When my daughter, Corrie was in first grade, her teacher decided to use Clifford, the Big Red Dog, as a reading helper. Everything they did was based on Clifford. From their first books, to the stickers they received for books read. The students thrived under Miss Tyler’s unusual interest in the big red dog. Corrie tells me that everyone loved Clifford. And not just in the books, because Miss Tyler had a huge stuffed Clifford. He was like a mascot for the class.
In addition to Clifford, Miss Tyler had all of the Clifford books. It was like a big red dog addiction. Everything they did in class included Clifford. He was a great learning aid, because at that time, and possibly still for that age group, Clifford was the coolest thing out there. We never really know what things can help a child learn, but it is well known that children learn better with toys. I have always liked learning toys for my kids, and I could see how well this strategy had worked well for Corrie.
Corrie tells me that the first book she remembers reading was a Clifford book, and that for Christmas, each student receive a Clifford book as a gift from Miss Tyler. Their entire year centered around Clifford. As rewards for good work, or good behavior, students were given the privilege of being in charge of taking care of Clifford. Corrie says that the students loved Clifford, almost as much as Emily, his owner did.
Time marches on, of course, and Clifford went the way of all childhood heros. I doubt if Corrie has thought about him in years. Her children have grown past the Clifford age, and while they did read those books too, they probably haven’t thought about the big red dog in a long time. Still, when I asked her about a picture I had found of a teacher, her students, and Clifford, all the memories came flooding back for her. Memories of school days gone by…about a simpler time, when life was all about making friends at school, and of course, recess. When I asked her about how the class responded to this different method of teaching, she said, “Oh, we loved Clifford!!”
Going to the dentist is not usually something that kids like doing. It normally frightens them because of the painful Novocaine shots and the scary sounds of the drilling. Once they have been there, most don’t want to go back…but my niece, Chantel had a little bit different experience with the dentist, and I will never forget just how funny it was.
Chantel went to a children’s dentist. That was pretty much unheard of in the mid 70’s when she was a little girl, or at least it was pretty new to us. This dentist wanted to make it a good experience for the kids. So, when she had to have her teeth worked on, he gave her something to relax her. That would make her sleepy by the time she would receive the Novocaine shot, and probably pretty numb too. My sister gave her the medicine about 30 minutes or so before the appointment. Of course, it not only relaxed her, it was similar to being drunk. She got pretty goofy.
We were asking her questions just to hear her slurred speech as she attempted to answer us. This was not the first time she had been given this med and so we kind of knew what to expect, and she loved her dentist, because he had found a way to remove the fear of dentistry. Not only was she not afraid, she was always given gum after the dental work, as a reward for doing so well throughout the procedure. No wonder she liked him. What little kid didn’t like gum.
So, we asked her where she was going, and she said, “To da detist.” And then giggling, we would ask her again, just to hear the funny slurred speech. She tried very hard to tell us the whole story of the upcoming adventure she was going to have…with us laughing all the way through it. Finally we asked her why she liked the dentist and she said, “Ma buddy guve me gum.” Aw yes, the ultimate reward for a sweet little girl on medicine to make her relax.