Monday, November 15, 2010


I have been going through boxes of things that belong to my kids. (Instead of "A Book of Remembrance" I made a "Box of Remembrance"). Mostly I have saved school papers and artwork. I have thoroughly enjoyed going through the boxes, remembering things I had forgotten and learning some new things. I was looking at a paper from one of my daughters where she had to list her favorite book. I was surprised to discover it was a book that I didn't even know she had read and one that I didn't particularly love. Looking back on experiences at the time, I can see it was the perfect book for her.

What I have learned: Children sometimes know what is best for themselves.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Halloween is past and gone but I have been thinking about 2 Halloween projects. In kindergarten the stuudents would erupt with excitement the minute I turned the calendar to October 1. It has never been my favorite holiday but I felt I had better deal with it. When our children were young we started having Halloween parties so it would be an established tradition when our children were teen-agers and wanted to go out causing trouble on Halloween night. We had costume contests, pumpkin carving contests, as well as bobbing for apples and yummy refreshments. Mostly cousins and aunts and uncles came but it was a fun family time.
In kindergarten I decided to deal with the "spook" in Halloween. We had units on bats, studied the science of bats, made bat puppets and I told them of my real experiences with bats in Island Park Idaho.
I read stories about ghosts. One book explains that what looks like ghosts are just clothes on a clothesline, a bird flying through some smoke in the air, or cats howling in the alley.
I read "The Monster at the End of this Book" ( It is narrated by Grover on Seame Street. The monster turns out to be himself. - not scary at all.)
We also read fun books like "The Biggest Pumpkin Ever" and "The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything". Children could carry on their families' traditions Halloween night but Kindergarten was a little more calm.
Here are the two projects I have been thinking of:

I taught the students how to make different faces on pumpkins and ghosts. For pumpkins we just finger-painted pumpkins' faces using the shapes we had learned - circle, square, triangle, oval, rectangle, and diamond.
We made ghosts on a large sheet of white constuction paper (12 x 18). First, with a black crayon, we made a happy ghost face by making two ovals for eyes, no nose and a smiling mouth. Eyebrows were normal. Next we made a mad, scary ghost by making the eyebrows (two straight lines) come down in the middle like a separated V. The mouth was a rectangle with bared teeth inside. The third was a surprised or scared ghost. This time the eyebrows were two straight lines that were turned upside down like a teepee and separated at the top. The mouth was an oval. We practices making the three faces and took note of what happpened to the eyebrows.
Students could choose which face to make on their ghost. We also made bony looking hands by making two handprints from hands dipped in black paint. We then cut out the hands and attached them to the ghost.

The other project is a spider and spider web. We studied the science of spiders and made a large spider by cutting a circle out of a normal (9x12) size piece of black construction paper.
The legs were made from 8 strips of black construction paper about 1 in. wide and 9 in. long. the legs were folded accordian style and attached to the circle (body). Eyes were punched out of red paper with a paper punch and glued on. (Note: Spiders have more than two eyes.)
To make the spider web use a folded sheet of black crepe paper. With the paper still folded like it was when purchased, cut from one folded edge almost to the other side. Do not cut though the folds on the other side! Alternate sides making cuts about 1/2 to 1 in. wide. Unfold when finished and you should have a web-like grid that will cover a corner of the room. Spiders can be suspended with black thread. (This same technique can be used with blue crepe paper to make a giant fishing net. Seashells and paper fish can be attached.)

What I learned: Children's fears and anxieties can be controlled with education and a sense of control.