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In the Classroom

March 28, 2002

Mike Sciacca

Spring had officially arrived on March 20 but a few days later, it

truly exploded into full bloom in the Village View Elementary School

kindergarten classroom of Linda Critchell and Sue Bergman. On that day a

group of 20 rambunctious students were exhibiting a hearty case of Spring

fever.

Curious to all that was happening in their classroom, these students

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bounced about in a room full of excited voices as they worked on the

project of the day -- the creation of their Spring hats.

There were all sorts of bobbles and sparkling gadgets strewn across

desktops, from tiny yellow chicks to plastic eggs and Easter bunnies.

There were metal race cars and even a few American flags gracing the

bills of some of the hats.

The hat-making assembly, which also featured the volunteer work of a

few parents and student teacher Erin Shikuma, has become an annual event

the past few years, said Critchell.

"We've had so much fun with this that it is now done each Spring," she

said. "The study of the seasons is a big part of kindergarten curriculum.

The kids are learning about the concept of time and how the calendar

relates to the seasons."

Each student was allowed to put their personal stamp on their hat.

For six-year-old Zach Blair, there couldn't have been a better

project.

"This is just the best thing to do. I like everything about it," said

Zach, who had his hat nearly finished, save for one gray, sparkling piece

of decorative pipe cleaner he painstakingly sought to put in just the

right spot. When his search was finally over and the decorating of his

hat complete, it was colored blue and adorned with bears coming out of

open, plastic Easter eggs, greenery, race cars and ribbon. The project

took less than 20 minutes to complete.

"I don't know why I didn't paint it purple, though," he said

inquisitively, as if asking himself. "That's my favorite color."

Zach also learned a valuable lesson in sharing as his table mate,

Colleen Posthumus, who declared that she is "five-and-three-quarters"

old, gave him a few items to put on his hat.

Zach reciprocated by giving Colleen six tiny, bright green bears to

put on hers.

"The kids really help each other out," Bergman said.

The hat-making project, which happened during the course of one week,

was a three step process. The first step involved overlapping four pieces

of thin newspaper over each student's head to create the base of the hat.

Masking tape then was applied to form a crown, and the edges were rolled

up to create a brim.

The hats were then painted a variety of traditional spring colors,

setting up the final step, the decorating party. Critchell, Bergman and

the other volunteers then placed the bobbles on the hats with glue guns.

The reward for all their fun work comes Friday when the kindergarten

students will parade through other classrooms on campus, showing off

their spring fashions.

* MIKE SCIACCA is the education and sports reporter. He can be reached

at (714) 965-7171 or by e-mail at michael.sciacca@latimes.com.

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