We immediately started snack. I threw an episode of The Magic School Bus up on the whiteboard to keep them entertained and started to work with kiddos on word lists. At exactly 2:20, I stopped the show and cleaned up the snack mess. We were going to be sitting and ready when the fourth graders came!
I had been building up to this moment all day. The children had been practicing and practicing reading their books; they were fluent and ready to go! As the fourth graders came into the room, the nerves started to show a little big. My kiddos, who are typically very talkative, stopped talking and watched. The kids who came in were big! They were quiet and very controlled. I believe my young kinders noticed these exact things.
I briefly told the fourth graders what we had been working on and how excited we were to share our books, and then I paired a big with a little and sent them off into the room. By the time I got everyone paired up, the pairs I set up first had already finished with the kindergartner's sea animal books. They started in on the rest of the books in the book boxes.
After snapping a few pictures of the kiddos reading their sea animal books, I settled in to watch the connections happen. I paid special attention to one of my little blessings. (I'll call this child Margo to protect identities.) Margo struggled with intense anxiety issues at the beginning of the year. She would hide the second someone she didn't know came into the classroom; it was hard to get her to engage in any activity that involved visitors. For this reason, I was concerned about how she would handle the fourth graders coming.
To my pleasant surprise, she handled it amazingly! After just a few minutes, I looked over and saw her laughing and pointing at the pictures in the book her buddy was reading! She was communicating with the buddy and genuinely having a good time! My teacher heart exploded! This was one of those moments teachers hope for in the time we are given with our students; it was a moment where a student clicked into place and all was right in the world.
When time was up, we thanked our buddies and said goodbye to them. As I tried to get everyone settled on the carpet, many of my students asked if we could do it again sometime. We talked about what the fourth graders had to say about our books, and I knew the students felt successful.
There's nothing better than seeing those legitimate smiles on my kiddos faces and knowing they felt great!