Backtracking to the beginning of the story, we shared Young Larry during afternoon line time. Larry, the polar bear creation of Daniel Pinkwater, was a middle-sized bear when his mother indicated he should fend for himself. Larry and his brother, Roy, were each nine and a half feet tall.
How tall is that? What does nine and a half feet look like? We found that it looks like two and three quarters preschoolers placed head to head and toe to toe on the rug and measured with a ruler. A full-grown male polar bear would be about three and a half preschoolers tall standing up on its hind legs.
Charged up from attending a weekend literacy workshop, I'm ready to let the students sit closer to the picture book when I read, and intent on reinforcing listening comprehension after stories. We spent a lot of time discussing jobs--Larry's job as a lifeguard, our parents' jobs, our own classroom jobs. Then we spent time considering swimming and muffins. Larry wanted a job so he could get money to buy muffins. What do parents buy with the money they earn at their jobs?
One student has learned to alphabetize simple words, giving my cataloging heart great joy. To demonstrate the power of his new skill, we spent time in the index of the great big book of animals. We looked up lemurs and polar bears. I'm very fond of both animals, as I spent so much time watching them with my little sons at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.
It is only Day Two of the Larry Book Festival, and already I'm feeling cool and refreshed. If I can teach just one child to use an index, it will help preserve civilization such as it is. Remember the ancient proverb:
Give a kid a fish and he can feed a polar bear.
Teach a kid to alphabetize and he can look up "polar bear" in the index.
© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder