Back to the bats. On two different occasions I was able to capture bats to show to my preschoolers. I am not a huge nature fan so capturing these bats was quite a step for me. The bats that I caught were both "hanging" out on the ceiling of our covered patio on our playground. I figured bats are creatures of the night and didn't belong there during the day. I wasn't sure if I could "shoo" them away...so both times I trapped them in butter tubs. Imagine non-outdoorsy me on a step ladder with a butter tub and a possibly rabid bat. Putting the butter tub over the little critter was easy...it was the next step I had not thought through...how do I keep it in the tub while I turn the tub over? Next step was a piece of cardboard slid between the opening of the tub and the ceiling...keeping Mr. Bat in the tub. I quickly went to the kitchen (not sure licensing or sanitation would have approved) and I covered the opening with plastic wrap. I wasn't too sure if the bat wouldn't freak out and claw its way out of the wrap but I did it anyways. This way it provided a window for the kids to see a real live bat up close. Did you know that bats do not like being in butter tubs with plastic wrap windows? I know this because when I saw it up close it was hissing and wrinkling its little nose in protest. I still think bats are kind of cool. The first bat visited all classrooms and then was turned over to animal control...in case he was dangerous. The second bat still visited all the kids...but we were a little braver...he was released to the wild by a fellow teacher...who returned with two lipstick "bite" marks on her neck...hahaha!
The next story isn't about bats but frogs and it happened during my student teaching semester. I was student teaching in a first grade classroom and our science topic was amphibians. How can I possibly teach about amphibians without a live frog...I truly believe in first hand...hands on experiences. I talked my then fiance (now husband of 17 years) into catching a frog for me. So one spring evening we went out with a bucket, a net, and a flashlight to a pond at a local park. It looked like we were up to no good but I swear we were only after frogs. My man quickly went to work hunting for a frog...and soon he scored a bullfrog. He was really excited because it was a HUGE specimen. He brought it over to me and I cringed...I had to pick this thing up at school the next day...I didn't think I could do it...so much to his disappointment he had to release the big one and capture a more manageable size of frog. With a reasonable size frog in my bucket (along with a little pond water, some grass, and a rock) I was ready for the next day. Did I mention it was to be one of my recorded student teaching lessons? When it was time for science I shared a flannelboard of the life cycle of the frog and then it was time for the piece de resistance. If anyone is thinking this is a great idea...it was but...I didn't think though all aspects of my frog viewing. I had the kids sitting on a carpet around me...which worked well. Against my better early childhood large group management knowledge I stood up when I was getting ready to take the frog out of the bucket so it would be in view of everyone. The other thing I didn't think about was the fact the frog was slightly wet and now high above the floor. I was a little nervous and possibly squeezing a little when the frog popped out of my grip...and landed smack on the forehead of a little boy with a buzz cut. I can still see his face...the kids scrambled...the frog hopped...there were screams and laughs...and the video camera kept rolling. I did pass student teaching and I think the kids learned a little about frogs.
A few other small things that I have done for or learned from kids that do not involve animals:
- I have fake drank milk...I am not a fan of milk but given a carton and straw I can fake it.
- I was a picky eater as a child so there were many things I never would try...until I had little faces watching me at lunch time...thanks to preschoolers I like broccoli, peas, and cole slaw, and beans now.
- I learned if a child dressed as a doctor tells you to close your eyes...don't do it...at least keep one eye open or else you will end up with a popsicle stick rammed really far down your throat...and I cannot guarantee that it was a sterile popsicle stick.
- I can will myself to stay awake while patting backs during naptime...with Enya playing...while on a drowsy formula of cold medicine.
- Given enough Advil in my system I will get rhythm sticks out.
- I will blow bubbles inside on a rainy day...we use the slippery when wet signs from the block area.
- I will do the Spooky Walk in April.
- I will read The Bear Under the Stairs (or any other good children's book)...again...and again.
- I am not scared of fingerpaint, play doh, markers, stamp pads, or scissors like your parents are.
- I will love and cherish all the coffee mugs...dandelions...and apple Christmas ornaments.