Friday, April 30, 2010

I Wanna Live In A Turquoise House

I don't usually go in for theme weeks or units or whatever, but we accidentally had one this week.

On Monday we sang "Little Boxes." (I incorrectly identified it as a Pete Seger song. He is one of many performers who've recorded it, but it was written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, the year I was born.)

We've continued singing it this week. A lot of the kids think it's funny when we keep saying the boxes are all the same, because clearly they aren't the same -- they're different colors. They look at each other and laugh and say, "No!"

On Monday, Luna, a lone voice, insisted on how the boxes are all the same, except the color. A few of her friends by this point in the week now share her view. I love how they're processing the song, really thinking about the meaning of "same" and "different." We've experienced reactions ranging from derisive laughter, to furrowed brows, to earnest insistence this week. I'm looking forward to seeing how we come to "own" this song as a class.

We've decided that "ticky tacky" means "plastic" since both our boxes . . .

. . . and people . . .

. . . are made of plastic.

On Wednesday and Thursday we added another song about being true to yourself.
I'll never fit in, so why should I try? 
Ooo, ooo, ooo
How'm I ever gonna pass for a normal guy?
Ooo, ooo, ooo
I can't wear no suit and tie (I pull at my collar with a finger)
Gotta let my freak flag fly (I take hold of my hair and wave it)
If I walk the straight and narrow one more day I think I'll die. (Finger walking)
We already know the chorus to this song. It's fun how lustily they've joined their voices to mine on the part they already know, much more so than when we just sing the chorus alone. This is what I hope they find themselves humming one day in the future when people are trying to get them to be like everybody else.
I wanna live in a turquoise house (House roofline with hands)
With a turquoise garden and a turquoise yard (Ten fingers up, wiggling like grass in a breeze)
Drive around town in a turquoise car (Steering)
Find a turquoise girl with a turquoise heart. (Patting our hearts rhythmically)

Fate is a riddle and love is a dream
Ooo, ooo, ooo
Things are seldom what they seem
Ooo, ooo, ooo
If you say your prayers at night (Prayerful hands)
And comb your hair just right (Combing)
You might not feel like that's okay
But then again, you might.

Lusty chorus

I want turquoise carpets (Point at the rug)
And turquoise shoes (Point at your shoes)
I want turquoise papers (Make a palm newspaper)
With all the turquoise news.
I want turquoise only
Not teal or aquamarine (I have paint color cards from the hardware store and I point out the 3 shades)
I've seen my future (We point fingers at our own eyes, then I point sharply at the kids and they point sharply back at me. I don't remember how this got started, but it seems to be their favorite part of the song.)
And it's a shade of bluish-green (Fan out the color cards to show all the blue-green shades

Even lustier chorus

I can't turn back, there ain't no way.
Ooo, ooo, ooo
If word gets out there'll be hell to pay.
Ooo, ooo, ooo
Life ain't for the faint
You can't be what you ain't (Point at the kids)
I know I'll never truly be myself
Until I get me some turquoise paint. (Painting motion)

Big chorus, repeated twice

. . . a turquoise girl in a dress
And a skirt
And a shirt
Coverin' up a turquoise heart.

This is a slightly gentled-up version of Jim White's song Turquoise House, one of my favorite anthems of individuality.

We then went outside, fired up the glue guns in our tinkering area and got to building turquoise houses, or whatever else we felt like making.

It looks like I caught these two working out some kind of
trade involving the glue gun and the bike horn.

Look at that concentration . . .

. . . and here too. They're taking responsibility for their own 
safety. That slight hint of danger (like singing
the word "hell" in preschool) helps them focus.

These two spent a lot of time consulting about
their houses.

It was a purposeful and successful collaboration.

On Wednesday we used liquid water color, but on Thursday we went with mixing our own turquoise from green and blue tempera paint, mostly because the sand pit crew had discovered the joy of making turquoise "floods" in the sand box. We wound up mixing regular paint for the painters, but very watered down buckets of turquoise for the flooders, who enjoyed pouring it into our house gutters and flowing into the sand.

When we gathered for our closing circle on both days, I said, "Raise your hand if you used the glue guns today," about three-quarters of their hands went up. Then I said, "Raise your hand if you got burned today." About half the hands went up although we hadn't had a single tear, then we chatted about the various burns, where they were located, how badly they hurt, and what we could do to avoid it next time.

If you want to see and hear how Jim White does the song, here's the video:

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Juliet Robertson said...

This is music to my ears!

A great wee song and theme! OK I'm biased! I like turquoise and I confess to being far from normal!

Have a lovely w/end

jaimeep said...

We watched the video, then we had to look for "Little Boxes." Here it is

Let the Children Play said...

You've inspired me to find some glue guns Tom. I'm amazed at what they created. And as for the burns - Gerber Tulley would be proud of you :)

Play for Life said...

Tom I reckon our kids would dive on that idea, in fact I KNOW they would. BUT the thought of sending 10.125 of our 27 children home with burns means I'm going to wait and see if Jenny can offer me some better odds! You understand don't you?

Jenny I'll be in touch!

Donna :) :)

Teacher Tom said...

@Donna . . . I've been using glue guns for years and I still burn myself almost every time I do! I put glue gun burns in the category of pricking a finger with a needle while sewing. It's bound to happen every now and then, especially when you're just starting out.

@Jenny . . . The kids were really proud of themselves. I didn't get photos of most of the stuff they made because they wanted to take it home. Many of them even figured out how to load more glue sticks themselves. They really did develop some mastery in that single session. Max wrote his name in craft sticks. Anjali was enthusing so much about the experience that I suggested she ask for a glue gun for Christmas. She said, "That's a good idea!" I hope she gets one.

Ms Debbie said...

Man... why did you have to challenge me to add glue guns.. :)

Deborah Stewart said...

I have never let the children use hot glue guns but there are cold glue guns we have tried.

I watched the video - too funny. That house actually looked quite lovely all done:)

Anonymous said...

re: "danger" you might like this;

Jennie said...

Love that song and how you've made it meaningful to the kids.
I have a turquoise door, literally, and it certainly stands out in our neighborhood!