Friday, March 04, 2011

My Brain Just Isn't Big Enough

I tell people all the time that I could never teach in a traditional preschool, the kind with one or two teachers and a bunch of kids. My brain just isn't big enough to be anywhere other than a cooperative. I need the smarter people around to help when things get stuck or otherwise mucked up. 

This is a popular toy at Woodland Park. I know it looks like a weapon, but it's not. It's a "bow and marshmallow," a tool designed specifically to feed those small puffy treats to giant babies.

You fill the tube with small marshmallows, then draw back the string the way you would with a bow and arrow and let fly, hopefully hitting your target, which is the wide open mouth of afore mentioned hungry baby.

We've never "taught" the children of Woodland Park to stand in line, much to the chagrin of field trip tour guides who ask this of them, but they naturally queue up for their chance at this.

On Wednesday we had a grand old time firing away at our target, leaving the ground white with marshmallows which the crows gladly cleaned up for us overnight. I then stupidly left the entire bag of marshmallows outdoors as well, under cover, wrapped up tightly, but this is Seattle and I guess some of our famous humidity found its way into the bag, making our baby food slightly sticky yesterday morning. Not uniformly sticky, but enough I guess that it caused the "bow and marshmallow" to misfire with frustrating frequency yesterday.

Isak's mom Leslie was serving as ring master for this particular activity and at first she called me over to help unjam it. My technique was to bang it on a table and repeatedly shoot the thing until a marshmallow came flying out, then hand back to the next kid in line, who was disappointed when once more the marshmallows got stuck. We went through this process several times, before Leslie recognized the symptoms of insanity (doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results) and said, "They're too sticky. Maybe we should roll them in flour or something."

We always have flour with our play dough making supplies so I retrieved some, turning a bag of flour and a bag of marshmallows over to the kids to mix together. 

I felt confident this would work and moseyed over to the sand pit where a group of diggers were hard at work clearing a channel through which water from the cast iron pump could flow. Before long, behind me, I again heard the sound of the bow and marshmallow back in action.

It was the coolest thing, not only was the baby once more getting fed with flour-coated marshmallows, but each shot from the bow produced a dramatic cloud of flour "smoke" as the projectile found its way into that wide opened, developmentally inaccurate, toothy mouth. How exciting! Genius! 

I'm pretty sure I remembered to bring the apparatus indoors last night . . . Oh no I didn't. But Leslie did.

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Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

So... this begs the question, how do you cope with little ones begging to eat the marshmallows? We used half of the large marshmallows for the nose on paper plate pigs once, and even with paint on them, my children were snarking off pieces, large and small. Can't say I blame them, but I'm still curious how it works in your co-op?

(deleted my first comment- misspelled those fluffy white things)

Barbara Zaborowski said...

Awesome, Tom! Has anyone ever turned the thing on the rest of the queue or are they too afraid of losing their turn to shoot?

Teacher Tom said...

@Chris . . . In this case, it's pretty easy because they're landing on the wet, muddy ground. Normally, however, when we're using candy (e.g., candy hearts, M&Ms, etc.) I drop the bag on the ground before they arrive, then tell them, honestly, "This candy has been on the ground. It's not good for you, so I wouldn't eat it." Every now and then something gets swiped, but it usually works.

@Barbara . . . Only accidentally. It takes quite a bit of strength and coordination to make it work, so they sometimes shoot wildly! Fortunately, they're marshmallows so the chance of injury is quite small.

Chapter Forty said...

What fun, my kids would so love to do this. But I am a little surprised that it is okay in your preschool to shoot at babies. But then I suppose the projectile is such a yummy treat. Who wouldn't want to be pelted with flour coated marshmellowness? I have to admit I am having a hard time imagining how a marshmallow flies through the sky at speed???