There’s a Shirt Out There Somewhere

slice-of-life_individualI’ve been teaching a long time. So long that I can’t remember all of those moments that I swore

Moe and I sporting our kidlit shirts (that kid on the left is me)

I’d never forget! Last night my friend Moe posted a picture on Facebook of her and I in our early years of teaching together. Back then I taught a first grade and Moe taught a pre-first. Oh man, did we have fun! Just the sight of that one picture flooded me with memories…

I used to read and reread books to my class and then we’d make our own version as a big book. We had quite a collection of Brown Bear Brown Bear, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Where the Wild Things Are, and anything by Tomie DePaolo. I’d spend hours at home recreating the covers and we’d bind the student pages together. Then we’d read and reread our own versions and keep them in the classroom library.

Each year we’d do at least one class play based on a favorite children’s book-long before readers’ theater became a thing. We’d invite our neighboring classes and even parents if they could come. Of course we’d have to have a cast party and our beloved lunch lady, Joan, always made us the yummiest cookies. Our room was literally where the wild things were.

And one of my favorite activities was creating kidlit character shirts for my students who met their reading goals.  They’d pledge to read a certain number of books and when they succeeded, they could bring me in any shirt and choose any children’s book character and I would draw it on for them. I went through hundreds of fabric markers in those days.

It was fun reading the comments on that Facebook post and reminiscing with those colleagues. But the best comment came from a former student, ” Just as I remember you both 😊 I still have my shirt we made with the Little Critters characters!” That blew me away. This former student is all grown up with kids of her own, but she still has a shirt I made her from first grade. Just goes to show, we never know what kind of impact we’ll make on our students that will linger.Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 9.16.20 PM

There’s a shirt out there somewhere with Max and a Wild Thing, with Little Critter and his mom, with Strega Nona and her pasta pot, with a coconut tree filled with letters, or a Magic School Bus racing to adventures. Maybe it’s tucked in a drawer, or on a shelf at Goodwill, or even on the child of the owner.

There’s a shirt out there made with love and once worn with pride and I almost forgot it existed.

8 thoughts on “There’s a Shirt Out There Somewhere

  1. What an amazing testament to your love for those kiddos! And what a tremendous skill to be able to create those characters on their shirts!! Terrific incentive idea. They could literally wear a badge of honor.

  2. What wonderful memories! Don’t you stop and think, where did I get the energy. Just to have that again for a month! Love the T-shirt idea! Was that the dragon from The Knight and Dragon by DePaola on your t-shirt?

  3. Paula, This was such a heartwarming blog and brought me back to my early years of teaching. I could hear your wistfulness and could sense the joy that must have been present in your classroom. In today’s world, it’s more a struggle to keep the fun and enthusiasm alive but I have a feeling you still do a great job. Thanks for sharing this incredible slice and I really love the picture!

  4. I love this post, Paula! Your words are full of the joy teaching brings. And the truth of “we never know what kind of impact we’ll make on our students that will linger” is one that bears repeating. Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us!

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