November is Rosemary Wells month in my class. We read Max’s Dragon Shirt for the second time today, and the children were excited to see it again, but were stumped when I asked them this question:
“Why did Max want a dragon shirt?”
A girl who we will from now on call Ruby (as in Max’s sister Ruby) said, “because he got ice cream on his shirt.”
“Well, no, that’s not why he wanted a dragon shirt. Why do you think he wanted a dragon shirt?”
Another girl piped up, “because he wanted to get ice cream on his shirt!”
“Hmm. I’m not sure that makes sense. What you guys are telling me is something that happens in the story. But I’m asking you to think about something in your head — why would Max want a shirt with dragons?” They were stumped, so I said, “Why does Leo usually wear shirts with pirates on them?”
Ruby saved the day. “Because he likes pirates!”
“Yes, he does. Leo likes pirates, so he wears pirate shirts. He thinks pirate shirts are cool.”
“So why does Max want a shirt with a dragon on it?”
Everyone yelled, “because he likes dragons!”
After we read — and thoroughly enjoyed — the book, we made our own tshirts. First we talked about what we like, and the children came up with lots of ideas — Barbie, Spiderman, Transformers, Dora, princesses — and then we went to the tables, where my wonderful new assistant teacher had put out cardstock papers with blank tshirt patterns on them.
A few kids struggled. Leo HATES to draw — perhaps because he can’t, yet — so he refused to go to his table, but Amelia (after Amelia Bedelia), my new special ed assistant teacher, was great. She wouldn’t take no for an answer, and walked him over to a separate table with her, where she drew a pirate and he colored it. One little boy scribbled all over his paper instead of drawing, but most of the children were able to do it.
“Teacher, help! I can’t draw Spiderman!”
I walked over to the table. “Hmm, does Spiderman have a head? He does? Well, how about you draw a circle right here? Excellent. Now, does he have a body? Okay, draw another circle underneath. Great. Now how about some arms? Two legs? I think all that’s left is a spider on his shirt.”
“Wow, I can draw Spiderman!”
Lola 1 drew her mother, very carefully, and then labeled the picture with her mother’s first name. Lola 2 drew a princess, somewhat less carefully. Ruby drew “a Barbie Head,” a shy boy drew an awesome Tasmanian Devil, and some other boys drew a dragon, Optimus Prime & Megatron, and a scary monster.
I sent the pictures home and I really wish I hadn’t. It would have been great to post them in the hall for everyone to see.