Vocabulary Word Hat day and other days to celebrate

This week is literacy week at the girls’ school – which might be the coolest thing in the whole school year. An entire week dedicated to reading and learning how to promote literacy sounds like a holiday that EVRYONE can get on board with. I love how excited the kids are and I appreciate how hard the teachers are working to pull it off. But (and there is always a but) I hate the daily themed craziness.

Now, for “dress like a professional day” the kids went to school dressed as a doctor and a librarian. I was totally fine with that. Tomorrow, they will dress up as their favorite literary characters Nancy Clancy and Junie B. Jones and again I am on board! But today was a bit more perplexing as students were urged to fashion a hat with a vocabulary or wow word and create a theme to correspond. Big Sister opted to skip the activity and Little Sister chose the word “in”. (This was her second choice, as I cringe to admit she first suggested “vagina” – in her defense that would have justly fallen under the category of a Kindergarten Wow word.)This is the hat she crafted.


On it she drew a person “in” a house and then placed stickers “in” the background she said. She left the house excited and pumped up to show and spell and generally discuss anything anyone wanted to know about “in”. When I picked her up though, her hat was in her backpack – discarded when she saw some of the elaborate creations of her classmates. One child had a hat that had a hand crafted bird’s nest attached with tiny robin’s eggs and surrounding foliage. In tiny, calligraphic letters, the word “habitat” was threaded. Sigh. I really need to step up my crafting game.

I was running pretty hot thinking of how unlikely it was that a kid thought up and created the nest (though entirely possible) when my husband trotted out the time Big Sister commissioned him to fashion a working pinwheel top hat for Dr. Seuss week when she was in kindergarten. Oh, about that… I was so quick to defend Little Sister in my crusade against the “awful parents who do their kids’ projects”, that I forgot I was kind of an “awful parent who did their kid’s project”.

Under the guise of wanting to make sure Little Sister wasn’t disappointed with her hat, or feeling like I should have helped her more, I had abandoned the number one Mom rule, the one I repeat to each of the children roughly 745 times a day; “worry about yourself”. Little Sister, it turned out, took the hat off because she was bored with it, not because she felt inferior or whatever else I had imagined she might have wrestled with. Tomorrow the girls will wake up and get ready for their day, dressed as the characters they have laughed with and loved. This week we have pulled out a dictionary trying to discover ‘new’ words for each letter of the alphabet (such as surfactant, phlegm and uvula). We talked about our favorite books and authors and what makes a good word. That, of course was the point of literacy week, to encourage a dynamic conversation about language and learning, with the hope that students will see that what they’re learning is interesting and worthwhile. In a way, I will be forever grateful for surviving “vocabulary word hat day” and once again, for the people who I celebrated it with.


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