Talk to the Ear: A great idea for preschoolers
This is not my original idea, but I used it in our class last year and it worked very well:
Once upon a time there were three little boys: one had the hair the color of golden straw and eyes the color of a summer sky. One had rosy cheeks and dimples. The third had skin the color of the sands of the most beautiful beach and eyes like melted chocolate.
These boys loved each other very much – like brothers. But they also fought like brothers – over sharing toys, and who wasn’t sharing toys, and who had a longer turn with the rocket ship, and so on. With each tiny injustice that the three boys subjected on each other, they felt they must inform their teachers and snitch on one another. Though the teachers loved these little boys very much, their constant snitching was driving them BATTY!
So, one day, the teacher saw a in a magazine great idea from another, much more seasoned teacher as a cure for snitching.
The next day, she brought in an advertisement from a newspaper about hearing aids. The picture was that of an ear.
It was a hairy ear.
It was a scary ear.
But this listening ear would prove to be very useful in the classroom. Because sometimes, preschoolers just want to be validated by saying things out loud. Even to an inanimate object. And by the time they finish expressing themselves, many times, they are already on their way to independently figuring out a conflict.
The next day, at circle time, the teachers introduced the ear to the whole class. They told them that if there was a problem that didn’t involve safety, for example: if someone had a toy for too long and another friend really wanted that toy but the first friend was not giving up the toy, the offended member of the non-sharing incident could go tell the ear.
Five or ten minutes into open play time, an offense was committed: the boy with the hair the color of straw really wanted the red ball. Really.
“Go ahead, tell the ear,” his teacher said with great encouragement.
The boy slowly approached the ear, placed at child’s height on the wall of the classroom. The boy did not know just what to do at the ear. Should he put his ear to the ear? Or his mouth to the ear? Should he whisper? Or shout?
By the time the boy confessed his problem to the ear, he saw the whole thing to be so funny, so hilarious, that instead of complaining, he found himself laughing and forgot what had gotten him so mad in the first place. By that time, the ball had been abandoned by his other friend. And the offended boy went to play with a walkie-talkie, sans batteries.
And the three boys and their teachers lived happily ever after … until it was time to once more talk to the ear.
Conversations with Playground Princesses
Today in Western New York it was one of those first spring days when it felt like spring – warm spring – was really here for good. Not only was no jacket required, but you could actually venture outside and feel gentle warmth and not bitter cold on bare arms and legs.
So, as soon as all our little students arrived at school, we raced outside to the playground.
Among the chirping of the robins was the falsetto operatic voices of some of our three and four-year-old girls. They sang as they followed each other up and down the play equipment, down the slide and through the tunnel.
I had to ask what they were playing.
“It’s Princess Day!” One of them said.
So, what is on the agenda of Princess Day?
“We stayed in bed all morning, went on an acorn hunt, scrubbed the floor, went to the ball, and then we went to sleep.”
… .. Not bad. It’s all in a day’s work for the playground princesses.
The Stinger and the Honey, and the Bitter and the Sweet
Preschool teachers have the honor of experiencing many sweet firsts in a very young child’s life. For some of them, it is the first time they are being cared for by someone other than a parent or a relative, and we are honored to earn their trust and love. As a preschool teacher, you may also witness the first time a child stands at an easel, brandishing one, sometimes two paintbrushes, to combine blue and yellow to make a green, refrigerator-worthy masterpiece.
And even still, you can be with a child the first time they go potty in a place that isn’t in their own home.
Unfortunately, there are a few bitter firsts that come up from time to time. Today, a little boy in was stung in the classroom while he was building blocks with his friends. The bee entered the classroom most likely through our open window on this warm October day. I am sure that bee did not want to be in the classroom, just as much as the children (and teachers) wanted it out of the classroom.
But our little student indeed got stung. At first he bawled and held up his finger, so we quickly checked for a stinger (no stinger), checked for visible signs of an allergic reaction (because you never know if a child is allergic to bee stings until they are stung), and ran his finger under a stream of cold water. A few minutes went by before we realized that he had been stung a second time, this time with the stinger in tact, on the back of his neck.
He cried for his mom as we removed the stinger, iced his neck, and tried to soothe him. At the same time, we had to keep seven other kids happy and calm, so we called in another teacher for reinforcement.
Then a very unexpectedly sweet thing happened. I must interrupt my story to tell you that we were pretty late in setting up for snack before the whole sting operation went down. It had been raining all week and this was the first day we had a chance to play outside. By the time we returned to the classroom after an extended time playing outdoors, snacktime was overdue.
Have you been around three and four-year-old children waiting for a snack?
But these little people did not complain their snack was late. One by one, they went over to their stung friend, who was now sucking his thumb sitting on my co-teacher’s lap, and gave him a hug to feel better. The boy calmed down, and was completely recovered within the next ten minutes thanks to the healing magic of crackers and juice.
Do you recall the first time you were stung by a bee? I hope that it was not too unpleasant a memory and it didn’t give you hives or require an epipen shot or a trip to the emergency room.
Over snack, I told my friend the very first time I was stung:
I was about seven and a wasp and I collided as I ran from my back yard to my front stoop. Right on my neck, just like my little friend.
I remember me screaming and my grandfather picking me up and carrying me to the backyard, where my mother quickly applied some ice – and a pumice made of salt and meat tenderizer.
After the surprise and the shock, I was actually pretty insulted that a bee – a creature of the natural world that I loved – would sting me. Didn’t the bee love me back, I asked my parents and grandparents through the tears?
The impression the boy took away from this story, as told by his mom was that Morah Stacy (that’s me — Morah is teacher in Hebrew) doesn’t like bees.
My little friend, that’s just not true at all.
It took me a while – deacades perhaps — to get over my fear and develop an appreciation and love of bees. I’m not saying I will become a beekeeper, like many people are doing these days to thwart off the devastation of bee colony collapse. It’s just that since I have become an avid gardener, I am content to work right beside those bees happily buzzing and collecting nectar and pollen for their hives.
And I’ve come to appreciate how much we rely on these creatures for our food and think how scary it is that in recent years, the US bee populations have decreased by almost 40 percent. And as much as my little students are afraid of bees, it’s scarier to think about what will happen to their world and future without them.
There is a famous Israeli folk song that in English goes: like the bee that brings the honey, needs a stinger to compete, so our children learn to use the bitter with the sweet.
Next time you go to swat a bee, please think twice.