School is so much fun in the fall. Kids can go outside without burning up, and the chill in the air makes life exciting. Then there are the leaves, and anticipation of Halloween. Recess becomes a brisk thrill, and anticipation of a party looms closer than ever.
One of the first things we do each day is discuss the calendar. There was a mention of Art and I clarified that we do that on the T days, meaning Tuesdays and Thursdays. One kid answered, “You mean like today and tomorrow?” There are some things I just can’t answer, so I stared into space while another student explained. . .
During Social Studies we were looking at a map and someone pointed out, “It’s north.” A little echo suddenly asked, “What is a Snorth?” My teaching certificate didn’t prepare me for some of these questions!
We were studying oral history and family trees to understand more clearly where history comes from. One child blurted out that his dad had married an orphan so he wouldn’t have to deal with in-laws! He said he heard his daddy tell his uncle about that. I wonder if his wife had heard that little tidbit of family history. I decided this assignment didn’t need to be written down. Just to keep peace in the family.
At Science time I grab every opportunity to stress the importance of good health habits. When we were learning about caring for teeth one little scholar proclaimed that his dad had just come home from a trip with presents for the whole family. His was “a real, honest to goodness, animated toothbrush!” I adjusted the next unit to be Simple Machines so we could talk about things that are automated.
As we were discussing conditions and special health needs some people have, one child yelled, “I know someone who has grandma seizures.” Not wanting to blame the poor lady, I had to explain what grand mal seizures were.
I learn so much when the kids do their writing assignments. One child asked, “How to you spell pygmy?” I was a bit surprised to find a child of that age who knew about pygmies, so I said, “Tell me what you’re saying.” She replied, “We were gonna eat our pygmy.” I assured her I wanted to hear more about it, and she told me they had picked up fried chicken and they had chips, dips, juice, and even cookies for later. I finally got around to spelling the word for her: picnic.
At lunch we had just sat down at the picnic table when a girl exclaimed, “Look what my mom sent in my lunch! A plunger!” Other students looked up with mild curiosity while I gawked in horror. The container said plum juice. My confusion was interrupted by a boy who urgently asked for some pepper. I mused that since we were eating outside, there was no salt or pepper on the table. Then I caught his explanation, “cause I want to draw a picture of that cardinal at the bird feeder.” By then I needed a walk, so I went inside and got this budding artist some paper.
During recess the children play and visit. A couple of guys were into basketball and one was telling about “that big tall guy from China called Chow Mein.” I dearly love Chinese food, but knew I had to correct this, so I joined in with several comments about Yao Ming. However, teaching by example isn’t always successful, and one of the boys chimed in with, “Boy, you must really like Chow Mein!” For some reason, Yao Ming was one of the people we studied in our unit on Biography the next week.
One story had lots of difficult words and a smart little gal asked, “Can I use my hay-lighter?” I knew it was autumn with scarecrows in the hay and all, but couldn’t imagine the scenario! I was shocked that she could even have such a thought since hay was so highly flammable. When she got it out of her pencil bag I realized she wanted to use her highlighter. For a moment there I was really wondering why pyrotechnics was being taught in elementary school.
The week before Halloween we incorporated Pumpkin Carols from an old Charlie Brown greeting card and others I’ve written or collected over the years into the reading curriculum. Reading fluency is so important that we even sang them during Music class. We had a large paper mache pumpkin to serve as The Great Pumpkin which we always put in the middle of the group when we sang. The students loved it so much that the day of the party one guy stood up and saluted saying, “Sing in Honor of The Great Pumpkin!”
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