Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk is my favorite fairy tale.  Although I am a huge fan of Porky and should gravitate towards The Three Little Pigs, Jack holds a special place in me wee heart.

Our kindergarten children have been studying fairy tales (elements such as Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After), good and bad characters (Is Jack really good? Is the giant so bad? Arguments can be made for and against both perspectives), and the conflict/resolution dynamic.

Fairy tales capture our collective imaginations. The rich, diverse takes on these timeless stories only enhance our involvement.  Children's book illustrators such as Steven Kellogg, James Marshall and Paul O. Zelinsky have entertained our wide-eyed, excitable students time and time again.

We are also blessed with a handful of wonderful storytellers at our school who all said "yes" when we asked them to come and tell our students their favorite fairytale in American Sign Language.  Last year I posted Whitney's retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Now I would like to share Doug's retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. The video is without sound but since the story is probably very familiar I invite  you to view it and see if you can follow the story.  You might even learn a few signs.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Welcoming the Hummingbirds

Three summers ago I broke down crying, while sitting in my car at the end of the driveway, talking to my mom on the phone.  After weeks of "being strong" the emotions would no longer remain contained.

My father had just come out of surgery but I couldn't be with my family because someone I love at home was also in the hospital with a heart infection. The pain of not being with my parents and the worry of losing someone close overtook me.

As I blubbered to my dear mom, who was still holding it together, I looked out my car window and saw a hummingbird.

In that moment everything seemed to change.
I felt calmer.  I felt hopeful.  I felt that everything would work out and I would know peace again.  I grabbed my camera out of my messenger bag and took the photograph posted above.  (If you click on it to make it bigger you can see the hummingbird more clearly.)

Since that day I have been watching for hummingbirds every summer. And they appear with regularity.

Today I saw my first hummingbird of the summer.  According to my extensive research (I googled it) Hummingbirds are "considered to be symbols of peace, love and happiness. They teach about self-discovery and healing. Hummingbirds also serve as a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances".

How cool is that?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

The school year is winding down (our last day is June 28th) and with that comes the call of the great outdoors. Blue skies and sunshine beckon our restless students to play tag between the trees, search for flowers, sit in the grass and blissfully enjoy being young.

To indulge them in this pursuit and to strike a balance between work and play (although to borrow from cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget, "play is a child's work") the end of the school year usually includes some fun excursions.

This year Lauren was offered tickets to take the class to see the Mets play at Citi Field - which replaced Shea Stadium in 2009 - and we couldn't resist.  Taking a group of kindergarten children to a crowded ball park does not come without stress.  But, we were able to invite several parents to accompany us which alleviated some of the worry.

We all boarded the subway to Flushing and arrived early enough to eat our lunch outside before finding our seats.  And what amazing seats they were!

At one point I was busy counting heads when the crowd suddenly let out a thunderous roar. Turning to the student on my left, I asked "what happened?" She excitedly informed me that "the guy on second tried to steal third but they got him out.  Lucky for the guy on first that he stayed put".  Color me impressed.  That is when I sent a text to her mother stating that her daughter sure knew a lot about baseball.

Our stay was brief. We could only watch about an hour of the game before we had to gather ourselves for the trip back to school. When we left it was the New York Mets 0, the Pittsburgh Pirates 6.  Had we hung around a bit longer we would have seen the third inning play that allowed the Mets to win the game 9-8.

On the way back we had a pleasant surprise from a clown who was riding the subway with us.  He got off at our stop and made balloon animals, swords and wands for all of the kids. We finished the day with a read aloud of Horray for Snail! by John Stadler.

I kept thinking that this may have been the first time - and the only time - some of these children have been to a ball game.  As the year comes to a close I wonder what they will take away from their time with me, what will they remember.  Maybe eating an ice cream cone while watching the Mets will be one of those memories.  Whatever their recollections, I just hope they leave with the feeling that learning is fun and continue to score home runs throughout their lives.


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