One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

6-Year-Old Minds

Ten o'clock and five first graders come in red and cold from recess, noses running. One or two of the girls usually arrive first and announce that they are first and then proceed to tell each boy that he is not first, (because the boys might say they are first even when they clearly are not). Then we have our little chat about how it doesn't matter who is first, and then I start going over the new letter and sound and new words for the week. We read the words on the cards and then each student in turn uses the words in sentences. The girls ALWAYS have someone going to the store, and finally I have said, can't we stop going to the store with our sentences? (For example if the word is 'said' a girl might say: "He said I am going to the store.") The boys, nearly always, have sharks, dinosaurs, or monsters in their sentences. I don't usually have to prompt them much. After we review, we practice sounding out words smoothly, looking at ways to blend and chuck words together. Then we get to read a story.

Yesterday, scene:

I notice that the book has a picture of a caterpillar on the cover and the word metamorphosis. This excites me, and I get ready to listen to them tell me what I assume they know about caterpillars and then show them this really cool new word. I ask the group, what happens to caterpillars? One of the boys, who usually gets the giggles but is not laughing at the moment, raises his hand and tells me—very matter-of-factly—"They get squashed." I start laughing before I even think about it. They do? I ask. I hope they don't get squashed! 

Then the boy and his giggle buddy start laughing and banging their fists on the table and saying, "Squash!" I try to regain composure and turn to the little girl next to me who, trying to collect her words and forgetting the word cocoon, finally spits out: "It changes into a butterfly." Okay, I say, that sounds better than getting squashed.

We then proceed to try and read chapter one about a caterpillar named Tim, and as we are reading I can't help thinking that I hope Tim doesn't get squashed in the story. Well, as we are reading along (I read the words in fine print and the kids read the big, bold words), one girl comments: "He's fat!" 
"I am NOT!" shouts one of the boys. Then I calmly explain to him that she was talking about the caterpillar, who is indeed fat and getting fatter by the minute. 

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