My Anger stretches my skin
so tight it burst forth like
a rubber band shot across a classroom.
I sit in a curdled heap as I watch my Anger
fill the air with heat; it cooks my skin
bubbly and crisp.
If you have read previous posts of mine, you know I am reading Ludwig’s book “how to teach your children shakespeare”. I am slowly working on midsummer with my four year old. It is so much fun. When we were in Home Depot on Saturday, we went into the garden center. Juliana wanted to find the flowers mentioned in the poetry that she knew. She asked what is ‘quite overcanopied’ thinking it was a plant. I told her it was like plants growing over your head like a tunnel or umbrella. She jumped in the trolley as we walked through aisle of fruit trees because they were ‘quite overcanopied’! It is incredible what we are doing.
Last week, one of my colleagues was telling my class about the bunny banner my girl made. She told them that J named the bunnies after some of my students. I told them I read the roster and she picked random ones she remembered. The class wanted to see pictures. I showed them. Then I had a video of J reciting I know a bank. I showed them that and told them what it was. They were impressed and competitive. They decided that if she could do it- they could do it. I told them I haven’t finished the book. They don’t care. Right there. Right then. We scratched a portion of lesson and I know a bank where the wild thyme blows went up.
They are hooked. One line and it’s theirs. Someone makes sure it is written on the board everyday. Tomorrow I need to give them line 2. They are craving it. Somehow I have made reciting Shakespeare addictive. I’m the best drug dealer that school has!!!!
Update on my journey teaching shakespeare to my kids. This is exciting. Truly exciting news in my little chaotic existence. As I stated I began reading Ken Ludwig’s book about teaching Shakespeare. Originally when purchased I was reading to teach my students. When I quickly assessed that he used it for his own kids, I thought, hey why not mine?
One day while I was a couple of chapters in, Juliana asked me what book I was reading. I showed it to her and explained what it was about. She was smiley and said, “I want to learn.” Now, I originally thought I would read the whole book first and then give it a go but abandoned that because she was willing, eager and in a good mood. For parents of toddlers – you know take those opportunities when they come! She is 4 years old and spunky as all hell.
I explained that she would repeat after me – she can’t really read yet so this is a bit of a challenge with the sentence strips. I pointed to the words as I said them so maybe we could get some sight recognition practice too.
We started with “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows.” We said it a few times with the book and then I put the book down. but she wanted more. We went back and gobbled up “Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. It became a cute little phrase we danced to, sang to, cooked to and cuddled to throughout the day. She thought it was fun.
Then life happens and things get in the way. Shakespeare took a back seat to doctor’s appointments, work, dinner, diapers, toys, little brothers and everything else. About a week later I was getting ready to text one of my dearest friends in this universe. I was missing her and just needed to say it. She lives in South Carolina and we are in New York. Sunny was getting ready to perform in a production of Midsummer. On a whim I looked up at my daughter and said “I know a bank.”
Can you believe my astonishment that my four year old looked at me and smiled without missing a beat and said with a bucket of pride and sass, “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows. Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. I almost cried with joy.
I quickly recorded it for Sunny and sent it to her. What a perfect way to say I love you and celebrate my daughter possibly embracing a shared love and passion of her mom and Auntie. It was magical. We played with the phrase and then left it alone. I was so excited that my daughter had two lines of Shakespeare tucked in her heart, maybe forever. She and I will be bound to Midsummer as long as we breathe. I was in an instant so grateful to Mr. Ludwig for reminding me that love and learning are seeds of happiness.
Thankfully, it doesn’t end there! A few nights ago, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa in the throng of bedtime prep for Juliana and her 1 year old brother, Colin. Their grandmother was on the computer having a quick video chat. Juliana came over to us and said, “Mommy, I want to learn more Shakespeare.”.
My mother asked her what she meant. She retrieved Ludwig’s book and opened it. She pointed to what I thought a random phrase and started to recite I know a bank. When I looked down, she was pointing to the words I know a bank!!! WTF. We got off the computer and began “Quite over canopied.” We created some hand gestures and within 15 minutes we were four lines of Shakespeare stamped on hearts.
The following day my mother sent emails of pictures of woodbine, oxlips and the other flowers. Juliana decided we should plant them in our garden. I agreed.
We are now on our way to having our very own Shakespeare’s Garden. Love is growing.