What a week.
So much emotion. So many unknowns. So much on our minds.
It was announced yesterday that schools in Alberta would be closed to learners starting today (Monday) and that as teacher, I would still be expected to be at work. The educator in me had so much sadness mixed with relief in the announcement. Sadness that our time together with our students is postponed (man I miss those kids already…) mixed with a sense of relief our kids will be home with their families staying safe from the virus. As a mom? Again, sadness and relief (with a whole lot of other feelings in the pot…) I knew our two oldest would have a lot of emotion surrounding not going to school (and who can blame them? Their teachers are incredible…) and that our youngest would have questions (she is in my kindergarten class this year so that made things easier for her). Knowing today was coming, a day when I would head off to school and they would stay home, we knew in true McIntosh style, we needed a plan.
I have seen some of the beautiful plans educators and parents have created online. Wow! People are so freaking talented! But I knew I needed to start with our kids needs and wants (just as I do for my learners on a daily basis).
The conversation went something like this:
“Hey guys, school is going to be out for a few weeks”.
“Yep. It is. Anybody want to tell me how the feel about that?”
Crickets. Silence. Nada.
“Well, ok then… we can always talk about it later when you’ve had some to process. I am just wondering if we could all come up with some things we would like to see happen in our home while we are here together. Any ideas?”
Molly, age 10, was clear that we obviously needed our OWN school set up at home. Desks, pencils, glue, books, alllll the supplies. So, NOT a surprising answer from our little teacher in the making.
Casey, age 8, was also clear. LOTS of GOOD books (he is super into non fiction at the moment), Lego and snow fort building. Also NOT surprising from this boy who soaks up learning in all forms.
Sadie, age 6, took a moment to reflect. “Ummmm… I just want to laugh Mama”.
And although my Mama heart wanted to cry (was I worried too that maybe the laughing would be minimal in the upcoming weeks?) or yell “well OF COURSE we will laugh silly girl!” (was I thinking maybe a huge over positive reaction would trick her into thinking all was well and “normal”?) I nodded, smiled and said “well, that sounds like a great plan. What do you think the best way to do that is?”
And they had many wonderful ideas. Playing. More playing. Telling jokes. Board games. More playing. Wrestling with Daddy. Watching funny movies. And even more playing.
But one that struck me? Sadie ran upstairs and came back down saying “maybe Daddy can read the FART BOOK again!”.
Which of course, resulted in the laughter she so desperately wanted.
We each chose a funny book that we would read together as a family this week. And when we did, Casey said “I know! Let’s share our books with our cousins so they laugh too!” And Molly said “Yes! Then we can share it with Grammy and Poppy George too so they laugh!”.
So, this blog was born. We wanted to share with ALL of you the Top 5 (well, 7 really) books that make US laugh in the McIntosh house.
Let’s start with our littlest, Sadie.
Sadie recommends “Grumpy Monkey” by Suzanne Lang. This funny story about Jim Panzee has a deep message about how we sometimes just need a day to feel grumpy and that’s ok! Sadie also thinks it would be fun to make a grumpy monkey mask from a paper plate after to play with.
Casey recommends “Dragons Love Tacos” and “Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel” by Adam Rubin. Nothing could possibly go wrong at this taco party for dragons right?! We love both of these books (and may I just add Adam Rubin’s “Those Darn Squirrels” is equally as awesome!) and Casey suggests have your own taco party after and inviting Lego dragons! Can’t make real tacos? That’s ok! How about some Playdoh substitutes!
Molly and I fell in love with the characters Huggie and Stick last year. “The Epic Adventures of Huggie & Stick” by Drew Daywalt (author of “The Day The Crayons Quit”) is Molly’s favourite read aloud. Whether she is reading it to her siblings or she is having it read to her, she L O V E S the voices of the characters and dreams of having a “Stick” of her own. She suggests writing a new diary entry for one (or both!) of the characters or finding all the places they visited on a map.
And now for THE aforementioned FART book! Cody’s choice? “Old MacDonald Heard a Fart” by Olaf Falafel. My favourite part is listening to him read this and all of them trying out the fart sound strategies on each page. He says “what more do you need to know? It’s funny and it’s about farts.” He thinks trying out a new fart sound and naming it would be good times. Thanks husband.
My choices? Not necessarily laugh out loud funny but “I’m Sad” and “I’m Worried” by Michael Ian Black are 2 of my all time favourite read alouds in our classroom AND in our home. The characters? A little girl, a potato and a flamingo. They navigate emotions together ultimately remembering that all feelings happen and it is how we view them (and let people feel them) is what matters most.
Tonight when I came home from work, Molly and I set up “Bluebell Academy”, their own little “school” where they have decided their mission statement is “A place where we can come together to create, play, learn and laugh”. Perfection. (I guess she has had some time to process now…)
And of course, with or without these books, finding ways to smile during these difficult days is what is important.
Play. Sing. Read. Build Lego. Build forts (snow or otherwise). Cuddle. Watch your favourite shows. Create your own little school. Get outside. Nap. You do YOU.
But most of all, don’t forget to laugh.
We are cheering you on.