Friday, May 31, 2013

It was the letter E on the countdown to the end of school

The school that I have been substitute teaching is doing a countdown of days to the end of the school year. Yesterday was the letter E. The teachers honored Eric Carle, the author and illustrator of childrens' books. One of the little rewards of doing this job is becoming exposed to childrens' literature. I don't remember if my daughters read any of Eric Carle's books. There aren't any here in our house. 
Elementary school has its quiet time built into the day. The absent teacher assigned The Hungry Caterpillar to read to her class. I read the book and engaged the students in a discussion of what they liked about the book. The illustrations are beautiful. The story progresses from the hatching of the caterpillar to the metamorphosis into the butterfly. Eric Carle delights in making the book enjoyable. The caterpillar continues to eat and eat and eat. The students laughed when the caterpillar had a stomach ache because it ate so much at one time. Most of what it ate was loaded with sugar.
The teachers showed a video to all of their classes in the afternoon. It was a documentary of the author and his work. Carle said that The Hungry Caterpillar was about growth. He wants children to develop their potential. He was fortunate to have his parents' support in his artwork. It all began when the kindergarten teacher asked for his mother to come to school. The teacher recognized Eric's creativity and asked his parents to encourage it. That is what he wants to do in his books. 
I observed the teachers during the viewing. They were looking at one another when Eric Carle said something they valued. There was a mutual assent to everything he stated about his life's work and maybe they felt the same way about their life's work. I was watching the kids during the video. Some of them were restless, some of them were not interested, but for those who watched it intently, I am hoping some ideas are germinating in their young minds. These will become the butterflies.