Monday, January 23, 2017


There's a joke I tell the kids: "The best part of being an adult is that I get to eat candy any time I want."

I told it for the millionth time last week as our 4-5's class gathered for circle time, which kicked off a general discussion of candy. The kids in this class have figured out the raising hands and taking turns thing.

"My favorite candy is gummy bears."

"Mine is all of the kinds!"

"Mine too, I like all the kinds the best."

There was a general conversation about favorites until someone said, "Candy isn't healthy."

I said, "It's true: candy is not healthy food. If you eat too much of it, you start growing side-to-side instead of up and down."

"And if you eat too much you get a tummy ache."

"If you don't brush your teeth after you eat candy they'll fall out."

"I'm lucky, my mom doesn't let me eat candy."

"I get to eat one piece every day. For dessert."

"On Halloween I get to eat all the candy!"

"Me too!"

"I ate too much candy at Christmas and had a bad tummy ache."

I asked, "Did you vomit?"

"No, I just got a tummy ache."

"I ate a lot of cookies at Christmas, but didn't get a tummy ache." There was a general consensus that cookies don't make you as sick as candy, followed by a round of "What about cake?" "What about ice cream?" "What about drinking candy?" which is what some of the families call soda. After some back and forth, we agreed that all of the sweet things taste good, but they can all make you feel sick if you have too much.

Then one of them joked, "All this talking about sweet things is making me want to eat a sweet thing!"

"Me too!"

I said, "Then let's eat something sweet. Everybody, close your eyes and breathe in through your nose . . . and out through you mouth . . . in through your nose . . . and out through your mouth . . ." We've done this before, circle breathing. They don't all do it, but most of them do, and the ones who don't follow along at least respect the rest of us by silently observing. "Think about your tongue. Get it ready to taste something sweet. Okay, now think about your favorite sweet thing and put it in your mouth." Several of the kids, eyes still closed, went through the motions of putting a pretend sweet in their mouths. "Taste it, feel it on your tongue, then when you're ready, swallow it."

"That was good. Mine was banana candy!"

"Mine was peppermint!"

"I ate a whole bowl of ice cream!"

"I ate all the sweet things in the whole world! And I didn't get a tummy ache at all!"

"And we don't have to brush our teeth either."

"I'm going to eat more!"

And that's how our candy curriculum emerged on that day, with each child contributing as we explored the yin and yang of it, looking at it from all sides, building a common understanding from the information and experiences each of us brought to the table. No one told anyone how to think or what to do, we simply gathered together with our information and shared what we know and, for this day, it was perfect.

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