Monday, July 02, 2012

"Tsz, Tsz, Tsz."

Several years ago, my friend Barbara phoned to ask if the school could use some "hats and costumes and belts and other stuff." She had acquired dozens of boxes of "refuse" from, we speculated, a bankrupt party supply store while in quest of a quantity of artificial flowers for an art project, but only upon the condition that she also take the "hats and costumes and belts and other stuff," for which she had no use.

This is how we came into possession of our Caps For Sale supplies: dozens of blue, red, white, and "straw" hats, made for the heads of children and designed to nest together in a shelf-friendly manner.

The children of Woodland Park love playing Caps For Sale, based upon the book by author Esphyr Slobodkina, but this was the first time we ever tried playing it outdoors and we chose a spot right at the bottom of our concrete slope.

The game has become a bit ritualized through repetition. I started by playing the peddler, under the "condition" that others would get a turn after me. I balanced a stack of caps atop my head, first my own ball cap, then some straw ones, then some blue ones, then some white ones, then some red ones on the very top. I walked back and forth a few times calling out, "Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!" before sitting down for a rest with my back to the slope. The moment I'm asleep, the monkeys creep down from the tree and snatch my caps. I always remember to hold onto my ball cap so they don't take that too.

When I woke up I checked my caps: "No caps!"  I looked to the left of me, I looked to the right of me, I looked behind me, I looked behind the tree. Then I looked up into the tree and on every branch sat a monkey and on every monkey was one of my caps.

I shook a finger at them, "You monkeys you, you give me back my caps!"

"Tsz, tsz, tsz."

I shook both fists at them, "You monkeys you, you give me back my caps!"

"Tsz, tsz, tsz."

I stomped my foot, "You monkeys you, you give me back my caps!"

"Tsz, tsz, tsz."

I stomped both feet, "You monkeys you, you give me back my caps!"

"Tsz, tsz, tsz." (Oh, how the children love play acting this defiance.)

Then, in frustration, I threw down my own cap and the monkeys, in imitation, threw down their caps, which I then returned carefully to my head before heading back into town calling, "Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!"

Now was the time for me to start moving myself out of the activity. I orchestrated the first couple rounds of hat stacking, narrating, and turn-taking, and that was enough as these 2, 3, 4, and 5 year olds who then played Caps For Sale over and over and over.

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Anonymous said...

We also regularly rolemplay this wonderful story. I learned that, to make it even more fun, get the monkeys to "copy" the pedlar. The tsz tsz got a bit boring so now the peddlar can do all kinds of silly things.

Pedlar: u r sooo naughty!
Monkeys: u r soooo naughty!
Pedlar: oh no i M not!!
Monkeys: oh no i am not!
Try this one, they will love it even more, promise.

"Miss Missa" said...

I'm envious of your hat collection, I must say! We've tried making some in our art studio, but in the end, the children opt for invisible, imaginary hats.