As promised, the stories continue! Enjoy :)
The One With The Search Parties
Claude Monet, a Russian tortoise, became part of the art room family in 2008. He was loved by all and could often be seen crawling on the tables or lounging with kids in the garden. There was just something lovable about that old man face of his!
Some of the sixth graders came in one day after school and had him out crawling around. They were dipping his little feet in paint and having him slowly saunter over their papers. Abstract art they called it. I needed to run up to the office so I told the students they needed to go back to child care. I left Claude out on the table because it created a natural barricade for him. He would walk to the edge, stretch out his neck to look down, realize he was so high up, reverse a little bit, and three-point-turn himself in another direction. It was really quite cute.
You can imagine my surprise when I came back from the office five minutes later and found Claude missing. At first I thought the sixth graders came back and took him to the garden, but they weren't there. Then I figured maybe they were playing a trick on me, but they were nowhere to to be found. I knew that if Claude had fallen off the table...well, you can only imagine what I was thinking - YIKES! Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the side door was open. After scouring the room for an hour, I finally concluded that Claude must have fallen of the table and walked out the door. Being that he was a tortoise, I knew he couldn't have gone far. I went outside and searched EVERYWHERE! By the end of the night I had leaves in my hair, dirt in my nails, but no Claude. He was gone.
All of the kids were devastated by the news. They made signs saying, "Wanted: Claude 'The Tortoise' Monet," and, "Lost Tortoise!" The first graders arrived the following morning and spent an hour helping me look in the bushes and under tables and chairs. One class wrote creative stories about where Claude might had travelled to....the playground, Bermuda, back to Russia. Everyone got involved in the missing tortoise effort.
Miraculously, a week later, Claude was found! A sixth grader spotted him on the other side of campus in the middle of a four-square court. I couldn't believe it! I spent that night with a smile on my face thinking that A) The kids would be so happy and B) Claude must have had SUCH a great adventure.
Three or four days after the tortoise had been rescued, I found a student absolutely POUNDING on my door before school. I opened the door to find one of the first graders standing there. He had been a member of the rescue team. He looked me square in the face and starting waving his hands frantically. "Mrs. Singleton," he yelled, "Last night at home I FOUND YOUR MOUSE!!!"
The Trash Can
By the end of my time in the art room, I had come to know and love the personalities, quarks, and needs of all the students at school. However, during my first few months in the room, a couple of those kiddos truly stumped me. This is the story of one man's journey to Mrs. Singleton's Stumpville.
I had third graders in the room one week and I noticed that one of the boys had left the room. He hadn't put a pass on his desk so I reminded myself to talk to him about it when he got back. After about 5 minutes he hadn't returned, so I sent a boy to the bathroom to check on him. The boy came back and said he wasn't there.
I called the office and our secretary sent out a search party. No one could find him; however, he turned up in his homeroom unscathed. The next time I saw him I asked him not to leave the room without telling me first and he responded with, "I didn't leave the room!"
Flash forward one week: It was like the movie Groundhog's Day. The same scene happened almost verbatim. We had the talk again and he said, "But, I NEVER left the room!"
Now, I started to question my own sanity.
Week three...here we go again! I called the office, the search party went out, and I lose my mind. However, this week there is a twist. As I stood at the door to line the kids up, I happened to look down. There, sitting criss-cross-applesauce in the bottom of the trash can, is my missing student. I blinked hard thinking, this can't be true! Sure enough, there he was.
I pulled him out and said, "What are you doing!?! There is trash and sharp objects in there! You could have been hurt!!!"
He responded, "My super-strong outer shield would have protected me!"
I guess he was right though...he never did leave the classroom.
Lesson's Learned: 1) Whether searching for a tortoise or a child, keep your options open! 2) When you ask a 6 year old to help you find something, never assume they know EXACTLY what they are looking for.