Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes, what you plan doesn't always go the way you think it will go.  As a former teacher and now as a mother, I understand this. There was the time in '99 when I planned an activity that I thought would take 45 minutes and it took 5, and I wasn't sure what to do with the remaining time.  One of my students picked up on this and asked, "Is this what we are supposed to be doing for the rest of the time?"  I told him that yes, it was all we were going to be doing.  He replied with an, "Alllllllrighhhht!!!!!"  It went downhill from there. 

Or there was the time in '07 when Jesse and I were determined to make excellent time on our drive from DC to the midwest for Christmas.  We buckled Hadley in the carseat, armed with plenty of snacks, books, and juice.  She promplty threw up 3 or 4 times in the first hour we had been driving. Thinking she had Swine Flu, SARS, or whatever the sickness du jour it was, we turned around and went home, only to get back in the car 8 hours later.

So the conclusion is that there are times when you're in the middle of an activity and you think, "Hmmmm, this could've gone better."  When I write "you" I mean me. 

Such was the case with my Book Club yesterday.  I planned activities around the book, In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming.  First, we'd read the book, then made these cute little frogs.

This child, right here?  She's a trouble maker.  Don't be fooled by what you might think is someone carefully coloring.  That's about the only marker that got on paper.  She drew on her pants, and all over the floor.  Don't even get me started on what happened when we got out the glue sticks.  At one point a mother said, "Harper, that's not lipstick." 

After the frogs, I gave each child a large piece of paper and told them they were going to create their own pond.  I cut out pictures of ducks, racoons, dragonflies, fish, and turtles (all things mentioned in the story), and asked them to color them and place them on their pond picture.  After this, I thought we'd read the story again and using the frog that we made, we'd move him (or her, I'm all about equal opportunity) from one animal to the next as the story was told.

This child right here?  The one with the green shirt on?  She was all, "I'm not doing this.  I don't like to color."  Who brings these kids?  And then, when we read the story again she was all upset because she couldn't move her frog to the different animals because she didn't color or glue any

We played frog bingo, and that seemed to be fun for the group.  I printed out a bunch of frogs and put numbers on them then called out several as the kids wrote an "X" on the correct number. 

I think the activities were good, but it was chaotic.  And my girls were the contributors of it.  Harper ranted and screamed, because, forbid it that I should pay attention to anyone other then her, and to show me how annoyed she was she glued her lips together. And Hadley decided to go on a color strike.  It's alright.  Next time (September 24-sign up mommies!  I know you will after this post.) I'll be more prepared.

There is one thing that happened that I think you can't pull off no matter how prepared you are.  I told the group to watch the frog in the story (because the story is told from the frog's point of view).  They looked for him in each picture, and one of the little girls noticed that on one page he looked "serious."  We stopped and took a look at the frog and pondered what might make him look serious.  His eyes?  What was going on in the picture? I loved that she noticed that. 

This is why I love talking about books - even with 3-5 year olds.  To hear what people observe, appreciate, found funny or touching about a story is one of my favorite things.  I think reading the story was the best part of the morning.  And really, it should be.


  1. Ah! I am surprised you didn't set down newspaper, or plasticized tablecloths or something for the craft... I find it always makes clean-up easier.

  2. I personally think the world would be a much better place if we all used plasticized tablecloths.

  3. Just the word "plasticized" is outstanding, don't you think?