Monday, October 31, 2016

SOL: Greek Urns and Face Paint

I read a great article the other day about avoiding "Greek Urns," meaning not wasting classroom time with projects that felt fun, but had no real educational purpose.

Then today I let ten students stand around and watch one student turn me into a kitty cat with her "traveling makeup bag."

Whoops.  My bad.

Let me attempt to explain.

Several weeks ago, one of my 8th graders came in giggling because a high school friend of hers had showed her a picture on her phone of a day two years ago when I let her paint a dot on my nose and whiskers on my cheeks.  I can't remember what my rationale was that time, but when my current student said, "Can we do that too?" I told her, "Ask me on Halloween."

And then I forgot all about it.

But she didn't.  Neither did any of the other girls in the class.  So today they showed up with that traveling makeup bag and oodles of enthusiasm.  It's the last period of the day.  It's a small class.  It's Halloween.  They did what they were supposed to do for the first half hour of class.

So then I said, "Okay.  You can decorate me now."  One girl took charge, two others were her key advisors, and yet two more filmed most of the event.  The rest crowded around, offering commentary.  I closed my eyes, relaxed my face, pursed my lips, fluttered my eyelids, and otherwise followed directions as carefully as I could.  The actual cat makeup was a matter of moments, but the excitement level was still high, so she added eye shadow, mascara, some shine and contouring, and even brushed some color onto my eyebrows.

Me: I've never had my eyebrows done before!

Them:  Giggling.

What was the educational value of those ten minutes?  I will freely admit that the learning was minimal--oh all right, it was non-existant.  But there is other value to be found in a classroom, and in life.  For ten minutes, my students were in charge, and I was passive.  For ten minutes, we did something that I am not very good at, but they are.  For ten minutes, we were shoulder to shoulder and laughing together.

For ten minutes, we had fun and enjoyed each others' company.

And that was no waste of time.

This post is linked to the Two Writing Teacher's weekly Slice of Life challenge.  Inspiring teachers to push themselves as writers so we are better equipped to teach writing.  Promoting reflection on our lives as teachers and humans.  


  1. Aww, you showed them that sometimes school doesn’t suck. They look so happy.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. What great fun! It goes under building community!

  3. I just listened to Dr. Stuart Brown's interview with Krista Tippet (On Being) and he spoke about the enormous importance of play. We need far more play in schools, classrooms, homes. Bravo.

  4. Sounds like you and your students definitely qualified for the "fun loophole." :) I read the same piece at


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