Friday, September 23, 2011

Can I have your ear, please? - a crazy day

Last spring, as school let out for summer, teachers left in the hall some stuff they no longer wanted or needed, and I found this bizarre little box of squishy rubbery ears, feet, hands, and noses. I took the box and promptly threw out the noses (just TOO creepy) and put the rest away until today. My students have begun learning about Van Gogh. Obviously they learned about him cutting off part of his ear. So today, I came across the box of body parts, and had some fun with the 5th graders. I explained what it meant to "have my ear". I tossed the ear to a student and said he "had our ear". The person in possession of the ear had to share a fact he recalled about Van Gogh while everyone else listened, and then toss the ear across the room to someone else. The kids were SO excited to have their turn at having the ear. What a silly fun gimmick! They remembered so many great facts, and had a great time, too.
Meanwhile, the lure of giant sunflowers were the inspiration to teach Van Gogh this year. We have a wonderful new "Roots & Shoots" school garden, and this is where this flower was growing. When the garden was still in the planning stage, I said that if there were sunflowers in the garden, I would teach Van Gogh this year. My friend "C", one of the driving forces behind the creation of the garden, made sure that sunflowers were in the plan.

So early this morning I traipsed outside to the garden and cut this sunflower for a kindergarten lesson. I was recalling an easy sunflower lesson on a post by Art Project Girl that I had saved back when I was a new blogger. Using that lesson and my giant sunflower as inspiration, I changed it up a little and mixed some tempera - a fabulous golden yellow, and a rich leafy green. And then I waited for the class to show up. And waited. And waited some more.

But it was school picture day, and the photographer had gotten behind schedule and the first class was in danger of missing art time completely. And I realized that even if they had shown up on time, painting with kindergartners on picture day was a big mistake (the kids were dressed in their best!). I sadly put away all the freshly mixed paint and took out crayons. The kindergarten teacher called me, upset about the loss of art time, and she asked if we could put two very small kindergarten classes together at one time, so that everyone would get to have art. There was a teaching assistant who would come in to help out, so I agreed.

Everything started out quite well - I don't know the kids at all yet (this was only their 2nd art time), so we reviewed names, and then enthusiastically examined the giant sunflower. I had quickly cut some big paper into tall shapes and proceeded to hand it out. But I had miscounted, and 2 kids were without paper, so I cut 2 more sheets. But while I was cutting, one of the little boys without paper had decided to claim the paper of the shy little girl next to him, and they both had a stronghold on the paper sheet. The T.A. tried to intervene before I got there, and the little boy, a special ed student with a severe speech problem, got upset because the T.A. didn't understand him and he so badly wanted the paper. The paper tore and he started to scream and wail. The little girl looked totally devastated and the rest of the kids froze, wide-eyed, in total amazement at what was taking place. The boy just wouldn't calm down.

Finally, we got the boy calmed down and everyone began to draw, and that's when the wasp arrived.
It flew rapidly, divebombing all around the room. (This seems to be an annual occurrence in my room, but we've never been able to find the source of the wasps.) The kids all started screaming, and one shouted "I'M ALLERGIC!!! I tried to convince them the wasp wouldn't bother them, but since it was landing ON the kids and their papers, and they don't know me well enough to trust me, the only solution was to kill the wasp. Finally it landed on a non-human location. I grabbed a phone book and became a murderous art teacher, whamming the wasp on my first try. Hopefully now I can be a hero to these kindergartners! Or maybe they'll be afraid to come back to art again. What a morning...


  1. I was laughing hard before you even got to the wasp part of the story. You just gotta love those kindergarteners!! Always unpredictable!! The ear idea was masterful -- made me wish I'd been there for the lesson:))

  2. Those kinders are gonna be the death of us! I too am usually astonished if we actually get anything done in their 45 min w/me. Although I did get a 'sitting' ovation from a kinder class a few weeks ago. The accomplishment? I had traced a tagboard shape and they were simply amazed when I lifted off the template to reveal the result...
    Hang in there!

  3. Oh Phyl, it sounds like my day, back to back "loaded" special ed classes. One student who the whole school is working with, told me he hated art! "I asked him, do you still like me? Why yes, Mrs. L. I love you! "He proceeded to come in while 2 other teachers gently pushed him into my classroom. I had to hold his hand then hug him for half the class. SEVERE sensory disorders. I put him in charge of holding my demonstration paper while I demo painting techniques, mind you still hold and hugging him with my left arm!!! All this was with 2nd grade, Next came the 5th and 4th grades and I had to do it all over again. Very exhausting! I am with you hopefully next time it will be more calm.

  4. Dear Phyl,

    Only your fellow art teachers could visualize and understand what that situation was like because we've all been there! I couldn't stop laughing! On Friday, we also had picture day so I had to scrap my lesson with my kinders and read them, "The Three Samurai Cats" and proceeded to teach them how to make claw scratching motions and hissing noises....All my classes are learning about China and Japan so I figured the story would intrigue them. So far this year, I've only had to kill a fly in front of the kids so you're my hero as a wasp exterminator!

    ;) Pat

  5. HATE wasting paint and would probably forge ahead like you did! Wasp. . . that part was killer! But there is always the moral dilemma. I personally kill all insects, but in front of the kids I make a big deal and say "It's a living creature" and try to shoo it out the window to prove a point. Point being BE NICE. but I did have to add a clause to my rule last week.

    Here's my insect story from last week (there are a ton of rodent and insect stories at my school.)
    We were reading a story and a jumping spider jumped on the book. I screamed, it jumped off the book, I felt like little Ms. Muffet (but I couldn't be scared away with a room full of 2nd graders.) They reminded me how insects are creatures and I had to amend my previous statement "yes, but if the insect is jumping spiders you can kill it!" Then a bunch of boys stormed to the front of the room and the spider hunt began and was over in 1 minute with about a billion shoes taken off feet and whapping the ground while the girls looked at me and the boys like we were crazy. After about 30 seconds which is all I could take of this I declared one boy victorious. Everyone didn't believe me but I said look at the bottom of his shoe. They believed me luckily and the boy felt like a hero. Which was good for him:)

    -your friend-
    artprojectgirl (hahaha)

  6. Glad to put a smile on everyone's face!The life of an art teacher, huh?!
    Our principal has a new thing; we have to hand in a little sheet every Friday "How did your week go?". Sometimes it's hard to know what to write - I mean I wrote about the schedule last week, and that's about all I had to say, so this week I drew a picture on it (instead of writing) of a murderous art teacher armed with a phone book. The eyes were bugged out and the mouth was in a scary snarl, and I hope I had her (my principal) laughing all weekend.

  7. Clarifying a misconception: I did NOT go ahead with the painting, just used crayons, but I was able to save the paint in covered containers and will use it with another class next week.

    Love the image of the boys stomping to kill spiders! Though a spider wouldn't "bug" me at all!! Now a rodent would send me right out the door with the whole class. Can't handle ANY sort of rodent (rodentphobia?). But that's a story for another day...

  8. Oh my gosh! I am laughing so hard my husband is looking at me wondering what the heck I'm doing!
    Thanks for sharing!

  9. that is funny! I brought my ferret to school one time and he chased a kid around the room screaming in histerics! HE really just wanted to play, but he ran for his life and eventually hit his face on the door frame trying to run out of my room! I laughed when i saw the squishy ear! I TOO had some of those one year and we used it to throw at a giant print of Vincent's self portrait. Whoever got it closest to the bandage won.Kind of like pin the ear on the insane artist game! It wasn't as educational as your game, but it was always a big hit!