Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Ocean Through a Kindergartener's Eyes

     My first day of participating in my service learning was on Monday; I am assigned to a kindergarten classroom at Tunbridge Charter School. The teacher informed me that every morning they go through a similar routine including greeting each other in different languages, declaring the date as well as the weather, and presenting their show-and-tell. The teacher also informs the students what they will be talking about that day and the children tell the teacher what they know about that subject. On Monday, that topic was oceans which is a coincidence since the book we are reading as a class this week takes place in a mythical ocean. The kindergarteners began to raise their hands and describe different aspects of the ocean. Some described it physically, for example the fact that it is blue and has waves; most wanted to depict what mysteries the oceans contained. For instance, the children create images of different sea creatures swimming below the surface, sunken ships laying on the ocean floor that contained treasure, and pirate ships and fishing boats exploring the horizon. These five and six years old had really active imagination.
      Before the teacher moved on to the next item on her list, she asked the children one more question: how many of them had ever seen the ocean before? I grew up ten minutes from the Jersey Shore and the ocean has felt like a natural second home to me for as long as I can remember so I was shocked when I saw how many of the children put their hand up to answer the question. Only three out of about twenty students rose their hand saying they have seen the ocean before. I know that many people do not have access to the beach like my family does but from the children's description of the ocean I thought more of them would have seen it in person at least.
       After our class on Tuesday, I thought of this in the context of the idea of reading more than one book. Unlike Eustace, these five and six year olds had knowledge of something they had never seen before. They could describe it in a way that you would know exactly what they were talking about. All around the classroom, there are different books covering numerous subjects and the children have time to read as many of them as they would like. The students in this class were able to partake in the fun of jumping a wave, the mystery of the multitude of creatures beneath those waves, and the romance of riding over the waves in a pirate ship without ever having to visit there; they choose to read more than one type of book and travel to places that may be absent in their own lives.
        The same could be said about Caspian. In my edition on page 201, Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace discover that the world of Narnia may not be round like our world is. Caspian is shocked to hear this and even states that in Narnia there are "fairy-tales in which there are round worlds and [he] always loved them...[he] always wished there were and [he] always longed to live in one" (p201). It can be seen here that Caspian, much like my kindergarteners, read more than just books about the place he lives in. His natural curiosity caused him to expand his knowledge. Eustace, who focused solely on books that pertained to his own society, did not read about the fantasies that could take place in another world. Caspian and the kindergarteners at Tunbridge read more than one book and wanted to believe in the unknown and the adventures that awaited them there.

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