The Presence of Wonder

The sky is always changing.  Look away for a minute and there is a new canvas of beauty. School ended yesterday, and now I have more time to delight in the constant beauty that Mother Nature provides, from my porch and backyard.  Yes, E.B. White, I am always on the lookout for the presence of wonder.


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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives #PotLuck – Childhood and Summer, Then and Now by Jennie Fitzkee

Sally shares my stories and memories of summer camp, thunderstorms, singing, and more.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:

Pre-school teacher of over 30 years, Jennie Fitzkee, has been a welcome guest here many times but this time, Jennie has let me loose in her archives… this will be fun.  In this post Jennie compares childhood and summer.. then and now.

Childhood and Summer, Then and Now

On summer evenings my greatest pleasure is sitting on the porch and reading. My porch has soft lighting and wood everywhere; bare wood and rough wood. The ceiling is the roughest wood of all, and my husband wants to paint it. Oh, no! That would be a travesty. I knew it…

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A year of Chapter Reading

This is the newsletter I sent to parents on chapter reading – the single most important thing that makes a difference in teaching children:

Chapter Reading
June 11, 2019

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day.  We bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past.  The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day.  Children listen and think.  They ask questions.  Ask your child, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?”  You will hear your child say, “In your head.”

When we finish a good book and then start a new one, emotions run high and low.  The end of a good book is so satisfying and pleasant, yet…it is over.  That is the wonderful roller coaster of reading.  And, with each chapter book we read, we ride that roller coaster again and again.

We are nearly through reading Little House on the Prairie, and it is thrilling; from Jack the dog, to building a house, to Indians in the house.  Pa and his neighbor Mr. Scott dug a well, and we learned about the bad gas deep inside the earth (Pa had to save Mr. Scott) that only a candle can detect.  Of course I told children about my grandfather in the nines and his childhood portrait wearing a miner’s hat with the same candle. Laura and her family had fever ‘n’ ague (malaria), an illness that people thought came from eating watermelons.  Their neighbor Mr. Edwards actually met Santa Claus and helped to deliver their presents.

We encourage you to finish reading the book aloud to your child.  There is much more ahead, from A Scream in the Night, to Fire on the Prairie.  There is also fear of Indians, which I treat as an opportunity to discuss diversity and prejudice- ‘Gloria’ helps with that.  If your child wants to continue the series, the next one, Farmer Boy is about Laura’s husband when he was a little boy.  I recommend the following one, On the Banks of Plum Creek, which begins their next journey after the prairie.

We voted on our favorite chapter books this year.  Charlotte’s Web was the clear winner with 12 votes!

These are the chapter books we have read this year.  Good books are meant to be read over and over again.  We encourage you to revisit these wonderful books with your child:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The fundamental constant that gives children the tools to succeed in school is languageThe more words that children hear, the better they will do in school.  Reading aloud to children is far more than an enjoyable experience.  It increases their language development!  In kindergarten through grade four, the primary source of instruction is oral.  The more words that a child has heard, the better s/he will understand the instruction, and the better s/he will perform in school, in all subjects.  Therefore, we will always campaign to read aloud.

A wonderful guide to book recommendations and to understanding the importance of reading aloud is the million-copy bestseller book, The Read-Aloud Handbook.  I have used the book since my children were little.  The author, Jim Trelease, visited the Aqua Room and GCS.  We are featured in the new seventh edition of the book.

Jennie, Heidi, Naomi, Katy

Posted in books, chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, Jim Trelease, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Quotations on Imagination

Outstanding quotations from Charles French.

charles french words reading and writing


“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

                                                                  Carl Sagan


(portrait by Maurice Quentin de La Tour)


“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

                                                                 Jean-Jacques Rousseau



“Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.”

                                                                 Ray Bradbury

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The End of the School Year

My dining room table has been a jumble of children’s work collected throughout the year.  I have put on the finishing touches.  Parents will get their child’s Portfolio – the full collection – next week.  I’ll be there, looking over their shoulder as they walk through the school year with their child.  Tissues needed.

Children have been saying goodbye in many ways.  Some are crying, some are glued to my side.  We’re reading all their favorite books, from Humphrey the Lost Whale, to Mother Bruce, to Harry the Dirty Dog, to Those Pesky Rabbits, and This Land is Your Land.  We’re just hanging out together.  Gloria has been well loved and also very needed.

My Book Bears reading group at the library had their final meeting.  Here is a letter to me from Jared:

Dear Jennie, Thank you for being the head of Book Bears.  My favorite book that we read was Two Dogs in a Trench Coat.  You are the best preschool teacher.  When I started in Book Bears I was below reading grade level. Now I am above grade level.  I wrote a fairy tale in school and thought you would like it so I gave it to you.

The fairy tale is The Three Little Chipmunks and the Big Bad Giant.  It’s wonderful!

I was invited to the high school graduation of a former preschooler in my class.  What an honor to be included in such a special event!  How many preschool teachers have this opportunity?  Not many!

It is a roller coaster, a flurry of emotions, moments that are fleeting that I wish could be locked in time.  I want to rewind and play it back again.  But of course that cannot be.  I must settle for the memories.  And that is really all I need.


Posted in behavior, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Kindness, Love, Teaching young children, wonder | Tagged , , , , , | 79 Comments

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives #PotLuck – How to Teach a Child to Become a Superhero by Jennie Fitzkee

Thank you, Sally Cronin, for sharing my blog post on teaching children to become a superhero. They can change the world!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:

Pre-school teacher of over 30 years, Jennie Fitzkee, has been a welcome guest here many times but this time, Jennie has let me loose in her archives… this will be fun. There are many life skills that a child needs to learn, and one of those is about doing the right thing.

How to Teach a Child to Become a Superhero

Superheroes. Every child wants to be a Superhero. Ask a child, “What does a Superhero do?” and you will hear everything from “save the day” to “help people” to “get the bad guys.” These are good things, and Superheros…

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D-Day and Young Childen

I am in awe of the soldiers and sailors who are back in Normandy today, 75 years later.  I always bring patriotism into my class, and a certain page in a picture book that I read all the time helps me bring D-Day into the lives of preschoolers.

This is the cemetery in Normandy.  D-Day.  It is a page from Peter Spier’s book, The Star-Spangled Banner.  I have been reading this well-loved book to children for decades.  The words read, “Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand.”

Whenever I got to this page in the book I would talk about Arlington Cemetery in Washington, DC.  Then I saw the movie “Saving Private Ryan” and I immediately recognized the scene in Normandy to be exactly this illustration.  I nearly jumped out of my skin.  After that I had a whole new understanding and respect for this page, this cemetery.

Here is what happens when I read this page:

I stop.  I don’t say a word.  Children need to look and take in the images.

“Jennie, is this a sad page?”

“Yes.  It’s a sad page.”

“What are those white things?”

“They are crosses to mark the graves of the soldiers who died.”

Long silence.

“This is a cemetery.  It’s in Normandy.  Many brave young men died here.  They were fighting for our freedom.”

More silence.  I knew they were absorbing my words and the illustration.  Their heads were spinning.

“Do you see the American flag?  It is flying halfway down the flag pole.  That’s called a flag flying at half mast.  In a cemetery or a national place, flags are halfway down when it is sad.  And Normandy is a sad place.”

We talked about the crosses, and the ones with stars.  We pulled out our big map book and found Normandy.  We imagined the trip there by boat.

I told children about the boats that landed, how they had a “tailgate” that dropped down so the soldiers could go ashore.

Most importantly, we talked about doing what is right, even if it is hard and you’re scared.  Peter Spier understood this.  His book of the song is a classic!

Never forget.


Posted in America, Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, reading aloud | Tagged , , , , , | 52 Comments