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Kuna teacher transforms classroom to open a world of possibilities for her students

They've been artists, Arctic explorers, wedding planners and cardiologists - and they're only in kindergarten.

KUNA, Idaho —
About once a month, the kindergartners at Crimson Point Elementary in Kuna get to open the door to a whole new world.

"They walk in just in awe and really excited about the day and what we're going to do," said kindergarten teacher Debbie Ryan.

One day, Ryan turned their classroom into a "Starbooks" and they became baristas. The kids used pastries to match upper-case and lower-case letters. They also ran a hot chocolate stand.

"They actually took orders, and then at the end of the day we served our staff," Ryan said.

It's what Ryan calls a "transformation day."

"A transformation day is an opportunity for my littles to experience a career or maybe a possibility of a dream to just inspire them while we're learning our standards," Ryan said.

More recently they transformed into cardiologists complete with lab coats, stethoscopes, a play x-ray machine, and stuffed animals for patients. It was a chance to learn the kindergarten basics in a hands-on way.

"Simple addition where two hearts, a heart was separated, they had to find the two and find the sum with a thermometer," Ryan said.

The kids also learned color words and syllables. The kinder-cardiologists really got into it.

"A hundred percent. We called them doctors all day," Ryan said. "They called me the chief of surgery, and we kept those roles all day long."

Some kept the role all night long.

"Their parents even write back and say 'they were a doctor all night,' or 'I had to get a shot,'" Ryan said.

The littles, as Ryan calls them, also got be artists for a day. Another time they acted as Arctic explorers. They even worked as wedding planners, planning the wedding of the letters Q and U because they always go together.

"We talk about schedules and times and how to make everything fit together," Ryan said.

For each profession, "transformation days" are only one day, but they can open the students' imaginations to what they could be one day.

"I just hope that they become lifelong learners so they know they can be anything," Ryan said.

Debbie Ryan is happy to be a kindergarten teacher.

"I love that I teach kindergarten," Ryan said. "So every day is a new experience, and we learn something every single day."

If you would like to nominate a teacher who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org

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