Five-year-olds can teach us so many lessons!
My students constantly inspire me with their love for little things. My classroom has tubs upon tubs that are full of tiny manipulatives, and a favorite activity for the whole class is “tub time,” where, if we are done with other jobs for the day, each student gets to pick a tub to have all to himself or herself, even if it’s just for five minutes. The students will choose from small people, cars, dinosaurs, blocks, textured materials, animals, and the list goes on. Some students like to sort their little things, some make patterns, and others compose addition/subtraction stories. Still others like to have dramatic play with the tiny things in their boxes, creating a whole story of their own.
Tiny manipulatives aren’t the only little things that can bring instantaneous joy to my kindergarten students, though. Any small thing can brighten their day if it is presented to them in the right way.
After lunch every day, we have a “dessert” of one tiny chocolate chip. Just one tiny chocolate chip from the baking ailse. The students eagerly hold their hands out and their eyes light up as I give them one tiny chocolate chip each. They savor each morsel. One time, I ran out of chocolate chips and instead of buying new ones, I brought in a bag of mini marshmallows. When it came time for “dessert,” I told the kids that I had a surprise for them and pulled out the marshmellaws with a flourish. I was met with gasps and cheers and excitment, and my heart just swelled at their joy that they are so willing to give!
One time at Christmas, a sweet student had left her nap mat on the bus. Our PE teacher brought it down to our room and instead of just walking in and handing it to the student, she said, “Special delivery from the North Pole!” The kids all gazed in wide-eyed wonder as the owner of the mat jumped up and said, “Oh my gosh. I cannot believe this. Thank you!!!!!” It made their day, which made my day. Just a few simple words. Little things, really.
One day, we were learning about clouds and I decided to haul out some cotton balls so that students could create clouds of their own. One sweet boy said that he’d “never forget this day as long as he lived.”
I have a student who is known for saying that each day is “the best day of her life,” because she can find wonder if every tiny peice of something. On rainy days, if we glimpse a break in the clouds and “sneak” outside for a few minutes, she always celebrates. On special days like the 100th day of school or Valentines Day, she is over the moon with excitement. She exclaims over her friends’ accomplishments, especially the little milestones that have such a big impact. She allows the little things to make her day full of joy!
Those sweet kiddos, they can teach us so many things. They love every little thing, they celebrate the little things, and they acknowledge the little things. And by the end of the day, all the little things become one big thing…a great day that they don’t forget. Teachers and adults alike, we have the power to change the lives around us.
All because of the little things.