So much for worrying about where babies come from. Oh no. In 2011, first graders have investigatory minds concerning drugs, rum, and cannibals. Yep.
For the most part, I brought all of these questions upon myself. But that’s besides the point.
It all began with a cool lesson on service dogs. Remember TIME for Kids? The “magazine” that came weekly that was really just one paper folded in half? Quality news articles. Anyways, our class subscribes to “Weekly Readers”, and I was stoked to have one all about guide dogs. I mean, my family did apply for one. Still waiting, but hey, the kids thought that it was super cool. We’re reading all about guide dogs, their training, and when it’s okay to pet them (NOT when the vest is on, if you were curious.) I forgot to mention one difference between your nostalgic TIME for Kids and our Weekly Readers. It comes with a completely interactive website, news links, and video clips. Videos are basically the pixie stix of elementary pedagogy.
There is a video link on how service dogs help police officers at airports. I click the link, and we all begin learning about how dogs are trained to sniff drugs hidden in suitcases. Hands in the air before the 90 second clip is over.
“Ms. Haver, what are drugs?” — “Another word for medicine.”
“Why do the dogs smell them in the suitcase?” — “Well, sometimes, people try and sneak drugs on airplanes.”
“But one time my mom brought medicine on a plane? (We’re still learning the difference between questions and comments. Right now, sneakily changing the inflection at the end of the sentence qualifies as a question) — “Well, dogs only sniff out too much medicine. Like, an entire suitcase filled with the same type of medicine. That’s like stealing.”
Each student is now envisioning an entire suitcase filled with stolen Flintstone Gummy Vitamins.
Later in the week, we were learning about bartering. Yes, bartering. It’s still being taught. Remember when you learned about rounding? And how it was applicable for about twenty seconds? That’s how our bartering lesson was supposed to go.
I was super excited that I had found a video clip explaining the history of money. Unfortunately, the kids came back in from recess before I could watch the entire clip. Note to self: never wing-it with videos. Especially when you don’t realize they are Australian.
At first, the news clip was very informative. Money, yada yada, bartering, yada yada, criminals who first populated Australia and traded with rum, uh huh. You see where this is going.
“Ms. Haver, what is rum?” — “Rum is kind of like juice. But it’s only for grown-ups.”
“Well, where did they get the money to buy the rum?” – “That’s a good question. The video just says that they traded rum, like bartering.”
“Maybe we can study more about rum?” — “Hmm, maybe.” And we all know that maybe means no.
One of my most vivid memories of elementary school was listening to my teacher read us chapter books right after recess. Accordingly, I read fun chapter books I remember reading to my kids right before recess. We just finished Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and now we have entered the world of the notorious Pippy Longstocking. For those of you who haven’t read the series, Pippy is a spunky young girl who lives by herself. Her father is a pirate near islands that are inhabited by cannibals.
“Ms. Haver, what is a cannibal?” — “Cannibals are people who, erm, well, they eat other people.”
“Like for dinner?” — “Yes, for dinner. And other meals, too, I guess.”
“Will cannibals eat us?” — “Probably not. There aren’t very many cannibals anymore. And they live on far away islands.”
The next day:
“Ms. Haver, I told my mom about cannibals. She says that they are still alive.” — “Well, yes, they are still alive. But they are alive far away from here.”
“So they won’t eat me?”