It wouldn’t be that unusual to see a group of school children on a walking field trip with their teachers. But it would be odd to see them puling a wagon laden with brightly painted stones.
That was the scene in Bridgehampton on Friday as children in Gabrielle Lemon and Caitlin Hansen’s kindergarten class, accompanied by children from several other grades, strolled into the village to spread a little good cheer.
Ms. Lemon said the class had recently read “Scribble Stones,” a rhyme book by Diane Alber, which tells the story of one little stone, who has big plans for his future, only to wind up as a paperweight on someone’s desk. It is not until all the paper on the desk is used for art projects that the stone gets his day in the sun. He is painted and soon joined by others who are given away as gifts.
In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Lemon said Bridgehampton had made “a big push for social and emotional learning this year” that touched on topics such as spreading kindness, helping others, and trying to understand what makes the children themselves feel happy.
The project has been expanded to all primary grades, Ms. Lemon added.
“Everyone in the school has been finding rocks, decorating them together and scattering them around the school grounds and the community with the hope that when people find them around the school or in the community, it will make them feel happy,” she said.
Ms. Hansen noted that community is a major focus of the children’s social studies curriculum. “Allowing the children to walk through the community and give something to the community works nicely with that,” she said, “especially after the year everyone has had.”
And speaking of the year everyone’s had, the teachers said they were happy to be able to teach their children in person this year after school was abruptly closed in March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic descended on the United States.
“We were prepared to have a lot of conversations about the importance of masks,” said Ms. Hansen, “but they came in prepared. A lot of that is because of their parents. We can’t say enough about them.”
“If we knew our kids were going to be such rock stars this year, we wouldn’t have been so concerned,” added Ms. Lemon.
On their loop through the village, the teachers said they would try to get as far as the Bridgehampton Firehouse and the post office before doubling back, all the while looking for good spots to leave a gaily painted rock for someone to find under a bench, next to a door or in a flower bed.
They should stand out. The teachers estimated that the children had decorated at least 150 rocks for the project. “Some kids did 10 of them,” Ms. Lemon said. “They were constantly going back to the bag for another rock because they couldn’t get enough of the idea.”