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

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Activity Calendar

Directions: Write complete sentences about what is happening around you.

a six-year-old's view of the world:

—I'm weird. My teacher is crazy. [interjection here: How do you spell your name? she asks me. I show her my name badge and she neatly copies down the letters.] Mrs. [my last name] is acting weird.

Me: I am?! How am I acting weird?

Girl: You threw a paper on the floor.

Me: I didn't. [so-and-so] threw a paper on the floor and I picked it up! Oh well, I guess if you are calling yourself weird, too, then I'll take it as a compliment.

Girl: You should meet my mom; she's even crazier than I am. Maybe you should have a playdate. You should hang out.


Side note: In helping another student with her sentences, I said, Oh, look at what your teacher is doing right now.

Girl: She's drinking.

Me: Yeah, um, maybe you should add the word "pop" at the end.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Trees, and the Children in Them

As a child I had a tree. Utterly cliche, no? More cliche or less to say that I had several trees? Actually, sometimes my sister had them. Sometimes we shared them. But I had a favorite. Or two.

Just now I read in a book about a girl and her tree, well the book concerns a girl and quite often she finds herself in a tree. She speaks of the tree and how it has a spot just for her. She can sit on a branch with her back to the trunk and her feet dangling, or she can have her feet pulled up. She can see many goings on below her, from her spot in the tree. I thought, That is just the sort of story I have wanted to write. I have even started a story about a girl in a tree. But now I'm thinking, Well, it's been done. And done. And done again. Can there be a new story of a girl, or even a boy, and a tree? I mean, Christopher Robin lived in a tree. And nearly every Pooh friend, except for Rabbit. And Eeyore. And Tigger. What I mean to say is that Owl lived in a tree. And Piglet, I believe.

Would any person care to hear of another child in a tree? What about a nice Weeping Willow? Such a nice one with three main ways to get up it. One: boring, ordinary way (just grab what you can grab and climb); Two: acrobatic way (swing yourself up as if getting onto a gymnast's bar so that you go from standing, to hanging upside down, to flipped-over-the-top and then getting a leg up on the branch); Three: find the natural hidden ladder/step area and wind your way up. Then once you get up it, you have that magic spot, the spot made just for you, where it's comfortable to sit and swing the legs or to pull yourself all up and out of reach.

Two more great aspects of this tree happen to be that horses love gathering below it and waiting for you to drop leaves or pull down branches so that they can eat the yummy leaves; and, getting out of the tree can be just as fun as getting into it.

Then, next door, another willow. This willow has one main way up, pretty straightforward but not too boring. It also has a perfect seat, one that turns into the back of a horse. The best place in this tree, however, is that long long long branch that is parallel to the ground and thick and sturdy practically to the very tip. You can inch your way out on it into the nest of little branches and leaves and gaze out over your kingdom.

Now that I write this, I realize I cannot skip describing the Russian-olive. The best one becomes even greater after a storm breaks off the top of one main branch and creates a bridge above its twisted self. So many entrances to this castle, even a dog can trot up one branch—that leans down almost to the ground—and start climbing around more deftly than a cat. Various enclosures become dungeons and the bridge on the top becomes a parapet.

See, the trees don't become so great on their own; they need the children. What good is a spaceship without someone to ride in it? A house with secret passageways without someone to go through them?

Then again, maybe I've got it backwards: maybe children need trees. If you ever had a tree, I bet you miss it. I bet it misses you.

No, I guess we can't have too many stories like these.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What I Missed When I Skipped First Grade

During a flashcard review of certain words and their contractions—should/shouldn't, could/couldn't, would/wouldn't—my gummy-bear loving little boy produced the following:

Boy: We shouldn't use bad words at school. But I wish we could. It would be fun.

(I needed that laugh today.)


Somehow the conversation turned to who was sick and who had stayed home from school. Trying to have a conversation with a group of first graders is almost always an amusing experience, no matter the topic.

Boy: My sister who goes to this school is sick. My other sister is in China.

Me: (curious to know if this China story is true and why the sister might be there) Oh, is she there for school or is she traveling?

Boy: (apparently unaware of what I have asked) My sister in the 6th grade is [so and so] and my other sister's name is . . . .

Me: You don't know your sister's name? (then I thought, well if she is in China maybe she is a lot older than he is and maybe he hasn't been around her very much, or maybe she's a step sister that he hasn't even met). Is she a lot older than you?

Boy: Well she has a car.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

They Said It

Gummy-bear boy, 6 years:

I'm girl-trapped!

[This was the outburst from the only boy in the reading group. And it didn't help that after he first said it, a girl tried to hug him.]

So after we exhausted the fact that he was girl-trapped, our group went on to study the ending "ink." We read words that end in ink. One of those words: stink. We used sentences with words ending in ink. Gummy-bear, girl-trapped boy (who this day was on a jelly bean kick), said: Everybody [long pause as he chose his word carefully] OUTSIDE of this school stinks. (Can you guess which word he was thinking of using first?)

Well, after reading words and making sentences and moving on to other activities, it was time to read in our book.

Me: Get your head out from under the table and sit up. It's time to read.

Boy: I don't like books; they stink.


1st grade classroom, small group rotation, I'm sitting at a table with four students. After a couple of minutes it finally dawns on me (because noise in a classroom usually doesn't bother me) that one of my students is making odd loud noises. OK, they weren't odd to me. I realized why I didn't catch it at first: I speak whale too.

Me: OK, time to stop speaking whale.

Girl: [gives me an aren't-I-adorable-and-funny grin]

(Later she tried to entertain me by talking to her crayons: Hello crayon. Will you be my friend?—I see stand up comedy in her future)