School is out and summer has officially started. On the last day of school, Johnny brought home a bag full of workbooks, broken crayons, and dried out glue sticks. Weighing down the neon blue-green backpack was a collection of pine cones, rocks, and broken glass. He amassed this treasure while walking home from the bus stop each afternoon.
But he never thought to unload his booty and just kept adding more weight. Which might prepare him for a future career as a Sherpa.
As I flipped through Johnny’s school work, I was particularly keen to locate his journal pages. Mrs. Hanes had alerted us to be on the lookout for these entries. She was encouraged by the kids’ progress throughout the year. She noted their improved spelling and use of high frequency words. She was pleased with the use of adjectives and action words to add dimension to their stories. The long days of school, and her Herculean efforts to teach language, had resulted in correct punctuation and grammatical structures. She was rightfully proud.
As I began reading Johnny’s journal, my reaction was decidedly more self-serving. I was downright giddy. For I am now in possession of some choice material for this blog. I suppose I should care about spelling and punctuation. But I am more intrigued by Johnny’s mind, his way of seeing the world and framing his thoughts. The fact that he can write it down on paper, with decisively creative spelling and stick drawings, is a bonus. I look forward to sharing some fabulous selections.
On to our first selection for Johnny’s Summer Reading Club.
Let’s start with the book ends of the journal. The first entry was created on August 23, 2021, the first day of school. I suppose this exercise helped Mrs. Hanes get to know her new class. I wonder if there was a moment of panic when she read Johnny’s work.
Let’s highlight a couple key things in this entry, starting with the drawing in the upper left corner.
- The self-portrait drawing is missing legs. However, legs will play a critical role in his future. See #7.
- John is “6” years old at the time of this drawing. His birthday was just days away. So this would be one of the last times he would mark himself as a 6 year old.
- His favorite color is “BLUE”. Make note of this. It’s going to change in a couple months.
- Johnny likes to place “Swich”, or Switch, the Nintendo video game console. The backward S is stylish.
- His personal descriptor “IMTETST” probably means something. But I have no idea what it is.
- Johnny has drawn the correct number of people for our family.
- His future plans are communicated in pictograph. Much like a cave drawing. That’s him playing baseball.
- Finally, we arrive at his one dislike. Which is “RSDLIN”. When I asked him about this, he told me it was either “READING” or “RELIGION”. He wasn’t sure which one it was. But he doesn’t like either.
On the last day of 1st grade, Mrs. Hanes had the class complete the same assignment. The date is now June 7, 2022.
Again, let’s walk through this entry and note a couple developments. For comparative purposes, it helps to see the documents side-by-side.
- Johnny has now depicted himself with legs. Which is more anatomically correct and will help with his future plans. See #7.
- John is now 7 years old. And a half. Depicted as “7/5”.
- As aforementioned, Johnny’s favorite color has shifted to “RED“. In a world of color, it’s hard to stick to one selection.
- He has narrowed his love of Nintendo Switch to specific characters “Kerbe” (actually “Kirby”) and “Mednit”(actually “Meta Knight”).
- He describes himself as “SilY”. Spot-on.
- The family picture has expanded. He told me he forgot to add the dog. Note Rudy’s entry in pencil above the designated family box. Also note the green stick figure to the right. That’s Becky. He originally drew her in brown but crossed it out in green. I asked about this update and there was a good explanation. Johnny understands that Becky has special needs and he felt this should be readily apparent on the paper. So he depicted her special chromosomal status with a different color. 9 of us are brown. Becky is lime green. Love it.
- Johnny can now write his future plans using letters. He’s going to be a “BaseBall PlaYr”. Which would make my side of the family very happy.
- Finally, Johnny has expanded his dislike. He now hates “Shcool”. All of it. Apparently, there is nothing redemptive about the daily classroom grind. Gym class doesn’t even enjoy special status. But note how close he is to the correct spelling.
That’s a wrap on 1st grade. Start to finish.
More journal entries will follow.