Thursday, October 31, 2013


I love it when all the pieces of my life come together in one place.  I was there this morning and I'm still smiling.

Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords and former NASA Shuttle Commander, is also an author. He's written the story of a space mouse named Meteor, who is tiny and unafraid and, in the end, saves the day.

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.
My smart phone was put to good use as we searched for pictures of Pluto and Saturn.  Pluto was much more fun.  I tried to describe why the other planets were ostracizing poor little Pluto, but the science was too much for them.  Pluto is a planet and that's that.  I chose not to argue.
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. 
We were seeking images of real planets, not silly dogs, I was reminded.  So, we searched.  The phone had timed out and I reached to restart it, but I was not fast enough.  A six year old's chubby fingers managed to wake it up and scroll through the search results until he found exactly what he sought.
Pluto is gray.  Again, the science of color in outer space was more information than they were able to consume.  Gray is boring.  We wondered about Saturn, and we were not disappointed.
How many rings?  What do they look like?  What makes them different?  Why are they rings?
I was very grateful when it was time to share our stories; I was running out of scientific responses.

They sat around the rug, scootching back so that all the friends had room.  Papers were upside down in front of their crossed legs.
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.


  1. Love when you post about Prince and have pictures. So awesome, beautiful children. I've taken to reading to my little man's class every day. I started it a couple of weeks ago and now when I come in, the kids all ask if I can read. I absolutely love doing it and being able to engage with the kids. They are all four year-olds and their inquisitiveness and happiness just makes me smile.

    I forgot that Mark had written a book. I will have to order that on my Kindle. I know my kids would love it.

    Thanks for always sharing your days at Prince with us.

    Megan xxx

    1. I love that you share the joy, Megan! Your Little Man is so very lucky to have you in his life <3

  2. I guess it's the teacher in me...this post just made me so happy. What a wonderful treat for the children to be allowed so much creativity. I'm not seeing much of that in schools here as it's all about testing, and testing, and testing.

    1. She is the most wonderful teacher. Each child receives just what she needs, and it's filled with love and fairness. Glad to bring a smile to you!

  3. Thank you for these posts and links, I hope this will come in handy.


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