A "Louse-y" Environment for Learning
by Maile C Carter
Lice epidemics are a given fact in most schools. The very mention of the insects brings teachers to scratching their heads. They offer sympathy to the teacher who has it in their classroom while privately thinking, "Thank goodness I don't have them in my room!"
The trauma to the infested child is even greater. I like to take a matter of fact and "Most of us get it once in our life like chicken pox" approach to lice. This is how I deal with the problem in my first/second grade class.
Some lice activities
The first thing I do is to explain to my students that we have lice in the room; we will all have to work together; the lice do not discriminate in race, sex or economic level, and we have to stop them from spreading. I discuss the life cycle of the louse, its habits, the lice shampoo and what isolation means. We talk about how we have to isolate our coats, scarves and hats.
I then give each child a big white plastic drawstring garbage bag with all the non-waterbase markers I can find. I tell them this is their private bag for their coats and they can decorate it the way they want. We spread out on the floor and decorate the bags. Many write slogans on their bags and/or draw empowering messages directed at the lice. Once a student made a sign for the door saying lice were not allowed.
Later, we make a book on the life cycle of the louse. In the book, the children draw different stages and write under the illustration on each page. The book continues the yearly theme of life cycles.
Two parent volunteers, after training by the nurse, check each child in the room twice a week. When someone gets an all-clear check after being sent home with lice, we all cheer as if we were a team scoring another point for the good guys.
Broadening the concept
Like most teachers know upon reflection, there are always ways to modify and expand any lesson. The next time I have a lice outbreak in my room, I would like to try cooperative groups and/or whole class activities like the following:
These ideas will probably be put to use soon for we all know that as long as we have students there will always be another lice out-break.
© 1991 Synergy Learning International Inc. All rights reserved.
Maile C Carter
- Maile is a 1st / 2nd grade teacher at Edison Elementary School in Eugene, Oregon.