curry powder in oil, mixed this in mayonnaise, and added this dressing to the other chopped things, mixed all together, and eventually enjoyed our weird Fijian concoction!

Spiced Sweet Potato and Banana Salad 

5 sweet potato, cooked

4 ripe bananas

4 TBSP l lemon juice

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp curry powder

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp chopped spring onions

Cut the sweet potato. Slice the bananas and marinate in lemon juice. Heat the oil in a saucepan, and sauté the curry powder and garlic. Cool and mix with the mayonnaise to form a curry dressing. Combine the banana and sweet potato. Fold in the dressing and onions.


Australian Sand Art


Australian Sand Art is a traditional artistic craft from the Maori people of New Zealand. Today we reviewed a great deal about what is different between a continent and country and how this applies to Australia. I am impressed that most of my children, through song, dance, and weekly discussions, have absorbed the geography that we have learned thus far.

Each child designed a simple image that we then asked them to paint with glue on cardstock. After painting with the glue the children would visit our “sand station” where they would select a certain color sand and then we would sprinkle the sand on top of the card so that sand would stick to every part that had glue. The designs turned out very well and the kids got really into making our sand art cards. I even received a few birthday cards at the end of class, because my kids remembered that it was my birthday last week. In order to celebrate, we had cake and chai and all my kids helped me blow out my candles! I made a wish that I can celebrate another birthday in Mathare with them.



In New Zealand there is a cultural group called the Maori People. I taught my children about this people group and we practiced a few words from the Maori Language… Runga (up), Raro (down), Roto (inside), Waho (outside). With each word we would make a motion to show the direction that the word communicated, then the children had a contest to see who could do the correct motions when I gave them a command in Maori.

After learning a bit about the Maori language and culture, I introduced the children to Poi Ball…. Poi means “ball on a cord” and so traditionally women would spin poi balls in each hand to keep their fingers nimble for weaving and men would spin poi with rocks inside in order to maintain strength for battle. So with my kids we used sock for out poi balls, rolling 2 socks inside of one long sock and then tying the bottom part tight to keep the balled up sock in the ball form at the end of the stocking. After making our poi, I demonstrated how to spin the poi: forwards, backward, overhead, down low, switching sides while spinning, and figure eight. The kids caught on fast and were very enthusiastic to spin their “balls on string” especially when we turned on traditional poi music!

My kids are way better dancer than I am and yet I was to teach them a dance! I choreographed a simple dance that went along to the beat of the song and we stepped in time to the music while spinning our poi in different ways. AT the end of class I let the children dance freely and we had a small dance party. But, of course, after class was finished and I let the children carry the poi home, my boys were quick to turn the poi ball into a weapon! –just glad we stuffed with socks instead of rocks!

Australian Animals











Australian animals include Dingo, Koala, Kangaroo, Platypus, Echidna, and Emu. After learning about each animal, discussing differences, and seeing photos of each, my children from Kawangware and Mathare chose their favorite and practiced drawing the animal. First in pencil, the children made practice drawings, then after seeing their initial drawings they graduated to oil pastel and were instructed to do the same drawing on a heavier paper, using oil pastel only. Once they finished this drawing they brought their papers to me and we dipped each in a bucket of black ink water. I could tell the children were impressed when I heard them gasp in surprise as we pulled a dark black paper from the black water- revealing only the vibrate color of the oil pastel, which repelled the ink water. They looked pretty cool- even cooler than my jet black fingers that took me 3 days to scrub and de-stain!

“Rice with what?”


Little Peter enjoyed helping with our mixture!

Those are the comments I got and I got some weird-ed out looks along with those comments from my kids on Saturday. “You mean people in Colombia eat sweet rice?” Yes, we made Arroz con Coco, Colombian Rice Pudding.

I caught Wanga licking the bowl!

Arroz con Coco

  1. Cook one cup of rice with a 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon.
  2. In a saucepan mix one egg with 3 cups of whole milk. Add one can of sweeten condensed milk, 1/2 cup coconut, 1 Tablespoon vanilla, and 1/2 cup raisins. Add cooked rice.
  3. Heat mixture on medium heat and allow to boil and thicken for about 20 minutes.
  4. Let cool and enjoy 🙂

I think they liked it after all!

Prayer before eating Arroz con Coco

Godfrey doing the intro to our lesson

Collins, trying to break up the rice chunks!

Cast-a-net into South America


This past Saturday was my first time to see my children from Inspiration Center in Mathare since being away for Christmas. These children make me want to remain here for a long time, not that it’s possible or that this is God’s plan, but now that I have known them for a year and a half I feel such warmth and love to each of my students. When I returned to see them and received such a joyful welcome I decided that at least every Saturday- I have the best job on earth!

When I was gone the children studied South America and so to keep with doing a different continent per month, I decided to extend South America for 2 more weeks so that come February we will be very knowledgeable and ready to move on to Africa! My friend Jaime had taken charge since her family is Honduran and so during my class we incorporated some of what the children had previously learned as well! It was easy to incorporate because the children had just learned to dance merengue and my lesson was to expose them to Flamenco music and then to make castanets! Castanets are percussion instruments used in South American countries and Spain. The instrument is a pair of concave shell-shaped wooden pieces joined together by a string. They are held in each hand of the dancer and as the music plays and the dancer moves the castanets will enhance the rhythm and beats of the music.

I like to find projects that are simple enough that my children can go home and teach their family and friends what they learned to do in class. So our castanets were simple, yet still sounded great; made of cardboard, glue, tape, and bottle caps! Strips of cardboard were covered in tape to make them last longer and folded in half. then we glued one bottle cap to the 2 inside edges of the cardboard so that when the cardboard piece was bent in half the caps would make a great clicking sound!

I had a CD of South American music with a lot of castanets so, after making our castanets, the children sat with their eyes closed and listened to the music, then I had them raise their hands when they heard the clicking of the castanets and lower their hands when there wasn’t any. Then at the end of class we had a dance party! Everyone danced and clicked and my 2 young helpers and I chose four of the best castanet clickers to have a dance-off up front! My kids are already amazing, rythmic dancers so when you put a clicking noise-maker in both of their little hands they can do wonders! It was so fun to have them dance and also to see the merengue dance steps they had been taught previously!

Last stop in South America is Colombian Rice Pudding!

Throwing my kids into other cultures


I believe that experiencing new things and exploring foreign concepts and ideas is a hugely profound way to shape and mold an individual. Cross-cultural exposure has made a huge impact on my life and prepared me in ways that nothing else could. Plus trying new things is just fun and exciting- so of course I want my children to experience these same aspects of life that can shape people in profound ways, but how do I do this when we are stuck  in the slums? My answer is to bring the world to them….in the form of an expansive variety of artistic and cultural lessons combine!

I want to expose my kids to so many things and tell them that they can be, do, and experience so much in the world- things way beyond Mathare. So I have bought a map and each month we will focus on a different continent until we cover the entire world! I want to tell the children about passports, about various countries and places that are so different from Mathare, I want these children to have vision that they can experience other places first-hand and that they are not tied down to a certain place just because of where they were born, I want my kids to dream as much as they can and to experience such exciting things in our classes that they feel like they have traveled through space to a completely other world than what they are used to. This is my exciting plan for the upcoming months!