Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting a Jump Start

This week my camp is designed just for the folks who will be in Emerson's kindergarten this fall. We have 19 four to five year olds (mostly five), all of whom are worried and excited about school.
This is over 50% of the class that will start in September. Mrs. B., the music teacher, and I are thrilled to be getting to know so many of them and begin some very special friendships.

Let me start by saying, that we are favorably impressed with this group. Yes, we have had some tears and some behavior that could have been better but mostly we have had happy, helpful, clever, charming children share the past four mornings with us. This morning's recess included soccer players, monkeys on the monkey bars, folks (mostly of royal lineage) setting up housekeeping while making sure all the rock/dishes were washed and put away, and a stealthy few who were doing secret reconnaissance missions. How's that for variety?

One of my favorite things about this camp is getting to know the incoming kindergarten students in a relaxed atmosphere. We spend a lot of time outside plus have time for stories, games, songs, and crafts. Some of these times are more relaxed than others. Today we had what may have been the greatest chaos of any Jump Start Camp to date. We had a brilliant idea to make rain sticks using items we found in the general camp left overs. There were this wonderful, heavy cardboard tubes that we knew would be perfect. Then we found some parachute material in bright colors, some strong rubber bands, and rice beyond its optimum eating potential. Perfect? Not quite. We underestimated how much rice the kids would feel they needed to make the best rain sound. Our counselor and junior counselors had to go do other things, so Mrs. B. and I were on our own for much of the time. The kids needed help with the rubber bands. They needed help pouring rice. Those who finished first decided to test the rain sticks with vigor. A cup of rice easily overcomes a simple rubber band when the it is shaken with enthusiasm. Out came the rice--often flying in every direction or, to one camper's delight, in a nice square on the floor. This is when members of administration decided to visit the camp for a meet and greet. Let me say, that we have a wonderful new head, assistant head, and admissions director. They jumped right in to help the kids make their rain sticks and then listened to the more rain than people who live their entire lives in a rain forest probably ever hear. The kids loved the craft. They loved the cleaning up even more. So chaos was fun.

Just to sneak books in here, let me briefly mention a few of the books that we have enjoyed this read. Getting ready for school is a popular topic with this group.

I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child is one of my favorites. I like it so much that I overlook the fact that the two characters in it are now best known for a TV series. Lola is convinced that she does not need or want school. It is up to her big brother Charlie to counter her arguments that she does not need to count or read nor does she want to be all alone at school. The illustrations of all of Child's books are fabulous collages and this is no exception. It is a humorous, friendly way to address many of the concerns about school.

Minerva Louise at School by Janet Morgan Stoeke never fails to get a laugh. It shows school as seen through the eyes of a chicken. From Minerva Louise's point of view the school is a barn with the farmer running his laundry up the flagpole. She finds nesting boxes (cubbies) and is impressed by how decorated they are, though she worries about an egg (baseball) that seems to be neglected by its mother. The kids loved catching all of her mistakes and then thinking of what else might confuse a chicken.

One of our campers is named Simon so he was particularly impressed with I Don't Want to Go to School by Stephanie Blake. Simon (in the book, not our camper who is very much a boy) is a rabbit who tells his parents "No Way" when they announce that he will soon start school. This phrase is repeated throughout the story. It did not take long for every child listening to me read to join in every time Simon said "no way!" My favorite part of the story is that after his mother leaves Simon first cries a little but is soon drawn into the school day, having so much fun that when it is time to go home, he says, "no way!"

There are many more books about school, but those are the ones we have read and enjoyed in Jump Start this week. We are ready for school to start. I hope others are getting into that mind set, too.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Sounds like a fun time was had by all! Wish I'd been at the rain stick activity with my camera in hand.

SWE said...

Oooh! This sounds like incredible fun. We start on Monday here, and have had no such camp. Would not mind a list of books for kindergarteners faced with this momentous occasion.:-)

Linda said...

Yes, Jennifer, you would have loved the rain sticks. it was wild and fun after the initial shock of it.

Heather, see the post I am about to put up because I am betting there are others out there who want first day of kindergarten books and who are not as fanatical about reading comments as I am. Wish that little darling of yours well as she starts school on her grandfather's birthday.