Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More gems from the darlings: Witch's Brew

One Friday each month, more if needed, I volunteer in the writing lab at Zoe's school. It's an hour of bouncing from computer to computer helping kids with everything from spelling queries to how to change fonts and insert clip art. The kids have hand-written their drafts, all on the same theme, and so this hour they are tasked with key stroking them into Word, making last-minute edits, and printing. More often than not, I am kneeling by one child's computer while five little voices scream, "Mrs. Z! Mrs. Z! I need help!"

I absolutely love it.

I get to see how their little minds think, and how creative they can be. And they always, always make me laugh.

Their subject last Friday was Witches Brew. Or Witch's Brew. Some kids chose the former, some the latter, and who am I to say one is right over the other? I can see it both ways. I just made sure no one wrote Witche's Brew or something like that.

The goal of this exercise, as explained by the teacher, was to encourage the children to learn and use sequencing words: first, next, then, finally, etc. I remembered my basic instructions from the first class (paragraph form, with indent, title centered at the top, name, class and class number at the bottom, etc.). I helped the kids log in and fixed the lab's color printer when the computer teacher was gone and the third grade teacher shrugged in frustration. (For what it's worth, saying "I fixed it" sounds way more impressive than clarifying how I fixed it: I turned it off and turned it back on again, amid a cluster of 9-year-olds insisting that the printer was not plugged in despite the lit screen and whirring that precedes printing, that it was broken, that they just wanted to print their papers to the printer downstairs and then run to get them.)

We don't divide the classroom between the teacher and I, rather, we both just float around the lab and help students as needed. This ensures that I get to see all their papers at least once, which is so stinking great. Here are a few things I learned about a Witch's/Witches Brew as conceived by a third grader:

  • Most of the brews required the addition of gasoline. Sometimes spelled "gass."
  • Many of the potions were designed to be fed to Mom and Dad, although one insisted he would feed it to his sister and then predicted she would not like it.
  • Two children are going to serve it to their neighbor, Bob. I hope that there are two Bobs, and not one unfortunate soul who lives between these classmates.
  • One child christened her brew "Bloody Mary." Awesome.
  • My favorite ingredients were: eye of newt and toe of frog, which are found on a newt and a frog, and two bat eyes, which are found on a bat. (Thanks for the clarification.)
  • One girl's ingredient list included non-fat goop. A fine idea; it's always good to make your toxic brew healthy. The non-fat goop will balance out the gass nicely.
  • I think adding an old shoe to the pot is an ingenious idea.
  • One set of instructions said to vacuum up ghost farts. (Who ya gonna call?)
This experience, for a writer, is heaven right on earth each month. I kinda figured I'd enjoy it when I penciled in my name on the sign-up sheet at the beginning of the school year. I just didn't know that I'd cherish it this much.


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