Thursday, November 19, 2009

quotable plebians

Our lessons on Ancient Rome continue... today we had some UVA students teach a lesson so I had the chance to observe and write down these little tidbits...

Teacher: The Roman soldiers put their shiels over their heads to protect themselves.
M: Like a hermit crab!

Teacher: What might the Romans do to people they conquered?
W: They might make them scrub their bathtubs.

Teacher: An empire is a group of countries under one ruler?
S: Does that mean that one ruler is a REALLY big person!?
(We clarified that as our President Obama is over us but is not in fact sitting on us.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ancient rome

Me: Would you be able to vote in Ancient Rome?

Kids: No!

Me: Why not?

J: Because it's really far away!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

"You in third grade is like Michael Jordan playing baseball. You have the skills, but its just not your game."
-- Matthew on me teaching 3rd grade

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

distractions, distractions

I have discovered that 3rd graders are masters of distraction! Just in watching them for one period here are the ways I saw them creatively distract themselves and each other:

folding tinfoil from lunch into the shape of a cell phone
erasing writing on a desk
writing on a desk
sharpening a pencil
asking to sharpen a pencil
talking about monday night football
realizing someone shouldn't be sharping a pencil and telling the teacher
cutting a piece of paper
tearing cut pieces of paper into smaller pieces
throwing a pencil
dropping a pencil
picking up a pencil
arguing about whether your neighbor's arm is actually in your personal space
asking a friend to sharpen your pencil
sharpening a pencil


Monday, October 26, 2009

SL (looking me up and down): You are SMALL!
Me: And today you are my favorite child.

ancient greece, meet modern woman

I was reading some "Greek Times" newspapers with my 3rd graders the other morning and included was a place for the kids to vote for the next official in the government. A bright little girl, H, was choosing her vote and I mentioned to her that if we were actually in Ancient Greece she wouldn't be able to vote because she's a girl.

Her prompt response:

Well, if I had a husband I would just lock him out of the house until he agreed to vote the way I wanted him to.

Look out ancient world, here she comes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

3rd grade

Yesterday I left behind the world of A for apple, what number is this?, go wipe your nose, share the playdough, is it nap time yet?

to walk
for the first time

to meet 3rd graders... who are legitimately as tall as I am.

Here is a snippet of conversations from the morning:

"I spent most of the weekend watching horror movies and my mom was like, 'Uh, that's going to rot your brain.' And I was like 'UH! Is your brain rotting?? NO!' Then I did some work on my lap top because I'm publishing a book. I don't know how much money I'm going to get from that. We'll see." -- lil miss m.

"In exciting news I found my yellow droid I had been looking for. A funny thing about that droid finding-- it was in my sister's lego box. I'm not sure at all how it got there." -- s.

SL: "What's your first name?"
Me: "Shannon."
SL: "Lemme get a handshake."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Did you do your homework?

Yesterday Miss M. marches into my class and announces in her sweet Southern accent, "Miss Shannon! I did my homework!" (The word homework has about 5 syllables for this child.)

Her "homework" involves a book she chooses to take home that goes home with a one-page activity sheet for her to do with her parents/guardians if she chooses. Sidenote: these activities and books are actually really awesome because they were developed and paid for by the Curry School making it really easy for us to provide children with books every night and to connect parents to the child's learning and literacy. The activities are usually questions or pictures kids can draw and sometimes cut and paste.

Miss M had one such cut and paste activity, which when I pulled it out of the bag was curiously covered in blue spots. Miss M. explained, "I used grease."

Me: Um... excuse me?

Miss M: I used grease! We don't got no glue.

Me: You used hair grease??


She had cleverly glued little pieces of her homework together with blue grease. We actually decided not to send home a glue stick for future assignments for her because she was so proud of her innovative solution. We're going to let grease-glue be a part of her culture.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Today was a great teaching day... one of those days where you finally wake up without a stuffy nose and miraculously rested despite an impossible five hours of sleep... again.

Where you walk into your classroom somewhat prepared but more importantly excited for ten 4-year-olds to walk in the door. A day where you actually hope all ten kids will show up, instead of guiltily crossing your fingers that a certain snotty nosed child will stay home.

And it's a day where your kids feel it too! They walk in with enthusaism and announce, "I'm heeeeeeeeeere!" They hang up their backpacks and put their folders in cubbies without you saying it 78 times in a two minute period.

It's a day whene you're delighted to offer choices for breakfast-- pizza (!), cereal, or graham crackers-- instead of being annoyed at offering ten children three choices, waiting 3 to 5 seconds for a response, then 3 to 5 more for the child to predictably change his mind, ask for juice, and remind you that they still need a spork. You don't mind the wait... you even tap dance, shaking the cereal as a tambourine as you wait. After all, it took you ten minutes to decide whether to have cereal, oatmeal, apple pie, or just coffee for breakfast this morning. (And you maybe had three of the four...)

Children sing the ABC song at circle time... loudly. And today it doesn't grate your eardrums but reminds you that three weeks ago many of them didn't know the letters at all. It's a day when you stop the entire lesson to congratulate one child on recognizing his name begins with an M and to have the nine other children offer him a round of applause.

It's one of those days when a girl calls your name 47 times on the playground, "Look, Miss Shanna!" in her piercing voice and you actually look 45 times to see her just standing, smiling back at you, wanting to be reassured she was worth seeing. The other two times you were busy handing out graham crackers, tying a shoe, and kissing a bumped head. Simultaneously.

Today was a day when a little boy with autism taught nine other children the numbers 1 through 9 and two of those children later taught him how to share the playdough so they could play with him. And you rejoiced.

Today was a day that you said, "Go to the bathroom." 56 times, read 6 stories, only of of them from beginning to end, tied 11 shoe laces, wiped 15 noses, put on hand sanitizer until your hands were practically pickled, opted for giving children choices instead of being efficiently in control, rubbed small backs until breathing slowed, hopped up to give a coughing child water, rubbed his back again until the coughing eased, and stayed just a little longer than necessary by his side, hand smoothing his curls and heart willing his body to fight off the flu.

You woke the children up with a slowly crescendoing, "Everybody Dance Now!" instead of snapping on flourescent lights and you worried less about getting the cots put away on schedule and concentrated more on rallying ten Michael Jackson fans into wakefulness.

At the end of the day you hugged the walkers as they passed by, blew kisses to the car riders on their way to the parking lot, and gave each child a fist pound on his way onto the bus. And then you stood on the steps of a school build in 1925 and thought... this was a good day.

Friday, October 09, 2009

One of our little guys walked in this morning carrying a very small journal.

Another boy asked, "Is that your diarrhea book?" (meaning Diary)

M answered, "Yea! It's my Diarrhea!"

Pre-K, I am going to miss you. 3rd grade here we come.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Watch your Meatballs

Yesterday in Pre-K we had our favorite music teacher Mr. S. come visit us. Mr. S and I had planned to read the book On Top of Spaghetti and then sing the song with the kids, which they loved because its so ridiculous. For those of you who don't remember it goes something like this...

On top of spaghetti
All covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball
When somebody sneezed
It bounced off the table and rolled on the floor
and then my poor meatball rolled right out the door!

After hearing it twice, B. raises his hand and says in his very deliberate little voice, "Miss Shannon, you could just lock the door and then the meatball would just bounce off it. Then you can eat it."

Naturally, B :) At lunch I caught him looking at the door to make sure it was shut. Good thing we were having chicken nuggets.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Don't run out of kisses...

Last week we read the book The Kissing Hand to our kids... its a sweet, sweet story about a little raccoon going to school for the first time and his mama kisses the palm of his hand and tells him whenever he misses her to press his hand against his face and he'll feel her kisses and know she loves him.

Today at lunch, little B says to me, "Miss Shannon, my heart hurts." I replied, "Aw honey, why?"
B replied in a trembling voice, "Because I love my mom so much." I suggested he take his "kissing hand" and press it against his face and he'll feel her love and he tried it for a minute... pause... then tells me, "I think I ran out of kisses."

Don't run out of kisses people. :)

Also yesterday lil R was doing my hair during work time and when I asked him how it looked he replied, "You almost pretty." :)

Friday, September 04, 2009

This is an article about one of my students' dad:

A great reminder that my kids walk in carrying more than a backpack.

First two weeks of school!!!

I have been hoarding crumpled post-it notes in my pockets, in the depths of my tote-bag, and shoved into notebooks the last two weeks. They contain hastily scribbled quotes from my 20 delightful four-year olds I have the privilege of teaching this fall. Here are a smattering... I hope they give you a taste of the joy I experience on a daily basis.

(Miss Beth & Miss Denise are my co-teachers and the kids are just listed by their first initial)

Miss Beth: Do you like to be called Rod or Roderick?

T: I LOVE to say please!

B: It doesn't matter if you speak English or Spanish... God loves you and is living inside your heart.

A: I can't tie my shoes.
Me: Keep trying. You'll learn.
A: I been trying already for 30 years.

One day it was raining so we couldn't go outside for recess so the kids played in our room for the first time. Until this point we had all the shelves wrapped with paper like presents. We unveiled the shelves one at a time...
T: I can't believe it! Y'all! All the TOYS!"

As we got ready for lunch one day all the children were cleaning up the toys and I told R who was the mystery helper of the day to "give your friends a fork" meaning to put a fork at each place at the table. Instead he went around the whole classroom handing each child a fork saying, "Here, friend." :)

R. has also mastered the art of opening the mini-milk cartons we get at meals, which is no small feat. One day he started offering to help others open their milk. M (a girl) who sits next to R asked him to help her open her milk. R gladly assisted, explaining "you need strong muscles to open this."

At recess a Kindergartener came running up to us one day, clutching himself and pronounced, "Um, Excuse me, but I'm almost about to pee my pants."

Me: What bus did you ride?
M: I ride the hippie bus!

Miss Beth (reading a book): He burned up 100 forests.
R: No you mean foresteses.

B: I need to tell you the rules to play star wars in your ear. First, you fight. Then, your mission is complete.

R: I'm going to draw me a girlfriend.
Me: What's a girlfriend look like?
R: She got a green body and pink hair.

M (on a pretend phone): Hello, Obama? Why you callin' me?
T: Who's on the phone?
R: Obama. He get on my nerves.
Miss Denise: R, who is Obama? What does he do?
R: He cut grass.
Miss Denise: Oh, he cuts grass. Does he do anything else?
R: Yea! He cut bushes too.
T: He on channel 54.

Also, today (the best day in preschool history) I had a 35 minute dance party with three of my girls while we were in the gym. The PE teacher has a incredible dance mix for the kids and we rocked out... I was literally dripping sweat from sliding, twirling, and twisting with those bee-boppers. This is my awesome life.

One day I was eating lunch next to B and he whispered to me, "Miss Shannon. I can say something with my eyes." He proceeded to grin and raise his eyebrows at me.

T: Let me tell you something in your ear. My daddy got me a lunchbox.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I was at a 5 year old's birthday party today and a mom shared with me that her daughter, Sophie, who is in my 2 year old class this year, had seen my picture on a friend's refrigerator and pronounced,

That's Miss Shannon! She lives in my class.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

on advertising...

The same book offers words of wisdom on advertising about the church's work for Christ:

II. How to advertise
5. Use bulletin boards.
(1)Every church should have one or more large bulletins standing out in front of the church constantly. On these announcements should be made of the services of the church, regular or special, from time to time. Something should always be upon the bulletin. The notice should be constantly changed so that people will be looking for something new. If there is no special service to be announced, a striking text of Scripture can be put upon the bulletin. It is usually desirable to have these bulletins on feet so that you can move them from place to place.

(2) There should also be large bulletins in conspicuous places throughout the city, places where many cars or carriages pass. The accouncements upon these bulletins should be in such large letters that they can be read by people in the carriages or cars as they go by. One bulletin in a good place is worth ten in poor places. Make a study of locations for your bulletins.

... obviously we are failing in bulletin board logistics around here ;-)

7. A large van with advertisements on all sides, driven up and down the thickly traveled streets, is a very useful and comparatively inexpensive form of advertisement.

In connection with evangelistic meetings recently held in Chicago a van eighteen feet long and ten feet high was covered with black cloth, on which was printed in white letters the announcement of the meetings and speaker. This was driven up and down the main thoroughfares and read by thousands. Many may say that this i undignified, but it serves to fill the church and bring men to Christ. It is better to sacrifice your dignity and fill your pews and save souls, than to keep your dignity and have an empty church and allow men to go down to hell.


Our fabulous volunteer Nancy left the book How to Work for Christ by R.A. Torrey written in 1902 on my desk today with a post-it marking the section about children... here are some delightful excerpts:

III. How to conduct children's meetings.
1. The first matter of importance is the arrangement of the children when they reach the appointed place of meeting.

They should not be allowed to huddle together at will, but as they come in the door should be met by competent ushers, and seated in classes of four or five, with experienced Christian workers at the end of each class. There should first be a class of boys, then a class of girls. This will do very much toward preventing disorder during the meeting. The object of having a teacher at the end of the class is not merely to keep order, but that the teacher may deal personally with the children at the close of the service.


4. There should be a Gospel sermon which the children can understand.
1. The sermon should be short; children were not made to sit still. A wise woman worker once said, "A boy has five hundred muscles to wriggle with, and not one to sit still with." There are a few rare men and women who can hold the attention of children for half an hour, or even an hour, I have seen it done; but for the average speaker to attempt to hold the attention of children more than fifteen or twenty minutes is positive cruelty.


9. Many find the blackboard very useful in children's meetings.
Children are oftentimes more easily reached through the eye than through the ear, and words or sentences written upon the board are more deeply impressed upon their heats than those that are merely uttered to them. A few people have the gift of drawing well, but one can use the blackboard to advantage who cannot draw at all. Children are gifted with imagination, and if you tell them what your pictures are, they will understand, and it will do the work.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Jumpstart Quotes

In cleaning up the disaster area that is my room (while simultaneously dancing to my new Love of Country mix) I found a list of quotes from our year at Jumpstart, so here we go!

Mikai: I'm growing food.
Me: Oh, are you a farmer?
Mikai: No! I work at Pizza Hut.

Me: What time is it?
Sincere: 60-o'clock.

This is A-Rock Bama. Our new President.
-- Jada

I eat grass. Cause I like it.
-- Cynciere

My mom is scared of Santa Clause.
-- Cynciere

One day after I did a handstand in the gym, Jasmine said in astonishment,
"Miss Shannon, you were a CLOWN!?"

Ms. Gaye: Does anyone remember who the pilgrims were?
Pleasant: ALIENS!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New to me

I just drove my "new" car for the first time tonight!!! It's an 03 Honda Civic Hybrid (go green) and its DELIGHTFUL! The whole time I was driving around with Ellen, Nana, and Daddy I kept saying ooo I didn't have that before in my '89 Cabriolet :)

Here's the running list...
- automatic windows
- a roof :)
- a legit trunk bigger than a locker
- a ding when i leave my lights on (an almost daily occurance)
- a working gas gauge
- a working emergency break (Well lil rojo's works, but the button to make it work doesn't)
- ac!!!!
- a radio that doesn't need to be removed everytime i get out
- good gas mileage (although i give you credit rojo at 30 mpg for trying)
- CUP HOLDERS. seriously. dont by a car without them.
- airbags

pictures to come. name suggestions welcome.

more vbs

Me: Elijah what did you learn about at VBS today?
E: Jesus!
Me: What about Jesus?
E: He died.
Me: Why did he die on the cross?
E: He said a bad word.

Lauren to her students on the first day of our kingdom themed VBS:
You can call me Mrs. Thompson if you like, or maybe Queen Thompson or Princess Thompson.

Child: How about Ogre Thompson?

Monday, June 22, 2009

VBS quotes

The blog has been silent for awhile... largely because of a lack of time spent with small children who produce hilarious quotes!

Well never fear... almost 200 children invaded Trinity today for a much anticipated week of VBS (by much anticipated I mean we started planning January 1st!!).

Two quotes from today:

My friend Lauren is teaching a Kindergarten class and she told her students, "Today we're going to learn a Bible verse. It's from the Psalms."

One of the kids in her class promptly offered, "I probably already know it."

After VBS I was taking two children to get lunch and after a short ride in my lil rojo car (which in all its 1989 glory does not have AC) we walked into McDonalds and Elijah (4 years old) sighs and pronounced, "Oh thank GOODNESS it's cold in McDonalds."

Good thing lil rojo will soon be retired in favor of the 2003 honda civic hybrid I just bought :) Pictures to come soon... suggestions for names??? It's light blue!

Monday, May 18, 2009


I popped into Great Beginnings Preschool this morning to say hi to my favorite cheery teachers, Ms Laurie and Ms Donna and of course to Thatcher... this is how our conversation went:

Thatcher: Hey Miss Shan!! You come to my house?
Me: No bud, not today.
Thatcher: I come to your house, Shan?
Me: Sure, you can come to my house. Not today though.
Thatcher: You got games?
Me: Sure do. But you probably have better games at your house.
Thatcher: Yep. You can play my game. It's got rocketships. Loves you Shan.

... sounds like a date :)

Pink umbrellas

It was a rainy day at church yesterday and there were about 50 umbrellas of various sizes and colors lined up by the front door... but after everyone had left only one pink one remained.

I carry a pink umbrella to brighten up the rainy days, but the one left behind wasn't mine.

One of my two year olds was leaving church last night after a banquet with his mama and he said, "Mama, is that Miss Shannon's umbrella?"

:) love it. Here's to having a two year old lookin' out for ya!
"With most men you can determine pretty nearly how they will act in given circumstances; you can enumerate the influences at work, and their value. But you can never be sure in the case of the Christian, because his faith is making real much of which the world around takes no thought whatever... Faith is not careless of time, but more mindful of eternity. Faith does not underrate the power of man, but she magnifies omnipotence. Faith is not callous of present pain, but she weighs it against future joy. Against ill-gotten gains, she puts eternal treasure; against human hate the recompense of reward; against the weariness of the course, the crown of amaranth; against the tears of winter sowing, the shoutings of the autumn sheaves; against the inconvenience of the tent, the permanent city. None of these men would have lived the noble lives they did, had it not been for the recompense of reward and the gleams given them of the golden city amid the sorrows and straits of their lives."

f. b. meyer The Way into the Holiest

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

War Dance

I just watched this movie-- or rather tried to through tears-- upon the recommendation of some of my friends who live and work in Uganda.

It is the story of a group of children from the Acholi tribe in Northern Uganda who travel to Kampala, the capitol of Uganda, to compete the National Dance Competition. These children have all grown up in the 20-year war zone in the northern part of the country and live in a displaced persons camp of over 50,000 people.

Their story and their hope is incredible.
I was babysitting the three Thompson girls tonight and at dinner we were talking about some of the funny things we have seen downtown on Friday evenings...

Margaret: Do you know what? One time I saw a man with a beard allllll the way down to the ground!
Me:Oh yea?? How long do you think it took him to grow that beard?
Margaret: I don't know... maybe 50 years... or maybe a month.

Filling our house...

For ten months now Ellen and I have pondered the large blank wall in our living room and discussed what would look best there. It's varied from a faux-window created from various World Market goodness, the Christmas creche for way longer than was appropriate, and recently a collage of beauty a friend made for us.

Sunday we decided to brave the aisles of Michael's Craft Store and find canvases, paint, and courage to create our own little masterpiece. We spent the afternoon laying in my room sketching, gathering inspiration from google, coloring, erasing, and delighting. This also may have been the longest concentrated period of time that Ellen and I have been in one room without talking.

We got around to painting, taking a deep breath with the first plunge of the paintbrush into thick acrylic I'm-not-sure-about-this-color paint. And this was the result! Ellen painted to two that say hope and I did the other two. Interestingly, when we asked our friends/family which two they thought each of us did almost no one got it right! Maybe in gaining the courage to paint something and hang it on our wall we also got the courage to defy the way our personalities define and shape us too and go a little outside the lines. Either way, we were please with our little masterpiece.

So come over for dinner and delight with us! :)

Speaking of dinner... we filled our house with over 70 people last night for the City Parish Cinco de Mayo party. We offered to host the party planning on using our enormous backyard, but the monsoon that has been sitting on C'ville lately prevented that. The people came, the ark that was our house got bigger magically, and the children laughed as we tackled a pinata in the rain.
... community at its best...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

songs on repeat

One of my favorite things about being a student is walking everywhere! Especially now that Spring is making this a little bit more pleasant. My foot has been injured since my half marathon in March, and it's just now allowing me to walk to and from class again. This morning as I cut through parking lots and around buildings to my last 8:30am class the sun was shining, the air was crisp, and I had my ipod on repeat with a song by Colin Hay (thank you Pandora for introducing us) called Waiting for My Real Life to Begin which I think is an appropriate name for an end of the semester walk to class song :) Something about his voice and these lyrics combined with a morning walk marries nostalgia for the present and idealistic hope for the future.

Any minute now my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll stand on the bow
And feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down, down, down on me

And you said,"Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in"
Don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path
And up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my own footsteps once again

And you say,"Just be here now
Forget about the past
Your mask is wearing thin"
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine
There's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon
It's just that times are lean

And you say,"Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in"
Don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

On a clear day
I can see, see for a long way

On a clear day
I can see, see a very long way


We made recipe books with our kids on Tuesday, asking each one to describe how to make a favorite dish. Here is my favorite, a recipe for "Sugar Mannies"... perhaps a version of a sugar daddy? :)

Sugar Mannies

- chocolate
-sugar manny
-plain manny

Put it all in a bowl. Then get sugar and ice cream. It goes in the bowl too. When it is done it will taste good. And then we eat it all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I am...

Jumpstart is coming to a close for the year with only three more Sessions left with our sweet four and five year olds! We brought our five children downstairs to the Jumpstart room today and they set their breakfasts down and ran to go help bring out chairs and their breakfast table from the storage room.

I am amazed and blessed by the changes in these children in 8 months. In September they didn't know each other's names. Today they set up chairs together and I heard words like, "Here Karen, sit with me!" or compliments to each other, "I like your hair Jasmine."
This is a big deal.

I sat down on the steps and all of a sudden Sincere was in my lap in tears protesting that she had a cough and needed to go home. I wrapped my arms around her and explained, "But today is one of our last Jumpstart days and you don't want to miss it! AND we're going on a fieldtrip to the Dogwood Festival that will be SO fun." Jasmine came over and said, "Sincere, we're going to have fun today. Come eat breakfast." And she did!! NO tears.
This is a big deal.

As we got up from Circle time to go pick out books to read one on one, I grabbed Sincere and put her in my lap, eager to push away any other woes in her little heart. I looked her in the eyes and told her, "Sincere, today we are going to have fun AND you are going to remember that you are BEAUTIFUL and SMART. Can you say that?"

And that little one put one hand on each of my cheeks and pronounced,


This is a huge deal. And it made me cry.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Princess Burrito

Last night I was putting Annabel to bed and wrapped her up in the fuzzy Princess blanket and paraded her around the house as Princess Burrito. It was pretty funny... her giggle is one of my all-time favorite sounds I think.

I plopped her right on the counter in the bathroom to brush her teeth, and between brushes of bubble-gum flavored Crest we had a little conversation about her spring break plans to go with her family to Williamsburg. It went something like this...

Me: Hey Burrito, are you excited about going to Williamsburg tomorrow?
A: Yep. There must be a lot of Williams there!
Me: Did you know I went to college there?
A: You did?? Were there lots of Williams?
Me: Yep, they were EVERYWHERE.

This seemed to satisfy her, and we proceeded piggy back style to her bedroom to put the Burrito to bed.

Princess Burrito
curiosity in fleece
put to bed to dream

Monday, April 06, 2009

Redemption and Adoption

read every last word.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

April Fools Day

In preschool yesterday Ms. Ann served the children ice cream cones for breakfast as her April Fools joke (my kind of lady). Afterwards she was taking a tally of the children's favorite flavors of ice cream.

Ms. Ann: Aniyah, what's your favorite kind of ice cream?
Aniyah: A lot.

See why I love this class? :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

my little congo man

One of my Jumpstart kids is from the Congo and has the BEST accent... I wish I could post a video of his delightful self up here but alas you'll have to survive on stories.

So last Thursday E. was fixing my hair in our "hair salon" walking back and forth to the "sink" to get clip after clip and carefully place them in my hair. Alex, his Jumpstart corps member, was trying to engage E in conversation by asking how many clips he was putting in, what his plan was for my hair, etc but E was so focused he just trudged back to the sink, picked up a clip, trudged back repeatedly.

Alex commented, "Wow, he's so intent."

E. immediately stops mid-clip retrieval and says, "No I am not! I am FIVE!"

<3 Congo.


Every Monday I've been observing 1st graders and today I made the switch down about 4 inches in height to Kindergarten. Don't be confused... a decrease in height only means an increase in personality.

I was observing two children write a sentence using magnetic words today and this is how it went down:

Shane (holding up a magnetic word): Hey Daijah, what does this word say?
Daijah: Shane, I am NOT your maid. Sound it out.

I like this girl. a lot.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's always time for pie...

Every morning in preschool we read the two lunch choices to 16 wiggly four year olds and as they hand in their folders and library books they can tell us what their lunch choice is for the day...

One day a few weeks ago the choices were Shepherds Pie or a Hot Dog.
The children came up one by one and made their choices... a few hours later the eagerly anticipated lunch cart rolls into our room (there isn't a cafeteria at our school).

Little feet run to the sink to wash hands and grab seats at the teeny tables. Styrofoam (ugh.) containers plop down on tables and hungry bellies growl.

Mekhi, who chose Shepherds Pie, pops open his lunch container and scoots back from the tablel in confusion at what he sees.
He looks up at the adults in the room and says, "Where the heck is my PIE!"

Poor guy. I'd like pie for lunch too.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No woman wakes up thinking, "Gosh I really hope I don't get swept off my feet today."
-- Hitch.

i'm just sayin.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Things I don't Usually Connect...

When I was in 8th grade I had an awesome group of girl friends that I had known since we were 4, entering Kindergarten and growing up in the same neighborhood together. We had that funny small-town connection that you see in nostalgia-inducing movies like Now & Then. We showed up to school dressed alike by accident (and sometimes not by accident let's be honest) and often finished each other's sentences. They were a blessing in my life.

One of our favorite activities to pass the time during class-- particularly French, sorry Madame-- was a game called "Random Thoughts." Someone would write a random sentence, or part of one, at the top of a paper and the paper would make its way from desk to desk, thrown over shoulders passed in books and tossed behind the teacher's back. Giggles were suppressed as the message got increasingly complex and fairly ridiculous. A version of this involved hiding the original message and adding on blindly. The entire joint creation was read in the locker area between classes, and most of the time we were amazed to see how our brains connected ideas and created some sort of order out of the randomness. Everything seem to be connected.

I am reminded of this game as I think about a class I had last week. I'm taking a course called The Exceptional Learner, which is designed to help education students think well about including children with special needs in their classroom and designing a community of learning that accepts, embraces and encourages all learners.

A few weeks ago we had a guest speaker come and talk to us about people with blindness and visual impairments. She is a mobility instructor for individuals in our area and one of her main tasks is helping people with visual impairments move around town as pedestrians. She explained to us how complicated it can be to stand at an intersection and use only your hearing to determine when it is your turn to cross the street. The "ped heads" on street poles with buttons we all push to signal we want to cross present challenges-- they are always at different heights, in different locations relative to the intersection, some beep some dont, etc.

One complication she brought up that I had never considered: hybrid cars.
Hybrid cars do not make noise while they idle.
A person who is blind standing on the street corner is analyzing the traffic that runs parallel to his or her path in an effort to determine when it is her turn to cross the street. If a hybrid car is idling next to her, she cannot hear it and therefore it presents a great hazard to her if the car intends to turn right. Right now apparently there is litigation to get hybrid car companies to include some sound device-- a click perhaps-- in the car as it idles to help those with VI's be safe in traffic.

I've thought about hybrid cars for a car for myself in the future... and I think they're pretty cool. Now, I'm not expert and to be honest haven't done a huge amount of research so don't go crazy if you think I'm wrong (although I'd be more than happy to hear why). But this is something I had never thought of-- if you can't hear my car, does that make it a hazard to you?? How do the purchases I make affect the people around me in a very real way?

It's just like reading the final product of a class period of Random Thoughts and realizing everything is connected...

Luckily Lil Rojo currently makes enough noise to wake the whole neighborhood.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Days of the Week

My job this year is with an organization called Jumpstart. An Americorps partner, Jumpstart works with Pre-K children to develop social and academic skills to prepare them for Kindergarten. So on Tuesdays and Thursdays I work with a team of UVA students and 4 year olds in a two hour session where we sing songs, make plans, read books, and just play!

One of the girls in my Jumpstart group-- we'll call her Mary-- is incredibly smart and so I try and find things to challenge her each day... lately I have been writing her a message on our white board for her to read and add on to.

Yesterday my message to Mary said,
Good morning friends!
Welcome to Jumpstart! Today is T_____, February 24, 2009.
Today we will make puppets.

I asked Mary to read me the message and fill in the blank. She read it and promptly told me that Today is Tuesday. Then her sweet little face squished up in confusion and she asked, "Miss Shannon, why is it Tuesday? It's the third day of the week... Sunday, Monday, TWOsday... so why is it Tuesday?"

It took me a minute to realize how hard she was thinking about this and why she had gotten confused. I laughed and wrote out the number 2 and TWO-sday and explained that it sounds the same as the word Tuesday. What a thinker!

A little while later I was playing in the housekeeping center when Mary and her partner Lanita came walking by whistling. I explained that I can't whistle and Mary promptly gave me a lesson on the proper placement of your tongue when you are trying to whistle. I practiced and proved that I am indeed incapable of whistling. She smiled, patted me on the shoulder and said smugly, "It's ok. You just need a little practice." :: collapsed in giggles ::

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"Holy moly that voice is cute!"
-- a 7 year old upon hearing me speak.

Me: I have to go soon.
Scarlett: I thought you were staying an hour!
Me: I am... it's almost been an hour.
Scarlett: No way! An hour is when a minute lasts until like... 630.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quote of the Day

I was observing in a 1st grade classroom today... I walked in and within 30 seconds this small girl with a head full of braids marches up to me and says,

Did you know that bananas can change diarrhea?

Me: (trying to keep a straight face) Oh really? Do they make it better or worse?

Girl: Better. Cause one time I had a diarrhea and I couldn't get rid of it until mom gave me a banana.

t.m.i. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Power of One

I am rereading The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay these days... delighting again in the story of an unlikely little boxer named Peekay in South Africa. It's fun to read it again with the history of South Africa now in my head... I understand much more of the complicated history and context!

Peekay is this adorable character who has great insights about the world as it begins to unfold for him... this was my favorite of today:

"I settled back happily into the corner of the large green leather seat and proceeded to lick the sucker. One and a half suckers in less than an hour was an all-time happiness, and having a real friend was another."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

poor no man.

There's a little guy in one of my Pre-K classes with whom I have a morning ritual... he rolls into class looking more like 16 than 4, a little thug-like, but full of goodness.

I sit at the table and reach out my hand in a fist, call his name, and say, "Is it time?"

He usually looks at me. Looks down at my fist. Shakes his head.

A few minutes (or sometimes hours) later he will walk up to me and say, "Miss Shannon. It's time." and extend his own little fist to give me a pound. :)

Well this same sweet guy can't say the "s" sound if a word starts with the letter S (snake, sound, snip, silly). We had some snow this week and before recess one day he exclaimed,

I'z gonna play in the no!
I'z gonna make a no man with no balls!

Took us a minute to figure it out... :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday night vindicated.

Back in the fall I spent one Friday night (yea friday... sad to admit) making this Color Game for one of my girls who doesn't know her colors yet. It's basically a simplified version of Candyland. A manilla folder opens up (thank you Abundant Life for teaching me everything I know) to reveal a colorful "road" made of squares of construction paper.

Children choose a painted penny for their playing piece then reach into a magical bag (aka brown lunch bag) and pull out a colored dot. They then name the color if they can and move their penny to the nearest place.

Well... after hours cutting, gluing, laminating, regretting, gluing some more... I had high hopes for this game. It's sat on the table for the past 3 months untouched until this past Thursday. My girls were picking out cups in housekeeping and naming the colors, so I jumped on the chance to reintroduce the color game, and they LOVED it!!

The two of them-- J & S-- spent about 20 minutes taking turns and playing. S is the girl who has a hard time with colors and she was making good progress when all of a sudden she pulled out a red dot and was stumped. J waited a minute then said, "It's red!" S grinned, stuck out her hand to shake J's hand and exclaimed, "Thank you so much for helping me!" (and made that Friday night worth it)

The other precious thing is that S knows most of the colors now, but she consistently names yellow amarillo... correct in Spanish, who knows why. Thats for your Claire.

old shoes

Kam: Miss Shannon?
Me: Yea, honey?
Kam: Why are you wearing old shoes?

... i look down at my every-day-very-beat-up-shoes...

Me: Well honey, because I"m a teacher.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

adult things...

Today I had the surprise pleasure of babysitting two of my favorite kids, Newt (4 years old) and Katie 2 years old). I had Newt in my very first Sunday School class three years ago... the fun part of about staying with that class is I now have Katie this year!

So at one point this afternoon Newt was dancing around me saying, "After I be 4 I'll be 5. After I be 5 I'll be 6. After I be 6 I'll be 7......" and so on and so on.

Me: Newt, when do you think you will be a grown-up?
Newt: What's a grown-up?
Me: You know, an adult, like Mommy.
Newt: Oh... (long pause)... when I'm really really old.
Me: When's that?
Newt: Oh, like 29 probly.

:) Sorry Lane.

Later we were back downstairs and the kids were playing with lincoln logs (one of my favorite toys) and I had sat down in the armchair to watch their progress for a bit....

Newt: Miss Shannon, want to build me a house?
Me: Nah I already helped you, I'm sleepy (grinning and closing my eyes)
Newt: You can't go to sleep here!
Me: Why not?
... he thinks about it...
Newt: Ok, if you go to sleep here it would be a sleepover.
Me: That's right!
Newt: When adults come to your house and if they eat supper with you and go to bed with you, that's called a sleepover.

haha, close Newt, close.

man after my own heart

Today we had a "special lunch" with a few of the Jumpstart kids... the teachers pick children who have been well behaved that day as a reward to come eat lunch with me, Lanita, and Natalie out in the common area. It's really fun and always quite the conversation...

Today Ricardo was scarfing down his lettuce and I praised him for eating his salad so he'll be big and strong. I mentioned how I had a great dinner last night including peas and mushrooms...

This launched us into a conversation about vegetables. We asked the kids if they like peas (pretty unanimous no)...
Miss Lanita: How about lima beans? (yes and no)
Me: I like all vegetables, I'm really an equal opportunity veggie eater.
Miss Natalie: I like kidney beans.

Edmund (enthusiastically waiving his hand): I like jelly beans!

Thats what I'm talking about Edito :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

shaving cream...where?

Today we sat the children down and let them play with shaving cream all over the tables... REALLY fun especially with kids who have never played with it before! We were talking about Winter so we let them pretend it was like snow...

The teacher was introducing the activity and explaining that the children may have seen their daddy's put shaving cream on their faces and shave off the hair on their faces.
One little girl raised her hand and reported that her mom uses shaving cream on her legs to make them smooth.

Then a boy raises his hand and contributes, "My mommy uses it on her legs and on her body and on her bottom."

Awesome :) TMI.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Save your drama for your mama."
-- aniyah

Baa baa black sheep have you any wool?
yes sir yes sir, three bags full
one for my master, one for the Dane
and one for the little boy who lives down the drain...
-- my 4 year olds :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Miss Shannon, your car is SO small! I think it shrunk in the rain!
-- Mary Austin Slate

Thursday, January 08, 2009

learning numbers

We are teaching our kids how to write numbers using fun rhymes each morning...

Half a heart will never do
slide to the right to make a two!

Down to the right
Wait! There's more,
Add a stick man to make a four!

And today's number was 5...
Make his hat,
Make his back,
Make his belly round and fat.

... to which Mary commented loudly, "That looks like my dad!"

Also, today in art we got to use pastels (I really really love art class and have to hold myself back from being absorbed in playing with the materials... whoops). The kids really enjoyed the texture of the pastels and when we asked Ani what they felt like she replied, "Soft and lovely."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

back to school...

So I went back to work yesterday at Jumpstart in a local elementary school and I took the 32 4 year olds to music class (joy). The music teacher (not joy) proceeded to talk to the kids about New Years Resolutions and how they are promises you make to yourself. As an example, she shared that she had made a resolution to lose weight.

So today, Tuesday, we walk into music again and Mary-- one of the smartest children in my class and also the least socially tactful-- raises her hand and says, "Ms. T... have you lost any weight yet?"

HAH! I guarantee Mary will ask the same question for the next 6 months.

Another priceless quote during snack time:
Mary: Awwww Ms. Shannon, Ani said bra! Thats a bad word.
Me: Ani, what did you say ?
Ani: I just said, when little mermaids get their tails they also get bras!

Thank you Disney.