On these dates, when more or less we are all changing airs and landscapes, I have remembered a professional globetrotter much loved by children: the traveling class pet. (I clarify that it is a stuffed animal, not a live animal). Do you remember that in the movie Amélie A garden gnome comes out and is taken around the world and has photos taken in different places? Well, this also happens in early childhood education, but without a soundtrack by Yann Tiersen.
As a child with divorced parents, the pet has joint custody with all the students in the class. She leaves the classroom on Friday afternoon with one of them and has to return on Monday accompanied by an account of her adventures. But a half-minute oral improvisation is useless to get by, explained by our children. The bug is accompanied by a notebook where we will have to attach photos documenting each of the highlights of the weekend and then we will write a few sentences commenting on them.
What seems easy involves planning the content, printing the photos in color on Sunday afternoon or looking for the typical 24-hour store where they print them for you, having glue and a bit of creativity…
With 33 books published, writing is easy for me, but I remember the phrases in the notebook that cost us a lot. More than anything because a subtle competition between families is generated. Let’s see who writes the best lyrics (because we adults have to write), let’s see who prints the best photos, let’s see who writes the most ingenious texts…
In some classes there is a rivalry to show who gives the pet the best life. In theory, it is just as legal to take a photo in the dining room at home as in the Eiffel Tower, but in the end, to outperform the others, we will end up taking the pet to Disneyland Paris. The family that inaugurates the notebook has no one to compare with, but the rest of us do gossip about what the others have done. “How little have these worked” or “What a piece of room they have” has escaped all of us.
It can also happen that Sunday afternoon arrives and suddenly the alarm goes off: “We have not taken the photos, the pet has not traveled, dishonor will follow us!”. Luckily, the stuffed animals don’t come with a tracker yet, leaving you with the usual tactic of pretending to wear different clothes to simulate several days. With a plain background and a bit of Photoshop that mascot may have traveled more than Tintin.
What is learned from this process? Well, children, to better explain and share their world with the rest of the class. And adults… we learn to always have glue and a little planning on the weekend. And we also train ourselves for when homework is really complicated and we miss the traveling pet.
*Martín Piñol is the author of 33 books. His children’s series ‘The Monster Kitchen’ has been published in several countries. His latest novel is ‘The club of shadows’.
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