Northwest NEWS

May 6, 2002

Front Page

Quiet please, kindergartners at work

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   If you happen to drop in on Mrs. Nystrom's kindergarten class after lunch on May 9, please consider this. These Woodmoor kindergartners will be concentrating. Girls outfitted in party dresses and boys looking spiffy in nice shirts, some in ties, will be applying their artistic skills to their mothers' faces. They'll exercise their artful talents with the same determined purpose of Van Gogh applying his paintbrush to canvas. The slightest distraction could make an eyelash curler slip (ouch!) or mascara smear and nail polish smudge. On that day, the children's moms will glow with shining lip-gloss, shimmery eye shadows and rosy hues of blush. The classroom will have a bright look as well, with tables sized for five-year-olds and decked out in pretty pink tablecloths made of paper.
   Handmade glazed teacups with saucers and buttery-rich cookies dipped in chocolate or powdery sugar will adorn paper doilies. Also, a silver service for coffee, an array of fruit and elegant tea sandwiches, some heart shaped with peanut butter and others made with cream cheese, will add to the festive occasion.
   "It has to be really fancy," says Nystrom who has taught kindergarten for 24 of her 25 years as a teacher.
   This is her second year, however, to plan a Mother's Day Tea and Makeover in celebration of Mother's Day.
   Not only did the students fashion the teacups and saucers out of clay and fire them in a kiln, they also created handmade invitations requesting their mom's attendance.
   Other preparations included designing corsages out of tissue paper and writing what they love most about their moms. On the day of the program, each child will read what they wrote and present their mom with the corsage. Also in preparation, the kindergartners cut out pictures of women in hairstyles and make-up from magazines. The magazine cutouts will serve as a model for direction and the proper placement of eye shadow and blush.
   Nystrom explains, "We've been working on etiquette, pulling out chairs for our mothers, making introductions and learning how to serve food." The Mother's Day Tea will begin with a musical program produced by Woodmoor teachers Patti Bagnall, Sharon Potts and Renee Colleran. The children will sing songs, perform dances and invite moms to join them for The Macarena. Julee Moore, whose son Parker was a student in Mrs. Nystrom's class last year, thinks back to the Mother's Day event a year ago. "I remember as soon as I walked in and saw the program, I got all teared-up and stayed that way throughout," she says. "It was so cute and sweet."
   The children, she recalls, served cookies and sandwiches to their mothers after performing The Macarena. Later, each mother sat at a small desk where their son or daughter presented them with a personalized makeover.
   Moore remembers the children approaching the makeover portion of the program with a no-nonsense attitude. "I think they all took it quite seriously. It was a good exercise in paying attention to detail and in honoring someone you love. It was a lovely event."
   Nystrom points out that the preparations to honor the moms involve many powerful learning experiences. The Mother's Day celebration integrates math, music, art, writing, reading, cooperative learning, planning, plus social and organizational skills. "Learning is the most powerful when the whole child is engaged, the heart, the mind and the body ... in activities that are meaningful and relevant. Children have the opportunity to develop and express their competencies in multiple ways. Yes, there's celebration, but a whole lot of learning (has taken place) to get to this point!"
   In addition, there are a whole lot of memories. Says Nystrom, "The most precious memory is seeing the pure enjoyment each mother and son or mother and daughter share and witnessing the deep love and pride of each mother for her child." She recalls that one of the moms at last year's program brought in a lot of scrunchy hair clips for her daughter to use while styling her hair. Her daughter styled short ponytails all over her mom's head. "She looked like Pippi Longstocking all over," says Nystrom, pleased with the special memory, adding that the hairstyle was a hit with everyone. "The moms felt totally served and pampered," says Nystrom. "And they were encouraging to all the stylists, saying, 'That looks great.'"
   Speaking of the upcoming event, she says, "It's a great time and some of [the mothers] will get teary because they know it's a precious moment. This particular age of sweetness and innocence is drawing to a close."
   After the event, the children will record their memories of the special day in their journals, using their Guess and Go Spelling (a system of phonetically sounding out the words). Nystrom recalls that many of her students wrote the same thing last year. She comments, "So many of them wrote, 'My mom looked beautiful.'"
   It will be no surprise to anyone if the children record those same words this year.