Teacher uses dolls to teach students about culture, world religion
Supattana Bolger believes dolls can teach children a lot about different cultures, religions and traditions from around the world.
Bolger, a Grade 2 teacher at Plantagenet Public School, brought her classroom to life on Friday, March 2 with her collection of 60 dolls from 30 countries across the world - not only to teach students about different cultures, but also to celebrate the Japanese holiday Hina Matsuri.
Also known as the Japanese Doll Festival or Girls' Day, Hina Matsuri is held on March 3.
Platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls representing the emperor, empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period. It is a special day to pray for the growth, happiness and well-being of young Japanese girls.
Bolger, who is originally from Thailand, said both she and her husband travel the world every summer. Each time they stop in a new country, Bolger makes a point of purchasing a doll or two that is dressed in the traditional clothing of the county.
"It's something I really enjoy doing," Bolger said of her doll collection. "The dolls are always so beautifully dressed and you can actually learn a lot about a country's culture, religion and traditions just from the dress."
Bolger enjoys her collection so much that she wanted to share it with students at Plantagenet Public School. She brought her entire collection in and invited students to tour the classroom.
"It was so wonderful to see the look on their faces when they saw all the dolls," Bolger said. "They walked into the room and their jaws dropped. The just stood there in total awe. It was so wonderful to see their reaction."
Bolger told children stories about the dolls and explained some of the traditions and customs of the countries the dolls represent.
"This was a really great way to teach the students some history, geography and information about different cultures," she commented. "You'd be surprised at just how much you can learn from a doll."
Bolger said even the older boys, whom she assumed would be "put off" by the idea of looking at dolls, truly enjoyed the experience.
"I was surprised because even the older boys were attentive and interested in learning," she said, laughing. "It really was a great day and I am so happy I was able to share my collection with students."
In addition to the dolls, Bolger also brought in two Muslim burqas for students to try on, as well as shadow puppets from Indonesia, which were used to put on a short play.