Archives for posts with tag: 1st grade

When I read with S, the first grade student that I read with, we finished a story about an egg that a boy found and watched hatch. “What does hatching mean?” he asked.

I turned back to when the duckling first began to crack out of his egg and said, “well, see here, it means the duckling is breaking out of his egg. He’s ready to come out into the world.”

“Where’s the mama duck?”

“This little story only gives us a part of the story. The mama must have gone away and left the one egg there to hatch.”

“How do you know the mama duck left the egg. Could it have been the dad that left it? How can you tell if animals are mamas or papas?

“Well…” I started to smile, looking at S’s animated face, full of energy, curiosity, and wonder, standing at this point, but still at my eye level while I was seated.

“Maybe you should ask your parents.”

“We have two dogs. I asked about them.”

“What did they say?”

“They said that they chose.”

“Ah, so that’s what they said. So they didn’t exactly answer…”

I was trying to keep it together, but I reverted back to what happens in uncomfortable situations, where I know how I can tell the difference between a boy dog and a girl dog, but I can’t say it to this first grader, so I start laughing, but I can tell he’s not taking it personally or badly. And luckily he didn’t think it too strange that I burst out laughing.

When I had gotten the nervous laughter out of my system, he said, “No, really, how do you know?”

“You know what? This is a very good question, S. And I’m going to try to find a book that helps explain and shows us how we know.”

“That would be cool! Yeah, if you can bring a book next time, but you don’t have to. But if you find one…”


Our reading time came to a close and I walked S back to class. On the way to work, driving down the road, past some apartments, I saw a female turkey with her feathers spread out in a full fan. She stood still, trying to get the attention of two male turkeys that were at the edge of the grass. Who knows how long she would be waiting.

When I got back to the office, I wrote a quick email to the public librarian asking for any books that may discuss the differences in female and male animals, differences that relate to their plumage or other such characteristics, something appropriate for a first grader. I appreciated their frantic search; they weren’t able to find exactly what I was looking for, but did point me in the right direction.

In the meantime, I did a quick google search for a few animals that I know have visible differences: mallards ducks, lions, deer,–and sometimes, with certain animals, you really can’t tell. So that’s all I have for now and we can ask the school librarian, but I didn’t have time last week.

For now, hopefully, he’ll be satisfied with what I’ve got when I see him next, which is not much. At least I can provide him with some pictures of ducks, deer, and lion, that show one way we know.

“I wanna to be a toad so I can stick my tongue out and eat all day.”
–First grader

Because of scheduling changes I have been switched from reading with a few second graders to now first graders. Walking into the first grade room was utter chaos. Every inch of wall was covered in letters, numbers, pictures. There were clusters of children working on different things. Loud noise was booming out of the tape recorder where a group of students was listening to a book on tape. The room was abuzz of chattering children all seeming to be speaking in one long chain of vibration. Another table of students where each student was cracking an egg into a bowl. My senses were overwhelmed. And on top of it all, it was pajama day, so I think this may have added to the frenzy.

The teacher was kind and calm. She asked how I’d like to be referred to, since I had given my first name to her when she asked. “Ms. Rebbecca is fine,” I said. She introduced me to the first student I would sit with. “S, this is Ms. Rebbecca. She is going to listen to you read. Here take your books with you. See you in a little bit.”

With the second graders, I had selected books for the students to choose from. With the first graders, the teachers send them with their packet of books and word lists for review. This works out well. I may occasionally bring along a book that may be of interest. I’ll have to see where the rhythm falls, how it unfolds.

The boy student was quite a character. He made me laugh and was not shy about talking. When I asked him which book he wanted to read first, he said for me to pick it. He chose the next book. It was so nice to see him pull the book from his packet, his eyes widening, and say “this is one of my favorites, I love this book,” and he read it to me. Since he knew this one well, and it was a rhyming story, he read it with ease.

It was time for me to take him back to class. As we were getting ready to leave, still full of energy in his manner of speaking and twisting his body, he said,

“I don’t like school.”

“Why don’t you like school?”

“Because it’s a lot of work. You’re an adult. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Well, I go to work after this.”

“Work–adults just move things around.” He made a motion of moving papers around on a desk. “That’s not work. School’s a lot of work. I wanna be an adult so I don’t have to work so hard.”

“Well, you’ll be an adult one day.”

“I wanna be a toad, so I can stick my tongue out and eat all day!”

“Ah, you want to be a toad…”

The recess bell rang as his last thought trailed off. We exited the library as students dribbled out to the hallways. We approached the door to his classroom–back to his world of work.

As I took a short walk during recess before returning to sit with the last student of the morning, I couldn’t stop smiling at the utter beauty and innocence of childhood and catching glimmers of my own elementary school memories, albeit quite dusty.