September 19th, 2013

kid - linux owns my hat.

Trying to teach history, Crayola edition

The first thing I did when I got to the school this morning was run to the office and ask them to make copies of a sandal-making project and a word search puzzle from the Junior Ranger book. Then I spent the next ten minutes scrounging up pencils, crayons and scissors so that the kids could color and put together the paper sandal. A last minute room switch (I got kicked out of the classroom and placed in the gym so that someone else with a Powerpoint presentation would have access to the projector) meant that once again, I was just barely getting set up when the first batch of kids arrived.

After a quick three minute slideshow discussing Anasazi weaving and showing some traditional Navajo rugs, I turned the kids loose to color their sandals. Now, originally I had thought that a coloring project would be too babyish for fourth graders, but most of them were perfectly content to sit with crayons and argue about the merits of red violet versus violet red. A grand total of two children managed to read the directions on their own without whining “What do I do neeeext??” even though I went over the steps and twice pointed out that there were directions printed on the bottom of the page – but whatever.

As always, though, there were a few problem children. One boy flat out refused to color because he didn't like it. I told him that I had a word search that he could do instead, but he refused it too. He sat on the floor (not at the table) and proceeded to work on a sewing project from the previous day. At least he was quiet. A girl in this same group finished her project in about five minutes and also refused the word search, and to kill time she kept getting up and wandering off. What made me angry with this group was not the kids, but the chaperones – instead of watching the children and helping to keep them on track, they just gossiped with each other like cackling hens. Finally, I had to go up to one and say, “Excuse me? What's the name of the girl in the green shirt? BECAUSE SHE'S GONE.” The woman immediately turned white and went to find her, while the other two blinked and remembered that this wasn't a social hour.

There was a little girl-child who looked terrifyingly like Gollum and kept talking about her cat. No matter how I tried to change the subject or distract her, she kept returning to the freakin' cat. I eventually gave up and just let her words wash over me, with an occasional “hmm” to indicate that I might be listening.

But there were some cute moments, too. One little boy got really excited when I responded “De nada” when he said “Gracias.” Another group got really into a debate about whether Santa Claus was real or not; when asked my opinion I said that it seemed prudent to believe in him because that's what got the most presents. Don't let it be said that I told kids Santa wasn't real, or lied that he does exist. (But really, fourth grade? Don't kids know by then that he's a myth?)

When that last group was done, though, I cleaned up as fast as I could and bolted out of the school. Didn't even stop to say good-bye. No doubt that was bad manners, but I was completely emotionally drained.

I did two trails at Bryce Canyon. Mossy Cave is right outside the park, and it barely counts – less than a half mile round trip, and all you see at the end is a overhang of rock with some green stuff on it. The second hike was Navajo Loop, and this was a little more interesting since you go down into Bryce Canyon and sees the rocks from below. Part of the trail was closed – the heavy rain last week had washed it out – so I connected to the Queen's Garden and the Rim Trail to continue my trek.

Waterfall on Mossy Cave trail

Park employees working to repair a washed out trail.

I originally planned to go back to Bryce tomorrow, but I'm pretty beat so I think I might just drive on home to Boulder in the morning.