Monkey and Alligator

by Vicky on April 18, 2010

We had a great Page Presents class this week.  Ravi couldn’t wait to show me his new sock puppet, inspired by Page.  He had one of his old socks—so little!—and his mother had stitched a tiny red nose.  Its button eyes were big red dinosaurs (Page’s eyes are lime-green “I read banned books” buttons).  Too bad Page wasn’t there to meet his new little friend.  He was at home obsessively slaving over our new blog.  Everyone really misses him.

Matt taught a call-and-response rhythm game, and my elderly chimp puppet told the story of The Monkey and the Alligator (adapted from The Monkey and the Crocodile: A Jataka Tale from India, by Paul Galdone).  Mr. Monk was ably assisted in his dramatization by Mr. Al, my new alligator puppet (formerly owned by of one of my childhood playmates and sent to me recently by his mother, with his blessing).

I was so worn out from getting our taxes finished just under the wire that I completely forgot to take pictures of the kids with their alligator cards.  So I just took a photo of the ‘gators.  The kids loved Mr. Al’s big mouth and his gravelly assertions that “I’m going to EAT you!  Mmm-hmm…I can just taste that warm monkey blood!”

Afterwards I had conversations with a couple of moms who were new.  One of them wanted suggestions for poems for her second grader, who had to memorize a poem for class.  Just the day before I had been amazed to overhear a little girl reading from A Child’s Garden of Verses to her little sister. I might have hesitated to recommend it otherwise, for fear that it might seem too old-fashioned, but the girls were discussing it with obvious enjoyment, so I started with that.   The mother was amazed that I could still spout excerpts from it.  She went home with a stack of selections, including a collection by Jack Prelutsky, an Oxford collection of children’s verse, collections by A.A. Milne and Edward Lear, as well as Robert Louis Stevenson’s venerable volume.

The other mom told me how happy she was that we allowed the children to use (blunt-ended) scissors and to make their own crafts.  She talked about how appalled she was that, so often these days, the focus is on the product and not the process.  I agreed whole-heartedly.   Since I began leading the Page Presents program in December, it has been gratifying to see the parents and kids gain confidence in their own creative impulses and begin personalizing their weekly creations instead of adhering slavishly to the model and the kit pieces as presented.

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