It all started because the Winter Program is coming up. I have ALL the kids in school, so I thought I would do a few unifying crafts to hang in the gym to bling it up a bit. Paper chains for primary, paper light-bulb chains for intermediate. The kids had fun and we got a lot done, but at the end of the day I scan the room and it is a mess. A hole punched, glittery, torn paper mess. I have gone home exhausted each day. But I had to remind myself, the end product was perfect and the kids were happy. So what if I was tired?
When you take these two projects and break them down into small parts it is deceptively simple sounding. I found them on Pinterest under “Crafts you can complete in 15 minutes” for goodness sake! My plan. A read aloud, and after you check out your books go the “light-bulb” station and complete this “simple” activity.
The kids come in. I start the light-bulb demonstration. I put on festive Christmas music, low in the background. My intent is to do one together and then they can finish four more after check out.
I begin. “First you take the gray paper and make a “hamburger fold””
“Like this?” A student holds up a piece of paper.
“Yes, good, just like that….”
“Like this?” Another student holds up his gray paper.
“Yes, that is good hamburger fold…”
I set down my demonstration bulb and give them the eye. “Ok…. no one else is allowed to say ‘Like this!'”
We progress along. There are a few fun parts. It is pretty cool when you pull the string and… wah la! It becomes a light-bulb! And of course there are those fine motor skill divas and divos who see where this is going and are finished with their third before I am through with my “demonstration.” They bustle around and help their classmates. In spite of this, I am hot and flustered, class is half over and we have not completed one bulb.
I adjust my plans. I give up on the read aloud, which really torques me because that is my favorite thing about library. I rush them through the book selection and check out process, then rush them through four more bulbs. It is fun when we tie the string together with strong knots and have a really long strand of bulbs.
They try. They really try to clean up, but soon it is time for the next class and I am saying, “Thank you, but just go. Go.” The day progresses, class after class, pretty much a repeat each time – the room just a little more messy after each one leaves. I watch a kid dump his paper hole punch dots on a table and swirl them around, and while it is a paper explosion and I know I will be seeing dots for days, I have to admit it looks kind of cool.
And then I spy them. Two lone glue sticks, lids off, laying on the floor. The lids, it turns out, are nowhere to be found. No matter that I started each lesson with, “Do you see how I set my glue stick lid right next to my paper?” And end each lesson, “Where is my glue stick lid? Right. See how I put it back on the glue stick?” How does that happen? Twenty years of teaching and this just drives me crazy.
After the last class leaves, I get the tallest person I know to stretch them between columns in the lobby and call it a wrap.
Making bling with the entire school WAS frustrating, but at the end of the day, I am on bus duty and I watch the kids meet their parents, looking up, eyes sparkling. They pointing out “their” light bulbs, pretty proud and happy… and I am just crossing my fingers and hoping the knots hold.