Sometimes my thoughts pile themselves up

like trash in the alley

and I find myself sifting, kicking, sweeping

until finally some filament catches my attention

and pausing with consideration,

I rescue what was discarded

so carelessly before.

It’s not always about the fine motor skills, or the drawing, or even the possibility of adding writing………

I did my Teacher Modeled Write all about a Mother’s Day party and I knew some of my preschool students would be inspired to draw/write about parties they have been to or wish they had been to.

I visited tables while students were working and heard stories of cake and ice cream, dinosaur themes and pinatas.  When my students were finished and reading books, I sifted through the pictures to see the work.  I came across Andy’s page and wondered about his story.  The drawing on the page consisted of a large yellow shape – mostly rectangle and some other circles inside it and some lines.  I hadn’t visited his table, my aide had been working there, so I had no idea what story these yellow lines told.

I took the picture over to Andy and asked, “Will you tell me the story of your picture?  I’m sorry I didn’t get to hear from you while you were working.”

“It’s a pinata.  That’s candy.”

“Tell me about the party with the pinata.  How did you get the candy out?”

“I hit it with a big ‘tick.  A soft, big ‘tick.”

“Did you wear a blind fold?  (nod) Did you spin around? (big nod)  Tell me what happened next.”

And Andy told me his party story.  I did ask some leading questions but our time was short and I wanted him to talk before we had to get ready for lunch.  I’ll work with him tomorrow to get some memorable details into his picture so he can retell the story again at home.

It’s taken me awhile to learn the best workshop writing experience I can give to my little ones is a talking workshop.image

mellow day

I don’t know why my students were so mellow today.   I was missing three students but they weren’t “those” students.  But of course the dynamics of play were different because the couplings of students were impacted by key players being absent.  It isn’t that I would want a mellow day everyday but it was just so pleasant.

Our caterpillars had entered their cocoons so the day began with excitement and a buzz.  Breakfast was as chatty as usual and students were finding every excuse to be out of their chairs and across the classroom to visit another table or get something off the cart.  I was worried that our morning shower was going to mean a recess in the playshed but after wiping the slides of rainwater, we were able to be out in the open.  A few students begged to play hide-and-seek which is hilarious for me because there really isn’t a good place to be hidden.  The kids go under the slide or behind an 8 inch wide post or lie down next to the picnic tables but of course I can see them or their legs.  I make a big deal about counting to ten and stomping my feet when I say “ready or not, here I come” over and over again as I hunt them down one by one, each of them collapsing into giggles when I do.

Back in the classroom, one student played cards, another few wrote stories, and some immediately put on dress up clothes for their usual scenarios.  I pulled out cardboard and glue and showed a few students how to decoupage left over quilt squares from my mom.  The hour meandered quietly with no eruptions or disputes and it was truly amazing to be in a mellow but busy atmosphere.

It would be nice to bottle such days – like the poem about the watermelon pickle – and open it every so often.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a mellow day everyday but I know that isn’t what is best to teach my little ones what they need to learn.  A little stress, a little angst – as long as I’m not the one generating or causing it – provides other important lessons.

So here’s to what tomorrow may bring.  The weather report says sun so that is all I need to make me happy – no noisy and dark playshed! image

Purple Hair at Trader Joe’s

I saw you:
in fact, I bet we’re the same age.
But that wasn’t what captivated my thoughts.
No, it was the purple streaks in your hair.

How come the purple streaks?
Are you from California?
I could only imagine such giddy abandon
being birthed in a place different from the familiar borders
I know and live.

More dialogue erupted in my mind.
Why purple?
Why are they important to your self-expression?
Do streaks on the outside
speak for your insides?

I was caught up in this whirlwind of thought
when the millennial at the counter said:
“Wow! I love your glasses!”

Oh yeah,
I love my sparkly glasses.

Okay lady-with-purple-hair-streaks, I know you.
I’m thinking maybe you live right around the corner from me…..
and my outside glitter definitely sings the sparkle on my insides!
Maybe you and I should have coffee some time
and compare notes.

Tra la

how about you?

Two weeks or so ago I read Giraffes Can’t Dance to my preschool students. Their favorite part was the chimps doing the cha cha.  When we got to the part where Gerald is talking to the cricket, we all stood up and closed our eyes and got “dreamy” as one of my students put it, and did our own dance steps.

Today I went around with a clipboard and images of Gerald and interviewed everyone while they ate breakfast.  “So”, I began, “what is something you love to do and you do it well, or maybe others tell you you are really good at it?”  My second question asked the flip side, “What do you wish you could do better?” Finally, “Who could you ask to help you with that?”

Oooooh I love 4 year old minds!

RoseAlyn closed her eyes and kept saying “hmmmm, hmmmm, hmmmm.”  Finally she said she was good at Tai Chi, she needed help putting the covers on her bed and daddy could help her with that.

Tyden told me he was good at running but he wants to learn how to tie shoes and his cousin can teach him that.

Sofia decided after lots of discussion that she was good at dancing but she wants to learn how to do cartwheels like Gerald and mom could probably help her.

Most of the students referenced their parents as the ones who can help them but not all of them did and I found that interesting.  I love that some children are able to name other mentors in their lives.   The successes and challenges they named were as unique as they are and as well as I know my students,  I was surprised by every one of them.  image

every time

Every time I hear that song I cry.
The introductory notes are enough
for the hollow to open inside me,
the heat to rise in my cheeks,
and tears to spill from my eyes.

And I am not a reluctant participant when it happens;
I love the music and will even turn the volume up if I can.
The feelings washing through me are cleansing
and I feel happy, even hopeful, after the experience.

On the flip side,
I cannot think of any predictable method
for inducing a spontaneous belly laugh.
So maybe the daily dose of a melancholy song
is a guaranteed path to everyday joy.

See What We Get

I was telling a friend of mine that all of us are poets because we are speaking and writing in poetry form all the time.  Here is an example – my sister wrote a quick email yesterday and when I read it, my inner poet just had to put it in a poem. So thank you, Sia and Gary; I got a poem from your hard work.

I picked up a couple tomato plants at Costco.

The plan was:

dig a couple holes plant and wait for the yummy tomatoes.

But as usual, it expanded into an entire weekend project.

We ended up planting 14 plants: tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumber and red bell peppers.

We dug up the dirt (can’t bring myself to call it soil,)
in a roughly 6 foot x 6 foot area.
Gary made a 1/4 screen strainer and we processed all that dirt.
Got rid of all the
and misc things.
Then we read “plant guide.”
“Space plants 36-48 inches apart.”
Well, tough luck.
We will see what we get.
Now we will make good use of all our collected rain water.


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