Arrived at school to find 3 out of the 5 class tadpoles dead. Belly up. The tadpoles the third graders observed every day for the past couple of weeks. The tadpoles we wrote about and drew pictures of in our "Tadpole Journals." The tadpoles we studied in books, online, videos. Dead.
I was on my own.
The other teacher in the classroom was out today, and the sub she scheduled got pulled to another class that needed her more. I'll be fine by myself, I said. But I wasn't fine. I paniced. Oh my god, they ARE dead. Compose. Impromtu ceremony in the garden near the small pond to release the two survivors. Discussed the life cycle of frogs, reminded the children about the rate of survival for tadpoles in the wild - not so good. Turned the situation around into a celebration of the two healthy frogs we raised. Hooray! Avoided the death discussions brought up after: shootings in the news, "rotting body" found.
Onward with the day - to the standardized tests we were scheduled to take. Noted on the testing irregularity form - "Class tadpoles died, discussed as class before testing." This kind of thing rocks a third graders world. Teary eyed, they filled in bubbles. They were soon fine, said the tests were fun.
After the testing, we read the book The Tenth Good Thing About Barney that handles the topic of death of a pet - Barney the cat. Then we all wrote ten good things about tadpoles - some lists, others poems in two voices - then we buried the poor poles near a plant to help it grow. We placed a rock on top, and everyone patted the rock and said goodbye.
I am never getting a class pet ever again!