My first year teaching, I was really excited to use everything I had learned in college -- including all the materials I had acquired and been saving for my first classroom. Late in my college career, I took an amazing drama class about play through drama. It was amazing -- all about using imagination, pretend play, and drama in the classroom and other therapy settings. We played drama games, created improv skits, and just had a wild, fun time in class.
As our final project, we were put in groups to create a puppet show for the local library storytime. In groups of 4-5, we adapted popular children's picture books into elaborate puppet shows. We even learned how to make our own puppets! I'm not talking paper bag or sock puppets -- real puppets. Fabric, working mouths, movable arms... they were legit. My group did the story, Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type.
Strangely, I was the only elementary education major in the class. It seemed bizarre to me because the content fit so perfectly! So, at the end of the semester, all of my classmates graciously donated their puppets to me for my classroom! I was pretty excited and couldn't wait to use them with my own kindergarten class. One of my favorites was the Rainbow Fish puppet. This character, from the popular Rainbow Fish series, is perfect for the kindergarten classroom. I always utilize these books for social studies at the beginning of the year. Rainbow Fish is a special fish because he is the only one who has sparkly scales. He realizes, however, that even though he is beautiful, he is lonely because he doesn't have any friends. He ends up sharing all but one of his scales, but is happier because he has friends.
After reading the story, I decided to get out the Rainbow Fish puppet. I thought this would be a great way for the kids to recall the story and discuss what Rainbow Fish did and how to make friends. So, I told my students to close their eyes while I went to get our "friend." They did.
When I came back, their eyes were as big as dinner plates. They excitedly turned to each other saying, "Oh my gosh! It's Rainbow Fish!" It was seriously hilarious. This was my first year teaching, so I honestly didn't think they would be this excited/naive. I thought they would say something like, "Wow! A puppet!" Nope. In their minds, it was legitimately Rainbow Fish.
So, I played it up. I changed my voice for Rainbow Fish, talked to Rainbow Fish, nodded his little head -- the whole deal. I asked the kids questions about the story from Rainbow Fish's perspective, like "Why was I so sad at the beginning of the story?" I (Rainbow Fish) would call on the kids by what they were wearing. Something like, "You, pretty girl in the pink dress." They would immediately look down at what they were wearing, and our little friend in the pink would say, "Me?!" - totally shocked he was speaking to her. It was classic.
Keep in mind, my elbow is literally hanging out of the bottom of the puppet. Literally. But that, of course, did not matter.
It was time to wrap up the lesson and move on. So, I told the kids to say good-bye to Rainbow Fish. One little guy in my class was waving his arm and just about to jump out of his skin if he didn't get to say something to Rainbow Fish. So, I (Rainbow Fish) turned around and said, "Yes, Jason - what do you want to tell me?"
Poor little Jason turned white as a ghost. His chin nearly hit the floor.
After a moment of silence, I said (from my voice), "Jason, are you okay?"
Poor little, scared-to-death Jason nearly started to cry and said, "Umm... how did he know my name?!"
Hilarious. I nearly exploded with laughter. Before I let myself go, I immediately remedied the situation: "Well, of course, I whispered it in his ear."
Never underestimate the trusting, innocent, and adorable nature of early kindergarten. Their ability to suspend reality is truly amazing.