The Bread Castle

There are moments in your life when you have to make serious decisions. And then there are moments in your life when the PSA (Professional Stuffed Animals) in your classroom have to make serious decisions.

One of the latter waddled along and had to choose this morning.

Let me explain. You see, students in kindergarten have been working hard to learn all of the names of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries. We start in Chile and work our way north, travel a little west to Mexico, sail through the Caribbean, and then fly over to Spain and Equatorial Guinea.

They jump on a “floor map” and say the countries aloud, and we add a new country or two each day. After a while, they get pretty good at it–at which point, I introduce The Timer and we go for both speed and accuracy. Most have mastered South America at this point in the year–Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela–and so recently, we have moved onto the second map, starting with Panama.

This activity is especially challenging for younger children because the majority–understandably–have very minimal background knowledge here; many kindergarteners have never heard the word Mexico before, so they are grappling with a lot all at once (word in English; different pronunciation in Spanish; location on the map; concept of another country; etc.). It is my job to make this information not only accessible, but also memorable to students. Enter Pato, my Professional Stuffed Animal Duck.

Point being, students reached “Panama” on the floor map last class. I love geography and travel, and how we can layer on culture so much more easily when students already have a place in their brains for the names of these Spanish-speaking countries.

Ahem, maestra! F-o-c-u-s! Right. So anyway, Pato started explaining that he LOVES Panama, and when asked why, he proceeded to describe his diet: pan (bread), pan (bread), pan (bread), and more pan (bread). What about special occasions, Pato? ¡Pan y papas fritas! (Bread and french fries.) Oh my.

After a long tangent about how it is pronounced, “pahhhhn” and not “tahhhhn”–ventriloquism requires that certain consonants be slightly mispronounced, so as not to move the lips. P’s become t’s, m’s become n’s, you get the idea.Pato continued.

“Why do I love it? It’s ‘cuz THERE’S A BREAD CASTLE IN PANAMA!” He was practically shrieking, he was so excited.

Pato, that’s not true at all.”

“Of course it is. Listen: TAN-ana [read: PAN-ama].” ASIDE: When I split apart the word and read it backwards now, the linguist in me sees, “loves (ama) bread (pan)”, which is quite funny in itself; however, the actual origin of the word Panama is derived from a Guaraní word that means, “the place of many fish”. But we’re not there yet.

Fast-forward to the following day. To the tune of Frère Jacques, I sang: Where is Pa-to, where is Pa-to? / ¿Dónde está? ¿Dónde está? ¡Dime, por favor! / ¡Dime, por favor! / Tell me, please! Tell me, please!

Young ducks require an enormous amount of rest, so it was not unexpected to find him sound asleep in his casa/house [read: a drawer in my desk]. What was unexpected was the stubborn, whiny response at 11:30am: an emphatic, “NO!”

Pato, everyone is here to see you. You need to get up now. It’s practically noon!” [this was all in the target language] This was the defining moment: a tough decision.

“Mmmfff.” He mumbled something unintelligible and rolled over. Uh-oh.

I motioned to the class to be very quiet, and proceeded to grab a flashcard with the word, “pan” on it. Attempt number two, in a quiet, sing-songy voice.

“Oh Pato, cariño, it’s time to get up now. I made your favorite: pan.”

He rocket-shipped out of bed at the last word. “PAN-PAN-PAN, ¡¡¡¡¿DÓNDE ESTÁ?!!!! I LOOOOOVE PAN! ¡¡¡ME ENCANTA!!!

Well, that was, umm, #Effective.

Thoroughly convinced that there was more pan hidden somewhere, he followed his nose beak and did, indeed, find a massive stack of high resolution images of pan. Loaves of bread, empanadas, medialunas [croissants], sliced bread, baguettes, Challah, bread rolls, the works.

And so, long story short, we built a BREAD CASTLE for Pato. Ours looked like this:

If you wanted to make your own Bread Castle (castillo de pan) at home, the tiny door route is pretty cool. DuPont Nutrition and Health has proven that any food is game here- you are not limited to pan!

Ultimately, the lesson here is that if Pato hadn’t made the decision to get out of bed, he would not have made an #AwesomeBreadCastle. He also would not have had another important decision on his plate (bad pun, since we’re talking about food, plates…): that is, what exactly do you do with a Bread Castle after you make one?

As I don’t have an answer to the latter yet, we may now conclude with the moral of the story:

So make sure to rocket-ship out of bed in the mornings. You never know what might happen.

NOTE: This post is sponsored by The Non-Existent Bread Castle Company of PAN-ama. Thank you for reading.