Revolution, Babies, and Pill Bugs

The last time I told a class I was pregnant, they spent about 45 minutes processing and asking questions. This time, it went VERY different.

After telling most of the staff, I was eager to let the kids know. Especially as it got more and more obvious that I was not just getting chubbier. I wanted them (and their parents) to hear from me before word got out. Unfortunately, crazy schedules, extended absences and unexpected time out of the room meant over a week had gone by since I planned to announce. Finally, I had a day that would work.

We spent the first part of the day on a field trip, touring sites in Boston associated with the American Revolution. One of my favorites! We were scheduled to get back around 1:30, which would give us two hours before the day ended. Plenty of time!

Except it wasn’t, because we got lost walking back to the bus, needed to find bathrooms, got lectured by a very cranky bus driver on noise level before we could leave, and then hit traffic. We got in about 2:15. An hour and a quarter? Plenty of time to process the miracle of life.

As we walked in, a frantic secretary waved me over. I ushered my kids into the class, and went to see what was up. Turns out the living organisms we had ordered for our upcoming science unit had come in. Not last week, like the original order said, or next week, like the company told us when they contacted us about the delay. Sitting in the office patiently waiting to be ogled by children were several containers of snails, worms, and pillbugs. All of which would die if left over night in said boxes. Excellent. I figured setting them up in the terrariums we had made could take awhile.

Once we were in the classroom, we circled up on the rug. I had the kids quickly go around and say something they learned on our trip. Then I said I had news to share, told them I was expecting, that I would miss some time but not a full year, I didn’t know the gender, and no, they couldn’t pick the name. Then I asked for questions. Most were to repeat that no, I would not let them pick the name. No, not the middle name either. One boy asked if he could say a comment. When I said yes, he replied, “This was a really weird transition from talking about the field trip.”

I smiled. “It sure was. Now head to your tables. I’m going to hand you a paper plate with worms on it.”

 

 

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Ant Problems

We had a class breakfast last week, and in the ensuing chaos of twenty-three 12 year olds eating and drinking, some juice was spilled. Multiple kids attempted to clean it up, but only ended up smearing it across an even greater surface of the counter. Within an hour, sugar ants were busily crawling across it. We cleaned it up, but by then the damage was done and a line of ants kept scurrying across the counter.

That afternoon we had reading buddies, and the second graders of course noticed the ants. One little girl quickly pointed out that I could just poison them. I explained that they were there for the spilled juice, and that I didn’t want to use poison if we could just do a better job cleaning up the juice.

“You could put the poison in the juice bottle!” She suggested enthusiastically.

“Well I really don’t want to use poison, and the ants won’t be able to get the juice in the bottle anyway” I replied.

The little girl looked meaningfully around the table at each of the sixth graders she sat with. “It’s not for the ants.” She said to me. The sixth graders looked at me and each other, but the little one was already back to her book, head resting gently on her very alarmed looking buddy.

After the second graders left, my students asked “Did she suggest you poison us because we didn’t clean up the juice?” “I think she did.” I answered. “But I promise not to poison any of you.” Nonetheless, the juice was thoroughly cleaned up after that.

Best ever excuse to be late to a meeting!

Yesterday I had a meeting during my lunch break. It can be VERY hard to get to things on time when there are a thousand things to do in such a short amount of free time. I managed to correct and file some student work, prep for the next lesson, and email a parent before it was time to head downstairs.

As I raced down the hall, I was happy to realize I would be on time!

Then I saw it. A curled up, giant, dead centipede off to the side near the wall.

5 minutes later, when I rushed into the meeting, I got to say the following:

“Sorry I’m late! I had to stop and scoop up a dead centipede, bring it back to my room, put it under the microscope, and leave a note for the kids telling them to look at it.”

For science!

It’s alive! Fun with in-class creatures

We set up terrariums in my class. See my last post for the thrilling explanation of how we found the critters we put in it! The terrariums are part of a science kit we purchased to teach soil. We’re technically supposed to order the dirt and the organisms that go in the terrariums. That seemed crazy to some of us, though. In a country where some schools can’t afford books, I would feel really guilty spending money on dirt.

So we used the abundance of nature outside our back door, and made some great little mini environments!

This morning every kid was plastered to their groups terrarium, looking at pill bugs, salamander heads poking out from the soil, and slug slime. It was awesome.

During this time, we noticed some clusters of small, yellow eggs in some of the terrariums. Then in more of them. They were not there when I got in at 7:30, but they were there by 10! Even after researching them, I have no idea what they are.

One little girl had found a spider in the hall she wanted to add to her terrarium. She showed me, and I noted the the poor thing was half squished and missing some legs. She assured me it was fine, so we added it to the pile. It shriveled in on itself and appeared very dead.

Half an hour later, we were drawing pictures of the terrariums, when the girls in dead spider group started shrieking, “It’s moving! It’s alive! It isn’t dead!” I chalked this up to wishful thinking.

Then…

“It’s laying eggs! It’s having babies! It isn’t eggs, it’s having baby spiders!” I still thought they were exaggerating, until my assistant glanced in and then looked at me with a look of pure horror. I ran over, and sure enough, hundreds of baby spiders were crawling out of the corpse of the dead spider. Awesome.

This is one of the times when I think teachers deserve Oscars.

In my very arachnophobic head I’m screaming Kill it! Kill them all! Aaaahhhh!” But I didn’t want to pass on my fear, or set a precedent that killing is ok.

So I blurted out something about the babies deserving to be born in freedom, and decided we should set them free! I asked my poor assistant to bring the girls out to free the monstrous babies. I practically shoved them out of the room, yelling at one to get a spoon to scoop them and go, go NOW!”

Then I defused a situation in which another group hypothesized that if they killed their spider, it would have babies!

The spider group came back in, gleeful smile on the girls face, resigned horror on my assistants. By the time they got out, all the little horrors had disappeared into the grass and soil of the terrariums.

After a frantic, hushed conversation about the likelihood of a spider invasion, it was decided that we would thoroughly “mist” the offending terrarium. Most of the insects we had needed moisture, so we frequently sprayed it. And if this was akin to the great flood instead of a light rain, well, we don’t want the salamanders to dry out, do we?

Spider girls, a.k.a. spider invasion source number 1, seemed sad that we had misted their terrarium,  a.k.a. spider invasion ground zero, into a lake. After it was pointed out that the slug DEFINITELY looked happier, they seemed ok.

All was well until the end of the day, when I noticed that all the tiny mystery eggs had now vanished. Next year I’m paying for sterile dirt.