Favorite Quotes:

Child sitting on parachute: "Don't shoot me up too high, okay?"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Magic Markers

My niece, Maggie, is an excellent artist. (In case any of my family members are reading this, I should say that they are ALL talented, wonderful people!)

One day, when Maggie was about four years old, she showed me one of her latest creations. I said,

"Wow, that's so colorful. Did you use magic markers to make your picture?"

She replied matter-of-factly,

"No. Just regular markers," and walked away.

So here goes this little girl, into the other room, into the world, accepting the existence of "magic" markers.

I always wondered if she walked away thinking about magic markers. Maybe she thought they worked like Harold's Purple Crayon. Or, perhaps she thought that magic markers created pictures without the guidance of the human hand.

In reality, she probably didn't give it much thought. In a world of fairies that pay for teeth, giant rabbits that hide colored eggs, and a man who sneaks presents to all of the children in the world, magic markers are small potatoes. The real magic is in the mind of a child.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Be Like Fosil!

So, I try my best to promote equality in my programs. Girls can be race car drivers, boys can be ballet dancers, and so on. I challenge my students' pre-conceived notions (which, sadly, already exist) of gender stereotypes.

For example, during a "construction" theme program, I shocked boys and girls alike by drilling a hole, and then attaching a piece of wood with a screw. I also told my students about how I built a doghouse when I was a little girl. (I left out the part about how my dog refused to go inside, probably because she recognized that the unstable dwelling was not up to code).

However, there have been times when I have not set the best example. During a "dinosaur" themed camp, I presented our pint-sized paleontologists with several boxes, each of which included the necessary bones to reconstruct a particular type of dinosaur.

"Be Like Fosil!" the box exclaimed. "Make Like Dinosaur!"

I don't think that I need to tell you that the cryptic "directions" were of no help whatsoever. I had imagined that each box would contain maybe four bones that would snap together. When the children poured out the contents of their boxes, we all stared in dismay at the great multitude of tiny bones scattered in front of us.

Shortly thereafter, my assistant and I were dashing from child to child responding to, "I need help!" and "I can't do this!"

My assistant and I looked at each other and shrugged. Sadly, we also needed help. My face got hot. I couldn't let the children see that I was incapable of putting these crappy little models together! I scoured the directions in an attempt to translate the jumble of words into meaningful sentences. No such luck.

Finally, one of the children said,

"Maybe you should get a boy."

I was defeated. He was right. I called my husband, and he had our little museum set up in no time.

In hindsight I, of course, should have reviewed the materials prior to presenting them. However, sometimes I get so buried (no pun intended) that I have to cut corners somewhere.