Alligator Girls at Home and School

View image on Tara Smith website

M asked me to "Play Dough" with her today, so I sat and began to knead the sticky blue dough.  I rolled a snake and told her I was making my name letter and before I finished, M shouted "A!"  She began pushing letter cutters into little piles of dough, and saying their names.  Then "What do they say?" she asked.  We talked about the sounds while I made A things to go with my A.  She recocognized my Apple, but wasn't too sure about the ant.  Then she noticed, "Alligator!!"  I wasn't actually sure she would know what an alligator was, then I realized as she talks to me more and more, she knows quite a bit that I might not know about if I didn't sit down with her today or at times like this throughout the year. Lately she has reverted to lots of squeaking, which made me particularly greatful for this time with her, and letters, and words and her amazing imagination.
Just a few hours later I was sitting in my own car with my own daughter listening to her sing, all the way home, about a little "alligator"--a window sticky type toy one of the boys came home with recently to her resembled an alligator.  Just a bit of it went like this. . .

 "Oh little alligator look at that.  Little little alligator isn't that a fact.  Little alligatorrrrrr.  You know its time for bed, little lizard.  It's time for bed little lizards.  Time for you to go to bed, little alligator.  You're so stickyyyyyyy. We're going to put you togetherrrrrrrr, like this.  We're going to put you to sleep little alligator, don't sleep upside down, it's not good for animals, It's not good for youuuu." - this was just a tiny piece of a 15 minute song with a pretty little meandering tune.

I felt like I wanted to write about these two girls, because we shared alligators and time today.  I also just began to think about these two girls and about individual needs.  M exasperates some (children and adults alike) with her squeaking sounds while she plays, while she listens, while she waits.   My own daughter's teacher has seen my girl sing much in the same way, though she is still at circle time, she is likely to sing her way through the rest of the day just as M squeaks.  But I am sure that fewer people find the singing disturbing.  I have never been told, "You need to encourage her to talk, not sing"  I know there are good reasons to encourage M to use her words, but I wonder if sometimes she isn't just singing in another language.


Bonnie K. said...

Hi Amy,
What an interesting connection you make between your student and your own. As a teacher who taught without kids back home, I marveled at the teachers who made these connections actively.
Alligator... hmmm...

Laura said...

You wrote "she knows quite a bit that I might not know about if I didn't sit down with her today or at times like this..."
I appreciate your listening and your expression of the learning therein. I sometimes think I could run an intervention in which I simply had the small group come in and I'd listen to them for 30 minutes, not read, assess, teach phonemic awareness, write, etc.
I am intrigued by your closing question about the squeaking. Is it perhaps her own (less socially acceptable) language? I think that intuition is likely true.

Amy Boyden said...

thank you Laura. I do feel it is her own language. This year I have been increasingly aware of a sort of whitewashing of children that can go on in school if we aren't careful as teachers to accept them quirks and all. Perhaps my parenting of quirkful kids influences my thinking here. I keep questioning how much should kids have to conform ?