2 more days until I stride through the finish line and officially enter summer holidays and one of the perks of being a teacher: two months off of work. What have I got planned? No vacations unlike last summer’s flurried trips abroad. Just a weekend near a lake up north and then re-discovering T.O. – especially taking the ferry to the islands (the quieter ones are the better ones). Water and trees and sketchbooks and sand.

The students’ official last half-day is tomorrow so I gave them their presents today. Each year, the year-end present I give my students commemorates our year together. This year, it was hard to choose something – the class was simply bursting with so many interests, curiosities, questions and we went all over the place with them. We got excited about chess, butterflies, newspapers, carnivores, rocks, gorillas, Vincent Van Gogh and tumbleweeds (this one was a weird obsession – after the day we read a story which included a lone tumbleweed and I told them that tumbleweeds are more likely found in arid areas (I meant the specific plant), suddenly the kids were discovering them every day rolling around in the playground; today when we cleaned up, I counted too many specimens (some extremely large) in our science center).

So I got them musical skipping ropes. Because I’m so excited I got them excited about skipping (EVEN the boys – which I consider a major feat). I’m going to sound like a “when-I-was-their-age-I-walked-four-miles-to-school” adult, but it really furrows my brows when I see the amount of children who find recess boring. A lot of kids really, really don’t know how to entertain themselves with playground games. Last year, I started a club just to teach playground games to student leaders who were then given the mission to teach others. Weird, isn’t it?

This year, I entered the classroom in September armed with obscure videos from the 80’s I had ordered through the public library. They showed kids with mullets and feathered hair doing awesome tricks with their skipping ropes at some New York skipping Olympics. The students watched in fascination – both the tricks and the hairdos – and since then I got them hooked on skipping. As there was only a few boys featured in the videos, I had to throw in the information that boxers skip to get the boys on board. Now they skip as furiously as the girls – albeit with manly, boxer-ish scowls of concentration on their faces.

As I skip to the finish line, I’m going to really miss my class; they were truly a great bunch of kids. But I think I say that every year.