“Are we gonna make snowflakes like in the other classes?”
“How do we make snowflakes?”
“I don’t know how to make a snowflake. I’ve never made one before.”
I stopped in my tracks.
“Ms. G., can we work with partners so I can show him how to make a snowflake?”
I nodded and walked around the classroom, watching my 7th graders work.
I’d heard that fine motor skills were being neglected in early childhood in favor of academics. I’d taught students who didn’t know how to hold a pen. I’d heard the screech of a pencil as it was dragged across a paper. But to have never made a snowflake?
Sure, we’re in Texas where snowflakes are rare. Where I grew up, the only snowflakes we’d see were on television, the movies, and classroom windows. When I taught kindergarten in the early 90s, we spent months strengthening little fingers with hand exercises and showing little fingers how to cut along lines. Curved lines, straight lines, dotted lines–we cut them all.
When Christmas rolled around and our “winter” unit began, we’d littered the floor with scraps of paper. Each window was covered with taped up snowflakes with a student’s name proudly written to display their work and their fine motor skills. Just as it had been when I was five years old and in kindergarten.
Then National PTA had put out a call, asking students, schools, and PTAs to make snowflakes to decorate the “new” school for the survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. My school and students answered the call.
Bless their little hearts.