I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I'd have to ask my parents at what age I began talking about it, but I'm sure it was very young. I remember playing "school" in our laundry room, where Mom had hung a big chalkboard for my sister and me. My sister and I would take turns being the teacher, and we would make up names for ourselves. I also remember this very long wooden dowel we used as a "pointer" for the chalkboard. I don't remember any special stories about that pointer... just that we used it. Isn't it strange what your mind remembers?
I also wanted to be a Mom. There was never a time in my life that I questioned having kids.
Okay, maybe once when Rylee was screaming about having to leave the toy section at Target, and Carter was smearing lip stick from my purse all over the shopping cart, but the feeling didn't last long. My sister and I played "house" growing up. My "kids" were 3 dolls named Ryan, Megan, and Elizabeth. (Megan is a doll that Rylee now plays with -- and yes, her name is still Megan! I find myself a bit more protective of that doll than some of Rylee's other dolls. "Rylee, be sure Megan doesn't get dirty outside, okay?" Isn't that goofy?!)
Conveniently, being a teacher often requires some Mom-like qualities.... I often found myself kissing owies and giving lots of hugs at school. And, being a Mom, naturally, is just like being a teacher to your kids. So, these two "careers" just fit well together.
(I'm not exactly sure where the "career" of window-washer would have fit in... something my parents tell me I also wanted to be for a short period of time. Apparently I was in love with the squeegie thing.)
When it was time for choosing a major in college, it was easy. I got an Elementary Education degree with an emphasis in Early Childhood. After graduating, I got a job teaching Kindergarten, and I taught for 3 years. Just after we had Rylee, I decided to resign and become a full-time Mom.
It's strange to think that I've actually been out of teaching longer than I was in teaching. I had such a great 3 years as a teacher, and loved every minute of it. There are many things I miss about it, but also just as many that I don't.... and I don't regret for a second the decision to stay home and raise our kids.
People often ask if I will ever go back to teaching. The truth is, I just don't know. I have so many interests -- so many things I'd like to do in my life -- that maybe my run as a teacher is already over. And maybe it's not.
But, the truth is, right now I am teaching.
I have two students.
(Yes, I agree that our student-teacher ratio is excellent.)
Our school hours vary, depending on other activities we have (or the mood of the teacher and students.)
We often squeeze in little activities here and there, which works best for our schedules and attention spans. None of them take much preparation or planning. Few of them require many supplies, and none of them are going to win the "Most Creative and Never-Before-Thought-Of Activity" Award.
But, the kids love them. They are learning (and they don't even know it!) Plus, I love it because I can "play teacher" for a few minutes a day!
I mentioned a game we had been playing to a friend, and she suggested that I share it on my blog. So, here it goes. It's Easter-egg related, so you'll have just a few short days to play it. (What the heck... if your kids like it, play it until the 4th of July -- who really cares!?!)
"The Hungry Easter Bunny"
I wrote the numbers 1-10 on plastic Easter Eggs with a permanent marker. (Let eggs dry for a second before letting your kids grab them. I threw away 2 smeared eggs.)
Let the kids put them in order. Then, choose which one of you will be the "Easter Bunny."
It's fun if the "Easter Bunny" wears some fluffy bunny ears. (Your kids don't care if you look ridiculous, and unless you're Kate Gosselin, no one is video-taping you being a Mom. So, put on some bunny ears!)
We all sing "Do You Know The Easter Bunny?" (An adaption of "Do You Know The Muffin Man? -- I often make up words to familiar tunes. No, I can't sing, but fortunately, my kids don't care.... yet.)
"Do you know the Easter Bunny?
The Easter Bunny?
The Easter Bunny?
Do you know the Easter Bunny?
Well, he/she is very HUNGRY!"
I know. Silly. Simple. But my kids are nominating me for Songwriter of the Year. Honestly. They love it.
(You can even keep a beat with a "clap/lap/clap/lap" of your hands... for those of you who have children in music therapy!)
The 2 people who aren't the "Easter Bunny" cover their eyes... or put an Easter Basket over their heads... or whatever floats your boat. The "Easter Bunny" takes one of the plastic Easter Eggs out of the row and hides it in his/her lap. Then, he/she says, "Delicious!" That's the sign for the other 2 people to look, and it's up to them to determine which number the "Easter Bunny" ate! Then, someone else has a turn at being the "Easter Bunny."
Simple? I told you!
But you know what? I get this request all the time these days... "Mom, can we play the game where the Easter Bunny eats eggs?"
For each of the kids, I try to incorporate things they need a little extra work on. For Carter, he gets tripped up on his counting... somewhere along the way this boy learned that 7 comes after 4! So, I often ask him to count all the eggs before the Bunny eats one!
For Rylee, we are working on the concept of what comes "after" or "before" certain numbers, which will be helpful when we start adding/subtracting. When the Bunny eats an egg, instead of starting at 1 and counting, we look at the egg right before the space of the missing egg. "Here is number 5. What number comes after 5?" We can also get some speech therapy in our activity by having her ask the Easter Bunny in a complete sentence... "Did you eat 5?" instead of just "Eat five?"
It's great for encouraging working together and helping each other, too. If Carter doesn't know, I remind him that he can ask someone... he can say, "Rylee, can you help me?"
So, I try to think about what they need extra help on and incorporate that into the game.
Adaptions: There are lots of ways you can adapt this, depending on the age/skills of your child.
* Just use numbers 1-5, or go higher with your numbers.
* Have the Easter Bunny eat 2 or 3 eggs at a time.
* Write the ABCs on the eggs instead of numbers.
* Draw shapes on the eggs and put them in a pattern... star, star, heart, star, star, heart. Taking out an egg will disrupt the pattern, and your child can figure out which shape is missing.
* For early writing (not handwriting, but sentence/story-writing) skills: Write words on the eggs... use some basic sight words, such as "the" "is" "to" "a" and pick out some nouns and verbs to write as well. Let your child build some short 4-5 word sentences with the eggs, and then have the Easter Bunny eat an egg. See which word is missing from the sentence. Remember to use their name in some of them... they love it! (Examples: "Rylee likes to swing." or "The dog is playing with Carter.")
So, there you have it! Rylee and Carter love it! Here's Easter Bunny Rylee enjoying the game! (Easter Bunny Carter hopped away before I could get his picture!)
Who needs Milton Bradley when you have plastic Easter Eggs, a black marker and some Bunny Ears?!