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Just the Right Speed

Tammy Too Fast, Tammy Too Slow

By Gail Radley

Tammy is too fast, and Tammy is too slow.

Tammy is too fast taking puppy his water and too slow taking puppy for a walk.

Tammy is too fast riding her tricycle and too slow pulling Davy’s wagon.

Tammy is too fast showing her toys to her friends and too slow putting her toys away.

Tammy is too fast walking in the park and too slow walking in the shopping mall.

Tammy is too fast eating her snack and too slow eating her dinner.

Tammy is too fast taking her bath at night and too slow getting ready for bed.

Too fast and too slow, all-day long!  But at the end of a busy day, Tammy is just the right speed for settling down on Daddy’s lap for a bedtime story!

  • May 3rd, 2017
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Finally, a Doll She Can Relate To

GERTRUDE THE OCTOPUS

By Terry Barnett

There was an octopus named Gertrude.

Her body was pink and her head was too.

Gertrude had lots of dolls,

Such as fish dolls and dish dolls.

Dolls that cry and dolls that squeak,

Dolls that laugh and dolls that peek

Good and bad dolls

Happy and sad dolls.

The only doll Gertrude didn’t have

Was an O C T O P U S doll.

So Gertrude went out the door,

And headed right for the toy store.

She found a box that had lots of dolls

And lots of balls.

Finally she found an octopus doll.

It was purple, and Mildred was what it was called.

Happily she strolled back to her home,

With a new octopus doll of her very own.

  • April 26th, 2017
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How to Come up with an Essay Idea

SAFARI

by Kate Appleyard

Harry was thrilled when his friend Arn told him of a competition in the local paper.

“ Top prize for the best essay on any animal is a visit to Disneyland “,Arn announced with a glint in his eyes.

An essay Harry thought. What was there to write about? Most people would choose cats and dogs, that he was sure of. When dad heard about it, he suggested a visit to the cinema.

“ Maybe that will help you come up with an idea . “

“ Have you been to the new cinema in town,” Arn asked.

“ Nope, I rarely got money to go to a cinema, so why should I be interested?”

“ You Ignoramus,” Arn remarked, just a little bit haughty.

“S’pose so, but am I complaining?”

Arn burst out laughing and looked at his friend.

“ This time you will be interested. This cinema is special , dead cool in fact , just you wait.”

Dad, who never minded a bit of extra pocket money for a good cause laughed and pushed a note onto the kitchen table.

“ You write that winning essay and it will be money well spent ,” he told Harry.

When they reached the building that housed the cinema, Harry could not help being surprised. Seven floors full of whatever and there was an incredible din. No wonder, when the ground-floor housed any number of shoot them ups and racing games. Right in front of Harry a huge, green sign kept flashing.

THE IMAGENATOR

“ I got it, it’s a virtual cinema! “

“Shut up and look for the elevator, we’re be up quicker”, Arn whispered.

What a turn-out. Inside the lift, there were monitors build into every wall. Without warning, the screens came alive and a vaguely human looking blue blob began to scream.

“ Attention, especially you who think you know it all. When inside the cinema, sit down and put on your seat belt immediately. If you have trouble, raise your arm “!

Harry shook his head. This was weird. Why should you need a seatbelts in a cinema?

Arn smiled and told him to do as requested.

When the screen went dark, Harry stared at the Australian Outback baking in a pale yellow sun. A boat with several people was gliding down a narrow river and when the picture closed up, a blond man turned round and looked at him.

“ You are now part of an expedition to find out the habits of crocodiles. Stay close behind, but never think you’re safe. Crocs are reptilian dinosaurs,   who have adapted extremely well. They are masterpieces of prehistoric survival. In a minute you will see them lying on the mud banks, warming their cold blood. With sight, hearing and smell second to none, keep very still, the slightest vibration in the water will alert them “.

Harry stared into the cloudy, green water and felt his throat tighten, in fact his whole body was full of apprehension. He knew that crocks were very strong- willed creatures, that would attack even large animals with extreme ferociousness. It was precisely that speed and ferocity that made them survivors.

“ We are now sailing into a mango creek , were crocs are absolute masters on the river ‘ the blond man explained again.

Harry felt his hands go damp and shaky, but his eyes kept searching the scorching landscape.

What was going on? Why did it feel as if he was in the action?

And there they were. Gaping mouth’s turned towards the sun showed rows of vicious, razor-sharp teeth. The boat stopped and he kept close to the men, who seeking better protection, decided to make for higher ground. The sun had almost gone and soon enough it was dark. The eerie sounds of the night came out.

Then he saw them pulling a small mesh cage from a landrover on standby.

“ Crocs are more active at night ‘, the blond man said as he climbed into the cage and held the door open for Harry.

There was little choice, so he crouched into a corner, his eyes following some horrible, putrid bait they were throwing out. Fat, white maggots dropped into the water and Harry started retching.   A bright light came on.

“‘ Its to stun them, a sort of defence, “ someone murmured.

Harry nodded and told himself it was not real, but the fear that kept rising from the pit of his stomach refused to go away.

He could not see any faces. They were all wearing glasses and a mouthpiece that reached to the lifesaving oxygen tank on their backs.

Time went, but the crocs who did not like the light stayed away.

“ Did you see the little man in front of the boat, “ the blond man whispered again.

“ He can call crocks with incredibly weird sounds; so don’t worry, you will see them”.

Who wants to see them Harry thought. I just want to get out of here. But before he could make a decision, there they were. Hundreds of them and it felt as if they were crowding in on him. The cage, being just below the water surface, allowed him to see the countless snouts rising from the murky water. Every hair on his body stood up and he stiffened. When the attack on the cage began, he screamed his terror into the night.

“ Help, Help me.”

The bait tied to the top of the cage bounced as soon a first body hit it. Cold eyes stared unblinkingly at Harry, as he kept howling with fear. No doubt, those crocs would rather pull the cage to the bottom of the river, before letting go of the food.

The water was swirling madly and Harry, breathing heavily and ready to give in to destiny, saw a small herd of buffalo arrive further down the river. The croc’s took the opportunity and when one shot out of the water, it broke the buffalo’s neck just snapping it and going into a death-roll.

Harry was still screaming when the lights went on. Once outside, he realised he had lost his voice, but gained the perfect subject for that all important essay.

The End

  • April 20th, 2017
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Where Make-Believe Lives

RAINBOW PLANET

By Kate Appleyard

He had faded away beautifully. One day, when people no longer talked about him the unicorn had closed it’s eyes. The warm sun no longer reached him, but gentle, white clouds had carried him to the little planet where all mythical creatures go when their time comes to an end.

Now he was alone in a barren, limitless plain with just an old tree for company. The tree had only rough, gnarled branches to offer, and having no other shelter, the unicorn laid down, teardrops in his eyes.

“ Come now Sonny, it’s not that bad, there’s no need to cry”.

Where did the voice come from? He could not see a soul.

“Look up silly, it’s me!”

Raising his head, he noticed a pale image on the trunk of the tree. So that’s what it was. The spirit of the tree was talking to him. Not great, but better then nothing.

“I’m sorry, but being in a place I’ve never seen always gets me down,” he sniped.

The spirit of the tree looked wistful.

“Hm, I’m around for nearly a thousand years, take my word you get used to it.”

“But I don’t want to get used to it,” the unicorn cried.

“Alright, so you don’t want to, but like the others you have to.”

“There are others?”

“Well of course Sonny, even those who are not real need friends.”

“But I am real,” the unicorn cried.

The spirit grew silent, but only for a moment.

“It’s sad, but fact is you’re only real as long as people believe in you.”

Before the unicorn could object again, a huge, fearsome Tatzelworm jumped through the air toward him and settled in the grass. Nostrils flaring and glowing, the dragon squinted and stared at him. Having never seen a creature like it, the unicorn tilted its head, his curled horn ready to attack.

“Chill out, I’m a bit old for that. In fact, I can not even remember ever breathing fire,” the dragon groaned. “I mean no harm. Look on me as a welcoming friend who passes on the things you have to know. You don’t want to upset the Griffin with your ignorance, do you?”

“I’m sorry, I did not know,” the highly embarrassed unicorn cried. “ I just, I just…”

“Never mind, lay down and listen.”

The old tree, trying hard to provide more shade, shook his crown and was all ears as well.

“Here goes! All creatures ever created by mans imagination end up on Rainbow Planet, but the planet only exists as long as we believe in it. When we stop believing, it will simply vanish. The same thing happens to all of us. People stop believing and we have to go.

“There was a time when I was beautiful and green, but that was long ago,” the spirit of the tree whispered.

“There was a time, when every living creature feared me. I could breath fire like no other, I think,” the Tatzelworm remarked.

“Are we then here to stay forever,” the unicorn asked.

“O no, there will always be people who believe and when there are enough we can go back.”

The dragons eyes looked sad.

“I have not seen the start of a rainbow for many a year and the Griffins time is stretching into centuries. They do no longer need heraldic creatures. That’s why he now is our king, so show him the respect he deserves. Don’t focus on him too long, for he is touchy beyond belief.”

“I’m sorry, I do not mean to offend,” the unicorn whispered highly embarrassed.

A shadow fell onto the group and a beautiful winged horse now slightly out of breath glided down.

“Hi everybody. Hope you don’t mind me joining Tatz. Got great news for some, but first I must rest.”

The dragon turned towards the unicorn.

“ Now this is Pegasus our daily messenger. He lets us know when we can slide down the rainbow and go back to earth.”

“It won’t be long Sonny,” the spirit of the tree declared.

Things got too much and the unicorns eyes began to get heavy. Just before falling asleep he saw a bright red sun falling into the clouds.

A new day dawned. When he woke up a giant who had sat beside him shook his head.

“I have been waiting here for hours.”

Sonny recognized him immediately. It was Argus with the many eyes.

“I’m here to lead you to our daily meeting.”

Sonny kept quiet as he trudged beside the huge man through a valley with a lovely fruit orchard. The path was covered in purple clover and fat, green grass.

“Don’t walk through the grass,” the giant urged, but unable to resist the soft bedding on his hooves, the unicorn paid no attention. Shortly after he began to feel hungry and soon the pain in his stomach became unbearable. He reared and picked up a fruit hoping to still the nagging ache. Almost instantly he dropped it when it began to move in his mouth. The orange burst open and out flew a fruit fairy furious and screaming with anger.

“I don’t believe it. A tree laden with fruit and you have to pick the one that’s my home. Go away, or I put a curse on you.”

When the startled unicorn pranced, Argus reached into his pocket and threw a handful of ash-berries at her. Almost instantly she dashed away. The giant shook his head.

“Let’s go before you attract more grief.”

He picked up three apples and gave them to the unicorn.

“You better eat these before it’s too late. You walked on hungry grass and most of us die, if we don’t eat soon after.”

In the distance stood a crowd and as they came closer peculiar beings crossed their path.

Suddenly he saw the Griffin in all it’s glory. Perched on the edge of a small rock, he had lost nothing of his former splendour. His wings glistened in the sun and his golden eyes shimmered. The terror people once felt when looking at his beak and claws had created a majestic aura around him. The vibes that came from the rock were strong and clear. Scary and fierce, he was a born leader, a paragon of force and beauty.

At his side was, well, it must be the Queen. A phoenix so lovely, it took his breath a way. Her crown of wispy feathers shadowed gentle eyes and when the sun fell on her plumage, he could see all the colours of the rainbow. The unicorn stared in awe, only just remembering what the Tatz had said. Averting his eyes, he froze and only moved when Argus touched his mane.

“Time to go, we are last.”

The rest of the day was spent lazing by the river and Argus told him more about the fairies.

“If you were a real horse, you’re hooves would protect you. Fairies don’t like iron, you were lucky. They are a devious lot, pretty, but devious. Next time be prepared and listen to those who want to help you.”

Months passed by and eventually the unicorn lost track of time. Then one day Pegasus called for him.

“Your time has come Sonny. See the spirit of the tree and she will tell you what to do.”

Unable to speak, the unicorn only got excited when he heard the familiar voice again. He could not wait to do as she suggested. When eventually he stood on top of the rainbow, he closed his eyes and made a wish. As he opened them again, he saw a meadow where lots of animals were grazing. A peacock strolled over and in the distance he could see children play. Was the Tatz right when he had told him that those who believed could see him? As he slowly walked towards the children a young boy suddenly cried out.

“ Look at the beautiful unicorn!”

The peacock opened his tail feathers and as a hundred eyes looked at the unicorn he heard the voice of his friend Argus.

“ Keep on walking Sonny, this is your day.”

THE END

  • April 9th, 2017
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A Kitten Goes to the Zoo

 

SMALL KITTEN VISITS THE ZOO

BY SYLVESTER ALLRED

Mag was a mother cat.

She had one kitten.

The kitten was small, so Mag named her Small Kitten.

Mag and Small Kitten lived with the Zoo Keeper at the City Zoo.

One day after Mag and Small Kitten woke up from a long night of sleep, Mag asked Small Kitten if she wanted to go into the zoo and see some of the other animals that lived there.

Small Kitten did not know what the Zoo would be like. Small Kitten did not know what other animals looked like either, but she was curious and said yes.

Mag and Small Kitten left the Zoo Keeper’s house and walked towards the main gate of the Zoo.

Small Kitten ran in front of her Mother because she was so happy to be going with her to the Zoo.

When Mag and Small Kitten were close to the gate, Small Kitten stopped at a large sign. Mag told Small Kitten that the sign read, “ZOO. “

Small Kitten slowed down when she saw a large gray animal with a trunk and large floppy ears. ELEPHANT was printed on the sign. The elephant was swinging its trunk from side to side.

Small Kitten ran to the next animal. It had long ears, a bobtail, and was eating grass. “That is a RABBIT,” said Mag to Small Kitten.

Mag turned around and saw another animal. It had sharp spines sticking out all over its body. Small kitten looked at the sign near the spiny animal. PORCUPINE was neatly printed on the sign.

Small Kitten wanted to see more animals so she ran ahead. The next animal she saw had a black mask on its face and a striped tail. The animal was friendly and said to Small Kitten, “Hi, I’m a RACCOON.”

Mag called to Small Kitten to follow her to the next animal. ANTELOPE was busy eating grass and barely looked over at Small Kitten or Mag. Small Kitten noticed that ANTELOPE had horns with small prongs at their tips.

Small Kitten saw another animal not far away. It was ARMADILLO.

It had small ears and its body was covered with a shell. When ARMADILLO saw Small Kitten, he rolled into a ball.

When Small Kitten looked for her mother, she found her next to a mother KANGAROO. Small Kitten noticed that the mother KANGAROO had long ears and a pouch. Something stuck its head out of the pouch, it was a baby KANGAROO. It happened so suddenly that it scared Small Kitten. She ran away to hide.

When Small Kitten looked up from her hiding place under a large leaf, she saw a pink bird with long legs and an unusual bill. The bird stuck its head into the water. When the bird lifted its head, water was running out of both sides of its mouth. Mag joined Small Kitten and said that is a FLAMINGO.

Small kitten was getting tired and asked Mag if they could go home.

Small Kitten stayed very close to Mag on their walk back to the Zoo Keeper’s House.

When Small Kitten entered their house, she jumped up into the window seat where the sun was shining. She yawned and stretched and went fast asleep.

Small Kitten dreamed about the animals that she had seen at the zoo. In the first part of her dream she became an ELEPHANT and the name she chose for herself was CATEPHANT. She had a long trunk and huge floppy ears.

Next Small Kitten became a RABBIT in her dream and she called herself a CATABBIT. Her large ears were standing up straight and her tiny brown nose moved quickly as she sniffed the air.

After being a CATABBIT for a while in her dream, Small kitten became a CATCUPINE. She had long sharp pointed bristles and a tiny black nose.

After a few minutes of being a CATCUPINE, Small Kitten saw herself as a raccoon. Her face had a black mask around her eyes and her nose was pointed. Her tail was fluffy and striped. I must be a CATACOON she dreamed.

A CATACOON has a good sense of smell. She smelled fresh grass and saw ANTELOPE. Instantly Small Kitten became a CATELOPE. Her head had short horns with little prongs on their tips. Her tail was short. She could leap quickly through the tall grass. Dreaming about being a CATELOPE was fun. She almost jumped on ARMADILLO.

ARMADILLO was moving slowly through the grass. Small Kitten wanted to be like ARMADILLO. She rolled into a ball with a thick shell to protect her. I will call myself CATADILLO.

Small Kitten saw a KANGAROO jumping and decided to change into a CATAGAROO.

Being a CATAGAROO was even more fun. She could jump on her back legs and keep her front legs up. She also liked having a pouch. Inside her pouch she kept a ball of yarn. The ball of yarn was one of her favorite toys.

Since she was a CATAGAROO, she could see farther because she was taller. She saw a FLAMINGO standing in a small pond. Small Kitten became a CATAMINGO. She liked her pink color and beautiful wings.

CATAMINGO heard a soft voice. The voice was saying, “Wake up Small Kitten, it is time for dinner.”

When Small Kitten awoke from her dream she saw Mag sitting next to her.

Small Kitten stretched and said, “Momma, I dreamed that I became the animals that I saw in the zoo today, except they all had cat faces like me.”

Mag looked at Small Kitten and said, “Small Kitten, what a sweet dream you had. One day when you grow up you will be a CAT and have cat features, like long stiff whiskers, a wonderful meow, and soft fur.”

The End

Copyright© 2004, Sylvester Allread

  • February 21st, 2017
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Observations in a Toddler Classroom

Toddler Room (15 children)

Today, I’m in the toddler room. They are very active, especially compared to the infant room. The room is arranged with a colorful platform indoor playground in the center of the room. It has 4 slanted ramps, like a bridge, that met at the center,  and clear plastic windows to look through on the sides. There is very loud music in this room. The teacher, Chelsea, is playing very loud disco music, The BeeGees’ Saturday Night Fever. It feels like a very fun atmosphere. So far, it is upbeat and active with lots of movement.

The teacher gathered the children on the floor to blow bubbles. A boy named Noah is grabbing the bubbles and bumping the other kids to grab the bubbles. He is oblivious to his bumping into the other kids. Teacher stops for a second, tells Noah to be careful; he is knocking down a girl. Girl sort of cries; teacher says “you’re okay.” She comes next to me. Noah didn’t care. He likes bubbles, grabbing the bubbles. (This is a sign that Noah has not yet learned how to have empathy for others.)

Teacher gets up, changes someone’s diaper. Noah is playing on the toy phone, carrying on a conversation with himself (Babbling talk; I don’t understand him.)  He hands me the phone, so I pretend to talk to his mom. He watched me as I told his “mom” on the toy phone “what a sweet boy he is…he is having lots of fun in class today…he is very smart.” He smiles, and seems to believe I am talking to his mom. I hand him the phone back. (Make-believe play is not only fun for toddlers, but is also helping them acquire new representational schemes.)

I’m looking around; there is lots of crying and very runny noses. Everyone wants the toy someone else is playing with.

Noah comes back to me with the phone again. I take it. He gets two more toy phones from the shelf and puts them in his lap. A girl wanted one of the phones. He would not let her have it. She screams. The teacher tells him he needs to share the phones. Noah let her have one. (The teacher is helping him learn important social skills by encouraging him to share.)  A little boy came into the room with his mom, cried and ran to mom when she tried to leave. The teacher sat on the floor with a book of cards with pictures and asked them to identify the objects in the pictures. Noah ran to the front to see the pictures up close. He can talk pretty clearly…the objects. He is the first to shout out the pictures and eagerly and enthusiastically participates. He crawled in Chelsea’s lap and wanted to look at the pictures and name them for her. Cat, apple, dog, tree, etc. (His language development is impressive. He names the object in the pictures very clearly.) Then Noah got on a toy car to ride around the room, around the peripheral space on the sides around the platform and playground.

There are lots of toy cars they sit on and run their feet on the ground and steer. He goes very fast. More crying about sharing toy cars they want to ride someone else’s car around the room. Teacher says, “Come on, now, let’s share the cars. Look, there are more cars over there.” Her solution gradually worked. The kids seem to prefer to have someone else’s car, but they got the available cars. Noah would not share his car with anyone, even when a girl cried for it. He just kept riding and ignored her. Noah seemed particularly bright when the teacher was doing the flash cards. He knew them all. He would touch the pictures with his finger and name them. Another mom comes in to drop off her son; he clings to his blanket; he cries; doesn’t want mom to leave. She reaches in the cubical with his name on it and pulls out at least 4 different blankets, all with different textures; he takes the one he likes and settles down; his mom leaves. The teacher reads a book on the floor. Noah and the cranky blanket boy join together on the floor to listen to the teacher read. Noah walks pretty well, but sometimes falls or trips; sometimes a little wobbly. Noah listens to teacher read book; he crawls in her lap and then onto the floor. Now, teacher leads the class to dance with music. Noah hops up and down and claps his hands together, spins in circles. Noah walks over to the platform and stamps his feet on the plastic platform. This makes lots of noise. The other kids notice and 3 of them join Noah in stomping with the music. They are very loud, but the teacher is very tolerant and allows them to make noise. They seem to like to copy each other. Then they lost interest quickly and separate to play alone, then play together, then play alone, repeating this cycle. (The toddlers’ gross motor skills are challenged and will improve even more with fun classroom activities, such as dancing.)

More tantrums over toys. Noah and boy get very snippy with each other. Noah is the bright child who is always into something. He came up to me; I’m sitting on the floor; he stacker rubber toy frogs on my head, so I make a ribbit sound and bobbed up and down. This entertained Noah for about a minute, and he lost interest and ran away. More crying. Girl cries because she doesn’t want to share toy with Noah. Noah leaves her, goes to the big toy box and takes all of the toys out one by one and puts them on the floor with force, almost throwing them. I thought they might break, but they didn’t. Then Noah leaves the mess he made on the floor and is riding one of the cars up the platform. Teacher picks up Noah, takes him to diaper station. Teacher is changing Noah’s diaper; he is happy and lets her change his diaper willingly. Now Noah is losing his patience; he is still in the process of getting his diaper change; he begins to cry. Teacher consoles him: “I’m almost done, Noah.” But he cries until she is completely finished and puts him down.

The teacher wears gloves and sterilizes the table after each diaper change and washes her own hands and the toddler’s hands. This seems very clean; the infant room yesterday had the same procedure of diaper changing. I’m noticing when a child cries, the other children pay no attention to the crying child; they just go about their business, and they didn’t even look at the crying child, either. (Many of these toddlers have not learned to empathize with each other, but with continued social interaction, they will learn.) All the children have terribly runny noses. I hope I don’t get sick.

A group of the toddlers gathered together and laughed and watched each other playing with various toys (They are being sociable.) and like to be together, they lost interest and separated from each other and played alone. The teacher puts on more music to dance to. She dances with them and they all hop and dance with the teacher. Noah dances, smiles energetically, then goes to play by himself with a toy on the other side of the room. After the dance, they all disperse around the room and find a toy to play with. Noah throws a toy; it accidentally hit another boy. I thought the boy would cry, but he did not cry. Teacher picker up a girl who fell off the car and told her she would be okay. The teacher seems very nice; gives the children freedom to play and nurtures them when they need help.

Noah is now putting big toys on other kids heads, and they don’t like it and cry. Noah seems to be entertained by his ability to amuse himself at the expense of making others cry. The teacher calmly tells Noah to stop putting toys on the kids’ heads. He complies and stops. Now, Noah is letting a girl play with the zippers on his pants, (the zippers on his legs by his knees, not his crotch).  Noah got up and stole a red ball that a girl was playing with and ran with it with a big smile. He was proud that he took the ball from her. The teacher tells him to give it back, but he keeps it anyway. The teacher ignores him.

The teacher sits down on the floor to give the kids another bubble show; they gather around her and Noah reaches for the bubbles and pops them. Noah wanders away, stands on a chair and tries to balance with his hands stretched out. He gets down. Now, Noah is climbing into the sink; it is a child-height sink; he is trying to turn on the faucet, but he can’t reach the knobs. He loses interest and runs away. He stops for a moment to look at himself in the mirror (child-height mirrors between the cubicles and shelves).

Now, teacher is playing ball with the kids, a bouncy ball, and they watch her dribble the ball, and they laugh. Noah is very excited to watch her dribble the ball; he is laughing and thrilled by her skills. (He is learning new ways to manipulate objects by observing an adult’s behavior.) Now, Noah crawls under the table with 2 girls. They brought toys to play with under the table. They are not playing with each other, just playing in the same place.

There is a door that is shut closed, that goes into the older toddler room; Noah is on the floor on his belly trying to see what’s going on over there. He is peeking between the space of the door and the floor. (Toddlers have learned mobile development, which enables them to move around and explore their environment. Toddlers are very curious, and their newly acquired mobility helps them discover new things.) Noah gets up. Noah starts crying and screaming, a sudden outburst, and this starts a chain reaction—3 other kids begin to cry with him. Noah walks away, screaming and crying face down on the floor. The he stops crying (just suddenly stops crying) gets up and is playing on the platform, running up and down the ramps.

Noah came up to me and gave me a hug. The teacher is really good with the children, and she is able to handle them all surprisingly well, even though there are 15 – 16 of them. And she gives them all individual attention. Noah tries to pull apart the squares of the floor math that fit together like a puzzle, then puts them back together again.  Then Noah hugged me again. He’s pretty sweet. Teacher calls lunch time; they line up against the wall. Noah runs to the front of the line and plays footsy with the boy next to him. The boy just kind of tolerates/ignores Noah and lets Noah continue. Time for me to go.

  • February 20th, 2017
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What’s Going On Here?

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW

by Joanna Mungai

Outside my window I see….

One giant oak tree

Two birds gathering twigs,

Three squirrels scampering skyward,

Four caterpillars crunching leaves,

Five turkeys fanning feathers,

Six snails slimming trails,

Seven ladybugs munching aphids,

Eight beetles burrowing busily,

Nine earthworms sifting soil, getting the earth ready for…

Ten acorns falling fast.

Which will grow into one giant oak tree?

Copyright © Joanna Mungai

 

  • February 18th, 2017
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A Short Story in English and Spanish

THE PLAYGROUND OLYMPICS
Las Olímpicas  del Parque

By Michelle Barone

I am in the playground Olympics.
Estoy en las Olímpicas del Parque.
I get ready.  I stretch and bend, stretch and bend.
Me preparo.  Me estiro, y me doblo, me estiro y me doblo.
I swing.  I kick my legs in and out, in and out.
Yo columpio.  Doy patadas así adentro y así afuera, así adentro  y así afuera.
I slide.  I climb up, slide down, climb up, slide down.
Yo resbalo.  Yo subo, yo resbalo, yo subo, yo resbalo.
I ride the frog.  I go back and forth, back and forth.
Monto la rana.  Voy para afrente, y para atras, para afrente y para atras.
I sit on the spring seat.  I spring high and low, high and low.
Me siento en la silla de resorte.  Me voy para arriba y abajo, arriba y abajo.
I spin on the merry go round, fast, slow, fast, slow.
Me doy vueltas en el tiovivo, rápido y despacio, rápido y despacio.
I work the sand crane.  I lift and drop, lift and drop.
Yo uso la máquina de recoger la arena.  Yo la levanto y la tiro, la levanto y la tiro.
I hang on the high bar right side up, upside down, right side up, upside
down.
Me cuelgo en el tubo alto, derecho y de arriba abajo, derecho y arriba abajo.
I grab the rings.  Right hand, left hand, right hand, left hand.
Yo agaro los círculos.   Mano derecha y mano izquierda, mano derecha,
mano izquierda.
On the low bar I flip over and under, over and under.
En el tubo de abajo me doy vueltas sobre y debajo, sobre y debajo.
What fun!
!Qué divertido!
I am the judge and the champion.
Yo soy el juez y yo soy el campión.
It was a 10!  Magnificent!
!Era un diez!  !Magnífico!
I take a bow.
Me doy la gracias.
What’s that sound?
¿Qué es ese ruido?
I hear hands clapping, together, apart, together, apart.
Yo escucho manos aplaudiendo, juntos, aparte, juntos, aparte.
I close my eyes.  I open my eyes, close, and open them.
Me cierro los ojos.  Yo abro los ojos, me cierro y los abro.
I see boys and girls, many children.
Yo veo a los niños y niñas, muchos niños.
There are short ones, tall ones,
Hay chiquitos, y altos,
big ones, small ones,
grandes, y pequeños,
fat ones, thin ones,
gordos, y flacos,
jolly ones,  and grim ones.
alegres, y otros serios.
I say come play.  Play with me.
Digo que vengan a jugar.  Jueguen conmigo.
New friends, now we are all in the playground olympics!
Nuevos amigos, !ahora todos estamos en las Olímpicas del Parque!

Copyright © Michelle Barone

 

  • February 16th, 2017
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And the Worm Turns

BILLY, THE LITTLE PINK EARTHWORM

Billy had a problem. Whenever he was wriggling along, he would catch sight of something wriggling behind him. Billy always thought this was another little worm, with whom he could play. And he would turn his head to see who it was. But it was always only his tail!

That was not a problem. But it was the start of a problem. Once Billy had turned his head to look, he would lose his way. And once he had lost his way, he would wriggle OVER his tail.

“No, that’s not right!” Billy would think to himself. Then he would wriggle UNDER his tail.

“That was right!”

Billy could now see his parents. And he could see his two big sisters, Lilly and Milly, who were all wriggling ahead of him. But, of course, Billy could not move. He had tied himself in a knot!

“Lilly! Milly! Go back and help Billy,” his parents would say. And away would go Lilly and Milly to help untie Billy.

“Silly Billy!” his sisters would say to him. “When will you learn not to tie yourself in a knot?”

Billy and his family were all gardeners. And the time had come for them to move from the lettuce patch, that they had been digging, to the new cabbage patch.

“Children! I want you all to stay under the shade of the lettuce leaves, until we reach the cabbage patch,” the young worms’ parents told them. “We must not let the birds see us!”

Billy did not heed his parent’s warning. It was such a lovely day! All Billy wanted to do was to wriggle in the sun. And he might just find another little worm with whom he could play! And away he went. Wriggle! Wriggle! Wriggle!

Then, out of the corner of his eye, Billy thought he could see another little worm wriggling behind him. Billy turned his head to see who it was, but, as you know, it was only his tail!

Once again, Billy got lost. So he wriggled OVER his tail. “No, that was not right!” Billy thought to himself. Then he wriggled UNDER his tail. “That was right!”

Yes, Billy had tied himself in a knot again!

Billy was about to call out to his two big sisters, Lilly and Milly, for help. But just then, he saw the shadow of a bird. The bird was a hungry sparrow! Billy knew that he must keep VERY still, or the hungry sparrow would eat him!

It is very hard for worms to keep still. And, for Billy, it was even harder as he had tied himself in a knot!

“How strange,” the hungry sparrow thought to himself. “I KNOW I saw a little worm wriggling!”

The hungry sparrow cocked his head to one side. Then he hopped all around Billy. He stopped. Then the hungry sparrow cocked his head to the other side.

“It’s only a piece of string,” the hungry sparrow thought to himself. “No worm would tie himself in a knot like that. But I had better make sure!”

The hungry sparrow then hopped closer to Billy and quickly picked him up with his sharp beak. The hungry sparrow was about to give poor Billy a good shaking, when he saw the shadow of something quite large creeping towards him!

Tommy, the big ginger cat, had been crouching in the shade of a little bush close to the hungry sparrow. And just when the hungry sparrow had Billy in his beak, Tommy sprang towards the hungry sparrow in ONE BIG LEAP!

The hungry sparrow got such a big fright that he dropped poor Billy and flew away as quickly as he could!

Billy’s two big sisters, Lilly and Milly, waited until the hungry sparrow had flown right away, then they came to help untie Billy.

But poor Billy was so sore from being tied in a knot for so long, and from being in the hungry sparrow’s beak, that his two big sisters, Lilly and Milly, had to carry him back to the shade of the lettuce patch.

Billy lay in the shade of the lettuce patch until he got better. He had been so scared when the hungry sparrow picked him up with his beak!

Billy promised that he would never again disobey his parents.

AND BILLY WOULD NEVER AGAIN TIE HIMSELF IN A KNOT!

Copyright © 2004 Pamela Shaw

  • February 15th, 2017
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Music Is Magic

HANNAH’S MAGIC FLUTE

by Alison Lohans

Music spilled through the treetops,

music from a wooden flute.

It tickled away Hannah’s grumps,

and lifted her onto her tiptoes.

“Come PLAY-with-me, PLAY-with-me, PLAY-with-me,” the music called.

GIRL STANDING IN FOREST. MUSIC DRIFTS THROUGH LEAVES & BRANCHES. GIRL STANDS ON TIPTOES, ARMS OUTSTRETCHED.

Hannah ran among the trees looking for whoever was playing the music, but she couldn’t find anyone except a little brown bird.

GIRL LOOKS AMONG TREES. LITTLE BROWN BIRD FLIES TO HER AND PERCHES ON HER SHOULDER.

So Hannah went home and built a boat. As she sawed and hammered and hammered and sawed, the little bird chirped by her side.

GIRL BUILDING BOAT. BIRD ON NEARBY BRANCH.

Music danced across the lake,

sparkling off the waves.

It swooped into Hannah’s sail

and sent her skimming to the distant shore.

“Come DANCE-with-me, DANCE-with-me, DANCE-with-me,” the music sang.

GIRL SAILING HER BOAT. MUSIC SPARKLES OFF THE LAKE. LITTLE BROWN BIRD PERCHED NEARBY – MAYBE ON GIRL’S SHOULDER, OR ON SIDE OF BOAT.

Next to Hannah’s boat, a fish jumped and plopped. A duck came to swim beside her, and the little bird nabbed a mosquito.

IN SAME SCENE, FISH PLOPS. DUCK JOINS SCENE; BIRD GETS MOSQUITO.

Hannah beached her boat and clambered over the rocks. She danced a few skipping steps, and a lonely puppy joined her. They started up the nearest mountain, the puppy scampering by Hannah’s feet.

GIRL SKIPS OVER ROCKS; PUPPY COMES TO HER. THEY START GOING UPHILL.

Music drifted from the rocky peaks

where only eagles flew.

It fluttered Hannah’s hair about her face

and made her laugh out loud.

“Come FLY-with-me, FLY-with-me, FLY-with-me,” the music begged.

Hannah spread her arms and soared up, up, UP. She saw a mountain goat nibbling at tufts of grass, and orange butterflies that darted above the alpine flowers.

GIRL FLYING, ARMS OUTSTRETCHED, WITH MUSIC ALL AROUND HER. SHE SEES MOUNTAIN GOAT AND BUTTERFLIES. THE PUPPY, ON THE GROUND BELOW, IS LOOKING UP AT HER.

Then, DOWN, down, down she drifted and settled on the shore.

GIRL CLIMBS INTO BOAT. DUCK FOLLOWS HER.

The puppy chased the duck. The goat chased the puppy. The little bird sat on the mountain goat’s back, and the butterflies sat on the sail. The boat tipped. “Oh no!” cried Hannah. “What should I do?”

PUPPY CHASES DUCK, GOAT CHASES PUPPY (WITH LITTLE BROWN BIRD RIDING ON GOAT’S BACK). BUTTERFLIES LAND ON THE SAIL. BOAT TIPS.

Music whispered on the breeze,

far across the lake.

It steadied Hannah’s little boat

and carried them gently along.

“HOME again, HOME again, HOME again,” the music sighed.

Hannah steered her boat. A fish plopped. The duck dived. And high overhead, an eagle watched.

GIRL STEERS BOAT, WITH ALL OF THE ANIMALS IN IT. MUSIC COMES ACROSS THE LAKE AND SWEEPS INTO THE SAIL. WHEN FISH ‘PLOPS’, DUCK DIVES FOR IT. OVERHEAD, AN EAGLE IS WATCHING ALL OF THIS.

Hannah sailed home and sat down by the fire.

GIRL GETS OUT OF BOAT. ALL OF THE ANIMALS FOLLOW HER, AND WATCH AS SHE SETS A CAMPFIRE.

Music leaped among the flames,

swirling in the smoke.

It teased away Hannah’s tiredness

and kissed her toes and cheeks.

“Come SING-with me, SING-with me, SING-with me,” the music crooned.

Hannah sang. The bird sang “Chirp!” and the duck sang “Quack! and the puppy sang “Woof!” and the mountain goat sang “Baaah!” And high overhead, an eagle sang “Skree!” A baby deer heard the singing, and came closer to listen.

GIRL AND ANIMALS SING, GATHERED AROUND THE CAMPFIRE, WITH EAGLE OVERHEAD. MUSIC RISES FROM FLAMES. BABY DEER CREEPS OUT OF FOREST TO WATCH AND LISTEN.

Hannah searched for just the right branch. Carefully, she carved a wooden flute.

GIRL CARVING.

When it was finished at last, she sat on a large rock and blew softly. As she played, music spilled from her flute.

It swirled through the treetops

and danced across the lake.

It soared to the rocky peaks

and then back home again.

“Come PLAY-with-me, PLAY-with-me, PLAY-with-me,” the music called.

GIRL SITTING ON LARGE ROCK, WITH MUSIC POURING OUT OF HER FLUTE AND GOING UP THROUGH THE TREETOPS, ACROSS THE LAKE, UP TO THE ROCKY PEAKS, AND SWIRLING BACK HOME.

Children came running through the trees. “Can we play?” they said.

CHILDREN COME RUNNING THROUGH THE TREES WHILE GIRL PLAYS HER FLUTE. PERHAPS ANIMALS DANCE. END WITH MUSIC AND LAUGHTER.

Copyright © Alison Lohans

 

  • February 14th, 2017
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