‘Back in the Day’, we were substitute teachers. These days, we are guest teachers! I have to say, after a day like today, I feel so blessed. In my retirement I have opportunity to hold on to everything that is magical about teaching. Today was one of those particularly special days out in the schools; but truly, every day, with whatever grade level or subject, I learn something very ‘cool’ about students…something very interesting about curriculum content, but most often, I learn things about myself.
This grade two class has a teacher-read novel going on that I have never read before. After reading two chapters, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo has me hooked!
From Wikipedia…this summary of the early events of Book I
Book I: A Mouse Is Born
Book one tells a story about a small, sickly mouse born in a castle named Despereaux. He was born a runt with large ears and eyes. Despereaux, unlike other mice, spends lots of time reading. He particularly enjoys a book about how a knight saves a princess and they live happily ever after. One day while reading he hears music. He follows the sound and is led to Princess Pea and King Philip. He falls in love with the princess and speaks to her, but the king led the mouse away because mice were related to rats, which are a danger to the kingdom. Furlough, his brother, sees this and tells his father, Lester Tilling. Lester calls the mouse council; Furlough goes to collect Despereaux . The mouse council orders Despereaux to be sent to the dungeon because talking to a human is forbidden. In the dungeon he meets Gregory, the jailer, who saves him because Despereaux tells Gregory a story.
As I discussed the preceding chapters with the students and then delved into issues around today’s chapters, I was in awe of the sensitivity of their responses. In fact, as I reflect and type here, I smile for remembering. We spoke a lot about happy endings. One little boy said that he was going to go home and write a prayer for his Gramma who had passed. One little girl said that when someone passes, we don’t just have that memory to hold on to, we need to remember all of the happy endings along the way. One pointed out that the entire board ledge was filled with stories with happy endings. We thought about courage. We thought about how hard it is sometimes to be brave. We talked about wee Despereaux’s love for Princess Pea. We talked about ‘the rule’ for mice…about not letting yourself be known to humans. What an awesome time for me. I learned so much and so appreciate the goodness in these 22 little people.
The students were eager and knowledgeable about the rites and rituals of their entire day. The class hummed along like a well-oiled machine…and I sort of followed along. We deemed it Wacky Wednesday simply because everything I did with them would be ‘somehow’ different. Soon after that, one wee boy, looked up from his desk and asked, “When is our teacher going to be back?” Laughing about that right now.
Before library, we collected our books and placed them in stacks, then prepared the classroom for an art extravaganza. Their chairs were decked out with individual and ‘named’ cubbies, and so, a simple solution was to push the chairs against the perimeter of the room and tackle the projects in standing position around the classroom tables. Love was the focus. Prior to the day’s beginning, I mixed up a great variety of reds and pinks…threw in some peach colour and white…and we were off to the races. February, all wrapped up in a January afternoon! I set up the paint center and explained to the children how to use it efficiently and without accident. Two hands wrapped around the buckets…two brushes always in each colour…In that last half hour before library, the grade twos had their hearts sketched out in chalk and practiced a variety of patterns. They also watched my demonstration of how to stroke their brushes, rather than scrub them…and off they went for their book exchange and then lunch.
The afternoon opened up total possibility as they began by painting in their concentric hearts.
Once their hearts were painted in solidly, they went back to the dried colours and applied their various patterns.
The students busied themselves while waiting for certain areas to dry by cutting out their projects and wiping wee bits of paint from the table surface. Because the hearts only met the edge of the paper at five points, this project is NOT one of those messy ones. But watch the natural inclination for the tapping of the brushes on the bucket edge…teach your students to do a wipe to remove excess paint.
A wonderful day…I was blessed in so many ways! Grades Kindergarten, one and two…BIG BRUSHES, LOTS OF LIQUID COLOUR, BIG PAPER and Pizzazz!