• JoAnne Saldanha

Just Like Papa...exploring what we 'can do'.

Week 3 of Term 2 and we continue with the Art Theme in the library, exploring Indian art and artists through books.


It hasn't been easy. While I have found a few gems, quite a few of the Indian published picture book biographies, lack the flow of those we used last term, as a result I've been interpreting the 'art' theme a bit differently for my younger students...Grades 2-4 mixed age group classes.

If I need to explain a book or continue the narration in my own words, to help my students understand what is supposed to be a true story, then I question the efficacy of the words and storyline in reaching children. Such wonderful stories that must be shared need beautiful writing and tighter editing, keeping in mind the age group it is meant for.

Picture books need to move beyond the 'history text book' form, to weaving the biographical details into a story.


After a tepid response from the younger children, to a biography I read last week, I decided to go the fiction route with a book that would lend itself to not just a wee bit of art, but a also a bit of self-reflection.



Just like Papa written by Nandita da Cunha, illustrated by Shreya Sen, tells the story of little Gia who dreams of becoming a famous artist like her Papa, an artist known for his paintings of hands.

However, when she does pick up her brush to create a masterpiece, her mind goes blank like the canvas before her.

While Gee can paint the most vivid pictures in her mind, she is unable to translate the imagery into art, but can very easily do so into words. Her grandmother encourages her to write down her stories, and Gee does, finding her calling. Does she find a way to be like her Papa? What do you think?


This is a wonderful book that was a wonderful way to help children focus on all they CAN. do.

So often our focus is on what we cannot do. Often forgetting all the numerous, wonderful things that we CAN do.


Drawing from an activity shared with me by the author for another one of her books, we decided to create our 'CAN - DO HANDS'. The children traced their hands on the paper and thought about 5 things that they CAN DO.

This activity, though simple, helps children recognise their strengths and limitations, a social emotional learning skill that is part of building self-awareness.













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