Smorgasbord – Posts from Your Archives – “Art, Music and Technology by Jennie Fitzkee

Thank you, Sally, for sharing my story of art and music woven with technology. It was a remarkable week.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

I recently invited you to share some of your posts from your archives. It is a way of giving your earlier or favourite posts a chance to be read by a different audience. Mine.  Details of how you can participate is at the end of the post.

Jennie Fitzkee has been a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, I have reblogged several of her posts because they demonstrate how a dedicated and passionate teacher can ignite imagination and a passion for books and music in the very young.

In this last post in Jennie’s current series, ( I am sure that there will be more from her in the future), she describes the wonder for both children and teachers to be found in the magic of music especially when combined with creating art.

Art, Music and Technology by Jennie Fitzkee

We’re learning about France in the classroom and also studying…

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A Magical Night at School

There’s nothing quite like being a child at school – in the dark – at night – with your family. This week children and families gathered at school for a pizza party outside on the playground.  It was such fun to see parents getting to know each other and children playing together.  After supper, the pumpkin carving began.  We have stone planters along the pathway, a perfect spot for carving and transforming  pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns.

And then, it became dark.  We lined up all the jack-o-lanterns, lit them with candles, and stepped back to admire the many different faces.

This is what I wrote to families later that night:

Tonight was special.  There was a moment, as the sun was setting and jack-o-lantern carving was almost finished, that I looked around and saw parents smiling and laughing with other parents. Children were busy and happy with their families and friends.  It was a moment when I knew this was indeed a magical night.  The sky turned pink.

Then, all the jack-o-lanterns were lit and glowing along the planter for everybody to see.  That was extraordinary.

When we gathered to sit in a big circle with our jack-o-lanterns and sing songs, it was nearly dark.  That was exciting!  Being at school in the dark with your family, surrounded by classmates and families with jack-o-lanterns, is an experience that will be remembered.  It is magical.  I felt it.  Teachers felt it.  I hope you did, too.

The end of the playground is a large grassy area, perfect for running and playing soccer… and perfect for sitting together in a giant ring to sing Halloween songs.  Children were snuggled together with their moms and dads.  I played the autoharp as we sang “The Jack-O-Lantern Song.”  Then we waved glow sticks and sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”  There was a feeling of mystery and magic.  These were the moments that mattered.  Memories were being made, right then and there.  Magic.

After singing, it was time to go home, but no one wanted to leave.  Neither did I.  It was such a lovely feeling to just be.  We sat together a bit longer, soaking up the feelings, taking in the wonder of the moment and the night, and putting this magical memory deep inside.

As we were leaving, this is what happened, with a little backstory:

Eamonn is a dad in my class, and we have quite a history together- starting when he was a student in my class.  He did his high school internship with me many years ago.  I remember it well, and remember how much he enjoyed the experience.  Later, he worked with me at Summer Camp, and then became my assistant teacher.  He left to continue his education and become a pediatric nurse.  As a dad in my class, he has come full circle.  When I said goodbye that night I asked, “Do you remember this, Eamonn?  Do you remember the night?”  He was pretty choked up and said, “Oh, yes.”  It was hard for him to get those two words out.  And he said, “And the song…”  I was a little choked up, too.


Posted in Early Education, Halloween, Imagination, jack-o-lanterns, Singing | Tagged , , , , , , | 33 Comments

England, and the Beatles

My preschool class is learning about England.  Our loft has been transformed into Buckingham Palace.  The Union Jack flies overhead along with a picture of Queen Elizabeth.  We made a red phone booth out of a big box, and we made biscuits (cookies, for those of us in America.). Oh, we have ‘travelled’ to England with a satellite map, and a travel box filled with maps and money.  Children discovered a picture of the Queen on the money.  Next week we’ll be making fancy hats for our tea party; only English tea, of course.

Today was music from England.  I brought in my record player and albums, music from The Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Beatles.  Yes, I still have my Beatles albums.

Startling; that was the moment I introduced a record player.  It was the best science of the day.  The spinning turntable, and the sound of the needle on the arm- this was important learning.  Fifteen children were captivated by this remarkable machine.

Then, I put a record album onto this machine.  The Beatles.  We listened to how the record player machine makes music, and then we listened to the Beatles.  The first song on the album was “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”  To my  surprise, children jumped up, held hands, danced and jumped.  They just loved the song.  It was a wonderful moment.


Posted in Early Education, England, music, Singing, Teaching young children, The Beatles | Tagged , , , , , , , | 51 Comments

Posts from Your Archives – The Power of Singing. It’s Far More Than Music by Jennie Fitzkee

“Where words fail, music speaks” – Hans Christian Anderson- Singing often brings more to children than words. I sing everything and everywhere with children at school.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Jennie Fitzkee has been a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, I have reblogged several of her posts because they demonstrate how a dedicated and passionate teacher can ignite imagination and a passion for books and music in the very young. Today Jennie tells the story of how singing brought comfort and connection to a child who was distressed and how singing and music can bring all of us, whatever our age, a feeling of belonging to others.

Source: Posts from Your Archives – The Power of Singing. It’s Far More Than Music by Jennie Fitzkee

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Freedom #midnighthaiku

Children have the eyes to see adventure and joy. My inner child does, too. Laughter is the best and most important part of joy.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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Gloria joined the classroom this week, and oh what a homecoming it was.  I doubt Santa Claus would receive such a welcome.  After all these years I am still amazed at the difference Gloria makes and how children are drawn to her.  It started many years ago…

You see, Gloria is different.  She is very shy and loves to wear black.  She’s not pretty on the outside, but she’s beautiful on the inside.  I knew that in order for children to learn about the world, they needed to learn about the people in the world.  And that meant introducing them to diversity… to Gloria.

Children don’t even see that she’s a puppet.  The word witch is never spoken.  It isn’t even a thought in their heads.  They see her ‘insides’; that she needs help singing the ABC’s, that she loves Maine, that she likes to be silly, and likes to be read to.  That’s what children really see.

When Gloria arrived this week, I introduced her after Morning Meeting.  The tables were set up with activities for children, but no one wanted to play.  They wanted to be with Gloria.  First, she was the Helper of the Day.  That meant she had to sing our calendar song and recognize numbers.  Gulp!  Gloria asked for help, and in an instant fifteen children were pressed against me and her.  Gloria got through her job, and then the questions and conversations began.  Interestingly, children made direct eye contact with Gloria (they always do).  I was just ‘there’.

“What does Gloria like?”
“She likes us to read books to her.”
“And she likes hugs.”
“What’s Gloria going to be for Halloween?”
(Me) “I don’t know.  She was Minnie Mouse once.”
“Gloria, what are you going to be for Halloween?”
(Gloria) “A ghost!”

And so it went, on and on, until we had to stop and clean up for lunch.  We gave Gloria her Peace quilt and tucked her on the couch.

Gloria has become so well known that children and teachers throughout the school stop by to say hello.  She has a journal of her weekends spent with children.  She has been to the beach, a high school graduation, a basketball game, and Thanksgiving dinner.  She has helped decorate a Christmas tree, watched a New England Patriots football game dressed in gear, gone sledding, and even made snow angels in the snow.

Many years ago she stayed in the classroom in a picnic basket.  I accidently left her out one day.  Thank goodness, as the children were thrilled, and there she stayed.  Weekends were never a thought until Collin asked if he could take her home.

“I don’t know, Collin.  She’s never had a sleepover.”
“I have a night light.  She won’t be scared.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Don’t worry.  I’ll have a talk with her.”

And, he did.  Gloria had a marvelous time.  Thus began many wonderful weekends, adding to children’s experiences and acceptance of others.  Welcome to a new school year, Gloria.


Posted in Diversity, Early Education, Imagination, Kindness, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , | 63 Comments

The Diorama that Changed a Child

Jared is part of my Book Bears library group.  He is a great kid; he was in my preschool class years ago. I loved Jared (and still do).  No child has a bigger heart.  Teachers just have to see that.  Sheepy, his lovey, went with him everywhere.  Things have not been easy at school for Jared, especially last year.  When you’re a shy guy, you can get a little lost at school.  I am thrilled that he is now a ‘big guy’ and part of Book Bears.  This bat diorama is the pinnacle of his enthusiasm and confidence.  It’s a really good story!

Book Bears are reading The Year of Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes.  This is one great book, and it’s the second time I’ve read it.  Tomorrow we meet and discuss the book.  I’m excited!

In part of the book, Billy and his classmates have to make a diorama.  It’s a big school project.  Billy decides to make a bat diorama, yet has difficulty making the bats look like they’re flying.  His father gives him advice on making the cave in the shoebox and making the bats fly.

Fast forward to Jared.  His Mom emailed me that Jared wanted to make his own bat diorama, just like Billy did in the book.  She asked if Jared could bring it to school and show me.  He did!  It was a labor of love:

I made such a fuss!  I made the bats fly, and I made Jared’s confidence swell.  If you think this is little, think again.  My words to Jared are:

“Yes, Jared, you made flying bats.  They are really cool.  I’m so glad you wanted to do this.  Nobody else in Book Bears has made anything.  This was a big deal for you, and I know that.  You not only wanted to show me, you asked if I could show it to the Book Bears tomorrow.  You bet I will, Jared.  I am so very proud of you!”


Posted in books, chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, reading aloud, self esteem, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , | 31 Comments