At the school where I work in Chiang Mai, Thailand; we participate in “music in the garden” every Thursday. Music in the garden has the feel of a block party or a barbeque where all of the students and parents come together after school, make and sell food, and listen to musical performances by some of the teachers (and sometimes students!).
To set-up, every student has a job. Some students help set up the tables and music equipment, while some of the younger students help roll out mats to cover the grass in the garden.
Most of the students however, are helping to cook delicious food. The students work in small groups and have a mini-cooking class every Thursday. Every week they cook something different and there are always at least 4 or 5 dishes to choose from. We have had fried rice, eggs, chicken, BBQ mushrooms, noodles, pork and sticky rice, among many others. There is also always a homemade drink of either butterfly pea flower water or punch.
Around 4:30pm we walk outside to join the students and parents. The older students are set up at tables around the garden in order to sell their homemade food for between 5 and 20 baht per plate ($0.14-$0.57). Some of the parents and grandparents also bring food or other items to sell. The grandmother of a 4th and 5th grade brother and sister brings multiple varieties of popcorn (caramel, bbq, spicy, or seaweed flavored) every week. The mother of another 4th grader always brings the dried pork and sticky rice. At last week’s music in the garden, a group of parents sold jelly candies and mini-candles.
As for the music, one of the primary teachers always plays the guitar. The PE/nursery teacher usually sings. At one music in the garden, one of the 6th grade girls sang and played the guitar as well as any adult you might hear playing music live around town. This same girl is one of the singers on the school song recording they play every morning during morning assembly. At an earlier music in the garden, one of the 2nd grade girls (a 7 year old!) played some type of mallet instrument very beautifully for the entire hour.
While the teachers and older students play music and sell food, the younger students (nursery-P3) run around and play. Since we teach primary school, this is where Jake and I get our weekly dose of kindergarten fun. Since we are both foreign and not their regular teachers, the kindergarteners find us (mostly Jake) extremely exciting. There are lots of high fives, funny faces, general goofiness, and climbing all over Jake who is essentially a giant.
Music in the garden is generally a highlight of our week. We get to relax, eat great food, listen to music, and hang out and get to know our students outside of the classroom.
Do you want to hear more about our school activities? More about places to see in Chiang Mai, or about living in Thailand in general? Let me know!