Matt Burkhartt | Staff Photographer
Crocodiles, foxes and polar bears. Oh my.
A school-wide Teddy Bear Picnic helped wrap up the last week of Children’s School as Chautauqua’s season comes to a quiet close. Although the morning rain and overcast skies made for the first indoor “campfire” in years, the kids still celebrated with as much sunny enthusiasm.
Five-year-old Eleanor sat with her polar bear “Gwen,” Mimi Clark with her homemade “Love” bear, as librarian Lynn Moschel read a very suitable Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
Ever since Tuesday’s Teddy Bear Hunt, it seems the kids could use some well-earned time to sit and listen — one would hope.
“Do you know what today is?” Moschel asked the group. “Today is the day that teddy bears have their picnic. Do we all have our teddy bears?”
Kelley Collette raised his alligator; another girl her palm-sized panda. Freddie Lamb, 3, hopped up and down, his stuffed rabbit in hand. Other kids, like Thandon Bensink, rested comfortably on his “Big Bear,” an easy three-and-a-half feet for the 5-year-old.
Moschel then turned to the last page, showing a very contented mama bear and her lot.
“Can you all say that?” she asked.
“Goodnight teddy bears!” the group shouted.
Ready to wake up the 3s, 4s and 5s, Moschel brought out her secret weapon: Toddlerobics by Zita Newcome.
“Many kids really like this book, as [children] like nothing more than moving around,” she said.
And by the time the second page was turned, kids and their stuffed pets were up on their feet — and paws.
At Moschel’s cue, the children around the circle began flipping their fins, swimming through the seas. Teacher JoAnn Borg gave her best crab-like moves while Tina Jeffe hopped like a bunny. Teacher Laura Vasisko raised up her starfished hands, morphing into a jellyfish — proving no age limit is safe from Toddlerobics.
And the workout continued.
“Look at all the ducks,” Moschel said. “Now let’s jump up in the air and catch a fly.”
The whole room jumped.
“Let’s roar like a lion,” she said.
The whole room roared.
“Look at all these waves!” Moschel said, as the group of kids created a sizable ocean.
“You really just have to feed kids’ energy levels,” Moschel said after the show. “And they love nothing more than jumping around the room.”
Following Moschel’s reading, music teacher Gretchen Hathaway led the kids in the last group song of the season. Sitting on the floor, kids paid homage to the Institution to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”:
“Oh, I love Chautauqua a lot/ in the summer when it is hot,” they sang. “I can swim on the lake/ and slurp on milkshakes./ And go to concerts with my friends.”
“Now let’s sing forte,” Hathaway said.
The last rendition brought everyone on their feet, their animals over their heads. Three-year-old Russell Gardner accompanied the performance on the piano while teachers sang the harmony. And before crustless jelly sandwiches were served to the kids and their tired teachers, Kit Trapasso ended the picnic with a closing thought.
“It’s been a great year, everyone,” he said.