Tuesday, November 11, 2008
We have been going through a dry spell of flower donations for the classroom. That is until last Thursday. Our youngest student brought in a large bouquet of yellow carnations. As soon as I found the right moment, I presented /re-presented flower arranging to the class. As this has always been a favorite work, the children were anxious to fill small vases with cut carnations. I added one new element to the presentation. I demonstrated how to place small, smooth, glass stones into the vases so as to rest at the bottom. The children seemed to really enjoy using this new detail in their floral designs.
I am always captivated by a working child who remembers to do each step of the lesson. Yesterday, I watched as a child measured the stems, cut them in the water, re-measured them, filled a vase with flowers, used the small tongs to pick the cut stem pieces from the water, used the sponge to wipe the placemat and returned all of the materials correctly to the tray. Looking back at these pictures and seeing her measure the flowers up against the small vase before she cut them and after she cut them speaks volumes about children and their work. Watching a child so focused on the details is mesmerizing:
A Zen Moment
I have a very fond memory of flower arranging work from my first classroom. A young girl brought to school a lovely bundle of tulips. It was Spring and tulips were for sale everywhere. The flowers were beautiful. I had my assistant put them in the container used to hold flowers designated for arranging. Moments later, I heard a sharp cry. I looked over and saw the tulip heads scattered on the floor. We had another child in the class who was going through a period of random scissor cutting. She had decapitated the tulips.
The child who had brought them in was devastated. She stood there, tears running down her face, with her apron on ready to do the work. All seemed lost. I asked my assistant to remove the stems so the child would not be reminded of the tragedy.
The day passed. During which I became so busy that I forgot about the head-less tulips. After all of the children left for the day, something caught my eye. If I ever have had what is called a Zen moment...this would be it or at least one of them. Vases filled with a single, long tulip stem were placed throughout the room. She had done the work using the stems alone. It was so simple and so elegant that tears came to my eyes. I had never seen anything so beautiful done by a child. Remember this was my first year as a lead teacher.
My assistant returned from a task she had left the room to complete. I asked her about the tulip stems. She immediately apologized and said she had gotten so busy that she forgot to throw them out. I told her how grateful I was and pointed out the vases sitting on their crocheted doilies. She lifted her hand and covered her mouth. It was that emotionally moving. It reminds me now of that favorite saying,"Less is More."
I remember that night thinking about the work and how I had seen this child busy and that she had even smiled at me. I was giving the first presentation on the bank game and was pretty much glued to the same spot for most of the morning. I hold on to this story and so many more as they are my touchstones...