We have a “nature studies” table in our classroom where students are encouraged to display interesting artifacts that they find. We have a beta fish as a permanent resident, and I’ve had cameo appearances by scorpions, mice, guinea pigs, and non-animate objects such as fall leaves and cool rocks.
I was not ruffled in the slightest when a student asked me yesterday if she could display her pet rabbits on our table for today and tomorrow. We’ve done the animal thing before, and I like it because the kids are into animals and it makes me feel like a non-uptight teacher to allow such things.
Well, my sentiments changed when I walked into my classroom and observed the rabbits, well, enjoying one another in an adult way. When my efforts at ceasing this behavior (verbal scolding, swatting the cage with paper) were unsuccessful, I offered up a frantic prayer: “Lord, don’t let them do this when the kids are in here!” I knew of several students who had not yet been told about the facts of life, and I’m just guessing that rabbits in the classroom were not the desired teaching tool of these careful parents.
Before I had enough time to think through a game plan, my students arrived and, of course, made a beeline to greet the rabbits. All was well, and I breathed a quick sigh of relief. I turned my attention to a sweet little girl who wanted to tell me a story about a special pencil she had brought to school. I froze when she stopped mid-sentence, and tilted her head confusedly as she glanced over toward the nature table.
“What are they doing?”
I didn’t even have to turn my head. The rattle, rattle, of the cage told me everything.
“Um…they’re just playing. Would you excuse me for a second?”
And, convulsing with laughter, I ran to enlist the help of my next door neighbor. We loudly decreed that the rabbits were too distracting to keep in the classroom on a day that we had so much work to do, and we carried the rabbits off to the privacy of the teacher work room.
Now that’s a nature study!