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Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Got No Hands

No, this isn't a Halloween-related post about a bloody severed hand.  In fact, I'm only vaguely aware that it's Halloween today.  With no kids to take out in costume, no trick-or-treaters coming to our apartment, and my own dressing-up experience already over after last night's Halloween party, today is more a day to recuperate from back-to-back parents-in-town weekends than anything else.  Although, don't get me wrong, I've been eating candy all day.

What this post is about, however, can be classified as a three-second performance art piece that takes place as the doorway to our classroom.

My priority on any walk from our classroom out the door to recess, to art class or to P.E. is inevitably either: 1) Hurry so we're not late again, or 2) Less dancing/slipping/wiggling/strutting/hopping -- more walking regularly.  Some kids, however, see this walk as a time to shine with a new trick that's sure to impress the teacher.

A few years ago, Jerrod and the rest of the cafeteria-bound class were filing out of the classroom as I kept an eye on the aforementioned dancing/slipping/wiggling/strutting/hopping.  Jerrod approached the doorway on his way out, readying himself for his big moment to shine.  In the first act of his three-second performance, he pulled back the corners of his eyes until they narrowed into almost completely closed slits.  Act II: Jerrod looked up at me with his slits for eyes.  For the big finale, he delivered the performance's one line: "I got no eyes."

He was already past me and on his way to lunch, but Jerrod knew I was appreciating the artistic value of his miniature, one-man show.

It's been a few years since that bit of nano-theater, and I thought perhaps the art form had gone out of vogue.  However, as I discovered last week, doorway performance is still alive and well.

Charlotte made her approach from off stage, pulling her hands into the sleeves of her sweatshirt.  Act II: Charlotte held her sleeve stumps up in the air and looked up at me.  She closed the show with, "I got no hands."

For all of you fans of the arts, keep an eye out (well, if you have eyes, that is) for a micro-performance in a doorway near you!
Futurama image from www.slurmed.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spying on Kids

You may be wondering how you're going to fit some quality hopscotch time into your busy schedule.  Well wonder no more!  Thanks to the handy Girl Calendar, I can keep you up to date on all the plans for any given day of recess.

The other day during a rainy indoor recess, I happened upon Keisha and Deja crafting a daily agenda of playground activities.

According to their Girl Calendar, Mondays will feature games of tag and Zip, Zap, Zoom as well as a dance competition.  If you're more of a Dancing with the Stars kind of gal, then be sure to show up Tuesdays after Zookeeper's Keys.

Tuesday also includes an item listed simply as, "Girls are better than boys."  I'm not entirely certain how this constitutes a recess activity rather than just a firmly-held conviction.  Do they spend that time reveling in how much better girls are than boys?  Do they stage tests of skill and cunning designed to prove their superiority over the male members of the class?

Under Wednesday is listed, "Work!  Work!  WORK!"  At first, I was impressed by the girls' dedication to learning, as shown by voluntarily opting to do work during recess.  Then I realized that we don't have recess on Wednesdays.

Which brings us to Thursday, which will apparently be taken up by "Spying on kids" and "Asking kids about their personal life."  Will there be a survey?

Round out the week with some hopscotch (See?  I told you this calendar would help you fit it in!), a little tag, and playing house, and you've got yourself a week!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Interior Design: Now with More Cats!

On last week's vocabulary test, I asked students to describe an attractive room.  Aside from demonstrating if they knew the meaning of the word, the question also gave a peek inside their eight-year-old aesthetic sense.  Apparently, the gold standard of attractiveness to third graders is, well, gold.  Several kids included gold in their decor.  Perhaps taking some cues from European royal palaces, one student described the most attractive room ever as having gold everywhere.

Not surprisingly, another hallmark of a living space attractive to third graders is a large supply of toys.  Toys featured in their answers from "scattered with," "filled with," to "lots of."  Oh--and throw in several mentions of TVs and cookies.

Attractiveness, to eight-year-olds, also involves "a good smell" as well as the color pink.  Flowers featured heavily, including rainbow flowers which perhaps would be giving off this enticing smell.

And just to warn you--if you ever find yourself on one of those home redecorating shows where you  swap places with your neighbor and decorate their house, and your neighbor happens to be a third grader, you're going to wind up with butterflies all over your dining room.  Another student's idea of attractiveness was cat designs, so be prepared for some of those too.  Add in a few handprints, and some "obstacles" and you will have yourself the most attractive room that a third grader could ever imagine. 

Perhaps that sounds like just your style of interior design, but as for myself, I won't be hiring a third grader anytime soon to redecorate my apartment!  While I do appreciate "a good smell" as much as the next person, I'm not so sure about gilded cats all over the walls.
Images: www.divadiamonds.net   www.tripadvisor.com

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Go! Go! Go!

If you are a curious kindergartener, wondering,
  • "Good idea or bad idea?"
  • "What will happen if I touch that?"  
  • "Will my actions cause anyone to have to leave the bathroom in such a hurry they sill have two handfuls of soap suds?" 
  • or "What does that little white handle on this small red box do?"

Well wonder no more.
  • Bad, bad, very bad idea.
  • An extremely loud noise, followed by the emptying of the entire school.
  • YES
      and
  • It sounds the FIRE ALARM, that's what it does!

  We were lined up in the hallway earlier this week, mid-bathroom break, when the fire alarm rang at full volume.  Usually we get an email ahead of time if there is to be a fire drill and I make sure to rearrange our bathroom time if it happens to conflict, precisely so we aren't in this situation!  I mean--there's business to finish up in there that might take a minute!
  Surprisingly, though, we were all out the door in record time.  Those kids dashed out of the bathroom like the school was on fire--oh, right.  It was.  So quickly did we beat feet, actually, that a few kids were left hanging without washing their hands.  As I did a head count while the kids streamed out of the building, Marcus walked past me with his hands held up in the air, full of foaming soap.  "Uh.  You'll just have to....wash them when we get inside."  I said.  "Or...you could wipe them on your pants."
  Later, after the Startled to Death portion of the fire situation, after the Exit at Top Speed and the Head Count, and during the Wait Around portion, Trent raised his hand.  "I didn't have time to wash my hands!" he said, very concerned.  I thanked him for his help in making a speedy lavatory departure, and told him to just not touch anybody until we got back to a sink.

  The Wait Around portion lasted for longer than usual, and I began to get suspicious about how much of this was a drill.  The fire trucks came.  We waited.  My kids noticed something fascinating and apparently web-like on a bush outside of one of the neighborhood houses.  "It's just like Charlotte's Web!" exclaimed Tyrell.
  We waited some more.  The fire truck passed us on its way out and one firefighter waved to the awestruck line of kids.
  On our way back in, I found out that this lengthy diversion that left us with germy, soapy hands and threw off our schedule for the morning had been brought to us by one curious little kindergartener. 
Image: www.janicaelectronics.co.in/images/fire.jpg

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pedoodle

Go ahead.  Just say it aloud.  Pedoodle.  You're giggling a little, aren't you.

Pedoodle, in addition to being a highly entertaining word to say aloud to yourself, is a game I play from time to time with my kids at morning meeting. 

 The object of Pedoodle is to try to make the guesser guess a mystery word by saying different sentences as clues.  In place of the mystery word you use the word pedoodle.  And if you can believe it, as comical as the word is itself, pedoodle sounds even funnier when used in the context of a sentence that is in all other ways trying to be completely serious.

  Our first suggestion for a mystery word today was chicken.  Once the guesser re-entered the room, we had, "A pedoodle lives in a barn."  Ha!  A pedoodle!  Living in a barn!  Then it was on to, "I like to eat fried pedoodle."  Ahah!  Pedoodle, fried!  After a few other clues, the guesser correctly deduced the mystery word.

  Our next mystery word was suggested by Terralyn.  Try your hand at guessing this one:


  *Pedoodles hang out.
  *Pedoodles smell like rotten eggs.




   If you guessed "teenagers," you are correct!  Entertaining for all, a challenge to try to guess the mystery word in as few clues as possible, and a creativity exercise, Pedoodle can also at times be a window into what, exactly, kids think (that is, if you're not already getting a live feed from their brains non-stop).
   So what do third graders think of teenagers?  As it turns out, they have some pretty vivid images of teenagers, and some strong opinions.  Yes, those teen--I mean pedoodles are known for all of their hanging out.  And if you've spent time with pedoodles lately, or even some pre-pedoodles, it's true.  Some do not smell so fresh.

  "YOU will be a pedoodle!" foretold Nyla, which was perhaps a scarier prospect for some of the still-eight-year-olds than others.

  Duncan finished off the round with one last clue.  "I HATE pedoodles!"

  Let this be a lesson to all of you smelly, loitering pedoodles out there--you have a little PR work to do with the third grade crowd.
Image: microsofttag.ning.com

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Most Interesting Third Graders in the World

My third graders have recently had all kinds of amazing adventures and experiences.  Sky diving!  Meeting President Obama!  In fact, I've even heard that sharks have a week dedicated to them. Yes, just like those Dos Equis commercials, my kids have lately been the most interesting third graders in the world. 

If you believe them.


The complete exposé on how our morning meeting has become a bed of lies can be found today at An Army of Ermas!

If you're dropping in from Ermas, I'll catch you up on what's been new lately: direct from brain to mouth thoughts and pooping out plants.  Yep, you're now caught up on the latest major happenings of the third grade.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What I'm REALLY Thinking...

Third graders' brains are abuzz with thoughts.  Some of these thoughts travel down the path from third grade brain to third grade mouth but get stopped by a gatekeeper.  "Nope!" says the gatekeeper.  "Nobody needs to know that your foot's itchy.  We'll just keep that thought between you and me." 

The more important and more well-formulated of the thoughts make the cut and get past the gatekeeper.  These brain nuggets are ready for prime time, ready to head out into the open for public review.

And then there are some kids whose thoughts are all fast-tracked.  The instant the thought occurs, it hops down the tube that leads directly out the mouth--no gatekeeper, no filter.  Just, bam!  Here's my thought!

Whenever I read aloud from Charlotte's Web, I expect to get some unfiltered brain activity. 

A character perches precariously on a feeding trough--Bam!  "Oh!  He's gonna fall!"

Charlotte makes preparations in the barn--Bam! "I bet Charlotte's going to make a new web!"


Yes, for some, the internal monologue hasn't yet become internal.  The external monologue, though, can be quite revealing about kids' perceptions.  One year our student teacher was about to choose someone to answer a math question and we got an unfiltered look at Bryson's thoughts on who should be called on.  "Joseph's the smartest," Bryson's fast-track brain offered.

Another day, after literacy centers, I noticed Angelo looking down at his palms, fingers spread wide.  "Ooh....I got too sticky at that poetry center" he commented aloud.  Later that week, at our whole-school meeting, Angelo's thoughts were dropping fast and furious down the Direct-to-Mouth chute.

"Oh, I bet they're going to sing now" he said as a group of kids arranged themselves for a song.

"He's new to guitar club" Angelo continued.  "I don't know all the words to this song."

Another teacher sitting nearby overheard the not-so-internal monologue.  "Angelo," she said.  You're thinking your thoughts out loud--just keep those to yourself."  It was then that Angelo replied with something even more scary than hearing an eight-year-old's every thought spoken aloud.



"Oh" said Angelo.   "That's not what I'm really thinking."
Image:  www.thediabetesclub.com

Friday, October 1, 2010

Magical, Life-Giving Poop

From past experience planting seeds with third graders, I'm very well aware of Common Plant Misconception # 1: Standing by the plant table and staring at your sprout during snack clean-up helps speed the growing process.

Today, though, we unearthed two additional and perhaps equally widespread fallacies.

Common Plant Misconception # 2) Plants emerge, fully grown, from animals' butts. 

Common Plant Misconception # 3) When a mommy seed and a daddy seed love each other very much, they mate and have a baby plant.

Today's botany lesson began with the observation and sketching of our Brassica sprouts.  Known for good reason as "fast plants," our plants made a remarkable debut, shooting up from nothing over the course of a single weekend.  Sketches that day were impressive.  Now, though, a few days later, the plants haven't really changed all that much.  Well--some are now rather limp from over-fondling, but other than that they've stalled a bit.  Perhaps we need to do more staring during clean-up.

From today's anticlimactic observation, we moved on to reading about how seeds get from place to place.  This topic is actually quite perfect for third graders, as it involves permission to talk about poop.  Yes, we read about how animals eat fruit with seeds (which resulted in a rather excellent, X-ray style drawing by Nicole of some seeds chillin' in the belly of something furry) and then about how these seeds, well, let's just say they exit in the animals' waste and end up in the soil.  Or--to put it another way, as Ernesto did when I asked him to paraphrase that section,


"The animal eats the seeds....and then poops out a plant!"


And thus we have Plant Misconception # 2.  The kids and I all rather enjoyed picturing a squirrel pooping out a full-grown azalea. 

Ernesto chuckled too and then corrected himself.  Why, of course!  Plants come not straight out of the derrières of animals, but from seeds!  Those frisky, frisky seeds.  Unless, of course, your seeds haven't been in the mood lately.  DJ explained the reason why his cup was looking rather empty.  


"I don't think my two seeds like each other.  My plant's not growing!"


Now that we've got those two cleared up, our next lesson might center around Plant Misconception # 4: The names of plant parts and of feminine hygiene products are interchangeable.