It’s no secret I love reporting stories that have anything to do with kids, particularly grades K-3 because they have no filters. Any younger can be a bit tough. I once tried to interview a class of preschoolers for a Mother’s Day story and made a little boy cry because he was reminded he missed his mom and wanted to go home.
But if you pitch me a story that involves grades K-3, I’ll drop pretty much everything.
Kids in this age group have a way of answering questions without any pomp and circumstance. They give it to you straight. Let’s look at a few exchanges from yesterday’s Valley Floor Day as examples…
Me: What can you tell me about the Valley Floor?
Kindergartner: Elk live there. And it’s wild. And prairie dogs live there. And it’s been restored for 11 years.
Me: Wow! You’re so smart. How did you learn all of that?
Kindergartner: By listening.
Me: What is so special about the Valley Floor?
First grader: You see lots of animals.
Me: What do you like to do on the Valley Floor?
First grader: Play around.
Me: What do you hope to do today on the Valley Floor?
First grader: See lots of animals… (thinks for a moment). My middle name is Carl.
I love how this age group lives unabashedly. When the teacher asks a question, every hand shoots up. There are never any wrong answers. In fact, the sillier the answer, the better.
Teacher: What kind of bird has a straw for a beak and likes to slurp up liquids?
Teacher: (Laughing) Me too!
I also love how they don’t ignore their basic needs. When they’re hungry, they eat. One little girl sat down right there in the dirt, in the middle of the presentation, opened her backpack and ate her lunch, even though it was only 9 a.m. No explanation, no apologies. You go, girl.
And they’re curious, so curious. Quick-fire with questions.
What’s a swallow? What’s a mallard? Why is that bird red? Why is that bird there or here or doing that? Why, why, why. And they never hide their excitement. Kids in this age group react the way I wish I could react some 20 times a day, by jumping up and down and pointing and yelling: “There it is!!!! In the tree!!! I see it!!!”
I always leave these assignments feeling refreshed, and grateful for the reminder of how the world exists through the eyes of a child: simple and magical at the same time. You can hear the Valley Floor Day story here: