A couple of weeks ago, my son's school held its annual "Kindergarten Rodeo." They set up multiple "booths" (areas), each with a different activity, and divided the kids into groups to circulate around to each activity. I was impressed with the variety. Here are just a few of the demonstrations and activities the kids enjoyed:
* A "roping lesson" with a real cowboy, in which the kids were taught how to hold and throw the lasso to "rope" a pint-sized metal bull.
* A demonstration of various tack cowboys use for horses -- things like bridles, halters, saddles, and also things riders wear, such as spurs, chaps, and hats -- along with a kid-friendly explanation of the purpose of all these items.
* A game of horseshoes (with plastic horseshoes, so the kids wouldn't accidentally kill each other)
* A lesson on how to measure horses.
* An introduction to a real live horse (and a real live cowboy, too - this is, after all, Arizona)!
* Of course no Kindergarten event would be complete without snack & story time, the story being about various barnyard animals.
* And - the coup de grace - the stick horse rodeo races, in which the kids raced their stick horses around barrels, much as real rodeo riders race their real horses around barrels.
Of course, that last one required a stick horse for each kid.
And the whole day required each kid to have a cowboy hat.
So a couple of months ago, the teachers sent home instructions on how to have your kid make a cowboy hat from paper bags, and a stick horse from a broomstick and socks and such.
Inquiring minds want to know: When did it become ok for teachers to assign homework to the parents? Because no 5 year old I know would have been able to follow the instructions that were given for either the hat or the stick horse. (I thought, for a minute or two, that perhaps my 5 year old just isn't as smart / coordinated as the average 5 year old? But he hits a baseball quite well, and can ride his bike, and has learned to read, so I am thinking that is not the issue...)
I had him help me as much as he could. He cut the paper where I told him to. He put the glue on one side of the hat brim. I glued the hat together and trimmed the edges so it was a bit more even. He decorated it.
He picked out the sock and the buttons for the eyes and nose. He helped me stuff the sock. He helped me tape the sock to the stick. He watched my husband cut out the shapes for the ears.
Then he went to bed and I stayed up half the night (of course I waited until the night before the rodeo - who wouldn't?) sewing on the horse's eyes, nose, ears, and mane.
Keep in mind, I am not Martha Stewart. My stepmom (a highly talented woman who can sew, knit, and perform other domestic tasks to rival Martha Stewart, all while working at her high-powered, high-paying consulting job making gazillions of dollars a year, and who has the patience of a saint) tried to teach me to sew when I was in high school. It is the only task she has ever tried and failed to accomplish. She gave up in despair. Nevertheless, I thought I did ok with this horse thing.
Here are the results of our combined efforts:
And, in a first-ever real-life photo of LegalMist's Kid posted on this site, here he is roping the "steer" at the Kindergarten Rodeo:
All in all, it was worth the effort. He loves his stick horse, loves his hat, and had a great time at the rodeo.
In the background of that last photo, you can see the new school building they are constructing. They will tear down the old building when they are done, and the kids will start next year in the brand new building.
Being sort of a fuddy-duddy, I am actually already nostalgic for the old building, with its outside covered walkways between the separate buildings for K-1, 2-3, and 4-5 grades; with its large windows that actually open in each classroom; and with its small-school, one-story charm -- all rather reminiscent of the schools of my childhood. The new building will be fully enclosed, two stories tall, with slightly larger classrooms, but with smaller, more energy-efficient, closed-all-the-time windows, and probably lots of toxic fumes from all the new wallboard, paint, and carpet. Overall, I'm not impressed.
I also find it annoying that they are busy constructing new buildings while laying off teachers and cutting the budget for the library and sports and music programs. I'd rather have my kid go to school in an older building with lots of great teachers and programs, than in a new building with crowded classrooms and no art or music programs. But that's a rant for a different day....