The Room Glowed with Magic

The room glowed with magic.

The kindergarten room was four times the size of a regular classroom. Two doors led to it: one from the main school hallway. The second door opened to a place of great importance: the tiny private bathrooms.

The color of the walls hid beneath the colorful decorations, letters, and artwork of the class.

Every morning before the bell: alphabet time. Write your letters. Big A. Little a. Big B. Little b. I usually reached “m” before the loud clang echoed through the room.

The grocery store built in a corner was always a favorite. Grab the groceries, check out. Learn how to make correct change. Its magic secretly taught me math.

The story time circle formed next to it, also a place to play duck-duck-goose and other games.

Our desks sat by the main door, lonely – only a quarter of our time passed in the hard wooden seats.

The room glowed with magic.

Art class rolled out on a giant sheet of paper, stretching from one end of the room to the other. Crayons and markers grabbed, we all chose a spot and scribbled our indecipherable dreams to paper.

One boy knelt apart. Asian and dark, his black hair as straight as my own; his images of ET and The Muppets sprang to life on his private eight foot long canvas. My jaw, slack with amazement, stared as his gift opened onto the plain sheet.

Science class courtesy of two older students – so ancient and tall compared to me, they might have been seniors or sixth graders – something pink and slimy brought in their hands to show us.

“This is a pig’s heart.”

Fascination mingled with disgust – the cool factor winning.

A boy cupped it in his hands, moving around the tubes, tossing terms like “aorta” and “vein” – so vivid I still hear it.

Writing and reading rarely had homework, but one day I forgot. Panic flooded me.

I had to fix it. How could I fix it?

I grabbed my workbook and hid it beneath other books.

“I left it at home,” I said, as my group surrounded me.

Relieved at the easy acceptance of my excuse, it built the foundation of future lies.

Recess chimed three times a day: morning, after lunch, and in the afternoon. Nap time followed the second, as we all dragged our mats and bags to the open space and rested on the floor. Never once did I sleep as I marveled at those who did, my mind refusing to quiet.

The room glowed with magic.

Anything was possible between these walls, bursting with knowledge just waiting to soak in.

The sorceress of this power wielded her wand of words, sparking the drive to learn in each of us. Full of laughter and grins – Mrs. Grant controlled over twenty kindergartners without using threats or anger – a twinge of her disappointment enough to keep us in line.

Larger than life, yet somehow shorter than my parents, she infused us with hopes, dreams, and the foundation and skills to read. She lit our imaginations, letting them run wild. She reigned in our energies, focusing them when needed.

The room glowed with magic.

TV crews with large cameras and a reporter with a microphone surrounded by the masses at recess. She flung words like “closing” and “costs” while hundreds fought for the close-up shot.

Things packed in boxes – our elementary school closing.

The walls bare as cold stone glared back.

Mrs. Grant and her powers retired with the school.

We all hugged her good-bye, as the glow faded from the room – a skeleton of its former glory.


The room’s magic extinguished: gone but not forgotten.

I say good-bye to Mrs. Grant and the magical room.


The Red Dress Club: For this week’s RemembeRED prompt, we’re asking you to remember kindergarten. If, after thinking about it for a while, you can’t recall anything, move on to first grade.

Mine your memories and write about the earliest grade you can recall. What was special? What was ordinary? What did you feel? Hear? See? Smell?

Once again, it’s different from what I’ve done so far: focusing on many moments and emotions from that year, most too distant and vague to mine the details of. Those moments left an impression, a feeling, on me, and I tried to show “the feeling” to make up for the lack of details.

Constructive criticism welcomed!


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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34 Responses to The Room Glowed with Magic

  1. Elaine says:

    You made me remember the little play kitchen that we had in my Kindergarten “home room”. I had forgotten about that! And yes, nap time was awesome. Wonderful memories and I adore that photo!! 😀

    • I found the grocery store a brilliant idea. We’d grab groceries, check out, and ring up fake money. It taught you math without realizing it. I think another part might have had the kitchen to take it back to, but I honestly can’t remember.

      I hated nap time until I was too old to get one. I was always bored.

      Ahh, the irony.

  2. Frelle says:

    how wonderful. i loved this look into your past! as usual you saw and remembered things like I would have, that others might overlook. and the school closed right after your K year? that is a really significant thing too.

    • Yes, the elementary school closest to my house closed and we all moved to another one up slightly further away for first grade.

      I did not like first grade or that school (I was only there a year before my family moved to the suburbs – they weren’t impressed either). I also couldn’t walk (even though I had in kindergarten) because it was further away and along a busy road, as opposed to 2 blocks away and tucked away in a residential neighborhood.

      Until I started writing about the cameras, I’d forgotten how we helped pack things away early.

      This was an interesting memory exercise, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Jessica says:

    Crazy you can remember things that happened in Kindergarten. I can barely remember yesterday. So sad they closed the school.

    • I can’t remember a lot of details, just feelings.

      I actually recall less about first grade, except getting into trouble.

      I wonder how different my life would have been if the school had remained. My parents like the first school, but not the won I attended for first grade – so we moved to the suburbs (and out of the city schools) for 2nd grade.

  4. Erica M says:

    That’s a great photo! Followed you here from TRDC. I’m amazed at those you can remember kindergarten so vividly. I forgot to have dinner last night, know what I mean?

    • Uh.. dinner… last night.. Uh…

      I remember many things from my past more vividly than the present: the mommy brain Swiss cheese letting so much fall through the cracks. It’s part of why I blog – or I’ll forget these moments.

      I find it interesting you think my images are vivid. I didn’t put a lot of detail in them. I don’t remember the smell, or the colors, but I know how my teacher never raised her voice in anger, and I loved that year at school. I remember thinking I should write the alphabet backwards in the morning, because I never reached the end of it. I remember the one time I didn’t do class homework, but none of the times I did. I don’t remember any of recess time, except the day the cameras showed up.

      Memory is so funny.

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. Galit Breen says:

    I can see your memories so strongly right here!

    I loved the magic line threaded throughout, the labelled class photo (genius!) and the details, yes. But the feelings! That’s where you soared, friend. From stress to curiosity to sadness, you captured it all.

    My favorite line is: “The sorceress of this power wielded her wand of words, sparking the drive to learn in each of us.” because it captured the magic so beautifully.

  6. How true that you studied the Asian boy so closely–he was different looking, and kids are so curious about that. I love that you remembered exactly what he drew.

    Makes me sad that the magic room had to close 😦

    • Actually, my kindergarten class was very diverse – my photo included me and my closer friends, giving a rather skewed view of it.

      Perhaps only about half of my class was white, and the other half a mix of everything else. Many didn’t speak English very well and I remember “odd” names, like (spelled phonetically): “Some-pock” and “See-saw.”

      My fascination with the boy (whose name along with those in the photo I still remember) had everything to do with his amazing ability to draw – a talent I still lack today. I also had a crush on him for quite some time. Somewhere at my mother’s house, is a birthday card he drew me the following year with The Muppet’s band on it.

      I also recall him drawing a six foot tall ET on his private piece of art paper in kindergarten.

      His kills at that age were astounding. I’ve often wondered what became of him.

      I think I’m more saddened of the loss of the kindergarten as an adult – knowing how rare that magic is to find. As a kindergartner I knew I had to leave it for first grade.

      Thanks for reading.

  7. Elena says:

    I can’t believe the great description for things that happened to you so early in life…what a great memory! I’m glad you had this magical room and I’m sad that it ended and wasn’t there for others.

    • As I said above, I really don’t remember a lot, mostly the feelings. The details are fuzzy and blurry or hidden completely.

      It was sad to lose that room, and Mrs. Grant. She had “the teaching gift” and retired earlier than she would have if she’d still had a classroom to teach in. It saddens me to think of all the children who missed out on her magic.

  8. So much detail.
    I remember very little from that age!
    My favorite line, ” a twinge of her disappointment enough to keep us in line.”

    • I must have done something right, for people to see this as detailed. 🙂

      Other than the basic layout of the room, I recall little else: no smells, colors. Only these little moments popped when I was free writing, still vague in most details. I tried to compensate by showing the magic I felt being there, which I do remember.

      Mrs. Grant was what every elementary school teacher should be.

  9. Roxanne says:

    “Relieved at the easy acceptance of my excuse, it built the foundation of future lies.”

    I love that quote!

  10. Amy says:

    I loved how you separated your memories with

    The room glowed with magic.

    It is such a great way to start a new memory! Great post!

  11. I think this is written perfectly as a memoir – a story of stories, woven together, tying up the past. I enjoyed this very much!

    I loved the thread of “magic” woven throughout – I found myself wishing, though that the room still glowed with magic at the end…even empty. Perhaps only in memory? But it mae me feel a little let down to read the word “extinguished.”

    • I know, and I hated to end on that note, but it was true.

      Budget cuts closed the school. They closed the kindergarten room. They left an elderly teacher without her classroom and she retired earlier than she would have otherwise.

      The magic of that place truly was extinguished, but the power of it lives on in me.

      Hmm… Maybe I’ll change that in a few days.. Good idea..

  12. Kir says:

    I’m impressed with how much you remembered, I have very few memories of kindergarten, but this was wonderful. I do remember that MAGIC was all around back then, a time to truly believe in the stuff of fantasy.

  13. Jack says:

    The Room Glowed with magic is a terrific description of that feeling so many of us had when we finally started school. It is one that I wish I had for everything I do.

  14. taylor says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I’m with you…maybe the others just forgot to remember those times, or maybe they pretend to forget. There are so many bridges the water runs under.

    Reading your story is a gift, thank you for sharing. I have one comment on pace and structure. I lost pace between the stanzas when you repeated the title. The pause was needed but I lost that conscious stream of thought, lost in the moment momentum, each time I knew it was going to repeat. Instead of each internal memory being a string of seperate lines try putting them together and only leaving physical space in your writing where you need us to pause and catch our breath. Did you feel that? Sometimes the other side of writing is about choosing how to fill the page, (yes, even the space on a monitor or iPhone.) Food for thought.

    Lovely. You’ve opened so many stories in my childhood eyes. If I had a red dress…


  15. andygirl says:

    I really, really think this worked well! I love your take on the prompt. instead of focusing on just one memory or story, you painted a picture of a magical time for you. and you did a great job of it! I loved every detail. I love how you broke up each section (if that word works) and think it didn’t hurt the pacing, but set it. and I was so sad when your school closed, all the magic gone. I don’t have a critique. well done!

  16. This was amazing. It made me remember so much more about my kindergarten class than i remembered on my own.

    I don’t know if you needed to repeat “the room glowed with magic”. I was loving the flow of the different memories and that phrase took me out of the piece each time it was said. Plus I think you feel the magic with your descriptions without you having to spell it out.

    I think this might be my favorite piece of yours so far. So in the moment and real. I was not expecting the ending. And the picture. Priceless.

  17. Mommylebron says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m such a girl, or maybe because I’m pmsing but that ending brought me to tears.
    You built up the magic and wonder of kindergarden and then dashed it away! I also loved how some memories were vague and others were very clear, demonstrating their importance to you.

  18. Rebel chick says:

    I got the feeling you were going for. I love that you actually have a picture of your kindergarten class!

  19. I wish I had memories of kindergarten like this! (maybe I’d have a pist fir it then)

    This piece was just awesome. All of your descriptions, and excitement. Each memory punctuated by this great line;

    “The room glowed with magic”

    What a great way to learn to love learning.

  20. Nichole says:

    There’s so much here to love here…

    This part was so poetic:
    “The color of the walls hid beneath…” contrasted beautifully with “[t]he walls bare as cold stone glared back.” Loved that so much.

    I also love the way you listed an activity and then, with short sentences, described what it meant for you. I loved this: “Grab the groceries, check out. Learn how to make correct change. Its magic secretly taught me math.”

    I’d rework this sentence, (as it read as though the crayons and markers are doing the grabbing): “Crayons and markers grabbed, we all chose a spot and scribbled…” I might tweak it to read, “Crayons and markers in hand, we all chose…”

    You did such a great job with this, Kelly. You filled in the gaps in your memory seamlessly. I’m so happy to see that you not only gave it a shot, but that you excelled. 🙂

  21. Sara says:

    Ok there’s very little reason for me to comment after Nichole but I will give it a try 😉
    This piece is very rich with visual cues and you walk us through the magical kindergarten with ease. In reading this, you are transported which is one of the major joys of reading. Once again, loved it!
    I love this description:
    Larger than life, yet somehow shorter than my parents, she infused us with hopes, dreams, and the foundation and skills to read. She lit our imaginations, letting them run wild. She reigned in our energies, focusing them when needed.
    That is a true testimony to a wonderful teacher.

  22. I felt this magic. You immediately shrunk me down to size and brought me into this room. I wish I had something constructive to add other than the request that you keep doing what you do so well.

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