The students know. "The small green tomatoes begin to grow!"
Slowly, I build the suspense. I tell them how Mr. Greenhalgh's mouth begins to water as he watches his tomatoes grow big, juicy and red. I tell them how much he is looking forward to eating his tomatoes.
"Then," I say, "Mr. Greenhalgh has some trouble. Squirrel trouble."
With lots of dramatic flair, I tell them that the squirrels decide to eat Mr. Greenhalgh's tomatoes.
"Mr. Greenhalgh runs outside with his fist in the air, like this," I show them. Then he yells to the squirrels, "Hey you squirrels! Get off of my tomatoes." (For the record, I'm not sure if Mr. Greenhalgh ever really did that, but this small embellishment is the best part of the story.)
I love to share stories of my life with the kindergarteners. After a few months, they are all familiar with the antics of our dog Tatum, the adventures of my children and various funny tidbits that occur throughout the week. Occasionally, I will share a story of a friend or relative. I think it is important that students know me as a person, not just a teacher. By telling my stories, I hope I am modeling that we all have stories to tell-- little moments of our day that are funny, sad, scary and exciting. In kindergarten, students practice telling their own stories through oral language, drawing and writing.
In November, our science unit is squirrels. It is the perfect time to share Mr. Greenhalgh's story. Next, I ask the students for advice. "Boys and girls, does anyone have a suggestion for Mr. Greenhalgh to help him solve his squirrel problem?" On a large sheet of chart paper, I record their ideas. Then the students draw and write their solutions down for Mr. Greenhalgh. Here are some of this year's suggestions:
|"Get a scarecrow."|
|"Mr. Greenhalgh should have a dog."|
"He should have two dogs."
"Mr. Greenhalgh and his family can take turns guarding the tomatoes from the squirrels."
"He should get a cat."
|"Mr. Greenhalgh you could throw snowballs."|
"He should get some small, red water balloons and tie them to his tomato plants. Then the squirrels will be tricked and get squirted with water when they take a bite."
"Mr. Greenhalgh should build a big fence with a cage on top."
|"Mr. Greenhalgh you should plant poison ivy."|
"He should buy some squirrel spray."
Of all the advice, my personal favorite didn't tackle the squirrel problem at all but looked at the issue from a different perspective: "He should ask you for some of your tomatoes." Yes, Mr. Greenhalgh, you are welcome anytime. In kindergarten, we learn to share.