It’s a beautiful thing when life comes full circle. My first year of teaching first grade (I’ve taught fifteen years in second) and I kept thinking of my beloved first grade teacher, Mrs. Lane. It is such a coincidence that Mrs. Lane found herself in my new first grade classroom at the beginning of this school year. Her granddaughter just happens to be in my son’s class.
When I was a six-year-old, Mrs. Lane gave me swimming lessons, took me horseback riding and had me over for dinner. She had hair like Crystal Gayle and she used a pencil to hold her bun. One of my favorite memories of first grade is when I was the Little Red Hen in the first grade school play.
“Who will help me harvest the wheat?” asked the Little Red Hen. “Not I!” said the pig. “Not I!” said the cat. “Not I! said the dog. “Then I will do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And she did.
Thirty something years later, I find myself teaching the same lesson that Mrs. Lane taught me.
“The Little Red Hen works so hard,” said one of my first graders. This made for a great discussion. Poor Little Red Hen! She is always asking for help before she does anything but her friends refuse to help her… lazy farm animals! Once she has made a delicious bread, she asks “Who will help me eat this bread?” Finally, her friends agree to help her… This was everyone’s favorite part of the story because the Little Red Hen says, “NO! NO! NO! You did not help me…I will eat it all myself!”
The Little Red Hen is a cherished folk tale that teaches children the importance of a good work ethic…those who are willing to contribute, will reap the benefits.
I’m hoping that my hard-working little first graders will remember our class making bread together. Some of the best memories involve food…the smell of yeasty bread in a first grade classroom made for twenty-one very happy children. I think Mrs. Lane would be proud! Who knows? I may have a future first grade teacher in my room…and wouldn’t that be wonderful!
When someone asks you, “Who will help me plant these grains of wheat?” You should reply “I will!”
There are several very cute interpretations of the Little Red Hen. My first grade class enjoyed The Little Green Witch just as much! The Little Green Witch is left to do all the “unhousework”…hanging cobwebs, dirtied laundry, and spreading soot. When she finds some pumpkin seeds and asks for her “tree mates” to help her plant them, the trio is too lazy (much like the farm animals). The BEST part is when the Little Green Witch turns her “tree mates” into LITTLE RED HENS!
Another Little Red Hen transformation is The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza. This Little Red Hen grows basil in a pot on her balcony apartment. The animals live in a city and are busy listening to music, jumping rope in the street, playing in the spray of a fire hydrant or chasing after an ice cream truck. When the Little Red Hen realizes she is missing an ingredient for her pizza, she cries out “Cluck!” The Little Red Hen calls out the window to see if anyone would like some…unlike the original, this hen likes to share. When the Little Red Hen asks, “Who will help me do the dishes?” The animals all reply, “I will.” “I will.” “I will.”
P.S. Every first grade teacher should own a bread machine!