Welcome to my Weblog!
Welcome to 1 Mother 2 Another! To read my most recent weblog entries, scroll down. To read entries from one category, click the links at right. To read my journey from the beginning, click here. To find out more about me, click here.
Top 5s
Short on time? Click here to go to my Top 5s Page - links to my top five recommendations in every category from Breastfeeding Sites to Urban Living Solutions.

See Where A Paper Bag Takes Them

As part of a test program in our school
district here, I am helping out in Maddie’s classroom once a
week for six weeks. Pretty much every day of the week, a
student’s mom comes in to teach for half an hour; the teacher
wrote up a six-week lesson plan, then distributed it to the
volunteer moms (I’m Thursday) and set us loose. I’ve
been nervous, but I’m having a blast.

We’re studying fairy tales: we’ve taken a fairy tale
apart, talked about what makes a story a fairy tale, read a couple
of them and found the “fairy tale markers” in each one,
and brainstormed ideas for building our own kingdom – a first
step to writing our own fairy tale.

The past couple of days, the kids have
been building the kingdom out of paper bags: each child was handed
a bag and a pair of scissors and told to create one of the
buildings in the kingdom. We did some brainstorming first, of
course; we made a list of important buildings and divided them up.
But then the kids were set loose, with a stack of lunch sacks,
scissors, glue sticks, and a small bag of plastic gems and other
craft items.

When I came in for my day yesterday, I confess I wasn’t sure
how building the kingdom would help us write a fairy tale. I mean,
unless you’re Agatha Christie and detail is REALLY important,
who cares how far away from the castle the fruit vendor’s
cart is? But I have to be honest – those kids really took me
by surprise.

I had several “wings” for the castle made, which is no
surprise of course: who doesn’t want to work on the castle?
But I also received a school, a church, a fruit market, a water
tower, a jewelry store, and several houses. I watched the kids go
crazy finishing up their buildings, and was reminded that once
again, less is more: who needs a bunch of fancy craft items? One of
Maddie’s friends made a castle garden out of the paper bag,
some pipe cleaners, a few jewels, and some cut-up balloons for
petals. It’s really cool.

But in addition to seeing the children get excited about the
buildings, I saw how their own fairy tale story might just start to
emerge. We laid a big piece of green butcher paper out on the floor
and arranged the paper-bag buildings all over it, deciding as a
group where each building should go. The children voted to have the
dragon’s cave at one end and the castle at the other, with
the village in between. And running through the village, and
beginning at the castle and ending at the cave, is a stream that
turns into a river. For this river, one of the boys made a
man-eating fish with diamonds for teeth. And the river runs all the
way to the water tower at the castle gate.

As the kids excitedly talked about all the buildings, a story began
to emerge about a dragon who hired a man-eating fish to work for
him. And perhaps the fish would swim to the castle and swim in
through the water tower and kidnap the princess! And maybe the
man-eating fish told the villagers he’d eat them all if they
don’t feed him a steady supply of jewels! So maybe one
desperate father robs the jewelry store to keep his family safe!

I saw the ideas flying thick and fast and – most importantly
– un-self-consciously between the kids and marveled at how
easy it is for them. No one was making fun of an idea, or saying
something was stupid; and every child assumed his own idea is a
good one because no one has ever told him yet that it isn’t.
And now I totally see how building the village will help write the
fairy tale. More importantly, the kids are now beginning to own
their kingdom – it’s not just some words on a flip
chart. It’s their own creation, their own world, and it is
infinitely interesting to them.

All that, from a paper bag and scissors.


Post a Comment

House Rules

Here are the rules for posting comments on 1mother2another.com. Posting a comment that violates these rules will result in the comment’s deletion, and you’ll probably be banned from commenting in the future.

1) Register first. If you would like to post a comment, you must create an account with us. Check out the home page to do so.

2) Constructive comments only. If you cannot maintain a respectful tone in your posting, even in disagreement, your comment will be deleted. We’re all trying to find our way in this thing and are struggling to be the best moms we can. If you disagree with something I say, feel free to politely email me. If you disagree with another reader’s posting, you’re welcome to kindly post in reply. Vitriolic diatribes will be deleted. This site is about encouraging and supporting, not tearing down and chastising.

3) Questions welcomed. If an entry raises a question, you’re welcome to email me directly or post it. Keep in mind that postings will result in public replies by strangers and not just me.

4) Don’t steal. All original writings contained within this website are under copyright protection. If you link to us, please credit us as your source and provide a link back to our website. If you're interested in using an excerpt in published material, please contact us.

5) Share your photos! We'd love to have photos from our registered readers to show on our home page under "Maddie's friends". Email us a jpeg of your little one's best photo to photos@1mother2another.com. Please, no photos from professional photographers which fall under copyright protection.