Starting on November 25th, the Golden Eagles have had Candy Town and the Spiky Room all to themselves! We have been using this space, although it is still quite cluttered, as a meeting room and activity space. It already seems to be a treasured possession of the Golden Eagles--Ethan refuses to leave the doors open to outsiders, and Rayden once remarked, "I like this room better than the other room!”
As a teacher, I am most interested in how this space shapes and is shaped by the Golden Eagle class culture. What stands out immediately to me is the dual nature of the Spiky Room and Candy Town. From the past two months' notes on the subject, there emerges a diametric opposition: Candy Town feels like a "fluffy" and "sweet" place to be, whereas the Spiky Room is "mean" and "scary". How can these conflicting feelings be at play in the same space? What will this look like in the weeks and months to come?
This week, I wanted to learn more about Candy Town and the Spiky Room by playing a game called "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Candy Town?". Zoe responded, "First, cross the bridge. If you see a candy cane line, you have to follow it. If you see a cupcake, pass it, then you're there!"
Riley answered, "You go through a candy tunnel made of chocolate and candy, then you have to do a treasure hunt. Once you've found it [the treasure], that's Candy Town! "
Carlos said, "You go over a glass bridge, and when the water came it was slippery. And he sees 3 cupcakes and 2 candy canes, and then he was in Candy Town."
Sonya said, "First we were in a car and there were cupcake bumps on the road and a big sign with letters made of candy that says, 'welcome to Candy Land'!"
On the 4th, I asked, "Can You Tell Me How to Get to the Spiky Room?". Rayden said, "First go over a spiky bridge, then you go in a car and there's a troll under the bridge!"
Daniel said, "There's a Batman that throws books. Everyone passes by and he throws books. Also there's a monster that bites!"
Zoe answered, "First you cross a spiky bridge, and another spike, then there's 5 spikes and a dark cave with spikes inside, and then that's how you get to the Spiky Room. "
Catherine said, "First you cross the bridge and then you go through Candy Land, then you're there!"
Carlos said, "You have to cross the Milky Way!"
Riley explained, "You have to climb over apple trees that are never spiky cause there's no path around them. Then you go in a spiky tunnel and some mud trees."
Sonia said, "First you have to go through Candy Town, then there's agents! They're a secret! One is a platypus!"
On the 5th, I tried out another game called "Candy or Spiky?". We ran down a list of words and the Eagles called out whether they thought the terms were 'candy' or 'spiky':
Cupcakes - candy
Rainbows - candy
Monsters - spiky
Mummies - spiky
Lollipops - candy
Sunshine - candy
Rain - candy (Rayden said 'spiky')
Snow - candy (Rayden said 'spiky')
Superheroes - candy
Dragons - spiky
Fairies - candy (Rayden said 'spiky')
Love - candy
Scariness - spiky
Hot - spiky (Sonya and Riley said 'candy')
Warm - spiky
Cool - spiky
Cold - spiky (Rikey emphasized, "spiky spiky spiky!")
Later that same morning, Zoe told me that if she were in Candy Town, she would wear "a candy cane dress", and in the Spiky Room, "a dress with spikes on it". She added, "In Candy Town, one person tells you what to do. In the Spiky Room, everyone can do what they want."
I found it interesting that bridges and tunnels featured prominently in the directions both to Candy Town and the Spiky Room, and enjoyed the differences between a “road” with clear “signs” to Candy Town and a route with “no path” to the Spiky Room. These responses seem to describe an orderly Candy Town in contrast to a chaotic Spiky Room.
The “Candy or Spiky” game brought out mostly predictable answers (e.g. ‘superheroes’ are on the ‘candy’ side, while ‘dragons’ are ‘spiky’), although a few were surprising: ‘rain’ and ‘snow’ were seen as belonging to Candy Town by the majority of students, even though ‘cool’ and ‘cold’ were decidedly ‘spiky’. This information further informs my perception of this rich and nuanced cultural product.
In the next two weeks before Winter Break, we will continue to use Candy Town and the Spiky Room in new and richer ways. For starters, each Golden Eagle will have the opportunity to sew his or her own pillow to play with and make meeting times more comfortable. The teachers will also support this by clearing out many of the remaining unused items which are taking up significant space in the back of the room (especially the large bathtub), as well as sliding the Blue Rug into this space to make it more officially our new meeting room.
Until next time,