Friday, November 16, 2007

the basilisk in the wall

One of my five year olds is convinced there is a basilisk in the wall of his house. He can hear it in the morning and at night. His parents never hear it, so he is convinced it only wants to eat HIM. He wants to get rid of it, but how? He knows basilisks are real because of the Harry Potter movie, and thinks this one is snake like--long and thin, so that it can fit in the space between the walls. He thinks it might come out of the pipes in the sink or out of the wall by his bed.

Can we scare it away with light or noise? He tells me if we do that, it might go eat some other little kid. Could the family dog protect him? No, the dog sleeps in his parents' room at night. Besides, it's a small dog and the basilisk might just eat the dog. The dog only bites it's dog food anyway; it would be no help against the basilisk. That's why he wants a bull dog. What about a guardian angel? He's not so sure he believes in guardian angels, in spite of my stories of my experiences with them. Basilisks, yes, because the Harry Potter movie was real.

The only thing he thinks will work is to trap the basilisk, but what to use for bait? We settle on crackers, as that sounds less painful than his first idea of using some of his own skin. I get him some crackers, and he begins making a model of the trap while we discuss what to make it out of. How about a laundrey basket, tied with a rope that goes up to the ceiling then down to his bed? He could untie the rope when he hears the basilisk go after the bait and the basket would fall on it and trap it. He wonders if a laundry basket would be big enough. And what if he is asleep when the basilisk comes? These questions remain unanswered while he makes a trap out of a quart sized yogurt container and string.

What will he do when he catches it? "Take it to some hot lava and throw it in." Nothing else will kill it. This leads to a discussion of where to find some hot lava and how volcanoes erupt. He knows Mt. Rainier was once a live volcano. Could he take the basilisk up to the top and throw it in? After much discussion he decideds that the volcano in Hawaii is the nearest live volcano. We never got around to asking how he would get it there.

At age five, this boy seemed to need to believe the basilisk was real, no matter what evidence surfaced to the contrary. He also needed to defeat it himself: no dog, no parent, no guardian angel. And he needed to defeat it utterly, not just to scare it away. Kindergarten was no help in solviing this most important of problems. None of the Essential Learning Requirements addresses the skills needed here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

discovering blogdom

this is my first ever attempt at creating a blog. i expect i'll make lots of mistakes and things will look weird for awhile, until i get the hang of it. eventually i hope to post anecdotes from my work with children, insights on human behavior gleaned from observing my students, and images i have created, inspired by their play or that i create for them.

this year i have a class of seven boys, ages 3-5, with one assistant. class is from 9:00 am unti noon, with everyone staying for lunch until 1:00pm this year, and one child who comes at 7:30 for childcare. last year we had up to 8 children in the morning, and the same in the afternoon, but this year enrollment in this age group is down all over the community. we have just started an afternoon drama class on fridays, consulting with the Seattle Children's Theatre where my assistant, Gayle, took a class this summer.

i'm enjoying having all boys. i confess to being a bit nervous at first, but the boys themselves breathed a sigh of relief when they learned there would be no girls in the class. at this age they are very consiously learning to be male, and having a female in the class seems to complicate things. then they have to define themselves as different from the girls, instead of focusing on their own interests, and competition--yes even at age 4 or 5--for the girls attention interferes with their friendships.

Brady and Brandon--i've changed the names to protect the guilty--started the year at loggerheads. by week 4 they had progressed to being best friends--until Sarah, an alumni from last year, joined us for a few days. suddenly Brandon was left out in the cold as sarah monopolized brady's attention. she knew him from last year, and wasn't ready for the work of making friends with a new person. last year, brady and all the other boys followed her around, rescued her when she was the princess captured by the bad guys, and brought her boquets. there were no flowers in the yard in february, so they picked the only thing green, handfuls of sage leaves. sarah announced she would marry one of them on her birthday in june, and by may she had narrowed her choice to two, and finally to one, jordan. jordan was wise about sex. his mother had filled him in on the details of how babies are made. so when sarah announced that she would marry him on his birthday, he said, "good, then we can make a baby"--and he knew just how to do it. some one pointed out to him that babies are alot of work, and you don't have time to play. you have to spend all your time taking care of the baby. hm. jordan backed out of the marriage and decided he would just be a big brother for now.

dancing for joy