I have been feeling the love in my little classroom the past two weeks. For whatever reason Holy Week and Easter week were just such special weeks so I just want to take the time to write down some funny and happy little memories.
“Did the pigs take his shoes?”
Leading up to Easter, we spent a lot of time going over different stories about Jesus and stories that Jesus told. The kids LOVED learning these stories and it was one of the only times where I could tell a story to the entire group and I didn’t have to beg for their attention! One little boy in particular (let’s call him “my five year old boy”) was a very intense listener to these stories, asking me questions that often I didn’t quite know how to answer.
One day we were doing the story of the Prodigal Son. I was using the pictures from the Jesus Storybook Bible as an aid to telling these stories. The kids were shocked to hear about a son who was so rude to his dad, told him that “he didn’t care!” about him and ran off with all of his money to waste it at Chuck E Cheese (probably a good thing I’ve never been tasked with any official translations of the Bible….). They were so drawn into the story and I was on the verge of tears when I turned to the final page and explained how, when the son returned, the Father embraced him and rejoiced at his returning….
Then, a question from the audience:
“What happened to his shoes?” My five year old boy was staring deeply at the picture.
“What?” I asked.
“What happened to the son’s shoes?”
I looked at the picture of the father and son embracing, and realized the son wasn’t wearing any shoes.
“Well, remember he wasted all of his money?”
“Yeah but where did his shoes go?”
“I mean, he was poor, he lost everything.”
He flipped the page backwards to look at the previous picture.
“Did the pigs take his shoes?”
“No, the pigs didn’t take his shoes, he just wasted all his money and became poor….”
Exasperated sigh from the little boy. “This story doesn’t make any sense.”
Ha! At least he was paying attention! 🙂
“Mrs. Ruth, my worm loves me!”
Also during Holy Week, the children became fascinated with the very sacred creature…. the worm. Every day at recess they would dig in the dirt looking for worms. A little girl had accidentally discovered one at the beginning of the week, and the rest of the week became a very intense search by her and two others for these wiggly creatures.
One day, they found the jackpot – 5 worms! The girl who had initiated the search had two, a little boy who had joined her found two more, and the oldest girl in the class found one (she was very mad that she only had one).
The worm-search-party-initiator kept screaming, “Guys, guys! I’m serious – I found worms! I’m serious! There are worms! I’m so serious!”
I was actually very impressed by how long and hard they had searched for their prize!
Then the little boy – an adorably cute, somewhat chubby little boy who is missing his two front teeth, exclaimed in pure joy:
“Mrs. RUTH! My worm loves me – it’s tickling me!!”
Last year we started the tradition of bringing the kids to my house on Holy Thursday. We try to tell the story and re-enact the Last Supper (I say “try to” because it’s really quite impossible for the kids to contain their excitement at being at my house long enough to listen to any words that come out of my mouth). We wash their feet (which is always hilarious) and we pass a loaf of bread around the room so everyone who wants to eat some can try it – and we try to explain about the institution of the Eucharist (I imagine my kids understood it about as well as the disciples did….).
No really funny stories from this moment, but it was just super sweet and overall a funny experience. And the bread Jesus made has now become affectionately titled “the Body-Bread” by the kids in my class. 🙂
“I’m Happy as Can Be!”
There’s a little song we sing each day in our class before we line up – it’s a song I learned at the school where I did my observations, that helps kids learn how old they are and teaches them the word “Montessori”…. which is basically the only way we would ever use this word in my class. The song goes like this (it won’t be nearly as cute since you can’t hear the melody!”):
I’m ___ years old and I’m happy as can be
Because I go to Montessori!
I’m learning to be
The best I can be
I like my friends
And my friends like me!
Anyway my kids love this song – in particular that 5 year old little boy I was telling you about. Last Thursday he spent his entire morning work cycle, working and singing this song.
Making breakfast – “I’m 5 years old and I’m happy as can be…”
Drawing pictures – “…. because I go to Montessori!” ….
Practicing tying shoes – “….I’m learning to be, the best I can be….”
Washing the windows – “…I like my friends and my friends like me!”
It was SO cute and sweet and helped me to take a deep breath many times throughout the morning, when other children and their needs were quickly draining all my patience and creativity. I kept hearing his little song and it made me smile and press on!
Finally, about 45 minutes into the work cycle, his song had reached everyone. I think he was doing an activity with clothespins, that helps the children to concentrate and build the muscles in their fingers and hands that they need for pencil holding and writing. He had finished the first strain of the song (for about the 20th time), and it was kind of like magic – all of the kids picked up on it at the same time. Then the whole class, each child from wherever they were working, all chimed in and sang together the last strain:
“I’m learning to be, the best I can be, I like my friends and my friends like me!”
It was maybe one of the sweetest memories to date. That’s what we’re all doing here! Learning to be the best we can be, in the company and community of all of our friends that we like and who like us! I loved that moment.
Just sticking together…
There’s no particular funny comment or anything from this story, but it was just a sweet memory from Friday. On Friday I was giving a little boy a lesson on how to tie shoes. This is actually a very complicated lesson (as any parent knows!) and we had been working on this every day for a few days. He used to resist this lesson but now he knows he’s gotta do it until he gets it, so no more resisting.
Anyway we were sitting together at a table going over this lesson, and one other child comes up to sit in my lap. Then another child comes over to watch, and another. And they all start talking to me and basically being distracting, so I reminded them – “Excuse me! I am giving him a lesson right now so I can’t talk! You can watch quietly or go somewhere else.”
They all decide to watch, and also tell me “Mrs. Ruth I want to do this lesson!” (Funny how I had tried to give each of them that lesson many times and they resisted me – but now seeing another child doing it, they all wanted to do it!). Anyway, they all watched on as he mastered more and more of it for himself!
When he finally reached a great stopping point, we high-fived and he got up from his seat. Another child sat down for the lesson, and he took the child’s seat to watch. It was just such a funny and sweet moment to me, as the children all gathered around each child as they practiced shoe-tying. Usually I’ll give a lesson to one child and the others will be working on different lessons. But for whatever reason, that day they all wanted to stay together and stay with me, so again, we just stuck together in our little community, tying shoes and cheering each other on – with funny stories in between. 🙂
Last story…. community yoga!
Alright here’s my last story – a rather ridiculous moment but one that had us all roaring with laughter!
In the Montessori approach, “discipline issues” are considered situations where the child needs to work on perfecting certain skills or knowledge. So, if a child is running around the room, it doesn’t mean they are “bad” and need to be punished – but rather that the teacher needs to recognize what is happening and figure out creative ways to help the child channel their energy for something purposeful and productive (more information on this in my next post!).
We have a “Yoga Work” for moments such as this – when a child definitely seems to have a lot of energy and needs to engage their whole body, but is instead just carelessly flinging their body all over the classroom – we try to direct them to this yoga work. They have to get out a mat, take their shoes off, and then pick 1 pose out of a pile of about 10. There is a 30 second hourglass that they can then use to time themselves – the game is to try to hold the pose for 30 seconds, and then pick another one (so they are gaining mastery over their body).
Well on this particular day – I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday of last week – there were QUITE a few children in need of some purposeful body movement! So I gathered two or three of them together and all but forced them to do the yoga work (they really didn’t want to at first but I knew they would enjoy it if we got going!). Anyway, it started out with the 2 children and then grew to a group of 5 – with another 1 or 2 coming in and out of our game. We developed a great system where our rugs were in a circle, and we went around the circle with 1 child choosing the pose that we would all do, and one child holding the hourglass to time us all. Then we would rotate so everyone got a turn.
We made it through all 10 poses and the kids wanted more – so I went into my office to retrieve a few more poses that I had already printed out. One of them was Happy Baby pose. Well, the kids LOVED this pose and chose it about four times in a row! We were all laughing HYSTERICALLY as we tried to hold the pose for 30 seconds at a time – which is a very long time for a 3 or 4 year old! They wanted to do it over and over again and we all knew it was ridiculous. My assistant also realized how ridiculous it was and snapped a picture of (me) in this ridiculous pose. Maybe this is embarrassing to post on the internet but hopefully it will make you laugh! It certainly made all of us laugh!
To wrap up – some pictures from our Easter Egg hunt!