Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Sometimes, I wonder why I became a teacher.When that happens, I know what I need to do. I pick up a stack of books and I head down to kindergarten. Yesterday was one of those days.

I planned to read, DO YOU KNOW WHICH ONES WILL GROW?, which I had read to the other kindergarten class a few days earlier. The kindergarten teacher had mentioned that the class was studying insects, so I headed for the library and grabbed books on centipedes, mosquitoes, crickets and houseflies from a terrific nonfiction series.

First I read DO YOU KNOW WHICH ONES WILL GROW? I knew within about two pages what they had been talking about in kindergarten.

"Hey," said A. "I hear a rhyme. Owl and towel-- those rhyme."

The next page, "Snake…cake, those rhyme," shouted R, when we got to the next page.

By the time we got to the third or fourth page, everyone was finding the rhymes. And the non-rhymes. And throwing in a few of their own rhymes. It made the going a little slow, but sometimes, especially in kindergarten, you just have to go with the flow. And so I did. It took about twice as long as I had thought it would to get through that eight minute book. I wasn't sure the kindergarteners would want to sit through another book, but they wanted more, and so I read MOSQUITOES.

"Do those bite?" worried Q. "I think those might bite you." I responded that mosquitoes bite, and then he wondered if it was poison, or if they could kill you. I told him that mosquito bites itched. We read on, about how female mosquitos need human blood, and how mosquitoes lay eggs close to water. "But why do they need human blood?" asked Q. I wasn't sure, but Mrs. A promised that they would find the information on the computer after lunch.

When we finished mosquitoes, we had been going almost half an hour, and I was sure the kids would have had enough.

"Read one more," they begged. "Just one more."

"Are you sure?" I asked. "Do you really want to sit for one more book?" They did. I reached for the next book in my pile.

"We need to vote," said A, "We should vote on which one we read." And so we did. CENTIPEDES won by a landslide.

"I saw one of those at my grandma's house," says C, when I held up the book to show the five year olds the front cover. "I was in the basement with my brother and we were playing and it walked up and bit me." With this story, 26 sets of eyes widen, and 26 little mouths turn into O's.

"Do they hurt you?" asked Q. "Are they poison?"

Centipedes can be brown, black or gray…

"And yellow. They forgot to say yellow. All the legs are yellow," declared K authoritatively pointing to the picture.

"I see a pattern," says P, a quiet little guy who rarely opens his mouth when I'm around. He was right. The body was a pattern- tan, gray, tan, gray.

I said I didn't think they were poison. Mrs. A again promised that they could look up their question on the internet.

Centipedes have one hundred legs…

"I can count to one hundred," says B proudly. "Do you want to hear me?"

"I would love to hear you count to one hundred, but maybe we could do it in the lunchroom."

Centipedes live in dark places…

"Once I lifted up a brick out in my yard and I saw one of those under there," says Z.

"Maybe they live in caves," said L.

"Or they might live in haunted houses," said M.

"That's kind of like Flat Stanley," says R. (I never did quite get that connection, but the kids seemed to know exactly what he was talking about).

Thirty five minutes later I walked out of kindergarten, promising to return soon. Sometimes I have trouble remembering why I became a teacher. But never when I am in kindergarten…


elsie said...

What a wonderful class of inquiring minds! You put me right there with you and those inquisitive kindergarteners. Glad they could remind you why you want to teach!

Linda B said...

Oh, your telling of the experience was wonderful. I just kept thinking, "that's how it is!" Kindergarteners are just wonderful. I loved how you gave us the dialog, the delight, as well as the worry. It was also a great idea for you to visit-it seemed to lighten your spirit, right?