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Surprise Box

by Maureen Slamer

Surprise Box

“Dad, I got the surprise box! Finally, it’s my turn!  All the other kids had it before me,” Nikki squealed, running into Dad’s office after school. 

“How come?”  Dad swiveled to catch her.

“‘Cause my name starts with a W.”

“Your name doesn’t start with a W.  It starts with an N.”

Nikki rolled her eyes, “No Dad, it’s alphabet.”

“Alphabet?” Dad cocked his head.  “Ohhh…alphabetical…I get it. Our last name starts with W.  So what do you do?”

“‘Structions on the box.  I pick something.  It’s got to fit.  Then I write clues.  And I hafta practice,” Nikki announced as she raced away.

“Mayhem, that girl is mayhem.”  Dad muttered.  I hope she picks something that fits that lunch box.

Nikki raced into her room.  She tried her unicorn.  It didn’t fit.  She tried her sparkly tiara.  It didn’t fit.  She tried her soccer cleats.  They didn’t fit.  Nothing I want fits!  Nikki thought.  She looked at her dresser.  There it is!  No one will guess that! 

Nikki grabbed her draft book from her backpack.  She wrote.  It is blue.  It is from the ocean.  You can wear it.  “Dad, Dad, Dad!”  Nikki hollered.  “Can I practice?”

Nikki's Clues

Nikki, age 6

“Sure thing.”  Dad swiveled to see Nikki dancing in the doorway.

Nikki read the clues.  “You get three guesses, Dad.”

“Is it a starfish?”

“No, really close.”

“Is it a fish?”

“No.  Only one guess left.”

“Is it a shell?

“It is a shell, but  a seashell necklace,” Nikki smirked.

Dad smiled, “Ya got me.”

“Yup that seashell necklace is magic,” Nikki said as she snapped the box closed.  “No one’s gonna get it!”

Later that night at dinner, Dad brought his own surprise box.  “Okay Nikki, you got three guesses.”  Dad smirked as he put his travel kit on the table.  “It slides.  It has red and white squares.  It helps you count.”

Dad hid the puzzle inside his travel kit.

Our Littles Need Time and Opportunity to Write

The Surprise Box empowered Nikki to both read and write.  She had seen the other kids at school use the Surprise Box during circle time.  Every child in her class had the opportunity to write and read their clues on a daily basis.  She was captivated and engaged with writing the clues she needed to accomplish her task.  Nikki saw herself as a “doer,” capable of writing and reading.  She took the responsibility to craft her clues for her purpose.  She wrote the way a six-year-old writes.  Nikki wrote the words she knew and approximated the words she did not know.  Nikki read her clues to her dad.  She was practicing and using her skills as a reader and a writer.  Her father’s response provided the encouragement and support she needed. 

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