Love Beads, Thumbelina
I'm sitting in the napping room monitoring the sleeping tiny tots. Native American flute CD, do your stuff.
One of the children who used to nap but recently stopped is the one whose nom de guerre (for purposes of anonymity) I have decided is Thumbelina. She's tiny, she has long hippie hair, and she looks like she rides to school every day on the back of a bluebird. She looks like a caterpillar helps her brush her teeth every morning, and a friendly spider knits her socks. She's wee, that's all there is to it.
Anyway, I relate to her because she's always getting distracted on her way to do other things. Everything in the Montessori classroom has an intention, a purpose, and a *procedure.* They have all these steps they have to do for everything, and she's one of the kids who needs the most reminders.
The thing working against her is that it's usually my job to remind her what to do, and I can't remember the steps either. So at first glance I'm like, right, drop your coat on the floor and investigate the snack situation, looks right to me. No, wait! Come back here, tiny elf child. You need to... ummmm... What's that? You see a bug? Where? Oh, wow lookit... Hey, stop doing that, go change your shoes. No, hang up your coat, that's right, obviously I know that, I work here, so... just... do the um... What? Your coat! Yes. Hang up your coat.
This happens a lot, and by now she's figured that out about me so when I try to keep her on task she gives me an impish grin like we have a secret and she doesn't really have to do what I say. Obviously she does, but I give her a lot of chances.
This is a set of Montessori math beads. The preschool children learn math with these, somehow. They are tantalizing, I catch myself staring at them all the time. I want to play with them! But I can't, they're "tools for learning," not toys. Sigh.
Today a boy in class is learning something with them, so several of those dark blue strands have been attached to one another and are stretched in a looooong chain aaaaalllllll the way across the room. They honestly look so pretty.
I was helping keep the kids on task as they cleaned up their lunch, and guess who one of the last ones was, as always? Tiny Fairy Child. I kept telling her to do the next step, do the next step, come on, so you can go out to play. Then I turn around and she's standing in front of the bead shelf, gazing up at them, holding half of her bagel in one hand, gently touching the beads with the other. Girl... you ain't gotta tell me, I know. "Come on, Thumbelina, put your lunch away," I said gently. She didn't even look at me, just mumbled, "Beads..."
She put her lunch away. I turned around for two seconds. Turned back around to the sight of her crouched over the super long strand on the floor, eyes wide with wonder. I walked over to her, "You see the long strand?" She patted one section after another with her little fingers, "Bluuuuue..." "You're right, they are blue. Aren't they pretty?" I couldn't resist any longer. I crouched down next to her and touched them, too.
One of us said it. But I can't remember which.