Teaching Spanish Kids About Halloween

November 02, 2012 By: erik Category: Colindres, Offspring, Parenting, Partying, Photos, Spain, USA 589 views

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Halloween At Fray Pablo - 199For Halloween this year, I offered to give a pumpkin carving demonstration to my daughter’s three-year-old preschool class. The teacher was enthusiastic and coordinated with the English teacher, who was already doing some Halloween-themed vocabulary, for a date and time for the presentation. All I could get were some small pumpkins from my local grocer friend who frequents farmers markets. The only way to get a real lantern-worthy gourd is to know a farmer directly, which I do not. My daughter’s teacher, however, told me that she was going to her hometown for the weekend before Halloween, and she knew some farmers that grew big pumpkins, and she’d see what she could find. It was a success! She found two gorgeous beach-ball-sized gourds for me to carve.

As a pajamaed telecommuter, I don’t do a lot of public speaking, so I was a bit nervous to be giving a presentation to fifty little Spanish kids (they invited the four-year-old class, too). When I arrived, I was introduced. The teacher asked if anyone knew whose father I was, and Nora was too shy to claim me publicly. I explained a little bit about where I was from and what I was going to do, and I pulled out the knives I’d brought and started lobotomizing the first pumpkin.

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The kids sat at quiet attention.

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They were very curious to see what was inside.

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And then came the fun hands-on part, where everyone took turns pulling out a clump of pumpkin goop.

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They seemed to really enjoy it. I was given a box of tissues to hand out to them after they finished.

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While I was carving, the teacher deftly took their attention to have them make possible faces I could carve, ranging from scary to surprised to happy to “what Daddy looks like when he’s angry”.

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The most fascinated members of my audience were the other teachers, who had never seen this done in their lives. They seemed amazed that I could cut out a face using “just a knife”.

While I was carving, the teacher played some spooky sounds from some sort of sound machine she had. Once she said, “Let’s see if we can summon a witch! I’ll push the button to make the noise, and you guys watch out for a witch!” That seemed a little scary for three-year-olds, but I kept carving. She pressed play, and something moved behind me in my peripheral vision. She did it again, and again a dark shape moved behind me. The kids began shouting “Witch! Witch!”. It was somewhat unsettling to say the least. Two kids began crying. Then the witch came into the classroom and revealed that it was really one of the other teachers. She went to hug the kids that were crying.

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The witch’s identity revealed.

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When I finished the nose and mouth, it was time to light the candles I’d brought.

All the kids assured us that they would not be scared by the glowing face, and we turned off the lights…

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Two scary faces!

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For the second pumpkin, this blond girl nudged herself closer to me.

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On the second carving, the four-year-olds went back to their class, but then the five-year-olds were due to come down for the second lighting.

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My showmanship improved and I let everyone watch as I pushed out the pieces of pumpkin to form each orifice.

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Two goofy faces, this time.

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Goofy and scary, the gourd brothers.

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It was a lot of fun. The kids all seemed to enjoy it, and I have since had several parents come up to me to tell me how much their kid liked my presentation. After school that day, rather than lead the kids outside into the schoolyard for parental collection, the teacher had the parents come inside to see my handiwork. I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year.

  • Too cool!

  • aquariumdrinker

    Awesome. I’m chuckling imagining an immigrant father trying to talk his way into bringing large knives into my daughter’s class in order to demonstrate some macabre ritual from his homeland. There are obviously too few lawyers in Spain.

    What do you know about the rules regarding publication of images of children in the EU? When I was visiting a different part of the great nation of EUvia, I was told that you just can’t publish kids’ photos unless you have a parent’s permission. But (a) people believe wacky things about what laws do and don’t require, and (b) even if they were right, I have no idea whether this as an EU, national, regional or whatever law. I’m not concern trolling regarding your pictures — they are great and that law, if it exists, is stupid. I may be making another trip back to EUistan next year and have been meaning to ask someone about this.

    • The Spanish law, Article 4 of Law 1/1996 states (it reads just as badly in Spanish legalese):

      “The diffusion of information or the utilization of images or name of minors via communication media can imply an illegitimate intrusion into the minor’s intimacy, honor or reputation, or that may be against the minor’s interests, to be determined by the intervention of the Fiscal Ministry, that will urge immediate precautionary measures and protection provided by the Law and will solicit the corresponding compensation for the damages caused.”

      Like most laws, it’s the enforcement that really matters, and I don’t think it’s enforced very often, unless you’re publishing photos of Penelope Cruz’s kid for profit or child porn or bullying videos. Rather than taking hours to blur each kid’s face, I’ve decided to adopt a policy like the DMCA, where I’ll be happy to remove a photo or blur a face if I get a complaint (I haven’t yet). There are lots of school blogs that post photos of kids, and I suspect they haven’t requested parental permission.

      I don’t know about other EU states, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had something similar.

      • JoshAGrady

        For what it’s worth, parents at our school are given a release form to sign at the beginning of each academic year. (Or, if they prefer, the parents can “opt out” of having their children appear on the school blog, etc. by not signing.)

        • We have those too, and the law in Belgium is that you can’t publish a minor’s image without parental consent.
          There’s no law at EU level; each Member State decides.