A Boy and Robots

Rylan is the boy who loves reading.  He is part of my library read-aloud group, a big part.  That’s because he listens with his heart, and his mind.  His body tells me so.  Rylan’s eyes are glued to me, and he leans forward so he doesn’t miss a word.

I am reading aloud The Wild Robot Escapes, by Peter Brown, the sequel to The Wild Robot.  Rylan loves this book.  So do the other children.  I love this book.

Our first library meeting this year, we talked about robots.  Rylan told us all how he wouldn’t want to be a robot, because… his hands found the words he wanted to say.  They waved, passionately, as he described how it is important to have feeling and thinking – a robot doesn’t have that, but Roz does.  She is the robot in the book.

Oh, Rylan – you ‘get it’ and understand.

For Halloween, Rylan was a robot.  I asked him about that.  He said, “Oh yes, that book!”  He was Roz, and he added lights to the costume.

I asked Rylan his favorite part of the book.  He said, “The part where he goes in the sewer.  Then he comes out.  The Recos see him.”  Thank you, Rylan. This is a great part of an excellent book.  I’m so glad that you were a robot for Halloween.


Posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How To Help Your Children Love Books

Nicholas Rossis takes two of my blog posts on language, literacy, and storytelling – and adds his own thoughtful and well written words. The result is a powerful message on reading. Thank you!

Nicholas C. Rossis

Kids' library | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksAs the wee one is now at an age when she’s starting to read, I have been wondering how I can help her enjoy reading. Recently, I came across a two-part post by Jennie, a teacher of thirty years, titled Language, Literacy, and Storytelling. She shares there some remarkable statistics which gave me pause:

  • Every child wants to read when they begin school.  Enthusiasm is 100%.
  • By fourth grade, only 54% read something for pleasure every day.
  • By eighth grade, only 30% read for pleasure.
  • By twelfth grade, that number has dropped to 19%.

Teach your children to read | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book Image: jenniefitzkee.com

As Jennie points out, the key word here is pleasure. We drown our children with so much reading that they learn to associate it with drudgery. In their minds, reading becomes synonymous to homework. Is it any wonder they start avoiding as soon as they’re allowed to?

On that note, I…

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Today’s Quote

Soul Gatherings

Helen Keller

I long to accomplish a great and noble task,
but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks
as if they were great and noble.

~ Helen Keller ~

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Veterans Day for Preschoolers

Veterans Day in my classroom is about far more than honoring our veterans.  For preschoolers it is an introduction to the American flag and our country.  It is history, geography, and patriotic songs.  What started out as a day to embrace these activities became far more than anticipated.

We began by hanging the flag and using a big map of the United States at Morning Meeting.

There was much to talk about- where we live (Massachusetts is small), north south east and west, oceans and mountains.  With the American flag hanging behind us, children could better understand that 50 states = 50 stars.

I asked children, “If you see someone in a military uniform this weekend, what should you do?”  A few children knew that “Say thank you” is the right thing to do.  Then I said, “You can also shake their hand, like this.”  I shook every child’s hand.  Learning how to shake hands is important!

We moved the big map to a table and added our ‘travel box’, filled with maps, postcards, real money, and magnifying glasses.  While children were eager to crowd around and ‘travel’ across America, a few children took it upon themselves to move all the classroom chairs over to the big rug, line them up, and pretend it was a plane.  They brought along their maps and began to travel.


This is the heart of learning, where children grab onto what is happening, embrace a concept or activity, and take it upon themselves to do more.  It’s called Emergent Curriculum.  Children guide what happens next.  That’s the learning that ‘sticks’.

We played patriotic songs in the background.  Emmett begged to hear the song “This Land is Your Land” and also look at the book.  Between using the big map, flying on a plane in the chairs, and singing, it was a full morning.  We still had time to do painting as well.

In the afternoon, we had a guest and his guitar visit us.  It is always very cool to see and hear a real instrument.  Travis wanted to play and sing two patriotic songs.  First he tuned his guitar (you could have heard a pin drop) with 15 wide-eyed children watching.  He sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, with a fabulous voice and a great guitar ending.  It was wonderful.  Then he wanted to sing, “This Land is Your Land.”  Emmett was thrilled, as were most of the children- we sing it often, all six verses.

To my good luck, Travis plays the song in the key of D, and so do I.  We were then able to play the chorus and sing together.

Thank you, Travis!  And another opportunity for children to see a handshake.

We finished the day reading a book about America, Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus.  Simple text, gorgeous illustrations.  For example, red rows depicting rows of trees in red foliage and also red rows on the flag.  I highly recommend this book.  I’m picky, and don’t buy many books.  This was a ‘must have’ for me.

It was a very good day for children.



Posted in American flag, children's books, geography, Giving thanks, military, picture books, Singing, young children | Tagged , , , , , , | 49 Comments

The Importance Of Play

We all hear that play is important for children.  I know it’s important.  It’s their work; how they learn to make friends, negotiate, solve problems with objects, and solve problems with other children.  Play is having fun, and it’s also very hard work.  Learning how to pump a swing and ride a bike is a mountain of a challenge.  So is learning how to ask for a turn, and to stick up for yourself.

Recently I stood back and watched children playing in our Dinosaur Den at school.  The conversation was lively, and they wanted to make the dinosaurs talk with each other.

And they did!

Then a child asked me to take a picture of all the dinosaurs.  They had worked so carefully to get the dinosaurs all set up, before a dinosaur dinner.  Do you see the dinner, the multitude of rocks. carefully lined up?  I couldn’t get all the dinosaurs in one photo, so I had to make a video.  This was very important to the children.

And then it was time for the dinosaurs to have dinner.

Do you know how long it took children to line up all those rocks?  Can you see how carefully children are feeding and taking care of the dinosaurs?  Do you see how they are working together?

Play = Life Skills.

Children who play can better attend at school.

Children who play have greater academic success.

Children who play make friends.

Children who play develop kindness, heart.

Children who play are problem solvers.

(This is just the tip of the iceberg, key parts of a long list.)

Therefore, children who play grow into adults who have the skills to become good citizens as well as good people.  Isn’t that what’s most important?  Take the flip side – when a terrible, evil situation happens at the hand of one person (Columbine, Sandy Hook for starters), I immediately think of what they were doing when they were four-years-old.  They did not have a Dinosaur Den in which to play, nor a Mud Kitchen.  Therefore, they didn’t develop any life skills.  So, when someone wonders if play is important, yes it is!


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Extra Innings by Don Massenzio – an excerpt

I had the pleasure of reading this book some time ago. Of all the stories I have read – and there have been many – this one has stuck with me. It is good! Baseball, family, history, time travel, rich man poor man. The layers build and unfold, as do the characters. I loved it!

Author Don Massenzio

SAMPLEEver since I was a kid in Upstate New York, the magic of going to a baseball game was something I’ll never forget. We had a AAA team in our town and they were the farm club of the New York Yankees. The post World War II stadium was small and quaint. It was also a bit rundown.

I remember opening days when snow had to be plowed from the tarp so the game could take place. I also remember humid summer nights where the mosquitoes were so dense, you had to brush them away from your face.

When I set out to write Extra Innings, I wanted to capture the feeling of that magic, but add another element to the story. What emerged is a story of a sad man, Joe McLean, who’s trying to capture some of his youthful memories as his beloved baseball stadium is being…

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Quotations on Education

Three outstanding quotations on education from Charles French.

charles french words reading and writing



“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

                                                                         Mahatma Gandhi



“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

                                                                         Nelson Mandela



“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

                                                                        Walter Cronkite

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