Tree Land School was such a fun place!
Students liked the Frog Stairway and they worked hard every day. On Fridays Miss Judy came and they all sang their heart out, ending the week on a good note.
The summer’s heat was finally over and the students were so happy to spend more time outside at recess. Miss Popcorn Goat was always glad to see her friends and would put on quite a show for them. She ran in circles, stopping to prove she was a goat by butting the fence. She would even let them pet her when she was in the mood.
Since there were several picnic tables in the shade of The Chocolate Porch and a sweet gum tree, students headed there to rest and chat in between running around at their games.
Sometimes we would see birds and squirrels having their recess which, of course, lasted all day. But the children just knew the birds and squirrels had more fun when kids were in the playground!
However, as the delicious bite of fall chill fell upon us, we began to see more and more big black birds. We enjoyed their calls, yet eventually became somewhat uneasy by their numbers of the crows.
One boy noticed that they would call out once, repeating a few times. Then twice. But we discovered that three calls meant they were getting upset about something, and starting to gather. Some of the students started going inside. A girl said she was scared, and would rather watch from the window.
Then when we heard “Caw, caw, caw, caw” four times they rushed in one great swoosh toward our classroom door.
Another day a guy decided to mimic their calls. It was fun at first. But when they got to the four calls again, he had a hard time staying brave as they group of crows rushed toward where he was standing.
Children began to look up stuff about crows. All the while it was getting closer to October when kids try on different kinds of fear for size. Then one day a young scholar read that a group of crows was called a murder!
That really scared some kids, and even their parents. One mother would wait till the teacher walked out to get her son before she let him get out of the car each morning.
For some reason the kids kept asking for inside recess. Even when they played inside, the students couldn’t help thinking about the crows. One girl drew lots of pictures and we hung them up all over the room. Several of the kids wanted to do science reports about crows. A young man said maybe if we learned about them we wouldn’t have to be scared of them. Smart kid!
Some students did interviews to get more information. A guy interviewed his grandpa and two uncles. Pretty soon the walls were full of crow stories, some true and some labeled fiction. A girl said her dad played her a song by the Counting Crows, but she decided that wouldn’t help us understand our schoolyard crows.
An old hunter drove up in a jeep and asked Miss Landers if she wanted him to “shoot those crows out of the sky.” She said, “No, thank you. The students are learning all kinds of animal science, so we’re doing okay for now.”
Then a boy who liked tools noticed that the screen to our sliding door was slowly disappearing. Our teacher used our daily snack and story time to tell us what the crows were up to with the screen. Miss Landers sometimes opened the classroom very early to tutor a college student, and they had been quietly trying to solve a mystery over the last few weeks.
They were quietly working on his assignment when they heard a knock on the sliding door. Miss Landers rushed to answer, finding no one there. After several days of this, she came one day when the student wasn’t scheduled and sat by that door peeking through the curtain to figure out what was happening.
Her spy work paid off. First she heard the crows caw, then she saw a couple of crows at the door. Since the sun was just coming up, the glass door acted like a mirror. The reflection was caused by the glare protection material which covered the whole glass door.
The reason the crows were pecking the screen to pieces was they though our classroom had crows in it! They were fighting those enemies–not knowing it was actually just a reflection of themselves.
Miss Landers knocked on the window hoping to scare them away. Then they really attacked. It took a few days for her to realize that rapping on the glass was similar to pecking, so it made them rally in an attempt to get at the crows they saw in the glass.
Next she tried quickly opening and closing the door just a bit. That made them scatter. From then on, the screen didn’t get chewed up any more. So, since she was a teacher after all, the children all had to study animal behavior in science, making posters and finding explanations for all kinds of things! You might know she’d turn this wild mystery into an assignment, ha. Just like a teacher.
After the teacher had shared her early morning adventures with the class, it was time for Art class. A clever girl said, “So, if those crows notice shiny objects, maybe we need to make mobiles to hand from the windows to scare them away.” All the kids were excited about that idea, so over the next few days they brought aluminum pie pans and other bright and shiny objects to decorate the classroom windows with.
With the arrival of Halloween, there was a bit of confusion about whether the mobiles scared the crows or the season’s festivities did it. The schoolyard was soon decorated with cutouts of bats, owls, and even giant frogs! There was even a giant wooden face for the sponge throw game for kids who felt brave enough to do it.
As fall rolled on, the crows started moving back toward the railroad track. Maybe they found something more interesting there. It had been an fascinating adventure with those crows, but everyone at Tree Land School was glad to see them go.
Besides that, students were busy putting birdseed out for the cardinals and the chickens, especially the hen who liked the swing.
Copyright 2014 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.