The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that the standard spelling these days is Halloween. I like the old-timey feel  of spelling it with the apostrophe. This is also very much related to why I prefer to use endings like -our, -ise, and -tre.

Anyway, today is Hallowe’en. Our school has a parade and then classroom parties in the afternoon each year. Nearly all of the students in my class had costumes and those who didn’t acquired some from the store of costumes that are hidden away in the building. I broke out my high school graduation regalia, complete with mortar board, tassel, and gold honours cords, and walked around with the class. I don’t think the other intermediate teachers dressed up, but most of the primary teachers did. One teacher was a box of crayons, another was a frog on a lily pad, and another one was dressed as The Cat in the Hat. Not the Cat in the Hat, mind you, but the book itself.

My students had a wide variety of costumes: werewolf, witch, dark faerie, Greek goddess, Duct Tape (TM) monster, vampire, knight, hobo, Rapunzel-as-a-corpse, Venom (from Spiderman), and other such characters appeared. One of my favourite costumes, though, was from a student in another class: a homemade Dalek costume, complete with flashing lights. All of the students in the building lined up and paraded around the sidewalk surrounding the building before heading into their separate classrooms for parties.

Our class party was just lots of treats (cupcakes, cookies, brownies, apple slices, and string cheese) and letting the kids sit around and talk. I had It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! but the students seemed content to just eat their snacks and chat with each and their parents. In the course of the party, I overheard one of the funniest conversations I’ve heard in the room this year:

Student 1: Mr. Valencic is chomping down on a cookie.
Student 2: Really? I thought adults were too old for cookies.
Mr. Valencic: Wait… you mean you’ve never seen an adult eating a cookie before?
Student 2: I’ve seen adults eat cupcakes before, but never cookies.
Mr. Valencic: Um… okay…

After this conversation, I told the second student’s father and he just looked really puzzled. The entire discussion reminded me of the time a couple of weeks ago when a student expressed shock upon learning that I drink soda. It would seem that children really are incredibly aware of the world around them. Events like these result in what is known as “anchoring and adjusting” in cognitive psychology. Individuals have to find something that they understand, like an adult eating cupcakes, and adjust their understanding to include cookies. Upon further reflection, though, I’m not sure why this was so surprising, seeing as we had cookies in the class for someone’s birthday just last week!

The day was fun, the students enjoyed dressing up, and they enjoyed seeing me dressed up, as well! The parents who came to help out did a great job providing treats and helping out! I know we didn’t do much, but what we did was fun!

Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!


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