‘No More Worksheets!’ Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

 BF 2

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn, and…microscopes; but he did not like to do worksheets.  Here is his story:

Baby Frederico loved his microscope more than any gift he had ever received in his life.  It was painted entirely in black, except for the small yellow dial that brought things into clear focus under the lighted lens that opened up a whole new world of tiny objects to him.

He used it to investigate all kinds of things, from locust legs to butterfly larvae to tadpoles, water, sand, marshmallows, and leaves.  The microscope included long plastic beakers with bright red caps and small clear plastic boxes with magnifying lenses for covers.  There was a pair of tweezers for extracting pieces too small to hold with human fingers and a long metal probe that helped him move things around on the microscope lens.  It was everything he needed with which to experiment and investigate and wonder. He loved this microscope.

What he did not love was worksheets.  In his estimation, these pieces of paper were among the most horrible things ever to be invented; they held such massive power and, if not completed by the end of the class period, could wreck a kid’s evening or ruin his entire weekend.  Worksheets were just asking too much of him – to work on them all day at school was bad and boring enough, but then to come home to toys and comic books and snacks and video games and a microscope and have to do more homework – what were they trying to do him?

This particular month at school had also presented him with a brand new teacher.  She was soft-spoken and calm with long red hair and lots of very bright white teeth set inside a smile that seemed nearly permanent.  But Baby Frederico knew those kids of teachers well, all happy and grinning those first few weeks and then barking out orders and frowning for the rest of the year.  He wasn’t about to be tricked this time, so he kept his distance and waited and wondered when the worksheets and frowning would begin.

As the classroom clock ticked down to the final minutes of Friday’s math lesson and the end of another week at school, the teacher reminded them that their science lesson on observations was due Monday.  Baby Frederico had completely forgotten about the assignment.  And homework, on a weekend.  He let out a frustrated and sorrowful sigh.

When he arrived home, he sat at the kitchen table and looked through the mail that his Mama Mia had left for him.  Baby Frederico didn’t often receive much mail, but on this day there was Cricket, his favorite magazine of interesting stories, and a letter from….his teacher! The postage stamp was of a big, colorful commemorative illustration and inside was a long list of the most interesting objects that included things like marshmallows, roofing nails, hair, postage stamps, fingernail clippers, socks, ladybugs, water, bread, apple skins, dirt, leaves, and lipstick.  At the bottom of the list was a note from the teacher.  It read, “Hi wonderful student!  I love being your teacher and I thought it might be fun to send you this note about your homework assignment for the weekend.  We are learning how to get better about using a great science skill – observation.  On this list are just some of the ideas I want you to observe and write down some interesting things about.  Tell me their shape and size and color and texture.  What do they smell like?  Are they soft or hard, cold or hot, wet or dry, stinky or wonderful?  And if you have a magnifying lens or even a microscope – tell me even more about what you see!”

Baby Frederico was nearly speechless.  Here was a teacher who was asking him to use his favorite toy in the whole house, his microscope, for homework!  No worksheets or fill-in-the-blanks or questions at the end of the chapter…but real live THINKING to do!  He immediately got to work and would soon discover a tiny world he had never known.

That night as he was brushing his teeth and getting ready for bed, Baby Frederico looked in the mirror and noticed that he was smiling.  He was content with the day and his hard work.  Maybe this year, with this great teacher, would turn out alright.  Maybe he would get to think again, and again, and again, and again.

He said to himself, “No wonder that teacher smiles so much!”

BF 1