Elementary schoolers are some of the most creative and fearless people I’ve ever met. Each week this past year, as part of my (amazing) job, I took magazine content to a local after-school group and asked for the kids’ feedback.
One day, I gave them color-coded sets of post-it notes and asked them to page through a sample copy of our magazine. They were supposed to mark the stories they wanted to read with a yellow post-it, and any stories they would skip over with a blue post-it. I encouraged them to write comments or explanations on the post-its, too.
Turns out, you’re opening a dangerous can of worms when you give a child the power to judge and label the world around them. They’ll be brutally honest with you. The kids got so excited about the whole thing that, after post-it-noting the heck out of their magazines, they even post-it-noted my sunglasses. I was wearing a pair of clip-ons I’d borrowed from my mom (which are, admittedly, pretty dorkerific), and I got three post-its on them by the end of the day: “okward these are,” “lookin wiard,” and “kinda cool.” (That last one was from the teacher, Mrs. McDonald, who felt sorry for me.)
I tried to comfort myself by remembering that these kids don’t know how to spell, and I do.
It’s good to remember that kids aren’t always very accurate, either. I recently overheard a group of prepubescent boys trying to sound tough at the laundromat (which they had just thoroughly cased, scowling, hands in their pockets, and then proclaimed their new “hangout”). They were discussing a chick who, they agreed, “gets around faster than a New York taxi.” I couldn’t help wondering if these cool beans had ever actually seen the Big Apple or been in a taxi cab. Based on my own experiences trying to get anywhere quickly in New York traffic, I figured they were actually paying a compliment to this girl’s chastity.
But speaking of spelling, I’d like to offer a little contest! It’s like a reverse spelling bee. The first person to correctly guess all five of the following words (which are pulled from kids’ answers from a different activity) could win their very own pair of wiard, okward clip-ons.
HINT: all are aminal words. [That was an unintentional misspelling; but, given the context, I’m going to leave it.]
Ready, set, sound out!