Monday, October 1, 2018
If I were to author a dictionary, my entry for "grandmother" would avoid the term "academics" like the plague. I'd stick to describing that lady solely as a treasured source of carefree joy and comfort - a complete disconnect from classroom rigor. "Grandma" = "fun" and nothing more than that!
But sometimes traditional book learnin' encroaches on playtime despite our best efforts. Grandmas have an innate knack for introducing "the fun of learning" with hardly an effort or barely a penny expended! I had such an opportunity recently, and I'm still basking in the afterglow!
Let me explain!
Granddaughter Brielle's eighth birthday occurred on the second day of third grade this year. Her wise and lovely teacher eschewed the celebratory tradition of cupcakes and candy in favor of an appealing option: invite a special person in your life to come read to the classroom! My participation was requested and I was "in" with enthusiasm!
But what to read to those eager little learners? What type of story would entertain, hold interest, and, perhaps, even venture to teach a thing or two? I'm personally not a fan of pop culture characters. Too slick, too shallow, too commercially driven. Sorry, Elsa and Anna! Today I'm looking elsewhere for a poignant tale!
I chose a Chinese folk tale, The Girl Who Used Her Wits, for my presentation. This charming telling challenges two young wives to bring home "fire wrapped in a paper" and "wind in a paper" in exchange for a favor granted by their mother-in-law. Entertaining? Yes! I used my repertoire of story voices: crotchety, whimpering, and wise! A glimpse into family life described the culture of multi-generational living, while the wits of an intervening character redeemed the folly of reckless promise making. Success! Every box checked!
I didn't just leave it there, though. No way. Not this grandma! At story's conclusion, Brielle handed out paper fans to her classmates. Those, of course, were "wind in a paper" - not only a meaningful favor to memorialize the folk tale, but a much appreciated classroom cooler in the late August humidity we were experiencing!
But the best part? Brielle's report to me that my visit earned the day's "best moment" by student acclamation!
So....invited to go in and read, grandma? Do it! They'll love you!
My Book House vintage volumes can be found on ebay
Paper fans were purchased at Party City
See You Tube for a telling of The Girl Who Used Her Wits as well as the following:
Here's a list of other folk and fairy tales that are suitable for young children, checking all the boxes for entertainment, cultural learning, and lessons taught:
The Little Snow Maiden (Russian)
The Boy Hero of Harlem (Dutch)
The Cap That Mother Made (Swedish)
The Shoemaker and the Elves (German)