For my last week teaching our topic was "Sea Creatures" and I found myself completely consumed in the whole underwater scene. I created a beach scene/role play area for the kids to play in...
We hung shiny water fabric, seaweed and fish from the ceiling...
And put out Nemo pillows, beach chairs, sea shells, and sand buckets...
And a digital photo frame loaded with various fish and sea creatures (the kids especially enjoy watching the pictures change. Their favorite was the shark and jelly fish).
We read lots of underwater themed picture books throughout the week. Some of the favorites were Tickly Octopus by Ruth Galloway, Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson and of course The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.
And after we read The Rainbow Fish we made our own. I found a really simple Rainbow Fish Template online and cut out a BAZILLION of them so that each child could make their own collage using tissue paper. They turned out so colorful and beautiful, and the kids enjoyed making them. Although, next time I think in addition to the tissue paper I'll make sure to get some sparkly silver paper as all of our Rainbow Fish are lacking beautiful sparkly scales...Oooh, the beauty of hindsight. At least all of you can learn from my mistakes. haha
As we're big into using songs to assist the children in learning to count, I went online and found this awesome Free Printable Monkey Mask for when we sang '5 Little Monkeys.' In case you're wondering why I chose 5 Little Monkeys, it's because they often sing loads of English Nursery Rhymes. I don't know the words to 90% of them, so this was the only number song that I actually knew from my child hood. Haha! How sad! Nevertheless, I printed out 5 of the monkey masks, laminated them and attached each to a brown headband, which I stapled together once on the child's head. The kids LOVED each getting a monkey mask to wear as they acted out jumping on a bed.
In order to accompany the masks and make the whole hoopla a bit more engaging, I found this video on YouTube to play on the SMARTBoard while we sang it. The kids loved it so much that they insisted playing it during snack time as well. In total I think they watched the damn thing 10 times that day. At the time this absolutely astounded me, especially as when I had first found it on YouTube the first thing I said to Carl was "This guy can't sing for crap!" but apparently little kids aren't at all interested in the singers talent, or lack-thereof. Ha! Either way, now I know why it's had 50,000,000 views, and if you're ever looking for a counting video that kid's will happily engage with, this is it! It really is the simple things, eh?
We had so much underwater fun that the week flew by and before I knew it Friday morning had arrived. As it was my last day I brought in little packs of Haribo for each child (Just as I did on my last day with my Year 2 class. Click here to read that heartfelt post) and made my best chocolate cupcakes with caramel centers topped with caramel buttercream for all of the beautiful ladies I'd worked with for the past 2 months.
We enjoyed a morning of Dr. Seuss birthday celebrations, even singing him Happy Birthday and blowing out candles on a cake. I read them my childhood favorite Green Eggs and Ham and then they watched the video while they ate their snacks. It was lovely and relaxed, and all of the Nursery ladies were flexible and gave me the opportunity to simply enjoy my last day with the kiddies.
Around 11am Marie (I refer to her as the English version of my Mom because she reminds me of her so much) came up to me and said that before the morning children went home we'd have to get together with the other nursery and all participate in 'pass the parcel.' Now to be perfectly honest, I didn't have a damn clue what 'pass the parcel' was, but based on Marie's brief explanation I assumed that it was something like hot potato only with a present. The objective was to pass the present around until the music stopped, at which point whoever was holding it would unwrap the first layer of the gift (in total there were around 7 layers). She went on to explain how it was just a little activity which was meant to reiterate the importance of sharing with the kids, and that she had to run around the school to sort some other things out, could I lead the activity. After explaining to her that I didn't have the foggiest idea what pass the parcel was (it's an English game, ya see) I found it unbelievably odd and out of character that she'd insist I lead it. But I headed off into the other Nursery and helped the ladies to arrange all 60 kids into a massive circle, ready to begin the game. Just as we were about to begin passing the parcel, Marie appeared saying the following: "Mrs. Anderson I think we're going to make a smaller circle in the middle because this one is too big and it would take around 40 minutes to get the whole way round! Could you go in the middle with the parcel and we'll pick some other kids to sit with you." At that I grabbed the big pink and purple polka dot parcel and sat in the middle of the circle waiting for the selected children to join me. Once everyone was in place, the remaining children shimmied up close and the music began to play. I passed the present along to little Oliver to my right and bobbed back and forth to the music waiting to see which lucky child would get to unwrap the first layer. The present slowly went around until again it reached my hands and the music went quiet. Although I thought it was odd that they'd stop it on me, I went along with the game, looked at the children and said "Ooooh, shall we see what's inside the first layer!?" Slowly and very carefully I unwrapped the paper until a large pink box fell onto my lap, full of perfume, bath salts and lotion. I looked around in utter confusion, first to Alex, then Mandy and finally to Marie who stood by the SMARTBoard with teary eyes. "Perfume?! Obviously somebody things I stink!" I said as it slowly began to dawn on me how inappropriate this present was for children, and how I smelled a rat. No wonder they'd insisted I lead this activity, this pass the parcel was my goodbye. As the realization that they'd gone through all of this trouble to say goodbye to me in such a sweet way sunk in, my face got very red and I felt a lump in my throat. The music began up again, and I bobbed back and forth once again passing the parcel to little Oliver. Again it went all the way around the circle util it stopped on me, and I smiled as big as I could while trying to hide the tears. The next layer gave way to a school's teachers badge with my photo on it. In big bold letters it said "Best Student Teacher" and I couldn't hold the tears in any longer as I said "Awwww, that's so sweet" and put it around my neck. We continued this routine again and again until my lap was FULL of heartfelt and thoughtful gifts from all of the sweet ladies I'd worked with the past two months.
As I sat in awe, poor little Oliver was finally fed up that he'd never been given the opportunity to unwrap a layer and loudly exclaimed "Mrs. Anderson! You're not sharing very well, are you!?" Haha! I did feel bad, the whole point of this 'pass the parcel' was meant to demonstrate how important sharing was, when I was hogging all of the goodies. But before I could stop laughing/crying and apologize to poor Oliver, Mrs. Appleton (who I'd laughed uncontrollably at 3 weeks previous when I found her being mauled on the playground by children offering big hugs. She was belly laughing, red faced and nearly crying, as she lay on the floor with only her feet exposed. I didn't offer to help her as I thought it was too adorable/hilarious that the children were hog piling on top of her. We'd laughed about that ever since) told all of the children how Mrs. Anderson would LOVE a big big cuddle on her last day. Within seconds I was completely covered by 60 children, giggling uncontrollably as they huddled on top of me for hugs. As I'd love to show you all of the pictures from my goodbye 'ceremony' (Ha!) Safeguarding policies prevent me from doing so (you can see the children's faces), however, Mrs. Jones captured the big goodbye cuddle soon after I'd been given room to breath again, and it's a picture I'll be framing as it makes me cry happy tears every time I see it. The best part about it is that as there are no faces of the children in it, I can share it will all of you too.
It was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I felt appreciated, I felt a part of the team, I felt as though I'd made a difference, I felt happy, I felt sad, I felt loved, I felt appreciative and I felt truly blessed to have met such an amazing group of women and children who have truly impacted my life forever. I'll never forget a single one of them, and I'll carry my time there with me throughout my life.
So, I'd like to say a big massive thank-you to Mandy, Nicola, Sandra, Marie, Alex, Jayne, Lesley and all of the children at RL for everything. I'll miss you all more than you'll ever know.