Kindergartners sat quietly on the rug in Jessica LaPadula’s classroom at Pound Ridge Elementary School, watching with wonder as fifth graders from Tina Bonacorso’s class filed in. It was the first time the kindergartners were meeting their fifth-grade buddies and they were as nervous as they were excited.
After being paired up and having some time to introduce themselves to each other, the buddies watched a video read aloud of “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds before decorating dots of their own together.
“The kindergartners get so excited about taking their buddies around and showing them the room,” LaPadula said. “And the fifth graders take it so seriously. Fifth-grade buddies is a real highlight every year.”
The enthusiasm in the room was clear as students moved to different stations set up for painting and coloring, talking the whole time.
“Do you know what blue plus yellow makes?” one kindergartner asked his buddy as he swirled the colors together on a piece of paper. “It makes green!”
In another corner of the room, Riley, a fifth grader, chatted with her buddies Coco and Eliza.
“Eliza, that’s so pretty!” she said, pointing to the kindergartner's artwork. She quickly followed up with praise for her other buddy. “Coco, that looks so good! I love how you made all of the colors blend together.”
Riley’s buddies were particularly talkative, much to her delight.
“I was excited about getting to play with them and letting them show me around their classroom,” she said. “I thought they were not going to talk to me, but they just went ahead and started talking right away.”
Once their art was complete, fifth graders read stories to their younger peers before the group filed out to the playground to enjoy a snack together in the September sunshine. It was the perfect start to what is sure to be a meaningful relationship.