A Daycare Center in Coxen Hole
It's thinking about my zany morning at the Allred School, where I gathered on the quilt with these delightfully energetic kiddos!
When we found Allred, it looked like a little ship, sitting on a wedge of land in the "Y" of the road. The colorful mural was a good distraction from the barbed wire above the wall. Some workmen with noisy electric saws greeted us as we passed through the gates.
It was already heating up by the time Don and I arrived at 8:15. Heavy duty fans whirled the warm air around the dim, but colorful room. Children rushed up and greeted us with big grins and hugs. There were lots of "holas" even though the older ones had been learning English.
The Crab is Spotted!
When we heard the squeals and saw the little bodies leap and dash about the room, we realized this was not a daily occurrence. I was glad to see the teacher handle the situation with a smile on her face!
Two little boys made an attempt to capture the critter with flipflops. The youngest child made a leap into Don's lap! (Don made a lot of friends, when he sat his 6'2" frame into one of those little kiddie chairs!) The teacher managed to grab the crab in a towel and move it outside.
Starting with the Youngest
The kids were pretty wound up by the time I spread out the quilt at 9:00. I've learned lots of tricks for working with kids who don't speak my language, but this was the most lively non-English speaking group I've worked with. My little tricks weren't very helpful! I have to laugh just now as I notice something in this photo for the first time. The little boy who seems to have his head thrown back into the bookcase, appears to be wearing one of my sandals!
Too Squirmy to Sit!
There was no way these kids wanted to sit on that quilt. So up we went, onto our feet to sing, jump, pat and clap. No need to ease into this group.
Listening and Singing
After a bit, I could get them to sit back down, long enough to hear "Senor Pickles" (the giraffe) snoring inside his sleeping bag. I was surprised that almost every child wanted to sing "wake up" to him. So many beautiful little voices.
Senor Pickles Brings Order!
It was a bit comical how little control I seemed to have over my young group. But my puppet managed a lot better. When Senor Pickles whispered a command in my ear, I sat up at attention. The kids obviously caught on because they laughed and sat up straight and quiet...at least for a moment.
We stayed seated just enough longer for me to pull out a few Beanie Babies to teach another song/game. I'll admit, this game was just a bit too tricky for these kiddos. They attempted to follow my motions and we had some fun, but the best part of the Beanie Baby song was that I got to leave those stuffed animals behind for adoption. Slowly but surely, the toys that my grown kids once played with are finding new homes in far away places!
Scarves to the Rescue
These packable, chiffon scarves are my best travel prop. With my young group they suddenly became fun rewards for the kids who were sitting. I placed the sheer scarves on their heads and they gazed through the colors until I started the music... then some pretty silly dancing began.
The Older Bunch
I suddenly noticed the little boy in blue & white stripes and how carefully he worked to follow my movements. I seized the moment and had the others sit down and invited him to "perform" alone. He beamed at their applause! It's always hard to notice the kids who are trying hard... in a wild group.
Creative with Scarves!
With this group, I balled up the scarves and tossed to kids who were seated with their hands in the air. Right away kids began finding clever things to do with the colorful props. They became, hats and belts and blankets and ties. The little boy in red was so delighted with his cape creation.
This kind of fun can so easily turn to chaos... when 2 kids collide or fight over a color... or test the limits by leaping off of chairs. But I lucked out. I steered a few to work together in pairs, trying some new moves...
A Circle... Sort Of
And then we connected our whole group, holding scarves instead of hands. It was sloppy as we circled with the music in one direction and then the other. But no one got hurt and there was laughter. Good enough.
Adding to the New Quilt
I handed out fabric markers and quilt squares and showed a photo of the new quilt that I'm working on. Their artwork added to the new quilt will help me remember my visit!
What Did I Learn?
Then I looked at the teachers and realized they had many more hours to go. I thanked them for the work they did to give these children a safe and enriching place to be. My experience with the kids in Roatan was delightfully draining. And for some reason it taught me to not forget the teachers. I need to thank them more!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.