Friday, April 11, 2008

Reading For Fun... Advil for More Fun

Bean's school PTA has a program called Reading for Fun, in which a parent comes to the classroom and reads a story and does a short craft project every Friday for a month (usually 4 Fridays, so you read to 1/4 of the class each week).

Reading out loud - to kids, to grownups, to myself, to anyone who'll listen (I used to read to the cat, when I had one) -- is one of few things I both love and am good at, so it really is fun. It's the craft stuff that gives me agita. I am a craft moron. The Reading for Fun gig requires you to come up with something seasonally appropriate that will hold the attention of seven kindergarteners for a half hour... but also has to be completable in a half hour, so, nothing too involved. Back in September when the mommies in charge of such things were taking names, I signed up for April. I had vague ideas of a story about bunnies, and of construction paper, glue and cotton balls. How hard can it be, I thought.

Well. The last week in March rolls around. I never got a call from Reminder Mommy, who's supposed to let you know your month is at hand, but I didn't need it. I was already in a cold sweat. So many books! So few project ideas! I scoured my girls' bookshelves for inspiration.

I chose One Duck Stuck, by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Jane Chapman. Basically, a duck gets stuck in the muck by a marsh, and different animals come along and try to help her out. It's got counting, it's got rhythm and rhyme. It's got a refrain that lets the kids participate... one side of the table says "help, help! Who can help?" the other side says, "We can, we can!" S'fun.

As for the craft, I first imagined just a duck on brown paper (muck), and crayons - go to it, kiddos, anything goes.

Then I got thinking it would be cool to do it kind of 3D, so they could fold it in half, open it up and the duck would be standing up behind and in front of some marsh grass. Hm.

It became a mission.

I traced and scanned a good picture of the duck, printed a bunch and cut them out. Fringe cut in strips of green construction paper made marsh grass. For the muck backdrop (substrate! you can take the girl out of sedimentology, but... oh nevermind.) I folded a piece of brown construction paper in half the short way, and in the middle-ish of the fold, made two, 2" cuts toward the open end, about 1.5" apart, so I had three flaps in the fold. Folded the outside flaps down on either side of the smaller, middle one, made a crease, then put them back up. Opened up the paper, pushed the middle flap out to make a little stand, and pushed the two big ones inward to make kind of a shelf. Voila, a 3D backdrop for the stuck duck.

Then I worried it was too complicated. But all the little cherubs had to do was gluestick the duck to the muck and some grass to the duck and anywhere else they wanted, and color at will. Then fold it up for backpack transport home where they will open it to oooohs and aaaahs.... if they haven't overdone the glue stick and sealed it shut.

By which time, thankfully, I'm long gone. Because as fun as this is in theory, it is damn tiring in person. No matter how well it goes, all I want afterwards is about a half dozen Advil and some total silence.

Notes to self: Next time be sure to explain that Glue Sticks Are Not Swords. Also, bring tissues. There was a snot explosion today that makes me shudder to even think about. My Bean must have an immune system of steel. I doused everyone in hand sanitizer, but now it is all I can do not to boil all the crayons. Hm. Would that work?

Help, help! Who can help?


  1. This is why I don't do crafts. They are so damn exhausting and you get so little bang for your buck. I honestly do not know how kindergarten teachers do it.

    As for the germ thing, boogers abound in schools. I volunteer at my kid's school four days a week and I am appalled at the number of kids who have green snot streaming out of their nose on any given days and coughs that sound like they are 70 year old smokers.

    When Liv was in 1st grade and I started volunteering, I think I was sick nearly constantly. By her second grade year, I had caught it all already, was immune and safe.

  2. Throw the crayons away. Seriously, I could never teach little kids because they can't do anything for more than 5 minutes and I am too impatient! I used to get peeved when it seemed like all my kids did in kindergarten and 1st grade was color and make crafts, but then again, what else are you going to do with them for 6 hours?! Good luck!