Pancakes and Pharaohs

Today when Rebecca showed up to hang out, I already had an agenda in mind for our two-hour session: 1. Read and write text for Tomie dePaola's picture book Pancakes for Breakfast; 2. Make apple cinnamon pancakes; 3. Add recipe for apple cinnamon pancakes to the recipe book we started last week.

Not surprisingly, Rebecca showed up with her own agenda...and it was thick.  This was it:

The story of Passover in Italian and Hebrew.  In my mind I was thinking, "Yeah, that's alright.  But wouldn't you prefer pancakes?"  The answer was no.  She wanted to make a Passover craft...immediately.

I tried to suppress my inner snack monster.  "Ok, well, of course we can do that...but first I have a story I want to read together.  It's a picture book, and I'd like for you to narrate the story because there is no text."  "Ok," she replied, "but can we do it together?  Like I write a sentence and you write a sentence and I write a sentence?"  I agreed and pulled out the book.

We flipped open the book to the first page and Rebecca began:
"Once upon a time in a house in the snow there was a beautiful sunset."

I added, "An old widow lived in the house with her dog and cat."  Rebecca helped me name the widow's pets.  She chose "Pat" for the dog and "Plucky" for the cat."

"What's a widow?" Rebecca asked as I finished up writing my sentence.

"I thought you might ask," I said, "a widow is a woman whose husband has died."  Rebecca looked concerned, then after pausing a moment she quietly said, "Like your mom.  Your mom is a widow."  I nodded and waited to see if she had anything to add.  She continued, "I'm worried my dad will be a widow."  "Ah..." I started, "a widower.  A man whose wife has died is a widower.  And why in the world would you be concerned about that?"  "Because my mom is older than my dad," she replied, and I thought back to the time in my childhood when death seemed related only to old age.  I added, "Oh, I see," but before I could continue any further Rebecca asked, "How old are you?" "Thirty-one," I answered.  "And how old is your husband?" she continued.  "Twenty-six," I replied.  A look of worry overcame her face and I laughed out loud.  "I know! He might be a widower in the future." I shrieked.  "But I've decided I'm not dying before I'm 142, so no worries." And with that we continued with the story, which eventually looked like this:

Rebecca added illustrations for every paragraph, and the story was way too long to finish in our allotted time.  So I grabbed a small post-it note nearby, marked where we'd left off, and assigned the rest of the story for homework.

Thinking perhaps the pancakes book got her in the mood to make some, I presented Rebecca with an option.  "So I was thinking, we could either make pancakes to add to your recipe book, or we could do the Passover craft you have in mind."  Without missing a beat she said, "I wanna do the Passover craft."  She continued by explaining the story of Moses asking Pharaoh, Ramses, to let the Israelites go and stated that all of this happened "a long, long, long, long, long, long, loooooooong time ago."  When she finished the story I said, "You know, this could really work well with story elements.  We could talk about the character and setting.  I know you know what characters are, but do you know what the setting in a story is?"  She shook her head.  "A setting in a story is where the story takes place.  So where is the setting of this story?"  "Egypt," she replied.  "Right," I said, "why don't we start with the characters first."

"I'm going to make Ramses," Rebecca began, "and you can make Moses." She began drawing

and eventually made the best looking Pharaoh puppet out of a toilet paper roll I've ever seen.  Here he is on his throne:
I made Moses, as requested (Rebecca insisted he needed a red tunic):

Then we worked on the setting.  At first we thought about just drawing the Pharaoh's palace on paper, then I had another idea.  "We should look for a shoe box!" I cried.  We searched high and low, and after we weren't able to find one, we settled on an old snack box:
which translated nicely into an Egyptian palace with scissors, markers, and a bit of imagination:
Here is a view of the Pharaoh's throne, complete with the eye of Horus, and a door that leads into his chambers.  There was also a big window crafted by Rebecca with a view of all of Egypt.

Rebecca used an Egyptian vase we have in our home as inspiration for other decorations in the palace.
We decided that next week we'll add a script for our characters to be able to use in their setting.

With two minutes left to finish, I scrambled to try to show her how to draw a palm tree quickly and she spoke of how she might add servants to fan the Pharaoh once she got home.  "How do you draw so fast?" she asked.  "Practice, I suppose," I began, "once you're an art teacher, you'll see that you do some things so often, they just come more quickly to you than others."  "Yeah, you're kind of an art teacher, too," she said.  I beamed at the thought, and then thanked her for the best compliment I'd gotten all day.

No comments:

Post a Comment