It's the perfect story for my favorite five and six year olds, especially the two who are obsessed with space. I bought it and I brought it in to leave in the classroom.
Of course, Ms. Levine let me read it to the class.
Reading aloud from a picture book is a study in contortions. I leaned forward, but that blocked the students on my left. I slid the book from my right hip to my left hip, but I couldn't keep track of the words. I struggled, but the listeners didn't seem to notice. They were absorbed in the story of the taunted mouse who solved a problem. Their smiles were as big as his by the end of the book.
I admit that I, too, had a gigantic grin on my face. Reading aloud will do that.
After being good listeners, Ms. Levine suggested that they show me what good writers and illustrators they were. She emphasized the use of detail, and of covering the whole page. She reviewed writing first and last names and dates at the top of one side of their work, and encouraged them to turn the page over and continue their artistry on the other side when they finished the first. Words could be incorporated as well; if spelling became an issue they were to use their sound charts to figure it out. They were not to ask the grown-ups how to spell a word; that was not the way to learn.
The tubs contain crayons and pencils, the first for drawing, the second for the words. There was no mistaking the one for the other. They've been in school for three months. They know the routine.
Disney's influence is far reaching and seems to have no expiration date. I was surprised that these little ones recognized my favorite yellow pooch, but he didn't hold their interest for long.
I was very grateful when it was time to share our stories; I was running out of scientific responses.
One by one, around the circle we went. Did you want to share? No is an acceptable answer, and several girls in a row chose to be silent. I sighed to myself about peer pressure starting so early, but comforted myself with the notion that they were learning that they didn't always have to speak up. Perhaps they really had nothing to say.
Some were more enthusiastic, happily telling the stories they'd created, even if they had to be reminded to turn the page around so all the friends could see their work.
Pride in a job well done is beautiful to see.
After each writer presented her work, she chose, from an array of raised hands, one person to give her a compliment. After the Thank You and You're Welcome were exchanged, we repeated the cycle again.
I took all the pictures home, and I'm going to send them off to Commander Kelly. Who knows? Perhaps he'll write back to the students in Ms. Levine's room.
Of all the things which have happened to me since January, 2011, finding the love at Prince Elementary School stands at the top of my List of Joys. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's impossible to be sad when you are surrounded by little ones. Right now, I'm a very happy girl.