Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You Might As Well Laugh

Do you ever wonder where post ideas come from in the blogosphere? Sometimes, they are just a choice. For example, today  I could write about the eye doctor who dilated my eyes this afternoon and then asked if I could call my husband to come give me a ride home. (Ummm. That would be: No.)

 Or, I could write about a few wonderful moments in my classroom today. Let's go together on a journey to the Happy Place of first grade. Bet you can almost smell the crayons.

The most sought after books in my classroom are in a basket labeled "Riddles and Jokes". First graders are just tuning into the subtlety of humor, and they like to share a good joke or fifty. I have a rule of "one joke per day per student" told to the teacher, or we would never get anything done. Today's favorite joke? "Why did the turkey lay down in the vegetables? He wanted to rest in peas!!! Get it, Mrs. O'Brien!!! PEAS! You know PEAS but they really mean PEACE because it is a joke like 'Rest in Peace'!!! Get it???" Yes, I got it and it is a real knee slapper even after the 45th time. The best part? Looking in their eyes as they tell it. The unbridled joy of discovery in a six year old. Oh, that we could bottle it and share it with the world.

A favorite pass time in our classroom? Singing. My 19 six year old best friends actually think I can carry a tune. (Adult children of mine: do not shatter the image with the truth.) What is not to love about today's rendition of "You're My Turkey, Albuquerque" sung with a Texas twang, followed by laughter that causes them to roll on the floor. Literally. I think first graders are part pillbug with their ability to roll without ceasing. Makes me smile every time.

I may sound like a discipline pushover with my love of joking, singing, rolling and laughing. Au contraire. As evidenced by walking the path at recess today. If a student's name is in The Book, said student has to walk 3 laps of the playscape, all the while remembering what action landed them in the playground version of the Bataan Death March. (Only it is more of a happy skip.) They also have to come up with a strategy for what they will do differently next time. We high five, I thank them for listening to correction with respect and they go stand in line for the slide secure that the deed is forgiven and forgotten. The Middle East could learn a lot from first graders.

But my favorite moment today? Show and Tell. I actually do not even schedule this activity. Students just show up with Stuff and I give them a few minutes during Morning Meeting to show it off. Today, the mound of Stuff was so large we did not have time to finish our Trial Test in Spelling before we left for Art class. There was a box covered in shells. An unbelievable Lego structure. A prehistoric shark's tooth. 

And then a very quiet boy came forward. He had a ziplock bag full of washable markers with tips at both ends, and looseleaf sheets of detailed pictures he'd drawn that included numbers. Seems my young friend has decided to go into the tattoo business with his washable markers, and these sheets showed the artwork available along with pricing. Everyone was totally silent and leaning forward with interest, including the teacher. I asked him if he had any examples of his work. With a big grin he pushed up the sleeves on his sweat shirt. Let me tell you, that boy is a talented artist on his canvas of skin! He had tattoo sleeves that rivaled bikers I've seen. It was all I could do to not be first in line for a washable monster truck markered on my bicep for a dollar. (I am fairly certain his parents had no idea this little entrepreneur was launching his new business plan in first grade today.)

And you wonder how I'm doing? Well, I'm guaranteed joy and laughter from 7:35 am-2:45 pm each weekday. There is so much healing in that. Thanks to the parents for lending them to me daily.

I'll end with my favorite all time first grade joke:
Q: Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?
A: Because he didn't have any guts hanging out! Get it, Mrs. O'Brien? His GUTS weren't hanging out because he didn't have any guts because he was a chicken, bawk, bawk. Get it?

Got it. Laughter is the best medicine. 

Even for overcoming clueless eye doctors.

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