Sunday, October 27, 2013

This is Not Your Home


Chemistry and Embryology (study of embryos) were subjects for my degrees. So, somewhere along my teaching career, I taught science also along with reading and math---to the preschoolers, no less. I often picked up dead bees, crickets and spiders from my walks, and brought them to my class the next morning.

I used this story to teach children about insects. And yes, we saw some of these insects-dead or in pictures, or live ones too.

For 5-7-year-old children.


This is Not Your Home

Weavy, a baby spider decided to go home after a long walk in the woods.
He reached home.  “I’m home, Mama. Please let me in.”
A cricket answered, “This is not your home, and I’m not your Mama. I am an insect, I have six legs, and I live in holes.”
Weavy counted his legs. There were eight. He hung his head down and walked on.
He reached home.  “I’m home, Mama. Please let me in.”
A grasshopper answered, “This is not your home, and I’m not your Mama. I am an insect, I have four wings and I live in grass.”
Weavy looked for his wings. There were none. He hung his head down and walked on.
He reached home, “I’m home, Mama. Please let me in.”
A ladybug answered, “This is not your home, and I’m not your Mama. I am an insect, I have two antennae on my head and I live in shrubs.”
Weavy wiggled his head. There were no antennae. He hung his head down and walked on.
He reached home. “I’m home, Mama. Please let me in.”
A butterfly answered, “This is not your home, and I’m not your Mama. I am an insect, my body is divided into three parts, and I live under leaves.”
Weavy counted his body parts. There were two. He hung his head down and walked on.
He reached home. “I’m home, Mama. Please let me in.”
A honeybee answered, “This is not your home, and I’m not your Mama. I am an insect, I have an exoskeleton, and I live in honey combs.”
Weavy felt his body. He had no skeleton at all. He hung down his head and plopped down on the ground. He saw an ant scurrying around.
Weavy mumbled, “Please, don’t say anything. I know, you’re not my Mama and I’m not an insect.”
The ant nodded, “That’s right, Weavy. But you don’t know that insects lay eggs, not young ones.”
Tired Weavy shrugged, rolled his eyes and cried out, “Mama, I want to come home.”
The mama spider, dangling by a thread, scooped up Weavy. She took him home, “Weavy, this web is your home and you are an arachnid.”
Weavy smiled, “Mama, I’m happy I am not an insect and that I live in a web. Mama, what is an arachnid?” 

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Himalayas Did Not Collapse

Here is my story for this week. 
Natural calamities change the landscape in a matter of hours. 
Man's choice is to accept Nature's fury and work around it after it has occurred. One can prepare for it by leaving the area when there's a previous warning, as it happens in tornadoes and tsunamis. At such times, doing nothing wastes lives and property.
Today's story is about Mount Everest, in the Himalayas.


The Himalayas Did Not Collapse!

 Sa                         Sapna frowned as she faced her mom and said, “Mom, Bhaiya says, the Himalayas are the tallest mountains in the whole world.”
Sagar, at twelve, who was four years older than Sapna, said,  “They are, Sapna. We studied about it in our geography class.”
                     Mom agreed, “Sapna, Sagar is right. The Himalayas have Mount Everest, world’s tallest peak.
                     Sapna wondered, “How did it get to be the tallest?”
Sagar smiled when he said, “Perhaps because the other mountains are shorter.”
Mom also smiled, “Well, long, long ago a big earthquake made the Himalayas.”
Sapna, “An Earthquake made a mountain?”
Sagar jumped in, “Dear Sapna, once a small island came up in Pakistan when there was an earthquake.”
Mom agreed, “That’s right, just like that the Himalayas came up thousands of years ago.
Sapna frowned, “You still didn't tell me, how can an earthquake make a mountain!”
Sagar said, “Mom, I know how it happened.”
“Okay, go ahead explain it to your sister.”
“Well, Sapna, when there is an earthquake, the earth moves and the land cracks.”
Sapna said, “If the land cracks, things drop in the crack! They don’t get pulled out of the earth.”
Sagar nodded, “Good thinking, Sapna. That also happens, things can drop in the cracks but often in an earthquake, things from deep inside the earth, move up.”
Sapna, “I get it, like the lava from the underground, cool. And, you have a mountain! But where will the things from the top go?”
Sagar added, “Sapna, it’s not just one piece of the land that moves, everything moves on land---buildings, bridges, and trees fall where the earthquake occurs. Things shift around.”
Sapna put her hands on her mouth, “Oh, no! That’s horrible. When things fall, do people get hurt?”
Sagar shook his head, “When little girls fall, do their knees are scraped? What do you think happens when a building falls on people? Don’t be such a dim wit.”
Sapna knitted her eyebrows together, “You don’t have to call me names just because you know more.”
“That’s enough children.” Mom said. 
Sagar kept a straight face and continued, “Sapna, do you know how an earthquake occurs in the first place?”
Sapna shook her head, raised her hands and shrugged.
Sagar smiled again and said, “Well, the earth is made of huge, flat pieces of rock called the tectonic plates. These slabs are way bigger than our house or your school.”
Sapna’s eyes widened.
“Yep, they are huge. They move ever so slow. They bump into one another and they pull away; they go past one other; they go over and under. They create lots of friction, rubbing against one another, and boom, you have an earthquake!
Sapna said, “It sounds like toppling a building made of blocks by moving a couple of blocks at the bottom.”
“Exactly. The tectonic plates’ movement is slow, smooth, and constant. You move one block from the bottom and the one on the top falls!”
“That’s awful.”
“One tectonic plate moves with a great force and makes the other plates shift from their place with even a greater force.”
Sapna wanted to know, “You said ‘constant.’  If it happens all the time, why don’t we hear about them? Why don’t we see them?”
“Well, there is just one answer to both your questions. All this occurs deep down below inside the earth. So we don’t see it nor do we hear it! Also, the shifting of tectonic plates does not always bring about an earthquake.”
“How can that be?”
“Simple, by the time the movement comes to the top, its force is gone!”
Sapna had her hand on her chin, “Bhaiya, you learned all this in your geography class?”
“Nope, four of us are doing a science project on earthquakes, so we have to study. Sapna, there’s more.”
“More? I don’t want to learn about the earthquakes anymore. ”
“Okay, you’ve got to hear this last thing---“
“I don't have to. I can’t shut my ears! Maybe I could walk away, my choice.”
“Don’t be silly. Listen, the earthquakes that we see, occur only on earthquake fault lines.”
“It is a weakened line between the tectonic plates, deep in the earth.”
Sapna got up from her chair and said, “Well, Bhaiya, for your project, you better find these fault lines and erase them.”
Sagar also got up, “Yeah, right. I am the big scientist, a seismologist, who can tell where these fault lines are and erase them. You don't understand anything. You can predict an earthquake, you can't stop it.”
Sapna walked to her room.
Sagar decided to eat a banana with honey and think about earthquakes.
Sapna ran back to the kitchen, “Bhaiya, how can I save myself if there is an earthquake here?”
Sagar thought for a moment, “You can go under some huge furniture---the dining table or stand by strong walls on the inside of our house, but never near a window or doors that swing.”
Sapna said thoughtfully, “That's good. Anyway, the Himalayas did not collapse due to an earthquake, actually, an earthquake made them!” 
Sagar agreed, “You got it, the earthquake created the Himalayas.”
Sapna clapped, “With the tallest cliff in the world! Yay…”
“Uh, the tallest peak.”

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Taking a Break :-(


No, I did not miss a story for this week. I think my blog is not being read, so I am holding on to my stories and taking a break until I know someone reads my blog :-)



Sunday, October 13, 2013

You Always Have A Choice


Here I am again, presenting one more story. 

It is about making a choice in life. 

A person can always choose. Make a right turn or left, keep going forward or return, exercise today or not, eat right or not, study, finish the work or procrastinate. 

Do I continue with this blog or do I drop it? I still have a few more stories, due to circumstances surrounding me, I have not written anything new, just rehashing what had been sitting on my computer. 

Getting back to the story, a person has a choice to help or not help another person. 

Enjoy the story written for six-seven year old children. 


You Always Have A Choice

Grandpa sat in their living room with a book. 
Billy hobbled in, tears spilled from his eyes.
Grandpa left his arm chair, picked up his cane and walked towards Billy, "What happened, Billy?"
Billy bent over his leg, "It hurts. I fell down and Robby did not even help me." He flopped down on the nearest chair.
Grandpa, "Uh, oh. Let’s see. How did you fall?" Grandpa sat on a low stool by Billy's chair, Grandpa touched his leg gently. 
Billy, "We were running a race and I fell down. My ankle feels sore and I can’t walk. Tommy’s dad saw me.
and carried me here."
Grandpa moved his hand on Billy's ankle, "Hmm.  I see your sore ankle. How about we ask Grandma to drive us to an emergency room."
Billy hid his leg under his chair, "They'll make my ankle hurt more."  
Grandpa, "Nooo, if I remember it right, the doctors make you feel better."
Billy and his Grandpa sat in the backseat. Grandma drove the car.
Billy continued to pout, "Grandpa, why didn’t Robby help me? I called out for help, but he just ran past
Grandpa patted Billy's hand, "Well, sweetheart, a person always has a choice."
Billy looked up at Grandpa, "What do you mean?"
Grandpa said, "It's simple. You have a choice of helping someone or not helping."
Billy frowned, "Well, he didn't."
Grandpa smiled, "Hmm. Let me tell you a story and you can figure that out for yourself, Billy."
Billy said, "Tell me your story only if it helps me feel better."
Grandpa nodded, "Well, unless you hear the story, we will not know."
Billy crinkled his nose, "I guess you can tell me the story."
"It happened in the year 2006, in the month of June I think."
Billy smiled, "I finished second grade in June and my birthday is in June!"
Grandpa, "That is right. In June that year, an Australian mountain climber climbed Mount Everest. Then He started his descent."              
Billy's eyes opened wide, "Wow!  Did he actually climb the highest mountain in the world? Was he climbing
all  by himself?"
Grandpa patted Billy's hand, "No, they always climb in twos of more. And yes, I am talking about the tallest of the Himalayan peaks. He had climbed Everest. He looked around.
Billy's eyes grew even more wide, "Did it look different?"
Grandpa smiled, "I am sure it did. How do things look from your tree house?"              
Billy grinned from ear to ear, "Really neat. I can see things that are far-far away. I love it."
"Well, this mountaineer also looked all around from the top of Everest. Then he started to climb down.  Unfortunately, soon he felt disoriented!"
"Yes, he did not know where he was and what he was doing. That can happen when you are tired, if you don’t have enough sleep, and especially when you don’t get enough oxygen."
Billy, "Grandpa, people and animals die if they don’t get oxygen, right?"
Grandpa said, "Correct. Well, this mountaineer was so disoriented, that he just sat down and refused to climb down!" 
Billy wondered, "Didn’t his friends help him?"
"Of course, they tried.  But the mountaineer resisted all attempts of help. They soon gave it up because they started to run low on their own oxygen."
Billy, "Oh, no. that was bad. Did the poor mountaineer die?"
Grandpa: "Well, the Sherpa, that’s the guide, and the others felt his pulse, and listened to his heartbeat. There were none. They decided that the man was dead! They left him there and came down the mountain."
Billy, "Then?"
Grandpa continued, "Well, on the next day, an American was climbing the same slope with two other Americans and a Sherpa."
Billy, "Good for them. So the Americans brought the dead Australian down!"
Grandpa nodded, "Yes, the Americans brought the Australian down, and he was not dead!"
Billy, "Cool! How did they bring him to life?"
Grandpa said, "Billy, nature is fantastic. In cold temperatures, the human body turns on its defense mechanism. All of the body functions slow down to save the body heat." 
Billy, "Wow, the Australian's body protected itself!"
Grandpa, "So it would seem. Billy, this guy sat in a lotus position, on the snow, without any gloves, without a hat, without an oxygen tank, with his jacket unbuttoned, and without a sleeping bag to keep warm."
Billy, "That's crazy."
Grandpa answered, "Right, but the Americans saw the Australian did not really know who he was nor what he was doing there!" 
Billy, "Didn't they see he was disoriented?"
Grandpa replied, "Perhaps. Well, the American wondered: Do I keep on climbing or do I help another human being!" 
Billy, "I got it, Grandpa. If the American continued to climb, the Australian dies, if the he helped, the
Australian lives! What did he do Grandpa?"
"Well, he asked his fellow climbers of their opinion---whether to help a fellow climber, another human being or make their dream come true and reach the peak in two hours."
"What did they choose?"
Grandpa said that they let their dream go and …
Billy interrupted, "And they decided to save a life. They made a good choice, right?"   
"Yes, Mr. Billy, that’s right. There is always a choice: You can either go this way or that."
Billy nodded, "I guess Tommy made the wrong choice."  
Grandpa said, "Right or wrong, that the choice he made, son."
Grandma braked the car when they reached their destination, "My dear fellows, we are at the hospital."
Billy held his Grandpa's hand, "We made a good choice by coming to the hospital. With your cool
story, I did not even think about my ankle! I am ready for the doctors. Let’s go."

The End

Discussion:  Do we have a choice in our daily lives?  Choice in what we wear?  Choice in what we eat?  Choice in what we do?  How does our choice affect us?  How does it affect other people?

(The Australian’s name was Lincoln Hall and the American was Dan Mazur)

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Andres, Do You Want to Build with Me?


Today's story could be a graphic story, but here it is only in words. 

It happened in my preschool class. A student came to me with a problem about another student rejecting to play him and calling him black.

My assistant and I had the following conversation, after I told the children to be quiet so the teachers could have a special talk with each other. Of course, we had a pin drop silence in the class---the little ears wanted to listen to our conversation.

After that we never had a problem of discrimination in the class. I guess an Indian teacher with her African American assistant do not offer much to discriminate. 

My story, with a few changes appeared in the Stories for Children in one of their 2007 issue.


                                              Andrés, do you want to build with me?

Miss Joyce was working with her preschool class.

Andrés came to her with an unhappy face.

Ms. Joyce asked, “What’s going on Andrés?”

Andrés sounded very upset as he said, “Johnny says, ‘I am black’”

Ms. Joyce said,  “Hmm.  What did you tell him?”

Andrés extended his arm in front of me, “Nothing…...I am brown.”

Ms Joyce put her arm next to Andres’ arm and said, “Guess what? I am also brown.  Sometimes people

call me black.”

Andrés looked up at Ms. Joyce and smiled.

Ms. Joyce said,  “Let’s talk to Johnny.”

Ms. Joyce took Andrés by hand and they both walked to Johnny.

She said, “Hello, Johnny, Do you know this boy?”  She pointed to Andrés.

Johnny looked up and said, “Yes, that’s Andrés.

Johnny went on building again.

Ms. Joyce said, “Johnny, Andrés has something to tell you.”

Johnny held on to one of the blocks and said, “What?”

Andrés said, “I am not black, I am brown.”

Johnny shrugged his shoulders and went back to his blocks.

Ms. Joyce asked, “How about calling him by his name?”

Johnny said, “Okay.  I’ll call him Andrés.”

Ms. Joyce said, “Thank you.  I think people like being called by their own name.”

Johnny concentrated on his blocks.

Unhappy Andrés stood there, with a crestfallen face.

Ms Joyce put one hand on Andrés shoulder and she put the other hand on Johnny’s shoulder as she asked, “Johnny, what do you do when you are hungry?”

Johnny replied, “I eat when I’m hungry.”

Ms. Joyce asked Andrés, “And you Andrés?  What do you do when you are hungry?”

Andrés said, “I eat.”

Andrés sat down on the floor, next to Johnny. 

Ms. Joyce said, “And what do you gentlemen do when you are thirsty?”

Johnny said, “I drink milk in the morning.  I also like drinking juice and water too.”

Andrés said, “I also drink milk in the morning.  I drink water in school.”

Ms. Joyce asked, “Johnny, what happens when you are unhappy?”

Johnny said, “Everyone cries when they are unhappy.”

Ms. Joyce said, “I think you are right, people cry when they are unhappy.  Now

Johnny, have you ever tasted your tears?”

Johnny, “Yeah, they taste like salt.”

Ms. Joyce asked Andrés, “Are your tears salty, Andrés?”

Andrés moved closer to Ms. Joyce, he whispered, “Yes.”

Ms. Joyce asked him again, “Okay, do you smile when you are happy, Andrés?”

Andrés smiled, “Yes.”

Ms. Joyce asked, Johnny, “And you, Johnny, do you smile when you’re happy?”

Johnny answered, “Yep.”

Ms. Joyce asked again, “When you scrape your knee, what happens?”

Johnny touched his knee and replied, “Sometimes it bleeds.”

Ms. Joyce asked the same question to Andrés.  He said that sometimes he also bleeds.

She further asked, “What is the color of your blood?”

Andrés answered, “Red.”

Johnny smiled and said, “Mine is red too.”

Ms. Joyce said, “Do you think everyone has red blood in their body?”

Johnny said, “Ms. Joyce, everybody has red blood.  Even dogs and cats.”

Ms. Joyce said, “Oh, that’s good.  Everyone has red blood.  One more question.”

Johnny asked, “What?”

Ms. Joyce said, “Boys, when you get a cold, what is the color of the stuff that comes out of your nose?”

Andrés replied, “It is called film, Ms. Joyce.”

Ms. Joyce said, “That’s right, what is the color of your phlegm?”

Johnny said, “Yuck, it is white and yellow. Gross.”

Andrés said, “Yeah. Gross.”

Ms. Joyce continued, “Yes, it is gross. All right then gentlemen, one last question, what color is your pee?”

Johnny said, "You said a potty word."

The boys answered together, “Ms. Joyce, it’s yellow.”

Ms. Joyce said, “That’s right.  Tell me now, are you more the same or different?”

Johnny and Andrés said together, “We are both the same.”

Johnny smiled as he said, “We are different outside, but the same inside.” 

Ms. Joyce said, “Ah, you boys are so smart.  You are right, we look different outside but

we are the same inside.”

The boys started grinned at each other as Ms. Joyce said, “What would I do if Andrés, Johnny, Rachel, Rina, Cathy, Tommy, Martha, Ashok, Keisha—looked exactly the same?”

Andrés said, “You are so silly, Ms. Joyce.”

Johnny said, “Yep, you are so silly.  We can’t all be the same.”

Andrés said, “We can be the same inside, but not on the outside.”

Ms. Joyce smiled as she said, “And I thank you for being different.”

Johnny said, “Andrés, do you want to build with me?”

Andrés said, “Okay.”

Andrés and Johnny palyed together.

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah