Towards a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society

Learning through exploration

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Summary: Children took a stroll in their village, took pictures of the houses, and interacted with the community members.

This article is the reflection of a lesson–Changing times–that comes under the theme of Shelter, which specifically deals with the changes that take place in houses over time. The lesson is about a narrative of Chetandas, who had migrated from Pakistan to India during independence and had settled in Sohna in Haryana. He narrates his experience of living in a house and the changes that had taken place in the design of the kitchen, the toilet, and the materials used for construction over time.


Video - The lesson, changing times, was started by watching a short video about the partition of India. After watching the video, a short discussion was held about how we attained freedom from British rule and how the partition affected the common people.

While watching the video, students asked why people are coming to India and where will they stay on the way. Teacher explained the India-Pakistan context and shown in the video, tents, where they will stay during their journey. Tent was used as a temporary house for them. Teacher said that people move from one place to another due to jobs and family reason. Also there will be changes in their houses like addition of toilets and other rooms based on their economic growth.

Book reading - After the first activity, the class was divided into two groups, and the students were given the story book The First House by Pratham books.

About the story book - The First House (முதல் வீடு) is a short graphical story (in Tamil) about two cavemen in Arunachal Pradesh, who came out of their caves and built their first house. They received help from their friends– animals and reptiles–from the forests regarding ideas about how to build a house.

The students read the story, and an interactive session was held with the students about their understanding of the story. During the interaction, the students had discussed about the need for building houses and the materials that are needed for building houses. Some students narrated their own experiences about how the Thane cyclone had affected their houses and how they had recovered from it. Some students also shared how money plays a major role in constructing a house. Finally, we decided to have walk around the village to collect information.

Field visit


  1. What are the different types of houses?
  2. What materials are needed for building a house?
  3. What are the different types of workers that are involved in constructing a house?
  4. What are the tools required for making different types of houses?
  5. Why do people change their houses?
  6. How strong are the houses?
  7. What kind of rooms are available in the houses?
  8. Does every house have a toilet? If yes, are they attached to the house or not? If not, where do the people defecate?

We started to walk around the village planning to find out the answer to these questions.


The students were very enthusiastic to interview people and collect information.

  • They shot pictures of the different types of houses that they had seen during their walk.
  • They asked people about some unused public buildings, like the tank, an old anganwadi building, public toilets.
  • They met some workers like carpenters and masons in their workplace and collected information about the tools that they use.
  • They also observed that some people live in rented houses while some have their own houses. They also found that pets were given importance in some houses.

After collecting all this information, an interaction was held immediately with the students. By then, they had more information than what we had before going for the walk.

When the students were asked why the types of houses were being changed, they answered that the families were growing in size.

Students’ observations and learning

  • “When a son gets married, a new member joins the family and children will be born. So, families need spacious houses, which is why they change from one type of house to another,” said Bakkiyalakshmi.
  • “If someone gets a job in some other places, they leave their native household and build new houses,” said Sriram.
  • “Whenever there is a cyclone or a flood, people change their houses. The government provides help to build a new house if they are lost in a cyclone,” said Kalaiyamudhu.

Photo exhibition

It was decided that a photography exhibition would be organized on Children's day with the photos that they shot during their walk. All the photos shot by the children were printed out and displayed in the classrooms. The parents of the students as well as the public attended the exhibition and showed their appreciation.

Photographs taken by children


A puzzle worksheet was given to the students, and they found it very interesting. The lesson was concluded with a slip test. The students had shown good data-collection, interviewing, and interaction skills, which was evident from their observation notes and explanations.


Term: Term 3

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