PANAMA: The Panama Canal is an iconic piece of maritime history, and yet, somehow–despite our country focus in Spanish class–I have never spent any real time on it in class. Today, that changed! Was it pretty? No, not at all. Did my students learn a ton and love what we did? No, most unfortunately. But sometimes, I am learning, you have to be okay with that as an educator. You have to try new ideas to grow, and sometimes, those new ideas just don’t work. Sometimes kindergarteners prefer to be kindergarteners, and can’t get excited about your ideas. Sometimes, they would simply rather stick to the routine. Today was a perfect example of that.
In order to explain what the Panama Canal was to my young students, I used a Popsicle stick boat (that my stuffed animal sails around in periodically) to dramatically portray two separate routes. “Ufff, this way around South America is soooo long! I am tired and really BORED!!!!” My interpretation was overly dramatic because I was describing it all in the target language. “But this route is so much shorter and faster!”
Next, we went outside to the playground to “dig” it in the sandbox with spoons. This was supposed to involve teamwork and emphasize how much physical work it must have taken to make it in real life (which was why I gave them plastic spoons and not shovels!).
However, kindergarteners were feeling moody and out of sorts (let’s blame the full moon), so it didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated. Regardless, I think there is potential for the project to expand into something really great in the future. But if all else fails, this alternate project below just might take the cake. HA!