This summer, while the grandkids were over for the afternoon, I started hearing all sorts of squeals coming from the back yard, and they weren't squeals of delight. I raced out the back door to hear the kids saying, “Snake! Snake!” I am thinking to myself, 'Snake? Here? What kind of snake could of gotten into the yard?' (Brief memories of my own encounter with a 9 ft diamond back rattler in the Arizona desert came to mind. But reason soon shook that thought aside as I didn't think a rattler had made it this far into town.) As I went through the patio door I saw a slither and had to hide my smile. I knew this was something I could manage. The kids were all nestled under the apple tree, still squealing, while grandma quietly overturned a little cat house we have in the back. Quickly surprising everyone, (including myself that I actually was fast enough) I caught the bewildered and fightened young snake.
Now I should probably mention, that many years ago I raised an older son who adored reptiles, especially the slithery, supposedly slimy, snake. I told myself that if he could love them enough to follow through and read evey book in the Cypress (CA.) library, including a hefty book on Zoology, I would master my dislike and fear of reptiles... and I did. Someone had to share his passion with him. So because of him I had touched rather large boas and I found out snakes aren't slimy. I had handled other unique reptiles, including my very favorite, and his, – a Sudan Plated Lizard. That experience is what now came into play and gave me the courage and know-how that I needed. I was able to sweep up that fearless little snake and hold it so as not to get bit or cause it harm.
Then a light goes on.....Ahh....a teaching moment....
After some major coaxing I was finally able to get the kids to come over and take a closer look.
I started talking calmly to the kids and they settled right down. I then gave a quick lesson about snakes – safe ones, and those that are not, and I even got them to feel comfortable enough to pet it. My daughter got a few pictures, and in a few awesome teaching moments, the kids learned about snakes. They also learned that Grandma was way cool and they had a fun adventure to share with mom and dad when they came home.
We released our new friend over by the canal where they watched it wiggle away and learned by 'seeing' how a snake moves. Then we all ran to the computer to learn more about snakes.
Nothing is more satisfying than to see your children (or grand-children) 'on fire' with learning. What better way to experience something exciting than to actually live it. This is what it is all about in teaching our kids; making the classroom come alive, making learning real and fun, and letting their imaginations soar and watching that precious “light come on”. I hope you all have lots of awesome teaching moments this summer.