Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"What Does That Sign Say, Teacher Tom?"

There has been a poster on the classroom door for the past few weeks promoting our annual Spring Garden Festival, a fundraising event that is open to the general public. It's posted high up on the door at adult eye-level. Yesterday, for the first time, one of the kids asked me about it.

"What does that sign say, Teacher Tom?"

"Let's find out." I removed it and carried it to our checker board rug where the four and five-year-olds were gathering for circle time. I asked, "Can any of you read?"

"I can read some words, but not all of them."

"Me too."

"I can read my name."

"Well, then I'll read it and we can figure out what the words mean." I started at the top, "Woodland Park Co-op. What's that?"

"That's our school." There was general agreement about that so I moved on, "Spring Garden Festival." There was some squealing and cheering. "What's a garden festival?"

"It's like a party at school in the spring."

"Oh, I know about this. My mom told me there are going to be games, like a cake walk. You might win a whole cake!"

"And treats!"

"And there will be things to buy!"

I said, "That sounds fun." Then I read the date. There was a pause before one girl said, "I think that means that's when it's happening."

I answered, "Me too. That's next Saturday." This brought down the house. They might not have identified with the date, but they sure understood "next Saturday." As they cheered they looked at each other, beaming and clapping, and making plans. "I'm going!" "Me too!"

When things died down I read, "From 2 to 5 o'clock . . . That's right after lunch." More cheering.

They weren't so certain about the "silent auction," although the boy whose mother is organizing it shared that someone had donated a really cool tea set that "somebody gets to take home." More cheering. He shouted over them, "There's other things too!"

They were enthusiastic about the idea of "carnival games" several of them offering up their idea of what kinds of games we might be playing. The "plant sale" was likewise well-received. When we came to "book fair" there was some confusion about what that meant, but we finally decided that it must mean that there would be books for sale. When I read "refreshments" they were quite certain that it meant we would be drinking "lemonade with bubbles in it." We interpreted "WP gear" to mean either raincoats or those "little gears you can play with." When I pointed out that "gear" could also refer to the school logo t-shirt and sweat-shirt I was wearing, they doubted it. "Free activities" got them cheering again as did "community fun." When I asked, "What does 'community' mean," a girl replied, "That means all of us."

Things got really raucous when I read, "Evan the Magician! Professional Magic Show." A couple of them had seen magic shows before and assured us that it would be "so cool." 

Then I read, "Bring cash."

"That means bring money." A few were disappointed because they didn't have any money, but they were re-assured by their friends that they would share some of theirs or, alternatively, their parents could bring some money. But everyone relaxed when I read, "Free, free, free . . . Story time with Teacher Rachel and craft stations." One of them said, "You don't need any money for that!" and that evoked another cheer. I added, "And you don't need money to play on the playground."

Teacher Rachel, our kindergarten teacher, happened to be sitting in for part of this discussion and she let the kids know that one of the carnival games was to throw a pie in her face. This lead to a discussion about what that meant. Would it hurt? Would it taste good? Would there be whipped cream? I said that I might join Teacher Rachel as a target for a pie, but only if I got to lick the whipped cream off myself. I asked if any of the kids would like a pie thrown in their faces. Only one boy offered himself up, even when I reminded them about the whipped cream. I remain on the fence, but can probably be persuaded on Saturday.

So if you or someone you know are looking for a good time in Fremont on Saturday, come on by. It's the kind of fun that includes "all of us," both inside and out, there may or may not be gears, you can get your vegetable garden started or maybe win a whole cake, and the magic show promises to be cool. Maybe you'll even get to throw a pie in my face, but there is no question that you can throw one into Teacher Rachel's.

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