Sunday, May 19, 2013

And the Green Grass Grew All Around

Today was the day.  No more writing, no more coloring, no more printing and binding.  Today we feasted on the fruits of our efforts.

Instead of packing markers and lined paper, Lindsay and I toted around our new book- 22 copies in total.  We shared the book with the lady at the front office, the teacher next door, and of course, the co-teacher of the class- all who gave excited, positive feedback.

When Lindsay and I walked into the classroom, there was a surprise waiting for us.  Clipped to the white board were two giant green hearts, one for each of us, expressing thanks with the signatures of all the students.  There were also a few "I love you" notes written on the giant hearts.  To add to sentimental feeling, we were greeted with hugs when the class walked in.

After hearing that today was to be the day we would read the kids their book, the teachers arranged to have the preschoolers join in on the presentation.  While we waited for the little, little ones to come, Lindsay and I sat in the front of the class while the children sang songs.  There was a song about oceanic food chains and another about a pizza.  Then there was the song "The Green Grass Grows All Around", a song from our own elementary school days so of course Lindsay and I joined in, adding hand motions as well, hand motions the kids quickly adopted.

Then the preschoolers arrived and the reading began.  This is the first time the kids were presented with the story as a whole and were able to see the work of their fellow classmates.  They delighted in guessing where the cat would travel next and discovering who drew the picture.  All of which was followed by polite applause.

After the preschoolers had traveled back to their own classrooms, the kindergartners gathered around us for a group photo.  And then came the announcement, we had copies for each of the students to take home!  8:40 was fast approaching so Lindsay and I left behind a copy of the book for all the kids to sign and eventually give to Mr. Ziebarth for making this whole experience possible. 

As we left the school, Lindsay and I posed out front with our green thank-you hearts, thankful that we had the opportunity for such a splendid experience.  But this was not our last visit to Demille.  Our high school summer begins a week before theirs so we've been invited to come back during their last week of school to have some fun with our little authors.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Final Chapter

Nothing will stop Lindsay and I from completing our project, not even a four hour long AP test Friday morning.  When the test was over, Lindsay's mom picked us up and we headed along our usual route to Demille Elementary School.  The only difference was now the sun was high in the sky, instead of yawning awake.  And there was no time constraint rushing us back to make it for second period.

Selecting three students was easy, it was down to our last and final three.  The group let their imaginations fly- a coconut tree jungle, traveling in a time machine to a basketball game, a bowling ball landing on the cat's head.

After our work was done at the school, Lindsay and I grabbed some lunch and headed to her house where the real work began.  The kindergartners had taken care of the body pages, leaving the beginning and end up to us.  Along with the deal came drawing pictures, kindergarten style.  Maybe it was because we were comparing our artwork to that of six year olds, but I was impressed by what Lindsay and I could create with a couple packs of markers and a large tub of crayons.

That Friday I stayed at Lindsay's house until 11:00 P.M.  With Spotify and YouTube cheering us on, we managed to type up all the pages and scan all the illustrations, and then match the two together.  But the work had just begun.

I returned to what had begun to feel like my second home the next morning.  We made some adjustments, printed out a few pages, and made more adjustments.  After some experimentation, we figured out how to print the books continually and double sided and make the front and back cover on cardstock.

Just like Henry Ford managed back in the day, we formed an assembly line- printing, counting, hole-punching, binding, trimming.  I must pay special tribute to the binding machine we borrowed from the elementary school.  I would be a teacher just to use that lovely piece of machinery.

Assembling the first copy had a sentimental feeling.  All nine kindergarten visits compiled into thirty colorful pages.  It was a proud moment.

24 copies were made- one for each student, one for Mr. Ziebarth, and one for each of us to treasure.

Today my grandmother joined my family for a Mother's Day dinner of mashed potatoes and turkey burgers.  We got on the subject of school projects and I remembered our book.  I explained to my grandma our project and she read every page, amazed.  This DIY project has brought me so many rich rewards, on so many levels.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Boys and Blood

Fridays at any school tend to be a little sporadic, but the first Friday of May at Demille was especially so.  The class full of kindergartners was presented with a substitute teacher who was not on top of his game, to say the least.  Thankfully Mrs. Chiang was on the scene to help sort things out.

Adding to the chaos, the second graders were presenting a musical version of "The Three Little Pigs".  After Lindsay and I helped the last kid of the day write and illustrate, we watched the tail end of the play.  I admired the courage these young children had- singing in front of classmates, parents, and complete strangers- especially the wolf, who had fiercely belted out his solos.

But let's not skip over the excitement of our three kindergarteners of the day.  One of the boys finally settled on writing about a doctor's office, but when it came to drawing, he had trouble.  After rejecting my ideas of scales and stethoscopes, he took up his friend's suggestion of drawing a shot.  This led him to draw blood as well.  He drew only a drop but he and his friend lit up and exclaimed, "Blood! Blood! Blood!"  There's a couple of six year old boys for you.

With one set of students left to go, Lindsay and I turn our thoughts to the book itself.  The kids took care of the body pages, leaving the cover page and the beginning and ending of the story up to us.  The idea of drawing a book cover does not excite either one of us, so we are hoping to take a picture of the class for the front instead.  If okay with the teachers, the students will make either a cat or mouse headband to wear for the snapshot.

This upcoming Friday hosts the inevitable AP English Language test.  Testing begins at 8:00 A.M., the time we are usually working at Demille.  Because the test ends around noon and excuses us from the rest of school, there is a pending possibility of Lindsay and I making our weekly visit in the afternoon this week.