Pranked Again

imageLast week I pulled an epic prank on my students (see blog post “Gotcha”  for the story).  I laughed all the way home.  However, over the weekend they were plotting on how to get me back.

After teaching first and second graders for such a long time, I am used to the “There’s a Bird on Your Head” trick and the “Your Shoes are Untied” trick.  I even expect random things from my desk to go missing and only reappear after someone asks “Hmmm…I wonder where your stapler is?”  In other words…youngsters are amateurs.

I should have known that these kids would up their game.  It started with the spider hidden cleverly behind my laptop with just the legs sticking out.  Then near lunch time, a student asked if I would help her open her can of mixed nuts.  I know…I know…I should have seen that coming!  I was just distracted.

But their pièce de résistance was yet to come.  In the middle of independent reading time, when all was peaceful and quiet except for the murmur of a few voices, Eva let out a howl.


I jumped!  Eva is not the sort of girl to be loud in any situation.  I should have noticed the mischievous glint in her eye, because reaching from behind her back she held up her hand–WITH A BLOODY FINGER AND A NAIL RIGHT THROUGH IT!

Well played, second grade.  I’ve taught you well.  And since you carried it out with such finesse, I will help you pull the same joke over on every other school adult we see today.

We especially enjoyed the Art teacher’s reaction.  I’m sure she’ll get her nerves settled back down soon…



Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

imageI am trying so hard to help my second graders better understand figurative language.  It’s an uphill battle!  (Hey…there’s another one.)  We’ve been finding examples in text, practicing examples from a box of sayings, and listening hard for examples when people are talking together.

Every conversation, however, takes a strange turn.  They are so literal!  In particular, my little boy from Morocco finds it almost impossible to wrap his head around phrases like “for the birds” or “off your rocker”.  You can imagine the conversations that ensued when we talked about “spring chicken”!

We talked about it throughout the day.  I explained and explained.  We practiced with examples.  A few of them even included it in their writing.  And then I realized maybe I had highlighted that particular phrase a little too much…

First it was the music teacher.  When I picked up my class, she mentioned she had a behavioral concern.  Some of my students had flapped their arms at her and told her that she was “no spring chicken”.

Then the custodian followed me down the hallway and asked what in the world was wrong with my class–they were flapping at him and whispering “spring chicken”.

I’m not sure if I have the energy to work on this again.  I know they understand what it means–now I need to get them to stop USING it on unsuspecting people!  I can already tell I’ll have to put this in my newsletter before parents start calling…


Extreme Puzzling

imageThere are all kinds of jigsaw puzzles, but landscapes can be difficult. Add in a large reflection of the landscape in a lake (using all the same colors), and you have a challenge.  This what the puzzle facing the three of us had in store–750 pieces of landscape and reflection.

We set forth with separating out the edge pieces and somewhat sorting out the colors of the sky and mountains.  With some focus and help in finding pieces, we soon made progress around the outside of the puzzle.

But then it was time to add rigor to our challenge.  It was time to add the cats.

Cats walking across the table.  Cats settling firmly onto the middle of the puzzle.  Cats swishing a tail through the sorted pieces.  Cats sitting calmly on the picture we used for reference.  And even a cat head-butting the puzzle box to the floor, scattering pieces in every direction.  (Actually, many of the pieces landed on another cat.)

We started laughing and adding narration from an invisible announcer as if we were in a television game show.  “Now…enter a cat from the left side.  As it walks across the puzzle with pieces stuck to his paws then add another cat ready to jump up from the right.”

It took some time, but the beautiful puzzle was finished—passing the Cat Challenge with flying colors!  Maybe next time we will try a Wind Challenge or even the Wobbly Table Competition.  After all, it isn’t tough enough to just do the puzzle on its own!

Dead Worms Club

imageIt was inevitable.  Although we try hard to give our mealworms (Beloved Class Pets) everything they need to survive, some of them are not going to make it.

It happened today.  Two of our students discovered that their mealworms had passed to the Great Mealworm Habitat in the Sky.  There was much discussion and debate as to the cause of death, but finally they accepted the difficult truth.

A few moments later, the two girls were huddled in the corner, whispering.

Makayla came over and announced, “Elizabeth said we are in the Dead Worms Club and she made me say some words about my mealworms.”

I can’t wait until the mealworms turn into beetles.  Beetle Baby Showers?  Gender Reveal Cakes?  I will be surprised at nothing from these kids.



imageHere is my “nope” list as it applies to my career as an elementary school teacher.  It’s a work in progress, because new disgusting things POP up all the time!  (Literally…)

  1.  I don’t like teeth.  I don’t want to see them wiggle.  I don’t want to see them hanging by a thread.  I don’t want to see them twist all the way around.  And I certainly don’t want to see kids “rip them out”!
  2. I don’t like earrings.  I don’t want to put them in and I don’t want to take them out, unless they are my own earrings and my own ears.
  3. I don’t like vomit.  Enough said.
  4. I don’t like inside recess.  I eat my  lunch in my classroom, and they come roaring in and want to talk to me.  Lunch is my little vacation from people talking to me.

Today, so far, I have had one student absent with the stomach flu (vomit potential for her seatmates).  I have had two students pursue me with loose teeth that they are desperate to have me watch while they twist and rip.  (WHY??)  I have had a student with her earring stuck in her very sore ear (requiring a fast trip to the nurse with a note that said “Stuck earring–don’t judge me!”  It looks a little bit like it could rain, maybe by lunchtime.  Probably just in time FOR  lunchtime.  And to top it off, my student who has a saliva gland underneath her tongue that engorges with saliva and then POPS informed me that the popping is imminent…BLECHHH!!!

This Friday is one great big NOPE!



imageThis spring  is turning out to be stellar for me as an elementary school teacher.  First of all, St. Patrick’s Day fell on a weekend AND over spring break–NO PINCHING!  No leprechaun traps, no mess, and (it bears repeating) no pinching!!  Then came the realization that April Fools’ Day is on SUNDAY!!  No birds on my head!  No shoelace untied!  I was in teacher heaven.  Until…

I realized that also meant I wasn’t going to be able to pull any tricks on them, either.  I really, really like practical jokes and pranks.  I hate to miss my chance.

And then after school yesterday afternoon, inspiration hit.  We have been receiving critters for our science unit in boxes marked “Live animals. Open immediately!”  Yesterday, a package of milkweed bug eggs was delivered to our room.  My instructions say to let the kids investigate and decide for themselves what the little yellow things in the vial are, so I didn’t open the box while they were still at school, and didn’t tell them what was inside.  After school, I opened it up and took care of the eggs to prepare for our lesson today.  As I was bringing the box to the recycling bin, I thought…”What if?”


I put the box on the floor, wide open, with the packing material strewn all around it.  When the kids came in this morning, I followed them through the door and then gasped, “Oh no!  It got out!!”

Chaos.  (Ha ha!!)  They froze.  They backed away.  They jumped up on chairs.  They peppered me with questions–“What was in there?  How did it get out?  Where did it go?  WHERE IS IT?  WHAT IS IT?”

Struggling to keep a straight face, I answered their questions vaguely and kept up the sense of alarm.  They somehow managed to get their coats put away and get to their desks, although some of them worked across the room on chairs as if the floor was made of hot lava.  They stared intently into every corner of the room, watching the floor like hawks.  Until…

They noticed my eyes searching the ceiling above them.

More screams, then ducking, covering their heads.  One little girl dashed to the closet and came back with her umbrella!

The custodian came rushing in with yellow plastic gloves to save us from the Unknown Very Dangerous Loose Thing, but left quickly when the kids warned him that it could be scorpions or crocodiles.  Associates and Foster Grandparents walked in and quickly left when they heard the news.  And most of the kids decided it was safest to read perched on top of their desk today rather than in their usual comfy places around the room.

I’m not sure yet how long I’m going to let this fabulous prank continue.  I’m having quite a lot of fun with it!  They let their guard down long enough to get engrossed in the projects at hand, but then I make a random rustling noise somewhere and they fly back up to the desktops again.

They may not get their April Fools’ Day chance to torment me, but I’m making the most of my pre-April prank for them!

(Don’t worry…no one is in tears or seriously frightened.  They are even writing notes and stories about the whole episode.  And I have two cynics who are going around telling everyone in a deeply smug and condescending tone that Miss S is quite certainly making all of this up.  However, I notice that those two aren’t putting their feet on the floor very often either…)




imageIt’s the mailman’s fault.  I blame him, anyway.  The boxes just keep coming.  We are all teaching life science right now in my building, so every few days there is another white box in the hallway marked “Live materials!  Open Immediately!”  I enjoy teaching science, but I have to admit that earth science and physical science are…well, a bit safer for me.

I don’t really like small crawling things.  Small wiggling things.  Small flying things.  Small jumping things.  Even small things that just…are.

I’m trying to be a good sport, really I am.  I am modeling appropriate small critter handling for my students and faithfully observing them daily.  We have science notebooks.  We are caring for the little creatures in our room.  I’ve even grown sort of accustomed to the mealworms (we can live in the same room peacefully as long as we each stay in our respective controlled spaces) and can get them out for the students to observe without cringing.  (And by “get them out”, I mean “take the plastic vials containing the mealworms out of the big bin”.)

My reputation for being a little more reluctant than others to be close and personal with the life science creatures is well known.  (And by ‘well known”, I mean “the other teachers laugh at me a little”.)

But when the door opens during Floor Time and the third grade teacher pops in with a giant bag bubbling with crayfish and tries to hand it to me while laughing hysterically…well then, I may have lost my mind just a little bit!

I’ll be fine.  Just give me a few more minutes, and I’ll be fine.  I may even go back to my classroom.  But for right now, I’m just going to sit in my car all by myself, with the windows up and the doors locked…

Safe.  For the moment.