Thursday, February 14, 2008

Heart Day

Valentine 4 Mom

Arctic cotton is white,
Forget-me-nots are blue,
Akpiks are sweet,
And so are you.

(Written by a very adorable fourth grader for his mother on Valentine’s Day.)

It was a sweet day full of all those typical activities that Valentine’s Day inspires….well, at least those activities enjoyed by fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. We made construction paper valentines and semi-homemade experimental peanut butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. The cards were really sweet. The cookies were…not so much.

Although I prefer the personal touch of child-crafted valentines, kids are always excited by the commercial variety. But this year, for one reason or another, there were no prepackaged valentines to be had in this village. So we pulled out the red, white, and pink construction paper, hefty bottles of Elmer’s, brightly colored tissue paper, and gathered poetic inspiration from the internet compliments of Google Search…an interesting experience!

The initial plan for sugar cookies was thwarted earlier in the week when I realized that several key ingredients were missing from my pantry. We improvised with four packages of peanut butter cookie mix and comforted ourselves with the idea of adding other ingredients to put our own unique stamp on the confection. Unfortunately, what we ended up with had more in common with peanut butter flavored baseballs, than actual cookies. But we learned from the experience and had a good laugh along the way. And that seemed like an acceptable trade off. Kids never complain about wasting time making cookies…even bad ones.

Throughout the hours that we busied ourselves with Valentine’s Day activities, I don’t think romance was ever mentioned. And, the truth is, I really liked that. Cards were made by girls and boys…for family members, friends, and even a teacher or two. One girl drew a picture of a cigarette in the middle of the card for her grandmother. I have no idea what the cigarette was supposed to represent and she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) explain it, but I have no doubt that, whatever it meant, it came straight from her heart. Was it romantic? Not in the least. Was it a genuine expression of love? Absolutely!

On this holiday that our media-driven society has narrowly defined as a day for lovers, I am happy to report that my classroom is full of them…real lovers. Most of them are little more than four feet tall, but they all have hearts as willing to love as any I’ve seen. And that makes me hopeful and thankful on a day that could easily seem lacking in so many ways. It reminds me that love comes in lots of different packages...not always wrapped in a heart-shaped box with a tidy bow. Sometimes it comes wearing an old tee shirt with ketchup stains left over from yesterday’s lunch.

Cookies 11

Cookies 3

Cookies 5

Cookies 6


Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great story! Sweetness is always what we need! I love reading your blog and this was another fun story. Linda

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Linda! Thanks so much for your "sweet" comment! You know, days full of special activities like that are often very hectic and can feel more like something to GET THROUGH than something to enjoy. I imagine it, sometimes, like the difference between being a parent and a grandparent. I know part of the difference is that grandparents can send the kids home! But some of it is that they've learned how precious and fleeting the moments of childhood are and they savor them accordingly. I really want to learn to do that better. :)

Thanks again for stopping by!

Karen said...

This was a wonderful, wonderful story. And the photos are great!

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Karen! I should have given my student credit for that first photo. He's the one that authored the poem at the beginning of the post and he also took the photo of himself with the camera on the laptop computer in our classroom. He printed the photo, cut it out, and included it in his valentine for his mother. He also came up with that hand-in-the-shape-of-a-heart thing that he did. He's quite a little character...very imaginative...always thinking! :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your encouraging thoughts!

Johnny said...

You are such a great hands on teacher. I know that this fun activity was strictly educational so that all administrators would approve. HaHaHa!!!I bet you hit "Fully engaged" on the WOW meter. Great pix...I loved the "heart"

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Johnny. I appreciate your confidence in the educational value of our project! LOL!

We did actually manage to throw in some educational stuff too. You know, stuff like...four packages of cookie mix...each package calls for 1/3 cup of many cups of oil do we need in all?...who can convert 4/3 into a mixed number?

THEN, after we had that all figured out, we had to estimate how much MORE oil we needed considering the EXTRA oatmeal and EXTRA peanut butter and EXTRA chocolate chips that we added to the mix.

We guess-timated WRONG.

The cookies turned out dry, dry, dry. That's why they retained the round shape instead of melting down into something more cookie-ish.

But the kids reported yesterday that, not only did THEY eat the cookies they took home, but so did their families! No complaints about nasty cookies! That's pretty amazing! :)

Anonymous said...

You know, with all the cracks you've made over the months about my food ideas, you're a pretty brave woman to post this kind of kitchen experience!

I know they all had fun while learning, and that's what matters. Thanks for sharing it here, too.

Kimberlee said...

You're right, 9balance9, I have "dished out" a good bit of grief over your odd food combinations. I've teased you mercilessly and you have borne it all with grace. You are, by far, a better man than I.

And the biggest difference between your culinary concoctions and mine is...yours are actually pretty tasty. Just don't tell my kids I said that. :)

Rurality said...

Hmm sounds a lot like my last batch of cookies! (It surely wasn't me that messed up -- must have been a bad batch of oatmeal!!!)

I like your blog!

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Rurality! I think you may be right about the oatmeal. There must be some explanation for our cookie disaster other than cook error. Thanks for stopping by! :)

lesle said...

There was a New York Times article in last Sunday's paper about ePals which brings me to ask: do your students blog, have classrooms elsewhere in the world they communicate with?

If you have time, I'm really curious to know more about your students, what typically happens to them, in school and in life, is your school a K-12, am I asking the right questions?

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Lesle! It's good to hear from you again. I want to check out the links that you've provided before I say much on this subject, but just for kids don't "blog" at this point, but we have had epals that communicated with us via email. It worked pretty well, although we never quite got it organized the way I thought it would benefit the students most. I would enjoy talking with you about this...just give me a day or two to follow up on the links and I'll comment again. Thanks for sharing!

Kimberlee said...


I finally had a chance to read the NY Times article that you linked and also checked out the ePals website. I am REALLY intrigued! Thanks so much for sharing that with me! I definitely plan on delving further into the ePals programs/services.

As for your questions about my school/students...we are a K-12 school, we have a fairly high graduation rate, most of our students stay in the village and assume positions working in local facilities such as the water processing plant or fuel delivery station, etc. A few have gone to college, but not many have actually graduated. That is something that we'd like to change; it's a continuing challenge. I'm not sure if this is the kind of information that you were looking for. Please feel free to email me if that seems more practical. My email address is available on my profile page. Thanks again for the extremely useful information!

lesle said...

Kimberlee, I'm so glad those links might be useful to you. Yes, your answer about your school, and your students and their prospects, is exactly what I was curious about. Thank you!

One further link for you: Westwood Schools Blog. At the moment, the first few entries are mundane, but not too far down you'll find some interesting entries about the International Flat Classroom Project. Then you might google 'international flat classroom project'.
The Florida Board of Education recently decided, simplified here, whether Florida should teach evolution or the "theory of evolution"; sent to our local newspaper was this comment:

"Mrs. Johnson taught me about evolution in the 1950s at Sopchoppy High School;
I was taught about Jesus at Panacea Baptist Church;
Mama taught me the difference between right and wrong;
and Daddy made sure I listened."

"I don't see a conflict."

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Lesle. I've had company for a week and haven't been able to check out the link you've shared. I want to do that...maybe tonight...I'll definitely comment more once I have. Thanks for sharing all the interesting information. I'm definitely intrigued by the "International Flat Classroom Project." What a cool title! I can't wait to see what it's all about. Check back in the next few days, if you have a chance.