Building the Arctic: A Slice of Life

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writing teachers need to write themselves.
I am participating in the Slice of Life 2015 Challenge, 
where I attempt to write stories and narratives about moments in my life.
I apologize if this blog post veers off the informative "literacy lens" I usually write through.
This month I am pretending to be a writer, for my students' benefit (and my own).
Writers write. 

     I built my son's preschool habitat diorama last year.  There, I admitted it.  It was a great diorama of giraffes using LEGO Duplos and a photograph I took from the zoo.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  He just didn't really care as much as I did.  Silly 5 year old.

     This year, my daughter got the same assignment.  She has been "schooling me" on mammals ever since we got the letter with the project.  She can tell me what mammals are, and what they are not. Often with many examples and details, mixed with even more questions.  She was also very clear that she wanted to build her habitat as the Arctic.  She LOVES seals.  

     A week ago, we bought some plastic animals to go in the arctic.  She was explicit that she wanted seals and a polar bear, but no penguins.  

     "Why don't you want penguins in your habitat?" I ask, assuming that she knows the difference between the Arctic and Antarctica.  

     "Mom, the teacher said we are doing a project about MAMMALS.  Penguins are birds, silly."

     She reminded me all last weekend to make that habitat project, but we were just so busy that we never did get around to it.  I gave her an olive branch by offering to stop at a teachers' store to get materials to make fake snow.  As luck would have it, they did indeed have some magic powder that turns into "snow" with water and actually stays cold.

     I secretly went to Michaels that night to buy some sort of tray to build the habitat in, considering we were doing some messy science project now.  I figured I would protect her pre-k classroom from a possible mess, and found a wood tray with handles, a flip flop that could be the ocean, and a foam core board to paint a sky.  I promptly hid those materials in my trunk, knowing that if she found them we would be building it on the spot.

     A few more days passed, and still the begging to make her project continued.  Today, my son woke up sick, so I had to call in to work.  After preschool her dreams came true!

     While my son was napping, we made 4 batches of the fake snow first.  Fluffy and slightly cold, just as the packaged promised.  I took out the flip flop and she told me where to glue it in the box.  She was very disappointed that she couldn't use the hot glue gun by herself.

"Mom, I really love that hot glue gun.  I wish I could use it."

"Mom, we need to glue my clouds on with the hot glue gun, not regular glue!"

"Mom, is there always going to be glue in the hot glue gun?"

     She placed the animals.  She painted the sky.  She drew the clouds and sun and cut them out.  She wrote the name of the habitat on the project.  She picked the animals to put in it.  She picked the Arctic habitat herself.  She even decided to bury penguins in the snow, because they shouldn't be in the Arctic but she wants them to be. 

     She is my little, independent 4 year old scientist.  I am just glad that scientists usually have an assistant.  :)   


  1. Her love of learning is a joy to read about.

  2. Well she sounds like quite the go-getter. I love your admission at the beginning. I am sitting here listening to my husband help my kindergartener with her homework and I so badly want to step in, but she wants none of it.
    I laughed at her really wanting to use that gun. lol

  3. Way to go Keira!!! She should join the 1st graders virtually!!!!