220, 221, Whatever it takes
My class, as a whole, was quiet exactly twice yesterday.
The questions of the day revolved around Christmas and Santa. All. Day. Long. "Is Santa real?" "How many reindeer does Santa have?" "Is Santa Claus real?" "How did all this Santa stuff start, anyway?" "Is Santa real?"
These are 6th graders, ages eleven and twelve. They're old enough to know the truth, but do they? I can't take a chance on destroying someone's innocence and having their parents hit the roof. So I gave them my stock answer: it depends on who you ask. Well, that didn't last long.
A few years ago, I took a class in storytelling from a professional storyteller. I relied on those skills to get the students' attention yesterday. When they asked me how many reindeer there were, I stopped, put on my hmmm, there's a story in here somewhere pose, and waited for quiet. Amazingly, quiet descended almost immediately.
"How many reindeer? Well, it depends on who you ask. If you ask Clement C. Moore, he'd have said Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen." They were almost nodding along with me. Some were counting on their fingers. "Now of course you recall the most famous reindeer of all."
"Rudoph!" they chimed in.
"And Rudolph makes nine. But there's a tenth reindeer, too. Do you know her name?"
One highly gifted child knew. "Olive!!!"
Yes, Olive the other reindeer... you know, the one who "...used to laugh and call him names."
And that was just math class.
The "Is Santa real?" question wouldn't die. They finally cornered me during Classroom Guidance on my "It depends on who you ask" with the statement "We're asking you."
Thank goodness for the Internet.
I found a copy of Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, told them the story, and read them the editorial. For those few moments, they were spellbound.
I'm not sure what kinds of tricks I'll pull out of my hat next week. Or the week after that. Know any good holiday stories for tweens? I'll take them! Stumble It!