Mrs. Clark stood at the door, welcoming each young student with a warm smile and a high-five. We are missing two students, she thought. Almost as soon as the thought passed through her mind, she saw young Julia skipping down the hallway, her backpack dangling off her shoulder.
“Hello, Julia!” Mrs. Clark said, stepping into the classroom after her. “Good morning, boys and girls! Today is Tuesday, September 22nd. Does anyone know what is special about today? Ben?”
“It’s my daddy’s birthday,” Ben said, his blue eyes sparkling.
“Happy birthday to your dad, Ben. But that’s not all that’s different about today. Does anyone have any idea? No?” Mrs. CLark looked over the children, and when no one raised their hand she turned to the whiteboard. Picking up a dry-erase marker, she wrote “FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN” in big, purple letters.
“Can anybody read that?” she asked. Mia raised her hand, and Mrs. Clark nodded her head.
“Fist-no first, day of, adam, no atom, no…” she drifted off. “First day of… atom.”
“Very close, Mia. Good job!” Mrs. Clark said. “The word is autumn. We also call it fall. Who knows some things that happen in the fall?” When her question was met with a sea of hands, she instructed everybody to line up against the wall.
“Ok, guys and girls. If you know something about fall, say it when I point to you. If someone said what you wanted to say, just say ‘pass’ or ‘someone already said it’. Ok, we’ll start with Trevor and move down the line all the way to Aria. Go!”
“Fall is when Halloween is,” Trevor said.
“Fall is chilly,” Aimee chimed in.
“Fall is… I forget,” Clara announced.
“Fall is when the leaves turn all yucky and die,” said Martin. And so they went down the line, with all but three students saying something about fall.
“Great job, class! Fall is also a season.” Mrs. Clark said, writing season on the board. “Who knows the other three seasons? Jamie?”
“Spring, summer, and winter.” Jamie said.
“You’re right, Jamie. Nice job!” Mrs. Clark smiled. “Now this is a very tricky question. I know you are in kindergarten and only a few of you will have the answer because this is a fourth grader question. Here we go. What causes the seasons to change?” To her surprise, two hands were raised- Caitlyn and Davy. She nodded at Caitlyn.
“It’s something to do with the Sun and Earth and how they are close together.” Caitlyn answered with a bit of doubt in her small voice.
“Great! Davy, can you expand on that thought?”
“My sister was learning about this. She said the Earth moved in circles and when we were close it was warm and far it was cold.”
“You are absolutely correct, Davy! The Earth is always spinning around the Sun. When our area is pointed away from the Sun, it is fall and winter. When it is close to the Sun, it is summer and spring. But don’t worry if you don’t understand-you’ll focus on this when you get older.” Mrs. Clark noticed the room clock and told the young children to go sit upon the colorful rug in the corner so she could read aloud to them.
“There once was a squirrel who was gathering food for the winter. He had seeds, acorns, nuts, and berries. One day Chipmunk came to Squirrel, asking for some food, but Squirrel said no. The next day, Rabbit came to Squirrel and asked for some food, but again Squirrel said no. The third day, Possum came to Squirrel and asked for some food. For the third time, Squirrel said no. When winter came, Squirrel had lots of extra food, while his friends had little. When spring came and the snow melted, his friends came to visit him. Squirrel said he was sorry for keeping food from them, and they all ate a happy meal together. The end.” Mrs. Clark finished the story and placed the book back on the shelf and began to discuss it with the class. “What do you think you can learn from the story? Carter?”
“Share what you have,” Carter replied.
“Good! And Cora?”
“Forgive people when they do something bad.” Cora smiled.
“Awesome! And finally, Joey?”
“I learned that animals hold food for cold times.” Joey explained.
“Great! You all did awesome! Let’s go back to our table groups and talk about this story with our friends, eat a snack, and draw a picture about the story.” Mrs. Clark said. All the children hurried back to their seats and grabbed their crayons while Mrs. Clark passed out paper to draw on. The room quickly filled with childish chatter as the kids discussed the book. After fifteen minutes, Mrs. Clark flipped the lights on and off three times, the class signal to be quiet and stop what you are doing.
“Okay, boys and girls. Throw away your snack wrappers and put your drawings in the green bin. We are going to do a fun craft now!” Mrs. Clark grinned, passing out safety scissors, crayons with no wrappers, and yellow and orange paper. “We are doing leaf rubbings. Come up and grab three leaves from this gray bin, and then I will explain what to do next. A stampede of children raced to the front of the room, each grabbing a handful of leaves. Of course there were some arguments over who got what leaf, and who stepped on who’s toe, but all were quickly resolved when Mrs. Clark made them apologize and compromise. Within two minutes, every student was at their seat with all their materials. Using the projector, Mrs. Clark demonstrated the project.
“First, put the leaf under the paper. Then use the side of the crayon and rub over it. When you like it, cut it out! Simple!” Mrs. Clark explained. “Bring me one or two of your favorites, and I’ll put them on our bulletin board and stick them on the cubbies!” Within fifteen minutes, every child was done and the classroom was adorned with cute leaves. The room looked so festive!
“Great job!” Mrs. Clark complimented. “Oh-that’s the bell! Single file, ladies and gentlemen, and I’ll lead you out to be picked up!” The children filed into a line and followed the young teacher out to the cars and buses. On every face a smile, every mouth telling their parents and guardians about the day.