A Different Perspective
Have you ever had something challenge everything you were taught about a particular story or experience? My memory was jogged today when I did a finger play with my Kindergarteners. Finger play? Oh, I love it! That is when we actually do something with our fingers. You see, at least in what I see in education today, there is less and less that you see children using their fingers. That includes using their fingers as a tool in counting or even opening a package of ketchup. You know there are kids out there who have not learned to develop their wiggling finger and hand skills called fine motor skills. I am talking about regular education! I am talking about even 5th graders.
So you can imagine my delight when my schedule I was to follow involved finger plays. It was a surprise last week, my lead teacher made the comment that children were having a harder and harder time retaining the ability to count and identify their numbers. I just made the side comment that the old finger plays that teachers used to do were very helpful. Kids need to get up and move. You cannot learn and make sense of something real like numbers and counting on a screen.
I was most surprised when she got all excited and said she had some fingerplays and that she remembered doing them a lot in the past. She told me I was free to use the finger plays and so I appreciated the permission to do something I feel strongly about.
Anyway, the bag of fingerplay kits included a blue glove that velcro would stick too and little figures. I pulled out the one with some farm animals. Immediately, one of the students said it is "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." I said, "be careful, we cannot assume that all farm animals means that song.
So little by little I laid the different animals on the floor and we all looked at them. Then I had the girl find the hen. The boy could not find the dog. I was surprised because this is a very smart little boy. By the way, I forgot, the boy is 3rd grade. The girl was Kindergarten.
Anyway, the boy did not see the dog was a dog, because he was holding a book. I think it was one that was perceived as being chewed on. Then the girl found the dog. The cat, pig, and the goose were all found. Then the stalk of wheat was located and then the bread.
I read the story of the Little Red Hen. Each time the little red hen asked the other animals to help with a a job, I had the children take turns assuming the characters of the other animals. I encouraged them to use different voices such as the animal sounds and different tones to their voices. I did the same. I mainly used my clown voice.
So we read about the Little Red Hen. During the story she asked:
Who will help me plant this grain of wheat?
Who will help me cut this grain of wheat?
Who will help me take this bag up to the mill and grind the wheat into flour?
Who will help me bake this wheat into a loaf of bread.
Each time, The cat said "meow meow", "not I." "Oink Oink," "Not I" said the pig. "Honk Honk, not I" said the goose. "arf arf" or "woof woof" or "bark bark." (my girl student kept changing the sound of the dog which I thought was really special) "Not I," said the dog.
Each time, the Little Red Hen would say, "then I will do it myself." And she did.
Now when the Little Red Hen baked the bread, there was a delicious smell that came from the oven. She asked, "who will help me eat this bread?"
The animals decided they were hungry. That was an easy question to answer.
"Oink Oink" "I will," said the pig. "Meow Meow" "I will" said the cat. "Honk Honk" "I will" said the goose. "Wolf wolf," "I will" said the dog. The Little Red Hen in the story did not agree! She said, "No, no, no." You did not help me plant this grain of wheat, or cut this grain of wheat!" "You did not help me carry the bag of cut up wheat to the mill to grind it into flour or help me make this flour into bread!" You most certainly will not help me eat this bread that I have worked so hard to bring about.
I remember a time many years ago, I was trying to teach my oldest son the right way of living. One of the terms I was using at the time, is that we do not want to "burn a bridge." Meaning, even if there is a disagreement, we want to try to smooth it over for another day.
Well, I had read this story to him. I think he was about 8 or 9 years old. I was quite dramatic at the end and I shut the book like (well, she showed them).
That is when I recieved a response I had never heard being associated with this book. It was always, she got the best of them. I had experienced that with my Mother, Grandfather, maybe my grandmother, my teachers and so on and so forth.
My dear and wise son said to me, "mamma, that wasn't very nice." That is when my brain did an abrupt halt! It was like a car squeeling its wheels to stop abruptly. Not very smooth either. I said, "but what about them not giving her any help?" He said, "mother, she burned a bridge." I had to stop and consider. After all, my son had listened to my teachings of the past. I decided to start to consider it.
Now, many years later, I realize he was right. It was my mind and thinking that needed to change. We need to give, even if it means we do not get our own way. That was a life lesson that came in parts.