Use Your Imagination
The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

Use your imagination is a term that can be easily explained by my funny first graders ... Well, by most of them anyway because there's always ONE who doesn’t understand the term's usual meaning. But I love that because this is the kiddo who will have a fresh viewpoint and a unique interpretation!

What Does Imaginary Mean?

We were discussing the meaning of words ...

“The first word is imaginary,” I said. “I know you’ve heard that word before … “

“Oh, I know!” Martin said, “It’s when you thank somefin’s REAL, but it ain’t!”

“Yeah,” Loegan said, “like you use your imagination to see your eeemaginary friend.”

“Uh-huh,” Martin continued, “one time you look, and he's right thar with ya. And next time, huh? They disappeared!”

Then, Loegan said, “My sister has a eeemaginary friend. Ha! But I don’t believe in no such stuff.”

Suddenly, his eyebrows shot up. “Oh, I just remembered … I DO have a eeemaginary cap gun!”

Where are your manners?!

“Teacher,” Ema said, “make Ben stop BURPING!”

Ben looked surprised. “I can’t help it. I smell ONIONS!”

“No, you don’t!” She snapped, and turned on him like a cat. “I don’t smell ‘em, so how can YOU smell ‘em?”

Biting his bottom lip, Ben scrunched down in his seat and looked pleadingly at me.

Whenever Ema saw that, she jumped up. Grabbing the stub of a pencil, she hammered it on top of her desk and spoke with authority. “It’s true, Teacher! I can’t smell ‘em. Can you? Can you? So tell him ... He’s got to stop!”

Tell HIM? I was going to tell HER.

Quick study that she is, she read the expression on my face correctly. Suddenly her attitude changed. She softened both her stance and her tone of voice.

With a dismissive wave of the hand, she said, “You using your imagination, Ben. And you need to STOP IT!”

An Imaginary Friend?

“I got a friend,” Ben said, “but I really don’t … His name is H-U-uckle B-U-uckle, Huckle Buckle Finn.”

“Do you mean Huckleberry Finn?” I asked, thinking that he was confused.

Ben shook his head and spelled part of the name. “It’s H-U-uckle B-U-uckle, Huckle Buckle Finn.”

“So it’s Huckle Buckle Finn ... Hmmm, that’s a very interesting name.”

Again, he shook his head. “Say it like this ... H-U-uckle B-U-uckle, Huckle Buckle Finn.”

“Got it,” I said and together we said his friend’s name: “H-U-uckle B-U-uckle, Huckle Buckle Finn!”

Use Your Imagination Song


A "Real" Imaginary Friend

Next, Gena shared her story of loss with the reading group …

“When I was four years old, I had a REAL imaginary friend. Rugby.”

“What’s his name?” Amy asked.

“Rugby. That’s his name. And he was four-years old, like me.”

She looked wistfully out of a nearby window. “But then he went away.”

Martin said, “Whur’d he go?”

Gena shrugged. “I don’t know. All I ‘member is I had to go to church, and he couldn’t go with me.”

Amy was shocked. “Did you leave him all by his self?

“I had to! I had to go, but he wouldn’t come on! And when I got home, he was gone ... And I nebber did see him nooo more.”

“That’s a sad story,” Loegan said, with a twinkle in his eye and a little smirk on his face.

“Uh huh,” Gena said, “I want him to come back, so I can tell him bye.”

“What?!” Amy said, choking. “BYE? Why?”

Gena shared the painfully honest and brutal truth with us. “I can’t play with Rugby no more ... See, I’m a big girl now. And Rugby. He’s still four years old.”

“Use Your Imagination - Center”

Daily, each student is assigned to a different Learning Center. And to help develop my students’ imaginations, I created one center I call the “Use Your Imagination Center.”

The student is directed to a quiet corner of our classroom that just-so-happens to be near a window. Here, the student is to sit, relax, and think about whatever they want to think about ...

If they want a topic, I'll provide one, but they are supposed to ask me for it. Finally, using their imagination, the student is to draw a picture and write a sentence about whatever they were thinking about.

Today – with pencil and pad in hand – Joe Joe visited the “Use Your Imagination Center” for the first time. For a whole minute he sat staring out of the window at the cold, foggy, vacant campus.

“Teacher,” he said, “I looked and looked, and I don’t see nuttin’!”

“You don’t see anything?"

“That’s right.”

“Remember, you have to use your imagination."

He glared at me for a long moment, and grumbled, “I don’t git it!”

Calmly, I accepted what he said as true whenever he blurted, “Okay, come on over hee-ah, and you’ll see what happens." He looked out of the window. "See? NUTTIN'!”

Nodding, I pressed my lips together to keep from laughing.

But he was agitated. Raking his little fingers through his dark mass of hair, he fussed, “I’m telling ya now. I USED my imaginaton and psshh! They ain’t nuttin out thar to see, no whur!”

* * *

My kiddos are so cute and they inspire me daily. Often, though, I can't keep from laughing because they are such literal thinkers at this age - which is fine! lol - I love my firsties!


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