Kindergartners Learn To Care, Share

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Kindergartners in Mary Ann Runzo's class at Payson Elementary School pretend to be tall number 1's and do not share as they walk down the hall to recess.

But once on the playground they share -- classroom balls and jump ropes and turns on the swings.

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Cheryl Watts, the teacher's aide in Mary Ann Runzo's kindergarten class, helped the children tie a quillo -- a lap quilt that folds up into a pillow -- to share with Shea Nelsen, a high school student with leukemia. This is one of three quillos that Runzo's class are making to share with people in the community.

"I teach sharing and caring," Runzo said.

She made the phrase a rhyme so her pupils could remember it.

The five year olds began the school year with glue sticks, pencils and crayons in a communal pile on the tables.

"There was no, ‘That is mine, this is yours,'" Runzo said.

It worked fine, but now with cold and flu season in full swing, the children have their own boxes of creative materials.

Although the children are no longer sharing crayons, they continue to learn what it means to share with others and care about them.

First, they share and care within their own class.

Each Wednesday, Runzo gives her pupils time to tell stories or show something they brought from home.

"The things they get the most excited about are things they made at home," Runzo said.

"Because a sibling or a parent took the time to show their little one how to make something, they come in all smiles and say, ‘Look, what my mom did with me'," Runzo said.

Scents of apples and cinnamon waft down the hallway just before Thanksgiving. The aroma serves as an instant reminder of the feast PES kindergartners are preparing to share with each other.

"Our Friendship Feast reinforces sharing and gives them an understanding of the first Thanksgiving," Runzo said.

Other classes made vegetable soup and bread.

Runzo's pupils made Crock-Pot Applesauce out of peeled, cut up apple segments, sugar and cinnamon, and a little water.

They wanted to eat the applesauce the day they made it, but Runzo kept them busy making butter by shaking heavy cream in a cold jar until it formed a quarter-sized ball.

"It takes a lot of shaking but kindergartners can shake (well)," she said.

Sharing and caring in the community and far away are other lessons kindergartners learn.

The children made and gave a quillo, a lap quilt that folds into a pillow, to "the girl at the high school who got sick," kindergartner Zane said.

"And we wanted to show her we cared," 5-year-old Savannah added.

The girl is Shea Nelsen and she has leukemia.

Now, Runzo's kindergartners are hard at work on two more quillos that they will present to other members of the community in need.

Soldiers far away in Iraq will soon be the recipients of PES kindergartners' and fourth-graders' caring and sharing.

A contest was held between the two grades to collect items for Payson Supply Line. Plus, the children stuffed stockings and made Christmas cards for the soldiers.

"My class this year is really good at sharing and watching out for each other," Runzo said. "And, not to overstate the issue, but the Payson community is filled with people who care and share. We (at PES) just try to help students capture the concept while they are little and reinforce good values."

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