Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cute Misconceptions

Stuart Miles /

Kids are so funny. No wonder Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby had a whole show devoted to the hilarious things they say.

Since Earth Day is this Sunday, and I wrote this Earth Day unit last year for my Masters' class that I really liked, we've been learning about the environment these last two weeks. We've been learning big, important words like medio ambiente (environment) and contaminacion (pollution) and vertedero (landfill) and reciclar (you can guess that one). All very exciting stuff. Naturally, after learning several new vocabulary words, my kids sometimes get them confused. Or just the whole concept itself.

Today I asked R, "What does recycle mean?" I'd taught it to her earlier in Spanish but asked this question in English, so I was curious what she would do about the words she didn't know. She said, "It means you throw trash away. And then it goes to a fair and they make paper." A fair, huh? (She meant fabrica, the Spanish word for factory.)

Later, A came in and told me they'd recycled their trash after lunch. I asked, "What will happen to it now?" She said, "They're gonna take it and make more food." I told her that they can't make food out of plastic, at which point the other kids laughed. A, however, disagreed with me. "They're gonna make new food," she told me, insistently. I hope that plastic food is part of a toy kitchen set...

Well, they got the concept, at least. Landfills are gross, recycling means making new stuff.

Happy early Earth Day! I'm so excited to watch The Lorax tomorrow. (Quite possibly moreso than the kids themselves.)


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Facing fear head on!

Today we took the kids on a fantastic field trip to an ice arena. It's always interesting taking them out of Academic Land and putting them in a situation that is totally different. You see them in a new light and get a chance to interact with them in a new way, and I love it.

The kids got their skates laced up and put on their elbow pads, knee pads, helmets, and these huge gloves that were about 4 times the size of their little hands. Honestly, they couldn't hurt themselves if they tried. Once they were all dressed and ready to skate, we took them out onto the ice. Many of them latched themselves to the wall and held on for dear life. 

One of my little darlings was so afraid, she came to the door crying and tried to get off the ice. The other teachers were going to let her stop skating, but these types of situations bring the fighter out in me. I asked her what happened to make sure she was not hurt, and she said through her tears, "I can't skate anymore. I'm too scared." "What are you scared of?" I asked. "That I'm going to fall," she sobbed. "I want to stop now." 

"NOPE!" I thought to myself. "Not a chance." I told her no, she was not going to quit because she was afraid of falling. I took her in my arms and we slid away from the wall. Then, without letting go of her, I simply let her fall. She hit the ice on all fours, completely unhurt. I then asked, "And what happened when you fell? Did you hurt yourself?" "No," she replied. I then proceeded to pick her up off the ice, and immediately let her fall a second time. "What happened that time? Did you get hurt?" "No." We repeated this exact same exchange three more times, and by the fifth time she fell, she was smiling and chuckling. When I was sure that she'd been convinced that falling wouldn't kill her, I picked her up and sent her off to skate, reminding her that if she fell again, she should just get back up and keep skating. 

When it was time to get off the ice, she couldn't wait to tell me how brave she'd been. "I skated! I skated all the way over there, all by myself! And when I fell down, I got back up again! All by myself!" 

It's moments like these that remind me why I do what I do. There are few things in the world more beautiful than a child learning to believe in herself.

Sometimes, the worst thing that can happen is not nearly as bad as we fear it is.