Tag Archives: elementary school

Classroom Leprechauns

Content:

Me: Where did you get the idea to have a leprechaun visit your class?

LS: Well really it goes back to when I was in first grade. So I remember, I guess we made a trap or something, but I remember putting out, um, Lucky Charms cereal and I think we had some kind of like class trap. I could be wrong, but I just remember, like we were trying to trap the leprechaun and um, we, I mean, I don’t remember for sure cause you know, that was many years ago, but I guess the leprechaun did like set our trap off, but we didn’t catch him. You know? I don’t remember if he left anything. I think he left a pot of gold or something, you know, like the chocolate gold, but I don’t really remember what happened there, but I remember that somebody in my class like went to the bathroom and then they came running back and they were like, “I saw the leprechaun!” And they were like claiming they saw this like little hat, like peek out of the ceiling tile in the bathroom. Which, I mean, for me, I was like, I don’t want someone looking at me in the bathroom. Like, it’s a little weird. But to me it kind of was like, almost like, “oh my God, they’re real.” Like, you know? And so that was just like always a fun memory. And I don’t really remember doing a lot with St Patrick’s day after that. Like I remember we all wore green and like, you know, everyone was like, “oh I’ll pinch you,” if you didn’t. But like that’s the one time I remember like having that experience. And so then when I started teaching, of course, like you find ways to make every holiday fun and you know, engaging. Um, and so somewhere along the way, I guess it was my first year teaching, um my parapro at the time, she was like, oh yeah, we usually like to trash the room. And she had some old green Garland and like some decorations that they had used before. And they’re like, oh yeah, we just like wreck it and leave like a treat. And so I think we left gold coins at their seat and like gave them like a cookie or cupcake or something with green frosting. And we like just tore up the and then she threw like the Garland and other decorations, like up on the board and like made it look like, you know, I, I think there was like a cutout leprechaun that got like taped on the board, you know? And, um, the, you know, the kids went nuts and they got back in the room and it was just so fun. And then the kids would be like, “oh my gosh, the leprechaun trashed our room!” And then they’ll help you clean it up, you know? Um, and so I kind of just continued that from I was in kindergarten. Um, but of course then with the pandemic, we couldn’t do it for the past couple of years. 

Background: LS has taught kindergarten in Athens, Georgia since 2015. She went to elementary school in a suburb of Athens in the 1990s. 

Context: This story was told to me over a phone call. Analysis: I also remember leprechauns visiting my classroom in elementary school. I was particularly interested in L’s story because she touches on the consumerism of the tradition. She talks about using Lucky Charms as a leprechaun trap, for example. Lucky Charms are not traditionally Irish, yet there’s an association between them and what’s considered an Irish holiday. Additionally, when I looked into the lore behind leprechaun traps, it seems that the idea has almost solely existed for elementary schools or other gatherings of children. 

Spiders Crawling Up Your Spine

Text Transcribed from Informant

“Spiders crawling up your spine, spiders crawling down your spine, snakes slithering up your spine, snakes slithering down your spine, scorpions slithering up your spine, scorpions slithering down your spine – gotcha!” (person then pinches partner after reciting rhyme)

Context

Just like the “giving one the shivers” game, my informant learned of this custom/game in his elementary school years. Generally a student will say the text above outloud, while using their fingers to act out the actions being described in the text. When asked for his interpretation, my informant replied that this motion and speech based game, and other games like it, are called “giving one the shivers,” even though this specific one he knew simply as “spiders crawling up your spine.” He often played this game as a child, either reciting the words to other students and pretending to have nefarious creatures crawl up their backs, or having the game recited to him and motions done upon him.

My Analysis

While I never played this specific game myself, I remember partaking in similar games to this as a child. I think the game” is to provide the game’s participant an ASMR-like sensation. I think this folk game also speaks to the near universality of ASMR sensations, as well as adolescent inclinations to trying and recreate a head tingling sensation that doesn’t quite have a term for it.

“X Marks the Spot”

Text Transcribed from Informant

“X marks the spot (He draws an x on his partner’s back), a circle and a dot (he draws a circle on back of his partner and then pokes his finger where he drew the circle), up the river (he runs his fingers up his partner’s back), down the river (and then he runs his fingers down his partner’s back), cootie shot! (he then gently tickles his partner’s back) Cold breeze (he gently blows on his partner’s neck), Tight squeeze (he squeezes partner’s shoulders), egg….(he puts his fist on his partner’s head) Smashing…down your head (he pulls his hands down around his partner’s head)”

Context

Just like the “giving one the shivers” game, my informant learned of this custom/game in his elementary school years. Generally a student will say the text above outloud, while using their fingers to act out the actions being described in the text. When asked for his interpretation, my informant replied that this motion and speech based game, and other games like it, are called “giving one the shivers,” even though this specific one is titled “X Marks the Spot.” He often played this game as a child, either reciting the words to other students and pretending to have nefarious creatures crawl up their backs, or having the game recited to him and motions done upon him. However, when comparing this specific “shivers” game to the three others documented in the archive, my informant says he partook in this one “the least.”

My Analysis

Like the three other shiver games my informant told me off, I believe this game to be a sort of “proto-ASMR” type of experience. While I remember certain shivers games in my own childhood, this particular one was new to me. I find it surprising personally how many of these “shivers” game my informant was aware of, as I only remembered one or three from my own past. I found all of these “shivers” games to be particularly unique forms of folklore, and am genuinely curious about the future of them.

Elementary School Vampire Joke

Main Performance:

The informant, TB, recounted a joke she picked up in elementary school.

TB: “What do you call a vampire in the winter?”

Me: “Hungry?”

TB: “Frostbite.”

Background:

She had heard this joke back in elementary school and latched onto the use of the punchline, so she decided to dedicate it to memory for whenever she needed a joke. It’s the sort of back pocket comedy that kids used to exchange and it stuck.

Thoughts:

These sort of jokes are a bookmark on a period of time in life when everyone is still forming a sense of humor, so the jokes that were told often had a repeated/memorized feeling like this one. I’ve heard it before as well, also from someone at school, and was reminded of that innocent test of knowledge that would take place during recess. The joke being more self indulgent for the teller, as their laugh comes from getting to tell the recipient the answer.

The Curse Cast on Salt Creek Elementary

Context: Z is a 21 year old Filipino American man. Growing up with a close community of Filipino friends and family. Z went to an elementary school within California. This story was collected over a Discord audio call.

Z: “So near the back of my school, a lot of people would go through there for quick entry to school. There was this bridge nearby and underneath it went this pretty deep valley, and what every kid in that elementary school always noticed all the time, whether they were walking there or driving there, you could always see down into the valley and what you could see was this worn out mattress down at the bottom. Every time. So what we thought every single time was that there was this homeless man, but what we thought was he was actually down there casting some sort of dangerous spell or something like that beneath the school. Cause we found out, and I think it was just a funny coincidence, but you’d find around our school an abundance of holes in the grass area, and we thought that these holes are usually from snakes. We always thought you had to be careful because there were a lot of snakes there because of the old man, like he had something to do with it. It was our little story but we really always believed he was casting some spells.” 

Intv: “And what elementary school was this located at?”

Z: “This was at Salt Creek Elementary, and like every kid at the school knew about it.” 

Intv: “Do you think there was any sort of cultural significance to it being a curse? Thinking back on my time in elementary school in a very western upbringing, I don’t think I was particularly aware of curses as much as I was ghosts or spirits.”

Z: “I think, because among my friends a lot of them at the time were Filipino, so what kind of relation there would be culturally, I definitely think it could be related to this monster my mom always told us about in the dark. She would call it the mumu, or that’s what we called it as kids, I think that’s kinda the relation there, as we never saw him in the morning. So we thought maybe he was only there at night when it’s dark. Cause in the day every time we’d pass the mattress we’d never see anyone, and at the time as kids we just ended up putting it all together.”

Intv: “Can I ask you a little more about the mumu?” 

Z: “Yeah, I think it literally translates to monster in Tagalog, I think it’s like your equivalent to a boogeyman. You know? The whole, like, ‘look out or the mumu is gonna getcha!’ thing. At least that’s how I saw it.”

Analysis: After looking up a translation I can confirm that mumu translates to either ghost or boogeyman. This story speaks heavily on how our folk and specifically our more sinister folklore tends to reside in the dark. Across cultures, as growing up as a child in America I was aware of the mumu, just of a different name. It makes one wonder where the mumu or boogeyman originated or how it transcends cultures. A shadowy figure who targets children is seen often in folklore across the world.