But this year, I am retired, and this time of year, four particular annual projects are on my mind, and are not likely to be in my replacement's repertoire.
Before everything starts to blossom and bloom in the spring, there are the pussywillows! Year after year, in early March, I have slogged around in melting snow to find pussywillows and bring them to school for my kindergartners to see and touch. In years where I couldn't find them outside, I resorted to purchasing them in the floral department of my local supermarkets. I'd put some on each table, and we would examine how the black seed pods would open and let the little soft silvery pussywillows out. The kids would color a vase, and maybe a table, on colored construction paper, and draw the stems and seed pods. Then, with tempera paint (a mix of white with a dab of black and a hint of silver) they would use their little thumbs to stamp the soft fluffs.
You may call them Easter bonnets, but this little Jewish art teacher (me) simply called them spring hats, and my kindergartners made them every year before spring break. The materials were paper plates with a hole punched on each side and a ribbon or hunk of fat yarn strung through, colored paper tape, scissors, and moist sponges to activate the glue on the paper tape. The kids learned how to fold, cut, bend, twist, and curl the tape, and the hats became as crazy as they wanted. Here's a group of happy kindergartners!
Teddy Bear Chairs!
The 2nd graders in my school district take an annual springtime field trip to tour the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, traveling by ferry across Lake Champlain to get there. Many of the students purchase a Build-a-Bear while at the factory, plus they all have some sort of stuffed animal friend at home. So each year, my 2nd grade students built teddy bear chairs, out of 4 toilet paper cores (the legs), 2 paper towel cores (the back supports), two 7" squares of cardboard from shipping cartons (the seat and the back), and Elmer's Glue-All. We painted them either with acrylic paints, or tempera covered with a tempera varnish or Mod Podge to seal the paint. I think my replacement has chosen to make bear beds instead, and I'm sure they will be adorable. But they won't be the chairs!