Saturday, January 29, 2011

Think Outside the Drum

Kanaan, when is a drum not a drum?”

“When it’s a polar bear?”

“Maybe Miss Paula knows - Miss Paula, When is a drum not a drum?”

“Kyler, a drum is not a drum when it’s a toboggan! Watch! We turn it over and Kaden, you get inside. Kyler, you get on one side and Kanaan, you get on the other side and now we sing. Ready? Here we go—back and forth down the hill!”

And now Eleanor it’s your turn. You get in and Noah and Kyler push. Only this time we sing about the yellow toboggan. Then the blue and then the red and so on until everyone gets to ride. Ready? OK, sing along with me ...
( )

So when is a drum not a drum? When it becomes a toboggan!
… and something even more: a drum is not a drum when it opens the imagination and becomes a gateway into the world of the possible.

It’s called thinking outside the drum!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Snowman Story

Dear Mister Snowman,
Yesterday morning I made you out of paper and glue. I pasted a carrot nose, hat and buttons on you for decoration. My friends made snowmen, too. Ms White and Kyler concentrated very hard on their snowman and Kaden was so proud of his! Then we put our snowmen up to dry.
…Last night, I dreamed you turned into a real snowman. I dreamed you went out front and stood in the cold.
…When I got off the school bus this morning, there you were! I’m too little to talk, but I can talk with my hands. I said, “Hi, Mr. Snowman,” but you didn’t say a word.
…Then I heard a faint rustling sound. I got close and heard you say, “Little boy, I’m so COLD. I’d like to wear a hat and a scarf to keep me nice and warm.”
…“I can make you warm,” I said.
…“How can you do that?” said the snowman. “You're just a little boy.”
…I gave him my hat and my scarf and said, “I can give you mittens and boots, too.”
…“Don’t be silly,” he said. “I have no hands or legs … and what would I do with them?”
…“You could dance,” I said. I put two little sticks where his hands should be and two others where his legs should be. Then I put mittens and boots on them.
…He smiled his snowman smile and said, “Thanks little boy. Now I’m nice and warm. If it’s right for me to dance, it’s right for you to sing.”
…“Don’t be silly,” I said. “I can’t even talk. I can’t do a lot of things.”
…“You’ve gotta believe! C’mon. I’ll dance—you sing.”

…So I sang and you danced. We had a great time, you and I. Afterwards, he said, “It’s getting warm. I’m going on vacation to a place where there’s still snow. But when it snows next year, I’ll come back.”

…When I got out of school, you were gone. But I dream about you a lot, Mr. Snowman. Who knows? Someday we can sing and dance again. I might even learn to fly!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ice Age

A sheet of ice had covered the world as we slept. Schools were closed and classes at the Frankie Lemmon School were canceled all day as the ice spread throughout Raleigh. It was the top story in the news. "Team coverage” covered it all… how the state was under a winter storm warning, how city trucks were spreading salt brine on the streets, how traffic – and below-freezing temperatures – weren’t moving anytime soon. It was a snow day without snow! I was home with a bad cold but convinced myself: "As long as we don't lose power, we'll be fine."

So what to do today: Act profound? Try to not think about penguins? Create a new language for my sock puppet? I ended up Googling the Internet for famous January 11s of the past. Here are some that I found: in 1970 the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7 in Superbowl IV; in 1963 the Beatles released "Please Please Me" and "Ask Me Why"; and in 1787 Titania and Oberon, moons of Uranus, were discovered by William Herschel.

Who knew?

And let’s not forget Francis Scott Key, writer of the "National Anthem" of the United States, who died on January 11, 1843! Anyhow, I dreamed of the end of this Ice Age, and of the spring thaw that will surely follow. And with it, no more bunkering down – my friends will again come to school. I look forward to seeing them again.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Truth About Snow

Most of us have seen snow. You’ve all heard how snow begins in the clouds, how it comes from the sky, how it sometimes causes school to close.

But some children don’t believe in snow. It's not hard to understand why – many of them have never seen it. In their minds snow is like Charlie Brown, Rudolph, and Santa’s elves. It’s just another Christmas thing they see in animated Christmas specials that they wish was true but isn’t. Some children don’t even believe in mittens – or in snow forts or frozen ponds or in making snowmen or snow angels.

But snow is real. Just ask any Eskimo. Or any penguin. Or ask my friends who made snow prints today. Each of them created a snowflake on paper (with a little help from our teachers). Afterwards they could turn it this way and that and appreciate the beauty of a single snowflake. And – as each child is different and unique – each snowflake was different and unique.

And now my friends can recognize real snowflakes; they are not make-believe after all. With uplifted faces they can run joyfully and carelessly through the falling snow, catching all they can on their tongues. Because my teachers made them see them before they came to be. Because seeing is believing.

But sometimes believing is seeing – Isn’t that what faith is all about – when we know that something is real even if we don’t see it?