The scientist Rachel Carson spoke of preserving the child’s “sense of wonder.” I think that’s pretty important for teachers too. Apparently my capacity to be astounded by what children say and do is alive and well.
Take today for example. In a farewell class with 2nd graders, we played one of our all-time music/movement game called “Stations.” I learned this (and adapted it) from a P.E. teacher named Rudy Benton back in 1975, my first year of teaching, and still enjoy it all these years later. The details can be found in my book Intery Mintery, but the basic game involves groups of 2 or 3 kids, each at a stool with a card with a letter (a “station”). They have to talk with their team and brainstorm a word or words that begin with that letter and then act it out/ dance it out silently while music plays. The goal is to come up with interesting words, find an interesting way to show them and move in ways that fit the music.
This is an adaptable game playable with almost any age. The 4 and 5 year olds gathered at the letter S will invariably “slither like snakes” whereas the 8th graders (who played this with me yesterday) might come up with something more intriguing like “Tina Turner teaching Tai-Chi to turtles.”
So today I played it with 2nd graders and noticed two boys—both 8 years old— had fairly long and sophisticated lists. Finally I had the presence of mind to ask them to repeat it later while I wrote it down. (And again, to my wondrous amazement, they remembered them!) Here’s the first one I wrote down:
“Magnetic molten magna monsters making money from the molecule of a mockingbird.”
Pretty sophisticated. And pretty interesting to figure out how to dance out that scene!
And then the next:
“Titanium-tinted Tasmanian tigers terrorizing toddlers telling tales to turtles on the Titanic.”
8-years old, people.
I’m sure had we kept playing, they would have come up with something like:
“Proletarian Presbyterian plumbers participating in a Pilates program in Paraguay while purposefully pandering to Pavlovian passenger pigeons.”
But time ran out.