Saturday, May 09, 2009

Harriet Takes on the Classics

At Harriet's preschool they are asking for each of the children to come forward and describe their favourite book. Each child is assigned to one particular day and they also encourage you to try and think of other aspects of the book to discuss. For example if they bake a cake in the story to include a recipe for your child's favourite cake, or something similar.

Harriet isn't due to give her talk until mid-June, but I broached the topic with her to see what book she would be interested in covering. I had a feeling it would be Anne of Green Gables but you can't always tell. This girl is the queen of obscure and I wouldn't have been surprised if she mentioned some book we'd only read once a year ago in a cafe somewhere. But she held true to expectation and said she wanted to talk about Anne. A bit disappointing really, because Milly Molly Mandy has some cool things in the stories that we could have done for the class.

But I thought maybe Harriet could take in a map and show where Canada and Prince Edward Island are on a map, and discuss how they have snow over there, or something similar. I also thought, briefly, that she might like to know that when Anne's boat springs a leak and she has to cling to the bridge, she was in there pretending to be the Lady of Shalott. The problem with being me however is that I don't just think these things, I invariably say them aloud. And then of course there is no turning back. Once I mentioned this, Harriet wanted to know all about the Lady of Shalott.

So we found the poem by Tennyson in an anthology and James read her out a short stanza over dinner, expecting her to tune out and start a conversation on why peas are green or some other typically Harry-esque segue. But no. She sat there asking questions. And then she asked me to read the whole poem to her. Now this is a poem that runs over about five pages I think, and full of words she didn't know. I read her the poem and just when I thought she wasn't listening or was getting bored she would ask another astute question about the text. Turns out she loved it! Who would have guessed a three year old would love Tennyson?

Then I thought she might like to see the famous paintings. I learnt they were painted by John Waterhouse (I know vets, I KNOW!) and we found a series of images that we printed out for Harriet. Then James and I also learnt about different interpretations of the poem - that it is about women and sexuality, about the creative process itself, and oh of course it could be about The Lady of Shalott dying in a boat too.

Anyway this all happened unexpectedly over dinner one night. The next morning Harry woke up and painted her own paintings of the poem and the next step is she wants to hang them up with the Waterhouse print-outs to 'make my own art gallery'.

I love how this girl's mind works. I also love how genuinely enthralled she was with the poetry. One of her current games is to make up words. Just made up words for everything and usually in a song. I guess when you're so young all language sounds new and crazy and the idea of having your own language seems completely normal and plausible, as well as the Tennyson-style English being just as accessible as everyday English. New is new is new.

I distinctly remember making up my own words and songs for them when I was young as well, but I'm pretty sure I was more like 5 or 6 when that happened. Did any of you reading do something similar? Anyhow, I'm now convinced Harry will be a Classics major at uni.


Lisa W said...

You know what I'm going to say...hmmm gifted & could she not be ?? And Teddy is just soooooo cute & his calm nature comes right through the screen ! x Lis

JennieMo said...

I had my own library system! LOL! My grandmother was a librarian and I used to spend some of my afternoons with her when I was little. I useds a deck of cards and set up my own dewey decimal system. My parents thought I was just obsessed with books. They had no idea I could read until I entered kindergarten. HAHA! So...I am not surprised one bit! LOL!! And honestly, I think you and James together empower your little one to go above and beyond and even give her a booster chair to reach those stars. :)

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Teddy is gorgous! Harriet will no doubt amaze everyone with great and noble studies! Hope all is well. I am a very big Milly Molly Mandy fan too! Yes, I have finally joined the Blogging world despite being overloaded already! xx