"A butterfly that's sleeping and a dinosaur with a friend that's
walking," Zachary Glas said. "And can I tell you something? I got a
dream that I was in a dark dark forest and I was scared and I had to
watch out for a trap."
McLaughlin was reading "The Dark Dark Wood" while asking quiet
questions, then urged the children to switch into whisper mode after
more than half the class shot up their hands to share their dark,
forested dreams as Zachary did.
The 20 students' collective whispering turned into a sustained,
high-pitched hum in which one child's words couldn't be distinguished
from anther's. .
McLaughlin's is a PREPPIE kindergarten class, in which more
emphasis is placed on involving children in sensory activities that
increase motor skills than in regular kindergarten classes,
Principal Susan Kemp said.
This particular PREPPIE class has one feature that 4-year-old
Celeste Pickrel appreciates -- Frankie Sanchez, a second-grader who
spends some of his recess time tutoring his juniors.
"You guys," Celeste yelled. "Look what I made. A picture of
Little girls gathered around Celeste's drawing as if it were 1963
and Frankie's last name was Avalon. Tactfully, she waited to unleash
her creation until Frankie had left.
As most of their classmates' attitudes toward fun activities
moved, Celeste and 5-year-old Victoria Yamasaki's attention quickly
turned elsewhere -- this time toward building towers of blocks that
Zachary delighted in knocking down with his toy train. Following a
heartfelt apology from Zachary, Celeste and Victoria agreed with
McLaughlin that the three of them should rebuild the tower together.
Sure enough, as soon as it was up, Zachary took it down again,
this time drawing laughter from his now-partners-in-crime. They built
the tower again two more times, giving each the gleeful opportunity
to destroy it.
"It's active and playful in here," McLaughlin said. "That means
learning's going on in kindergarten."
It's not all fun and games in PREPPIE kindergarten, however. Some
children sat at desks hammering through counting and alphabet
exercises, and one took time out of a game of Animal Crackers to go
academic for a second.
The 5-year-old proved his mastery of the most important portion of
the alphabet -- the part that comprises his first name -- when handed
a pocket-sized notebook and a pen. He wrote, "LEON," then when asked
to add his last name, he wrote, "D."
"You need a bigger paper," Leon said.
Leon's last name is Daemmrich.