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With the exception of the two snow days we were closed and not in school, this week I have been reading to the children a book titled on St. Patrick’s Day – A Day of Irish Pride. Before almost every holiday or special day,  I like to give scholars the history behind why we do what we do.

As I was conducting the read aloud Thursday, a little girl from a Monday class came up behind me and left a small gift. Two pictures of the gift are below. The first is a front view and the second is a side view.  I will let you digest these photos before I continue. What do you think it is?

Now being the unimaginative adult I am, I thought the student was just inspired by St. Patrick’s Day coming and had extra time at home from the snow days. So I left it on the entry library table where I do my lessons from and didn’t give it much thought.

Yesterday as two 2nd grade boys were looking for books ,I hear a squeal and turn as the boys come running over to me.

“Ms. Wong! Ms. Wong, did you catch it,” they ask excitedly.

“Catch what,” I reply.

“The leprachaun – did you catch the leprachaun? We saw your leprachaun trap,” the boys answer.

“Leprachaun trap?” I say rather feebly as I look over at the gift. “Oh, a student made that for me.”

Later, as I was cleaning the library for the weekend, I studied this self initiated project. It is very cleverly done and has makerspace screaming all over it. The child decorated a tissue box, used straws to make a ladder up towards the rainbow and has a trap to capture a leprchaun right in front of a pot of gold (bottle cap filled with pennies and gold pipe cleaners). Over the pot of gold, she has straws recreating scenes typical of holders above a pot used for fires.

Slowly, it dawns on me how I prompted the accountable talk with the discussion of my niece and nephew finding leprachaun evidence ( green milk and green footsteps) all over their house last year. Students were fascinated with the talk of fairies and leprachauns. They asked each other if leprachauns were real. As I picked up the project and really looked at it,  I suddenly felt this child’s energy and a strong sense of how teachers can really inspire or dampen a child’s curiosity.

Children have an incredible power to think outside of the box. Their imaginations are strong and desire opportunities to be innovative. Be sure that you provide them learning experiences that are unparalleled. Give them the power to create, explore and do not ignore the wonder and excitement through which they see life. So many teachers dominate the classroom, assign the same projects year after year and do not yield, change or grow.  Though school is an institution, you do not have to institutionalize your teaching. If you want to truly improve your practice, then you need to give scholars choice and voice, which will ultimately empower them to be the next inventor, artist, creator, designer and the list goes on. When people ask me what I do for a living, I always tell them I am grooming the next Steve Jobs.