I don’t have a lot of memories of kindergarten. I know I attended the morning session at Harrington Elementary School in Jackson, Michigan and my teacher was Miss Seward. The few things I remember about that year (1967-1968):
1) I had to ride the bus to school and back. I was fascinated by the bus’s manual stick shift and the way our female bus driver operated it. I made sure to sit on the aisle every morning so I could watch and I soon memorized the way she moved from first to second to third to fourth and the sound each gear made. When I rode in the family car, I pretended it was a stick and made the appropriate sounds when my parents drove.
2) We actually had nap time as part of the daily routine. Each student brought a rug from home and we rolled it up in our own cubbyhole. When nap time arrived, we took out our rugs, rolled them out on the floor, and lay down. Our teacher turned out the lights and we lay there till it was time to go. I kid you not!
3) My mother had to come in for a parent teacher conference because Miss Seward was concerned that I was not playing well with others. In fact, I wasn’t playing with anyone. When playtime came, I preferred to grab the toys that I liked (usually animals from Africa) and play alone in the corner. It wasn’t that I was anti-social. It was just that my classmates didn’t know how to play. They just wanted to run around and knock stuff over. They didn’t give a whit about story and characters. Yes, I kid you not: even then I had to have a storyline when I played.
4) I remember a field trip to a nearby farm where a baby horse had just been born. The local newspaper ran an article on it. I clipped it out and kept that article for years. For all I know, I might still have it buried in my archives somewhere.
5) As I wrote in a previous blog, one of my classmates died in a car crash that year, an event that has hung with me ever since and colored my view of the world. You can read about that HERE.
But the thing I most remember about kindergarten was receiving MY WEEKLY READER “SURPRISE!” starring Zip & Nip and pouring over its pages. Each week, the cover showed these two furry friends (one dog & one cat) engaged in some activity that looked so darn fun. I didn’t save every issue but I saved the ones I liked.
The April 10, 1968 issue had them painting Easter eggs under the Easter Bunny’s watchful eyes. According to the teacher guide at the bottom, the purpose is “to help children speak in sentences and relate a picture story to their own experiences.”
Inside, I learned what traffic signs meant. A special section chronicled life in Alaska. The science page portrayed mountains.
On the back was Zip’s Puzzle Page where we learned to identify letters of the alphabet.
The May 10 cover had Zip and Nip enjoying Spring and discovering a family of skunks.
The lesson is to “help children use gestures and exclamations in storytelling and to dramatize stories.”
Inside, we learned about being kind to animals and about plants.
Zip's Puzzle on the back helped us tell the difference between letters.
The May 15 issue was about Summer. Zip and Nip were shown camping with their family. The lesson was to "help children anticipate and tell about future fun, and to illustrate their ideas."
Inside, we learned about how Summer was about vacation and discovering new things.
Zip’s Puzzle taught us how to sound out words.
On the back, it says “Happy Summer! This is the last issue of WEEKLY READER for this school year. See you in September.”
Because none of us kindergarteners knew how to read yet (learning to read happened in 1st grade then), the stories were all told through pictures. Only now do I realize that this was the beginning of my learning visual storytelling, about how to communicate with others, and to share what was inside my head with the world. That dog and that cat opened up the world to me and made me see that it was a big beautiful and fascinating place. And they made me want to see it all!
Years later, when I was in elementary school, I used to gather all my stuffed animals together in my room and pretend I was teaching them. And our lesson always consisted of these yellowed issues of THE WEEKLY READER that I still hold in my hand. I had no idea I would end up as a teacher. There might even be a bit of Zip and Nip in my real life teaching today.
Do you have memories of THE WEEKLY READER and Zip & Nip?