Another set of whole class lessons complete!
In kindergarten, we read the book Millie’s Marvellous Hat by Satoshi Kitamura.
I love that some of you sent your children in to school to inform me that “marvellous” is spelled wrong (they ratted you out, saying “my mom said to tell you…”). You’re right, you’re right… but I’m right, too. Kitamura is Japanese-born, but he lived and worked in Britain from 1979 to 2008 and the book was published there. Marvellous is the correct spelling in the UK (check it out at Oxford Dictionaries here). When I used the word on the activity paper, I spelled it the US way, with one L, but when I used it as part of the book’s title, I spelled it the British way.
But, as usual, I digress. The book follows a young girl named Millie who attempts to purchase a hat but then finds that it is far beyond her budget. The kindly shop owner instead gives her a “marvellous” hat that can be any size or shape — whatever the wearer imagines. As Millie moves throughout her day, her hat keeps changing. Ask your child what happens when Millie returns home and asks her mother what she thinks of Millie’s new hat (which is, of course, invisible at first glance).
The kids then worked on making marvelous hats of their own. Their creations were creative, funny, and, in many cases, heartwarming (I’m looking at you, sweet girl who drew your mommy as part of your hat so that she would always be with you. Would you like me to adopt you?).
With first grade, I started out with a whimper, moved to a bang, and then abandoned my project altogether. I discovered as I was leaving my first lesson that our amazingly wonderful PYP Coordinator, Lacey Gandy, had already read the book I was using, The Green Mother Goose by Jan Peck and David Davis, to the first graders.
Lacey only read a few poems from the book, though, and when we compared notes it turned out that I had earmarked different verses. Further, Lacey’s activity was about taking action (a huge concept in PYP) and I was planning to have the kids do something totally different. So I soldiered on, and it turned out that the kids had enjoyed the book and were happy to see it again.
I asked the first graders to write their own poems about being green, modeled on “Jack be Nimble.” They were to write three lines, where the second and third lines rhymed and the third line explained something a person could do to “be green.” For example:
Jack be awesome,
Jack be smart,
Recycle your newspapers; it’s a start.
If this seems simple to you, you are not a first grader. Or at least not most first graders. Grasping which lines were supposed to rhyme (and which didn’t need to), selecting the positive describing words to use, and determining how to describe something that had to do with being green…. it was a challenge. I knew this going in because I taught this lesson last year, but I was determined. In the end, there were a lot of good poems.
I saw my last two first grade groups, rooms 14 and 18 on Halloween and the day after Halloween, respectively, and as soon as I arrived I could tell that the kids just didn’t have it in them. As a teacher (and a parent), you have to know when you can push and when you’re better off just cutting your losses, and I chose the latter path those days. Instead, we did the Millie’s Marvellous Hat lesson in those two classes, which let the kids show their creative side without taxing their sugar-shocked brains too much. I’ll circle back around with the poems later.