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Drama in the Wilderness. How Photos Can Help the Child Write Script & Dialogues!

What we had seen only on Television programmes like Animal Planet and National Geographic all our lives; we were watching all of that in  – flesh and blood – during those three days of Safari in the Elephant Plains private game reserve in South Africa. 

'Game Viewing', as the Safaris are called in South Africa…

…promise encounters with the "Big 5" – Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhino and Wild Buffalo or the "Big 7" (includes Cheetah and Wild Dog). These are called the Big 5 or the Big 7 from those days when 'hunting' used to be a 'royal' hobby and for them, targeting these specific animals was the ultimate test of their skills.

You might wonder, how can hunting the Buffalo be a challenge comparable with shooting a Lion or an Elephant? The reason is – the 'only' way to bring a buffalo down is by shooting at its brain. Any where else and the buffalo is left injured and will leave no stone un-turned to avenge its injury. But then, targeting its brain, because of its not-so-prominent position, is not an easy job at all. Lying behind a small forehead and sheltered by two powerful and big horns on both sides, shooting the Buffalo's brain is like aiming for the proverbial 'bull's eye'.

Thank God that the hunters cannot have a field day any more… 

…and treat these majestic beings like trophies. But, the excitement of 'shooting' these Big 5 still drives people crazy. Albeit its the 'shooting' with cameras that I am referring to! 

Capturing the Lions and the Leopards and that too – in the middle of a riveting action sequence – is the biggest thrill I have ever felt. The photos, I think, are alright considering this was my first experience shooting wild life and that too in the evening when the light conditions were not favourable for photography. 

And, now that we are back with hundreds of clicks of those incredible experiences, I have been wondering how can I creatively use those photos as tools of art, learning, storytelling, conversations for Pari. 

Of course she keeps visiting these photos on my laptop from time to time; I plan to create hard copy albums of her own clicks; we narrate stories to each other using them but other than that, I was wondering if they can be used in a very dynamic way that will make her relive those moments and visuals like nothing else.

And then, I had an idea. I created slide shows on Picasa – of each encounter by using the series of photos I had captured of that specific encounter. 

For instance – one slide show using 4-5 photos of the encounter that involved three male Lions feasting on a Buffalo. Another – a long-drawn dirty tricking game of a Hyena with the Leopard and her cubs. And, many more.

My idea was to have Pari impart thought bubbles or dialogue to the animals in each photo/scene.

For this, she would need to study their expressions and the setting,  recall what she had originally seen and script the whole series as if it were a drama going on, where in each character is playing out its part – in first person.

We did this yesterday and as I had anticipated – it made for one full hour of lively engagement, spontaneous expression, creative thinking, and impromptu enacting for Pari.

Here are those adrenalin-gushing scenes from the grasslands of Sabie Sands (extension of Kruger National Park).

The bonus is those dialogues and thought bubbles – scripted by Pari  in a way that you get the actual picture of what transpired that evening. The story that unfolds here is what had actually happened plus an insight into the animal mind as the little girl imagined!

I scribbled in a notebook as she was engrossed in thinking up the words and enacting them out loud.

Mamma Leopard: This is the best Impala I've ever eaten in my life. Wow, it's amazing

Mamma Leopard: O no, I feel worried that my cubs will be okay or not. I think there's a Hyena over there…

Mamma Leopard: O my God, the Hyena is very close to my cubs. What should I do?

Cub 1: O no! There's a Hyena around. Where's my mamma?

Mr. Hyena: Aha, it's a lucky day. I've got a leopard cub to eat…

Cub 1: O my! So there is the Hyena – so close – I need to run. But where is mamma?

Mamma Leopard: O no, I dropped my food. I've got to run down before the Hyena grabs it…

Mr. Hyena: Yay, I've got ready-made food. I don't have to chase the cubs…

Cub 2: I have to keep a close watch on the Hyena till mamma comes. I've to keep very quiet…

Cub 1: God, mamma is chasing the Hyena. What if the Hyena eats mamma. Then, he will eat me too.

Cub 2: Thank God, I've got this rock to sit. Now, the Hyena cannot catch me…

30 minutes pass…..and the sun is setting. The hide and seek between Hyena and Mamma Leopard is still going on…

Cub 2: It's dark now. I am scared. Please God, send mama to me…

Mamma Leopard: Alright there he is. He will make a good meal. Should I try to eat it?

Mamma Leopard: You horrible Hyena, now I'm going to attack you. First you take away my meal and now you want to eat my cubs?

Cub 1: Where are these lights coming from? Why are they throwing lights on me? O they look different to me. Are they Hyena's friends?

Mamma Leopard: The sun is going to set soon and it's going to be very dark. It's better I move from here with my cubs. I'll attack the Hyena next time. I won't spare him.

Mamma Leopard: Ok my cubs – I'm with you now so no need to be scared. The Hyena is gone. Let's go home….

So, friends, I hope you enjoyed this riveting drama teeming with deceit, suspense, fear and revenge!

In that sense, a child trying to get into the mind of an animal to understand what it might have felt or thought can be very purposeful as well as worthy. I think it also makes them appreciate the fact that animals too think, feel and communicate like we do.We will be doing more scripting and dialogue writing from those slide shows.

Earlier, I had used photos to support her writing (autobiography).

What other ways do you recommend using photos as tools for dramatization, art, learning and expression?

PS: If you missed reading my last post summarizing our trip to South Africa – from Cape Town to Kruger – you can read it now. :)

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Taryn September 15, 2011, 5:26 pm

    wow! These photos are absolutely amazing. I’m really impressed :) It must have been such an awesome game drive / holiday. I want a holiday like that in my own country :) I love the ideas you have for using your holiday pics in your schooling. I went to Israel earlier this year and ran out of ideas of how to bring more learning into our experience, now that we are home. This would’ve been a good idea!

    As to suggestions, maybe you’d like to do some art lessons using some of these photos as inspiration or to copy? The lighting in each photo is so different, it would be a great lesson in how light causes shadows and how that effects the mood of the picture.

    Thanks so much for sharing these awesome pictures.

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 16, 2011, 4:27 am

      Wow, you went to Israel! A country of ancient religions, astounding history and culture! You were right in wanting to extend the learning from the trip back at home.

      Your idea to use light play in photos to explain the role of light in photography/art and how it determines the mood of the picture is excellent! I tell her some of it when she does her own photography. But, we could sit down with some photos such as in the post above and do a ‘de-brief’ kind of discussion. It would be really interesting.
      Thanks Taryn, for being here :)

  • Srishti September 15, 2011, 6:01 pm

    Amazing pictures Rashmie!!! Specially the first one and the one in which there are two prominent light shades on the Leopard. To top it all the dialogue play by you both. Now I understand why it is said that there is no end to creativity !!!

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 16, 2011, 4:36 am

      Thanks, dear Srishti :) Yeah, you’re right about those photos. And the one with light and shadow play – it’s intriguing.
      Creativity – yeah – well said – there’s no end to it. As long as there’s enthusiasm, creativity will thrive. As they say – “creativity is an extension of enthusiasm”. I can so relate with these words. Because I’ve seen that I am able to think creatively only when I am child-like enthusiastic about something. :)

  • Ashu September 15, 2011, 6:33 pm

    Wow…too good. Creating ur own movie with the set of great pics u have taken .It just feels like watching a show of hunters on National Geo with exact dialogue.Mommy Lab team Pari and Rashmie…Thanks for bringing up such a great idea. Your Safari reminds me of ‘Kerala Night Safari’….Safari is fun for kids to watch and brings kids out us at the same time.

  • Rashmie Jaaju September 16, 2011, 4:40 am

    Dear Ashu,
    Wow, so you did night safari in Kerala! How amazing that must have been!
    We did these Safaris in SA during early morning and then in the evenings. But not at night. Because kids are not allowed on night Safaris. But, I so wanted to do. Next time, I won’t miss a chance to be privy to the mysteries of the night time jungle.
    Thank You, Ashu, for your enthusiastic words :)

  • maggy, red ted art September 16, 2011, 11:18 am

    Wow! What a brilliant post and an amazing set of photos! I think this will also encourage children to take an interest in photography.. wonderful.

    Thank for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  • Chhavi September 16, 2011, 2:02 pm

    So cute! And such innovative dialogues. Kids are natural story tellers; especially the girls:)
    Since Pari is also fond of narrating herself, maybe you could create a movie of your video clips with Pari’s narrative in the background. I’m certain she’ll do a great job with that as well and it shall be an added experience.

  • Rashmie Jaaju September 19, 2011, 4:24 pm

    Chhavi – you’re so right, these little girls are born storytellers :)) And eves-dropping on the talks and chats of two little girls provides much amusement and chuckles!
    Your idea of a movie sounds so exciting. I must try this.

  • param September 23, 2011, 8:21 am

    Rashmie, incredible pics, what beautiful shots. You are one hell of a multi talented gal :) Btw the dialogue baazi by pari is too good. We have a budding writer here..keep going gals. You both rock.

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 29, 2011, 9:29 am

      My dear Param,
      I’m so sorry, I missed this comment of yours. So glad you liked the pictures. Wildlife photography is a different ball game altogether and I have come to know there’s soooo much I have to learn and the scope for improvement is mammoth. So, I’ll keep at it.

      Pari’s “dialogue-baazi” – haha, I like that word you used – yeah, I think it will pay to work on her interest in writing. The sooner we recognize their talent, the better it is. :)

  • Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas September 24, 2011, 6:22 pm

    WOW, these photos are AMAZING! What a trip you had and I so enjoyed Pari’s narration!

    Thanks for sharing your fun with us on the Sunday Showcase Rashmie. We hope to see you link up what you’ve been up to this week.


    • Rashmie Jaaju September 29, 2011, 9:31 am

      Sorry about the late reply to your sweet comment. Yeah, this was one amazing trip and the experience of seeing wildlife in their habitat is a very soul-uplifting experience.
      So happy you enjoyed the pictures. :)

  • Angelique Felix September 25, 2011, 7:00 pm

    Completely impressed by your gorgeous pictures and ofcourse the talent of your daughter. You make a good example in my ‘Children and Animals at play’ bloghop to let children experience themselves the animals in their own way!
    Thank you for participating, lovely greeting from Angelique

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 29, 2011, 9:34 am

      My Dear Angelique,
      Sorry for replying late to your comment. I certainly am not on top of things these days…Argghhhh….

      Yeah, this post was just made for your “Children and Animals at play” bloghop and I am so happy to link up. This blog hop of yours has generated so much awareness and interest in the role of animals in children’s life. Thank you Angie, for hosting it. :)