It was just of 2 o’clock on Monday afternoon, and my mother appeared in the door of our classroom. As students looked up and noticed, they began to ask about this unannounced visitor. “Come to the floor and I’ll introduce you.” As the children gathered, they started guessing, and several asked, “Is she your mom?” To answer the question, I leaned in for a hug and said, “Hi, Mom!” “It is your mom!”
My mom visiting was like bringing a celebrity to school. Students love to learn about my life, and this was the ultimate Show-and-Tell!
As part of our Leap Day activities, my mom had come to answer questions about my grandfather who was a Leap Year baby, born in 1912! The students were thrilled to ask what it was like to have a birthday.
But, what they were most anticipating was sharing stories about their own grandparents. We gathered in a circle, and one after another, the children sat in the chair at the top of our circle.
My grandfather plays cards. My grandmother is creative. My grandfather fixed the pipes, but then they burst! I just realized that I don’t know my grandmother’s name, but I call her Gigi. This is the penguin that my grandmother crocheted for me. This is a picture of my grandfather’s Purple Heart medals, and his Bronze Star. Here is the American Girl doll sweater that my grandmother knit for me. My great grandmother loved butterflies, and getting to know her grandchildren; that’s me! My grandfather was born in Des Moines (The “s” was pronounced.); he lived on a farm and had cows and chickens. My grandmother’s favorite color is purple.
Several times, my mother and I shared a knowing glance. This was important stuff– linking to our pasts. Students brought up historical events, wars fought, and clothes worn such as the fresh pinafore that one grandmother loved to don every day as a girl.
As students revealed what they had learned through interviews with family members, and directly with grandparents, we laughed, asked questions, and nodded our understanding. We could relate. In this moment, I saw with tremendous clarity the power of sharing our stories.
With or without a leap year, I will continue to find ways to help students to tap into their rich histories.