Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Little children looking up, holding wonder in a cup"

I am exhausted. My arms hurt from doing the monkey bars, my legs are covered in mud, my legs are sore and I have a headache. Today was the first grade picnic.

Although there were times this week when I wasn't sure my class would even be allowed to go, we made it and had a great time. (Though it did take us 3 tries to line up and 2 more tries walking down the hall semi-quietly before we could get there).

The picnic is always held at a little park behind our school. It has two small playgrounds, a few picnic tables but other than that it is completely wooded.

The minute we approached the paved path in the woods the kids shouted, "Let's sing!" So, we made our grand entrance singing, "Going on a bear hunt!" Luckily (or unfortunately for their moms) we hit the 'go through the mud' part at the exact time we hit a huge mud puddle. fun.

I grew up on a 10 acre forest in the middle of nowhere. 10 acres sounds like a lot in NOVA, but it was really nothing but a small patch of grass for our backyard and lots and lots of trees. I had the best childhood ever running around the woods, making forts and imagining everything there is to imagine in the forest. I watched my kids today look longingly at the dense patches of forest and wanted desperately to let us all go play. One little girl led me by the hand and pointed out where she would have a forest fort and where mine could be. I watched her eyes glaze over as she was imagining playing in the woods. I watched other kids use sticks to dig up rock treasures, make tepees with twigs and houses with moss. The wonder and life I saw in them as they looked at nature was more than I'd seen all year. It wasn't from an academic point of view, but from a desire to know more about the world around them.

I always wished I had grown up in a neighborhood with friends all around instead of the forest, yet today I realized how lucky I was. Today the kids were able to let their 7 year-old imagination run wild and truly be kids instead of being cooped up playing Nintendo or riding a bike up and down the sidewalk.

Today was one of those days that inspires me to want to redo all of my lessons and units to make them more meaningful to the kids. What more could I teach if I can channel that wonder and awe?

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