I forgot to write an entry for today because I was totally immersed in preparing a teaching job – of five-to-seven year olds. It’s a non-demoninational summer program at a local Presbyterian church, and I was substituting for another teacher, so only had to deal with these children for half a day. They were sweet children, but loud and exceedingly active. I decided to teach them how to write a story. I took “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” for my inspiration, a good choice because all the children knew the song. I challenged them into thinking what kind of spider it might be and why it wanted to climb up the water spout. I started them off by having them draw a picture of the spider, which they did enthusiastically. One boy named his spider “Death Spider” and colored it black with red horns, but the others chose less powerful names: Joe, Bitsy, Betty. After some discussion about whether or not bugs could taste good, they decided their spider wanted to get up to the roof, where there were more bugs to eat, and that’s why it started up the spout.
And that’s as far as we got with the story. We acted some of the action, rubbing our tummies in hunger, speculating whether the spider might eat worms (Ugh no!) when the bugs got scarce, struggling to climb the long, dark passage up the spout. We had only started to list the signs of a storm: darkening sky and the rumble of thunder, when we had to stop for a snack (cookies and string cheese), and then it was time to hit the rumpus room for ten minutes, and then learn some imaginative techniques for painting, before walking to a nearby park – and then the morning was ended, and I came home.
Whew! I couldn’t believe how hard it was to keep the attention of six youngsters, and these were good kids. But it was fun and gave me a refreshed appreciation for the job of teaching.