C is For-

C is for: Counting

We count everything in first grade. We count the days we’ve been in school. We count rainy days, sunny days, snowy days and windy days.  We count children. We count shoes and we count feet.  We count who has what for lunch. We count books we’ve read, and how many words we know. We count money and time, steps and inches in our classroom. We count by ones, twos, fives, and tens. We count odd and even, and how many degrees on the thermometer. We count how many stories we’ve written and how many poems we want to write. We count teachers, parents, brothers, sisters, dogs, cats, and fish. We count pencils, crayons, markers and pens. And of course we count all the way we can use them.

One thing I don’t let my kids count is how many days we have left in school. There is so much to learn, and so many things yet to do. When they start counting days left, they tend to forget about the learning and think more about the summer living (ok the teacher does too at times).

But as things go, the office sent a note home the other day stating that we have twenty-two days left in this school year. I cringed and hoped it wouldn’t be read by my crafty first graders. No such luck.

Sure enough bright and early Monday morning they jubilantly strolled in and announced “we only have twenty-two more days of school!”  “Yes.” I reply. “But that is over a month away.”

They look at me as if I have lost my brains over the weekend and replaced them with rocks from their rock garden.

“Nuh-uh” they all chime. “The note said we only have twenty-two.” (Deep breath and some counting on my part) “Yes” but those are school days, twenty-two school days, not just twenty-two days in a row.”

“But the note said twenty-two days,” one girl diligently argues as the others back her up with their heads bobbing in unison. (Another deep breath and more counting underneath) “I know it did,  but do you come to school every day?”

“Yes” they all chide. “Really, so you were here Saturday?” “And on Easter?” The nodding wavers. “Noooo, but the note said only twenty-two days until school ways out.”

“Yes, but we don’t come to school every day.”

Finally a light dawns and one boy frowns “ohhhh I see, you mean we don’t count the days we’re not here.” Another nodding, but not happy, “you mean like the weekends, when we don’t come to school.”

I watch as the others begin to understand. The jubilance they felt as they entered is waning as they explain it to each other.

Finally, I think, the end, “get out your journals and write a slice of your weekend,” I announce. Sullenly they get out their journals and begin to write.

I smile as I hear a couple of them say “I’m counting how many days there really is until the end of school in my journal.” It catches on and before you know it they are all counting how many actual days until May twenty-fourth.

“Wow!” One exclaims, “We only have thirty days until the end of school!” And the smiles return.

One thing I can always count on in first grade; nothing will keep my kiddos down for long.


13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by the other ruth on April 27, 2011 at 12:54 am

    I am so glad I read this! My first graders have 22 school days left after today! And we’ve been having the same conversations. How funny that we both have such similar things happening at the same time. 🙂
    Your writing is so strong in this–I could see and hear it unfolding, loved the thoughts from your mind, and rode along with your natural language. Beautiful!
    Happy teaching these next 22 days…and tell your first graders that my first graders and I will be working and learning as much as we can with each of the days we have left together!


  2. Your kids can also count on you to lead them on a most interesting journey through first grade. Your voice was so strong in this, love the conversation. Great slice!


  3. Thanks so much for sharing this! I taught first grade for 20 yrs. I just LOVE first graders, the way they think, the way they get joy out of EVERYTHING! I do so LOVE the way you can get them excited about anything as well, thanks for the reminder about first graders.


  4. Posted by Elizabeth G. on April 27, 2011 at 1:29 am

    I chuckled out loud. I too, do not count towards the end of school. I get anxious and panicky. You described your kids so perfectly…they truly are resilient. Good luck with the rest of your year…mid June for us.


  5. Ohh so glad to be out before June. Enjoy your last month and don’t let the office send any notes home!


  6. This is a great connection to what teachers do, support the news, question and expand the answers, and explain while still honoring the students. I could hear your “talking” so well in this, and loved that you had the students ‘slice’.


  7. Your voice is strong – love the post. We get out in June.


  8. I hope your Easter was filled with good stories.


    • Easter was wonderful (except the brother brought that cold weather with him lol)! Michael told me he met you! I hope you enjoyed the hat shop!


      • We enjoyed our visit very much! He has a wonderful laugh. My husband told me before we went in to ask about a blue hat and see if he made the connection. He made it after I said your sister said you had a handlebar mustache. We all had a great chuckle. I hope you and your family get to Montana one of these days.

  9. We aren’t out until June 16, so my first graders are delayed a bit in thinking about how many days are left. But soon we will be having the same conversations…as in so many years past. Nice post! Now I have to go count and be ready.


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