The Dead Bird and the Secret Color of Angels

"I put a moon. A moon inside for the bird to shine, and a moon on top"
Penny, who just turned four

"On the folk-tale quest, encounters matter, be they with people, animals, luck or death. What is important in the quester is the readiness to encounter..." Jay Griffiths, A Country Called Childhood

The children in the Garden room found a dead bird outside one day. They did a lot of thinking about the bird in their classroom with Teachers Sara and Tiffany. They also came to the studio to make a coffin with caretaker and carpenter Pippin, and to decide how to decorate the coffin. I asked them what they thought would happen, now that the bird had died? During these conversations children would begin to sing. I started to pay attention to children's spontaneous songs.

Jeb (sings)
Bird, Bird, Bird
you will be dead,
please will you turn into a 
angel, or angel, or angel, or,
a angel bird...

Annabelle (sings)
I really love you bird,
be well soon,
maybe a lovebird,
will come and help her,
lovebird please,
lovebird please, please come...
me Where will the bird go when she dies? 
Aedan Another bird might come and get her. Take her to a .. maybe to a farm house.
Eleanor I’m making a friend for her. This is the bird here. This is the bird and she’s flying all the way to…..
Riley heaven!
Eleanor No. Here’s the bird, and she’s flying all the way to… us. And this is just her and she’s going to make a circle, and she’ll come back here.
me Wait. Do you think a new bird will come around and fly back to us? Our red cardinal bird will turn into a new bird and come back?
a friend for the bird Eleanor
Eleanor Yes. I drawed a new friend so she will know a way to come.
sings 'little cardal its ok to cry but we’ll be here with you, 
you are ready to die. 
when you’re with us you’ll be tucked in, 
we love you, little birdie we love you.'

Riley (sings) 
Cause if they don’t die, cause she’ll still be sick. 
They would be never seen again in the forest.
don’t worry about a thing, 
but if you love us, we love you too, 
and when you are with us don’t worry about a thing 
(keeps singing in the background)
Aiden Wings wings. Those are her wings. Maybe my Mom gonna love that.

love bird Annabelle
Annabelle (sings)
'I really love you bird, be well soon,
Maybe a love bird will come and help her.
Jeb (The Love Bird) That’s another spirit, Annabelle thinks. And there’s also love-squirrels.
me how do you get a lovebird to come?
Annabelle maybe you sing a beautiful song.
Jeb (sings)
'love bird please, 

lovebird please, please come…'
Lovebirds are the color of real angels. Well sometimes... maybe brown or something.
It’s a very good secret.
the bird and heaven Alice

Alice Well, she can’t fly to heaven...
Annabelle Maybe we could carry the box to heaven
me Oh, do you know the way to heaven?
Annabelle Well I think I been to heaven but it was a loooong time ago, and I don’t remember. My Mom doesn't know.
Alice Is heaven a box?
me It’s usually thought to be a big space, with things that you like.
Alice Is heaven a building?
Annabelle I can draw a map, well, I… I think I know how to get there but the bird is kind of pinkish to me, so I’ll need a pink marker.
a map of the way to heaven Annabelle
me sometimes they say that heaven is over the rainbow.
Annabelle Oh! I know, cause I have a over the rainbow story and I know how to get there!
Alice I don’t know about it.


  1. Thank you for sharing your documentation I love the conversation and drawings.


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