Friday, April 1, 2011

Lighting Chemicals on Fire, Kickball, and the Opera

This last week was an action-packed one for my students. It was our school's designated "Art Week." Our grade level spotlighted American Quilting. The kids were fascinated to learn that the slaves quilted entire maps right under their owners' noses to help people head north to freedom.

On Monday, the Utah Opera Company visited our school to do an assembly entitled, "Who Wants to be an Opera Star?" It was a great game show with lots of fun teaching going on. Prior to the visit, I gave my students a journal prompt to write about anything they knew or thought about opera. I seriously had five kids talk about Oprah and her life history. Now they know what a Mezzo-Soprano is!

On Tuesday, we had Deanna from Discovery Gateway Children's Museum (or whatever the proper name of the place is). She did an amazing science assembly for our grade level which included lighting chemicals on fire, so of course, she was a huge hit all the way around. Later, she spent time with each class allowing the children to wear safety goggles and mix chemicals. Boy howdy! So much fun!

On Wednesday, Mr. M. L. Forman, author of SLATHBOG'S GOLD graced us with his presence. I haven't read his books, but several of the kids had. We don't get live authors all that often. His books are selling well, but he's not a public speaker and doesn't really know how to relate to children. Perhaps he has the same challenge with adults. That's all I'll say about that.

On Thursday, the school nurse held a Maturation Clinic for all of the fifth grade girls. At our school, the Maturation Clinic for the boys isn't held until sixth grade. For those of you who haven't spent decades amongst maturation clinic attendees, this is real excitement. Excitement of a new kind. I should tally, one of these years, the number of times I hear a girl say, "I already know EVERYTHING. My mom told me EVERYTHING." I am tricky and discreet when I pass the notes out about the upcoming clinic. But the girls themselves get a little blabby and so the boys begin asking questions about what THEY will be doing while the girls are in their special class. At first, the boys feel slightly slighted that they have to wait another year for THEIR special class. But then...I announce that they'll be playing KICKBALL and they take off outside with no worries about missing out on something else.

Ah, kickball in springtime; it's almost poetic. I LOVE watching my students play sports. We have a physical education specialist at our school, so I don't ref as many games as I have in years past. Such joy! I take pleasure in finding out who can really kick and who gets away with bunting. I like to watch those who feel they must SLIDE into first base. I really like observing all the problem-solving that takes place on the field. I chuckle when I hear boys attempting to help peers with solid kickball advice. I like to hear the demands made to the pitcher, "Slow and rolly this time!" I'm interested in seeing who handles disappointment with grace. There are so many life lessons taking place on that kickball field. The weather was perfect. It was a glorious afternoon.

I told the girls to look for us outside, having no idea how long the nurse would end up taking. I wanted them to be able to slip their free samples into their backpacks without the boys asking questions. One girl emerged from the school and threw her arms around me, "I thought I was going to DIE!" Yes, melodrama is part of it all. I'm happy to report that no one fainted this year.

And today? Today was April Fool's Day. I didn't even try to do anything to anyone. One student came to school with a new plaster cast and a story about getting in a bike wreck last night. I played along and signed his cast (his mom works at the hospital). Another girl told her friends she's moving to Chicago because her dad got a job transfer. Other than that, things were unusually mild this year...except for the fifth graders who got married on the playground during recess. Z., a cool yet quiet kid, brought his guitar to class and played a couple of songs for us: Horse With No Name and Ode to Joy and something else by Linkn (sp?) Park. How's that for variety? This kid can hear something and pick it out on his guitar. He introduced one short piece by saying, "This is just a little tune I heard on a clock once, so I figured out the notes. I just kind of like it." While others wrote in their journals about Oprah Winfrey, this kid listed the opera songs he had downloaded to his IPod.

While my students were working on their quilts earlier this week, they were chatting about some of their experiences tutoring our first grade buddies in reading. Turns out the word family this week was -uck. Therefore, the first graders had to write all of the -uck words they could think of on their whiteboards. You know, "buck, duck, etc." Turns out some of the first graders said the "f" word without knowing what it meant. The fifth graders were on high alert and STRESSED OUT about it. Some coached, "Don't say that word! Stay away from that word!" Then of course some of the first graders would say it repeatedly just to be mischievous. One kid said he had to get strict with his first grade buddy, "Dude, do NOT put an "f" in front of that!" I laughed my head off hearing all these stories, so much that the teacher across the hall came over to inquire.

Precious children. I love them. I enjoy them. They make my day and they make my blog posts. I am so impressed with all that they have become so far.


  1. We've had the opera...April 7 is the Discovery museum AND maturation on the same day!!!

  2. aren't kids just amazing????