Now We’re Cooking–A Holiday Tradition

We’ve gotten a lot of rave reviews for this year’s edition of the OK Corral’s holiday classic, Now We’re Cooking, our annual collection of recipes as told by first graders. Something to keep in mind about first graders: No matter the question you ask them, they will always come up with an answer.  It’s just how they’re wired.

During the month of December, I call each kid to my reading table and have them dictate to me their favorite recipe for our ‘top secret project.’  Typically, every family in the class receives a copy, as does our school principal, assistant principal, and this year, the violin teacher.

In rereading it today, I discovered some gems that I want pass along.

First up is my friend W’s recipe for Hot Dogs.

Me: Now let’s suppose we’re going to make hot dogs.  We go to the grocery store, get our cart, and start putting in the things we need to make them.  What’s the first thing we need?

W: First we need a big wiener.

(I cannot tell a lie.  I snickered like a third grader.)

W went on to say that we also needed ketchup and a bun.

Me: Assuming that we purchased the necessary ingredients, how do we make hot dogs?

W’s instructions are as follows:

  1. Cut the wiener into shape-es.
  2. Put it in the stuff.
  3. Put it in the microwave for like one minute.
  4. Put ketchup on it.
  5. Blow it.  (I might have snickered again.)
  6. Get the plate and put it on there.
  7. Eat it.

FYI, W’s recipe for hot dogs serves one person.  The more you know…


Because It’s Funny

In my classroom, I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement.  Give a kid a reason to do the right thing and more than likely he will. Most of the time, anyway.  To that end, one of the Jedi mind tricks I employ is a weekly competition for Table Points.  The three tables of my seating configuration try to rack up as many points as possible for good behavior, being kind, keeping their work space tidy, etc.

chalk_1_28A popular Table Points award is going just outside the classroom door and using sidewalk chalk.  I usually give the winning group about five or ten minutes while everyone else continues working on something mundane.  One time however, when a group of kids went out to decorate the sidewalk, a sweet little girl wrote ASS as big as you please. Yeah.

So now, we have a ritual before engaging in the use of sidewalk chalk. I line up the winners and have them make a little pledge.

Me: Raise your right hand and repeat after me: (various hands go up)

I, state your name,

Kids: I, state your name,

M: Do hereby solemnly promise,
K: Do hair spray sodomy promise,

M: That I will not,
K: That I will not,

M: Write bad words,
K: Write bad words,

M: On the sidewalk.
K: On the sidewalk.


Okay, yes, sometimes I do say things just to amuse myself.

Hooray For Picture Day!

It was Picture Day at the O.K. Corral today.  You know, that day when every man, woman, and child in the school submits to the *”Cheese Man” who tells them, “Sit here, put your feet there, hold your hands like this, sit up straight, turn your head, cough.”  Okay, I made up that last one.

Picture Day is always special because it’s one of the only days when it’s acceptable for our students to wear something other than a school uniform.  Yes, our public school required uniforms.  In fact, all of the public elementary schools in the district require uniforms, as do most of the middle and high schools.  Don’t get me started.

The uniforms are typically non-logo polo-style shirts tucked into khaki, navy, or black slacks/shorts/skirts.  But I’d rather see kids dressed like kids.  Which is why I love Picture Day, if only because it relieves the monotony of seeing wall-to-wall primary-colored little preps.

Everyone came in this morning looking so beautiful and handsome.  There were fancy church dresses with shiny little patent leather shoes.  There were tiny clip-on ties matched with miniature suits and vests.  They looked so cute.

Precious Precocious arrived all ready for her close-up.  One of my young gentlemen stared at her for a moment, completely flummoxed.

“Are you wearing a shirt or a jacket?” he asked.

“It’s a sweater dress.”  She looked up at me, exasperated.

“He’s a boy,” I commiserated, returning her eyeroll.  “They don’t get fashion.  Get used to it.”

*”Cheese Man” courtesy of Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed by Barbara Park

Just Between Us…


I’m about to lay some top secret information on you.  You’ve got to keep this quiet, though.  Every once in a while, a kid tells you something and asks you to keep it confidential.  I recently received two highly sensitive pieces of information from the same kid.

One day last week, Bless His Little Heart announced to me that he speaks Jamaican.

“Oh?” I queried.  “Say something to me in Jamaican.”

“Que pasa!” he replied proudly.

Highly impressed, I passed along his linguistic prowess to his teacher, Witty Colleague, who happens to be bilingual herself.  She, of course, was greatly appreciative of this news and so reciprocated, sharing some amazing intelligence of her own.

It seems that little dude laid some very delicate information on her as well.

“Mrs. Witty Colleague, can I tell you a secret?” he asked her.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Don’t tell anyone I’m Kid Danger.  Promise?” he asked.

“Okay, I promise,” Witty replied.

I shall henceforth refer to this little dude as Kid Danger.  For obvious reasons.

So, I’m serious.  Y’all keep this on the down low.  Don’t make me hunt you down!

When the Name of the Game is Improvise and Overcome

wpid-20140918_063950-1.jpgMeet Bob Marley.  He’s a necessary evil in my daily work life.  As advertised on the sign written by a witty colleague, the thing is a master at jamming.  Here’s what the photo doesn’t show.  This printer, which is connected to my computer, is located three buildings away from my classroom.

So picture this–you want to print a report to show a parent, an alternate running record form, or any other document.  You have to choose ‘Store Print’ from Preferences, choose a user name, name the document, give it a four-digit code, send it to the printer, leave your room and walk three buildings away through rain, sleet, or hail (just kidding, we don’t get sleet), and hope that it was actually sent and that no one else happens to be on the machine at that time.

Do you suppose the Superintendent of Schools has to do this?  When I first started at my school in 2004, I actually had a printer in my classroom.  But a couple of years later, when my toner cartridge ran out, I was told to throw the machine away.  The District was no longer providing printers or toner for classrooms.  So I was hooked up to Bob Marley.

Well, not actually Bob Marley.  He was new last year, replacing an equally unreliable behemoth.  One day last year, I received an email about a flash sale held by a national office supply company.  For a mere $89 I could have my very own laser printer/scanner/copier in my classroom.  I jumped on it, refusing to ask the question, In which other profession would someone even contemplate purchasing office equipment out of their own pocket?  Obviously, I wouldn’t use it for entire class sets of papers, but for single documents that I then take down to Bob Marley, it’s perfect.

One thousand pages later, my toner ran out.  I discovered that the replacement toner cartridge is about $120.  Seriously?!  Then someone turned me on to buying toner and ink on eBay.  I was able to get two replacement cartridges for about $50.

Oh yeah!  Happy dance!  Come on, District!  Hit me again!

Friday’s Saddest and Funniest Moments

I’ll start with the saddest moment and get it out of the way.  After all, we have to begin a new week tomorrow.

So this little girl comes to me first thing in the morning and says, “I told my dad that my tummy hurts.  He told my mom.  My mom says she’s going to pick me up early and take me to the doctor.”  It’s a new year, I haven’t quite figured out all the arrangements yet, but apparently this is a shared custody thing. 

I said, “No worries, when she comes they’ll call us from the office,” and I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to the end of the day.  All my little darlings are seated on the carpet with their belongings as I finish reading the chapter book we’ve been working on all week.  She raises her hand and says, “My mom lied to my dad.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, bewildered.

“She said she was going to take me to the doctor and she didn’t.”

With that out of the way…

After school, I was waiting with my daycare van dismissal group.  I was approached by a little dude, made famous by an earlier post, Bless His Little Heart ( ).  He says to me, “Guess what I’m doing this weekend.”

“Hmm…Hanging out at the mall, scamming cute chicks?”

“Nope,” shaking his six-year-old head.  “Guess again.”

“Building a rocket and going to the moon?  Digging to China?  Help me out, dude, I’m running out of ideas.”

“I’m getting my hair cut,” he said proudly.

I looked at him.  He wears his hair like many African-American little boys do, cut very closely.  He didn’t seem to need a haircut, but what do I know?

“So your hair’s too long, is it?” I asked.

“Yep.  I’m gonna get a star cut in it, and a J for my name,” he elaborated.

I pondered this for a moment.  “Maybe I should get a star cut in my hair and a J, too,” I said, trying to picture my auburn curls cut short enough to carve a star on my scalp. 

“Nope,” he said.  “That’s just for boys.  I’m growing a mustache, too.”  He got very close so I could see.

“Oh, yeah, there it is.  Hey, maybe I need a mustache,” I thought out loud.

Sadly, that’s only for boys, too.  Ah, well.