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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Lee

The Best $30 that I Have Ever Spent

A tube of fancy oil paint for myself could easily cost $30. When I filled my car up with a full tank of gas, it costed about that much. However, with the same amount of money, I could buy enough clay for a class of first graders to make snowmen or Sculpey clay for third graders to make miniature terrariums. 

Sometimes, I felt as though I were a millionaire, walking into the 99 cents Store: I swept a pack of stickers for the kindergarten classes into my basket; two packs of holiday erasers for the second grade; two packs of Halloween pencils for the first grade; three packs of glow sticks for the third grade, etc. I mustn't forget to include a stack of styrofoam plates as palettes for mixing colors. 

It's not that I'm an advocate for extrinsic reward. It was more like bringing a gift to someone when you visit their house. In this case, I was invited to the kids' classroom to give an art lesson. Or rather, they were teaching me a lesson in life. 

"Casey found GOLD!" A girl was hysterical. She meant to say that Casey found a way to mix a color of mustard. 

"It's golden!" Confirmed another first grader.

Everyone looked up and rushed over to see what the commotion was all about. My class management skills went out the window. After all, how could anyone top finding gold? 

"How did YOU do THAT?" Now everyone wanted to let in on the secret.

Pointing his styrofoam plate full of first, second...and fifth tries, Casey tried to be resourceful. He volunteered his expertise, "you just mix a little of this and that and that and then it's golden!"

I loved that the students are learning from each other. It wasn't in the way I expected, but learning was taking place all the same. The first graders nodded in unison, giving Casey their undivided attention and their utmost admiration. 

I miss that child-like wonder of discovery. Who would have ever thought that mixing colors is finding gold? Somewhere along the way as we grow older, the excitement of mixing golden colors went away and we just took things for granted. 

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