Dear Students

"What’s a rubber?"

“What’s a rubber?” the innocent (or so I thought) first grade girl inquired.

“What?” I asked back, while my inner panic alarms began to sound.

“A rubber. What’s a rubber? Aaron* wants one.”

My keen teacher hearing is now on full alert as I scan the art room, trying to locate Aaron. Ah, there he is…

Aaron is repeatedly questioning his classmates,“Does anyone have a rubber? I need a rubber.”

I relax, look back at the girl, and reply, “it’s an eraser. He’s looking for an eraser. That’s what they call them in Australia.”


I can see it now. This poor little girl is going to be sitting at her dinner table, and her parents are going to ask what she learned in school today. Of course, she’s excitedly going to tell them that she learned about rubbers in art class. I swear, these first graders will be the death of me this year.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent Australian kid who doesn’t know any better.


8 thoughts on “"What’s a rubber?"

  1. Anonymous says:

    One of my second graders meant to write in response to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “…to go to Six Flags.” When I pointed out that he had forgotten the “l” in “flags” he and his two buddies at the table broke out in hysterical laughter. Second graders!!! They are 7 years old!


  2. Anonymous says:

    a teacher friend from across the pond had her room ready to go on the first day. SHe loved to label all her containters. Someone had to tell her what a 'rubber' meant in the US. Needless to say, so embarrassed. And in reverse, don't call your fannypack a fannypack in England…it's the same as the “C” word here.



  3. Great story. I always worry when I take out a batch of new kneaded erasers, and they actually say “kneaded rubber” on the wrappers. So I take off all the wrappers before I pass them out, not wanting to deal with the giggles.


  4. I've had the exact same thing happen to me before. My school has so many different cultures represented that it can be confusing sometimes. Kids from India call rulers “scales” and erasers “rubbers.” I've also had a first grader tell me a boy said the “s” word. It turns out that the “s” word to a first grader is “stupid.”


  5. I blame all of these double entendres on technology. Especially cable tv, computers, cell phones and oh, older brothers and sisters!TeeHee! My friend teaches 3rd grade and one year she had a boy hand her a large condom in a gold metallic foil wrapper. He said he didn't think his dad would need it, but because they were studying pirates and treasure in their guided reading book, he thought she might like to share a “real” piece of trasure with the class……..


  6. Anonymous says:

    Was trying to get my first graders to remember that when the paper is tall that it is… I prompted with a V and got virgin. Not exactly the vertical that I was looking for. Of course when someone gives an answer they are like parrots and all start chirping virgin, virgin, virgin. Had the first grade teachers who are meeting in the hall in hysterics.


  7. Pingback: #tbt: “What’s a rubber?” | Art Teachers Hate Glitter

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