This lovely metaphor greeted me this morning as Buddy and Little Guy met up with their besties over at Longwood Gardens for some morning story time action. If you have ever been to Longwood Gardens in southeastern Pennsylvania, you know that everything they do is over-the-top and impeccable. It should come to no surprise that their story hour is ALSO awesome.beyond.belief.
I’ve been to a lot of story hours in my three years as a parent and have been generally left disappointed. Session leaders are often less-than-enthusiastic about reading to toddlers, insistent that the children sit still and listen to the [often developmentally inappropriate] story chosen for the session. Don’t these leaders realize that (to quote from a keynote I attended a few years back at IRA with inspirational education journalist Jonathan Kozol) “kindergarteners have a theoretical connection with their chairs”? And a kindergartener is sooo much better than a toddler at sitting still…my three-year-old is more likely to do quantum physics than sit still (and quietly) for 15 minutes.
The story hour started off mellow with some story-related coloring on kid-friendly surfaces:
Then, story hour began with the teacher engaging the children in a finger-play rhyme about seeds and a very clear and age-appropriate explanation of the metaphor, “A fruit is a suitcase for seeds.”
While reading, the staff member frequently stopped to weave in additional scientific information and hands-on experiences (Buddy was pretty into the coconut). Then, the staff member sliced open an apple, showing the children the star-like area where the seeds rest in an apple. She even brought out a three-food tall apple tree to show the children what happens (after a long time) when a seed is planted. Finally, she led the children in creating some apple-printed seed pouches to collect seeds in the wanderings in the garden that day.
They even sliced up some apples for the children to munch on while they worked – a healthy-feast-of-a-morning for both the mind and body.