Kindergartner Meghan came home with a unique and messy way to learn her spelling words this week. Her sight words for the week were “here” “this” “am” “nice” and “big.” And her assignment was to write them . . . in shaving cream. (This is not part of the kindergarten curriculum that I remember.)
We got out a big cookie sheet on which to spray the shaving cream. I wanted to handle this part, being the mature and sensible adult, so I sprayed a concentrated amount of shaving cream on the cookie sheet in one area, then told Meghan she could spread it out evenly. Before I thought to go get the plastic spoon, she was elbows deep in the shaving cream, mushing it around, giggling, making squinchy noises with her hands and creating a very enjoyable mess. Time for the sensible adult in the room to step in and restore order; but unfortunately she (I) was laughing hysterically. We saw there was no way Meghan could write her spelling words in the shaving cream with her finger because by now, there was more shaving cream on her fingers, hands, and sweater than on the tray, and as yet not one word had been spelled.
We went to the sink to wash our hands and I began wiping off Meghan’s sweater with a paper towel, by which time I had transferred the shaving cream to my hands and sweater, so Meghan wiped it off for me with a paper towel, and got it back on her hands, and . . . you get the picture. More giggles.
Time to get serious! Armed with a big plastic spoon, and a roll of paper towels, we marched back so Meghan could smooth out the shaving cream with the spoon and we could start with a clean sheet. Since Meghan began kindergarten, we have been keeping all her spelling words written on separate cards, and we had already made cards for the new Halloween ones. We turned them upside down. Meghan then drew one card, turned it over and wrote the word in the shaving cream with her index finger. I cleaned off her index finger. She drew another card, wrote the spelling word, I cleaned off her finger, then she picked another spelling word, and on we went. She was having so much fun with all that gooshy shaving cream she almost forgot how to spell “this” and instead wrote “the,” a word from a prior week.
When all words had been spelled and the cream smoothed out with the now gunky spoon, I decided Meghan needed a test to see if in fact all this fun had resulted in any learning. This time, I spoke the words and she had to spell them from memory. She was 100 per cent accurate – although her fingermanship (as opposed to penmanship) left a great deal to be desired. Where the cream was especially thick, legibility was a real issue. (If you try this, I suggest a dark colored cookie sheet for contrast, and a thin layer of shaving or whipped cream.) Finger/penmanship isn’t as much an issue in kindergarten as it will be later.
By the way, I can now guarantee whipped cream tastes better than shaving cream, because Meghan wanted a taste test performed. She said, “I wish I could taste it. Will it make me sick? “I don’t know,” I said. “Then you taste it,” she suggested. Once again, maturity reigned, and I said “sure.” I just touched my tongue with a dab of cream on one finger, and she did the same. “It’s minty!” she said. “It’s yucky,” I said.
Then we came to the denouement of the exercise. Meghan’s task was to draw a Halloween ghost in the shaving cream, and to write a Halloween sentence using all her spelling words. The gooey ghost turned out well, and Meghan even wrote “Boo!” by his head. Her sentence, which I asked to her to write in pencil rather than cream, was “I am making thisnice big ghost here.” Of course I helped her spell “making” and “ghost. “
Unfortunately there is no record of any of this, as it’s not the kind of spelling assignment you can turn in to the kindergarten teacher. So all the evidence went down the drain as we rinsed off the cookie sheet and us in the utility sink. Wish I had taken a picture. But we would probably have wound up with shaving cream on the camera lens.
Kindergarten spelling sheet