This week was all one lead-up to the end of the week. We learned about reading, writing, math, social studies, and science, but I don’t think anyone was paying attention. How could I expect them to pay attention? We were going to a cavern on Friday!
The weather had been magnificent all week, but a cold front blew through Thursday night and when we woke up on Friday, the weather was 40 and rainy. Yuck! Fortunately, all the parents watched the weather and dressed their children in bundles of coats and hats, scarves and gloves, and all manner of rain gear. It looked like I was leading 30 fluffy little monsters onto the bus.
Once we got there the rain had cleared up, so we were able to troop into the cave shop without getting wet. Once in there we took off all the coats, scarves, boots, and mittens because the cave is a pleasant 72 degrees year-round. Once in there, the munchkins loved seeing the stalactites, stalagmites, columns, underground rivers and a little frog who had escaped the rain.
We went back up and enjoyed a picnic lunch (inside), then put all our warm gear on and played around on the playground for 10 minutes to get all the energy out before we got back onto the bus.
It hadn’t been fully 3 minutes after we all got on the bus before it began to pour again.
We had another wonderful week full of wonderful weather! I’ve started something new with my little munchkins. On days when it is sunny, calm, and somewhat ambient in temperature, we all go out for a picnic at lunch time. The kids love it because as soon as they finish their food, they can dash to the playground and start hopping about instead of waiting until the slow pokes finish before we go outside. I love it because I can enjoy being outdoors, and it keeps the weeks from getting too monotonous. Texas has only a few really nice months–I want to enjoy them.
Another fun thing we did during the week was celebrate Veteran’s Day. We drew a soldier on a piece of chart paper and wrote qualities of veterans. Then the munchkins watched a video about veterans and why we have a holiday to honor them. As soon as the video was over, a few hands shot up. I called on my of the little girls who asked me,
Why does war happen?
Some people think teaching is easy. They are wrong. Most people think answering first grade questions is easy. They are right most of the time, but this was not one of those times. I told the little girl that it was a very complicated question, and even very smart people don’t have all the answers. I told them that wars usually happened because someone thought something was unfair, but they fought instead of using an “I-statement” i.e. “I don’t like it when you call me names.” Except, it would be more like “I don’t like it when you invade Poland.” The munchkins were satisfied with that answer and we went on to talk more about veterans. I told them that my grandpa was in the military. Many of them also had veterans in the family.
Later in that week, at least 4 children came up and told me that they wanted to be veterans when they grew up. 🙂
Another week, much like any other.
In language arts, we worked on cause and effect. One of the books for our read-aloud was about a visit to a dairy farm. During the course of talking about cause and effect, the fact came up that only “girl cows” make milk. This fact was new to some of my munchkins, so I was glad we talked about it. We discussed that all mammals–bats, cows, people–make milk for their babies. We got to the part where the cow goes into the pen and gets milked. The book explained farmers used to milk cows by hand, but now there is a milking machine that does it quicker. One little hand shot up and the girl exclaimed, “my mom uses a milking machine too!”
In math we talked about addition for most of the week, but we had a test on Thursday and moved on to subtraction. The first day of talking about subtraction is always hard for some of the munchkins because their mental mode hasn’t shifted. On more than one paper, I had to tell a student that all the answers were wrong. They laughed at me, thinking it was a joke, until I explained the mistake: “We’re eating cookies now, not giving each other flowers”
In social studies we learned about good citizenship. We learned about Susan B. Anthony and how she was a good citizen because she believed in equality. The munchkins were shocked to hear that at one time people believed that women shouldn’t vote because their husband could vote for the family.
What if they don’t agree?
What if she’s not married?
What if her husband is out of town?
I told them that these were all good questions, and eventually women DID get the right to vote. But, I had to break it to them that Susan B. Anthony didn’t live to see that day. The munchkins were sad, and I was too.
This week, we had Halloween and picture day. On the same day. Who thought that was a good idea? Not me.
Halloween isn’t an officially sanctioned holiday at my school, since it is a religious school. However, my first grade class, like most first grade classes, is almost exclusively comprised of small children. So there was a lot of “chricker-chreeting.”
There are a many pitfalls to getting pictures taken in the first grade. The first is the “I-forgot-how-to-smile” munchkin. She will either refuse to smile or give a really unnatural smile that looks like her lips are propped up with tooth picks. I have to say something funny to make her show her “sweet smile.”
The second kid is “willful disobeyer” who either gives a goofy smile or sullen stare ON PURPOSE. I tried to remedy this before we left. I told the kids that if they all gave their “sweet smiles,” I would give them points on their reward chart. I met with limited success: the munchkins who were already predisposed to cooperate did, and the class clowns were not deterred from their antics by the mere incentive of a few points.
I had to monitor the munchkin who was getting his picture taken while simultaneously keeping the other kids from touching the equipment, speaking too loudly, bouncing off the walls etc.
Then it was time for the group picture. All the problems I mentioned above are present during the group picture, but I can’t see what’s going on because I’m posing as well. This is when I was really counting on my little incentive. We’ll see how it turned out in the next couple of weeks…
Pictures were all done by 9:30, but as I mentioned, the circus was far from over. The kids all wanted to share what they were doing for Halloween had had visions of candy corns dancing in their head all day. There’s nothing wrong with that except I had to teach them….a lot….because this is school. I was glad when I got to go home and pass out candy to munchkins who I wasn’t responsible for.