The Barn in “Charlotte’s Web” and My Porch


E.B. White on the infamous rope swing in his barn.

Today I was ‘in the barn’ when we opened the doors to our porch.  E.B. White wrote about opening the barn doors at springtime in “Charlotte’s Web”.

Then came a quiet morning when Mr. Zuckerman opened a door on the north side.  A warm draft of rising air blew softly through the barn cellar.  The air smelled of the damp earth, of the spruce woods, of the sweet springtime.

When we opened the doors to the porch, E.B. White’s words were right there, because that was exactly how it was.  I was in the barn, and on the porch.  It was wonderful.

We sat in folded chairs, looking at all the work ahead.  But for the moment, we talked, laughed, looked at the big wide world, and smelled springtime.  Just as it happened in the barn in “Charlotte’s Web”.

Jennie

Posted in children's books, E.B. White, Early Education, Inspiration, Nature, Quotes, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Week of the Young Child

This is ‘Week of the Young Child’, celebrated nationally by early childhood programs, accredited by NAEYC – National Association for the Education of Young Children.  It’s a big deal!

We celebrated by ‘filling buckets’, literally and figuratively.  Children filled pails with soil, planted flowers, and delivered them throughout the community.


Delivered to the public library.

 Filling buckets is spreading kindness.

At school we have a kindness jar.  We’ve had it in the classroom for months.  Whenever a child does something ‘above and beyond’ in regards to an act of kindness, we put a stone in the jar.  This week we filled the jar.  Children were rewarded with a pizza party.  There were 62 stones in the jar.  That’s a lot of kindness to spread!

At school we decorated Children Around the World.  We’re all different (as Gloria helps us to remember), and the art display reflects the diversity in us all.

I read many books on filling buckets, kindness, and children all over the world.  The book that stands out to bring everything together is “What a Wonderful World”, with the words sung by Louis Armstrong.  Last year at this time, teaching was all done remotely, and I sang the book to the children.  It was also Earth Day, so very appropriate to celebrate our wonderful world.

Yes, what a wonderful world, indeed!

Jennie

Posted in art, Diversity, Early Education, Giving, Inspiration, Kindness, Learning About the World, picture books, preschool, School, Singing, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Snow and Flowers

Spring in New England
Snow and flowers
Two beauties of nature, together

Posted in Mother Nature, Nature | Tagged , | 53 Comments

The Crossing Guard Chronicles: The Facts, Just the Facts… ‘Did You Know Abe Lincoln Had A Sense of Humor’?

The ‘Curbside Classroom’ is back! When a child said “We miss your facts”, that was all it took for Steve the Crossing Guard to jump into teacher-mode with both feet. Read on…

S'amusing

‘We miss your facts’, a student at my school crossing post offered. ‘Well, here’s something, did you know that President Abraham Lincoln had a great sense of humor?’ No, she didn’t and neither did other students. I didn’t, either, until I recently read* more about Lincoln.


‘His pictures always show him looking sad or serious’, another commented. ‘Well, he was often sad and serious. He had much to be both sad and serious about in his life’.


One can get a potpourri of facts by reading.


This is the stuff we talk about at the Curbside Classroom. Facts. But there’s more. And the kids love the ‘more’.


He changed the world for the better. Dr. Jonas Salk did that. I was working on March 26th and reminded the kids about Dr. Salk and his successful research into developing a polio vaccine on this date in 1953. We discussed what we…

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The Art Show – Part 3 Finale

Every child is an artist.
~Pablo Picasso~

dream my painting and then paint my dream.
~Vincent van Gogh~

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt.
~Leonardo da Vinci~

Great art picks up where nature ends.
~Marc Chagall~

It took me a lifetime to paint like a child.
~Pablo Picasso~

Jennie

Posted in art, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, Quotes, Teaching young children, The Arts, Uncategorized, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , | 78 Comments

Be kind…

Simple + Beautiful = Simply Beautiful. Kindness matters. Thank you, Michelle.

Putting My Feet in the Dirt

“You can’t change the way a person acts towards you, but you can change the way you respond.”  ~M


Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/hand-gift-flower-joy-love-3978193/

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The Art Show – Part 2

In Part 1 children were introduced to real artist tools, and also to music played with record albums on a record player.  Music inspires art.  It goes into your ears, then your brain and your heart.  Then it shoots out your fingers like magic to help you paint.

Part 2
We started with fun painting.  Since we’re learning about Italy, we decided to paint with spaghetti.  We dipped cooked pasta into paint and then dropped it from the loft onto paper.  It was messy, fun, and very creative.  Children returned to their painting to add a single spaghetti noodle dipped in black paint as a highlight.

In this way, children learned that an important work of art isn’t created in a day.  Artists return to their painting over and over again until they are satisfied.  From this point forward, all the art children painted was open ended; they could work on a painting as many times as they needed to get it ‘just right’.

Every day we put a record album on the record player, either Vivaldi or Beethoven, and painted.  We made different types of art, and children could choose what they wanted to do.  Some children decided to paint with thick gold paint and add jewels to resemble Early Renaissance art.

Some children were fascinated with Venice.  They used a collection of items to create the bridges that cross the canal.  Sparkly blue scrapbook paper, painting with a loofa, craft sticks, and real stones made some great art.  Other children were fascinated with actual masterpieces and wanted to recreate the art.  It is amazing what happens after a child is empowered with ‘I can’.  The children’s paintings are remarkably close to the original!


Large Blue Horses, By Franz Marc


Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog,
by Caspar David Friedrich

And of course, some children wanted to paint the Mona Lisa, after we really studied her and wrote what we saw.  Children often see more than adults do.  The background in her painting seemed to be what interested children the most.  Have you ever looked at it carefully?


Mona Lisa
~Tell Me a Story~
There are trees.
There’s a river.
Beautiful sky.
There’s a castle.
Her neck is white.
I like her.
She’s feeling happy.
There’s sand along the road, maybe a beach.
The water goes from one side to the other.
She might be a mermaid that turned into a human.
Is she smiling? Yes (10)  N0 (4)

Since this was portrait painting, children wanted to paint the Mona Lisa… but they really wanted to paint Gloria.  We called this the Mona Gloria.

The most popular paintings were straight from the heart; letting that music shoot out your fingers like magic so you can paint.  Colors and shapes that have abandon.  Feel good paintings.

There is one last thing that makes a painting a masterpiece – a title.  Every important work of art has a name.  Children certainly know Starry Night.  So, when all the paintings were finished, each child gave their masterpiece a name.  There is ‘A Busy Scene’ (above), ‘Charlotte’, ‘Water’, ‘Blue Beads’, ‘The Bridge of the Water’ and so on.  Icing on the cake.

We had a Zoom with all of our families to show them our masterpieces.  It was wonderful!  Children beamed and talked about their art.  Families were thrilled.  My co-teacher and I hang the Art Show this weekend.  Stay tuned for the Part 3 finale.

Jennie

Posted in art, Early Education, Gloria, Inspiration, joy, The Arts | Tagged , , , , , | 86 Comments

Music and The Art Show – Part 1

The children have been preparing for our annual Art Show, a major exhibit for the whole community.  It’s especially exciting this year, as last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid.

How do you help children to think like Picasso or Van Gogh?  How do you help them to feel creative and inspired?

We start by introducing children to the same tools that real artists use – paints in tubes, good brushes of many sizes, even well-loved palettes that are covered with years of paint.

We show them major pieces of art.  I pan every work of art in these good books – slowly and thoughtfully – to the children.  What I say makes the difference, and I do it with surprise and enthusiasm, as if there is a revelation:

“Connor, you can do this.  See the mountains?  You could paint this.”

“Eddie!  You love blue.  Look at the circles.  You could paint this.”

I make sure I’ve made a comment to every child.  It’s how you say what you say.  Children look at me with saucer eyes and nod their heads.  No-one has ever told them they can do this.  ‘You can’ makes all the difference in the world to a child.

Then the fun begins!  I introduce children to my old suitcase record player.  I just put it on the floor at our Morning Meeting and ask, “What is this?”  Of course every child is riveted.  I open the cover and tell them it plays music.  We learn about the parts and how it works.  And then I pull out an old record album.  This year it was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

 When the music explodes from the record player, it’s as if all the stars have aligned.  Well they have, because I tell children,

“When you hear the music, it goes into your ears, and then into your brain, and into your heart.  Then it shoots out your fingers, whoosh- like magic, so that you can paint.”

Music inspires art.  The two are intertwined.  Children painted to Vivaldi and Beethoven.  They also painted to the Beatles and the Supremes, with an occasional dance party.

Children have been painting in earnest for weeks.  So much has happened!  Stay tuned for Part 2.

Jennie

Posted in art, Early Education, Inspiration, music, preschool, Teaching young children, The Arts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 82 Comments

Hope Springs…

This gallery contains 45 photos.

Originally posted on Mitch Teemley:
Hope doesn’t float, nope, it springs. Around this time every year God reminds us he hasn’t given up on us yet. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast Man never is, but always to be…

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Geography, From Laura Ingalls’ “Little House” to Maps and Rivers


My book is “well loved” and completely falling apart.
That shows children how important it is.

I finished reading aloud “Little House in the Big Woods” to my preschoolers, and have started the next book, “Little House on the Prairie.”  We’re only on page 15, yet what has happened in those few pages has become Geography-101, in the best of ways.  The big woods in Wisconsin were something children here in New England can understand- except for panthers.  When the move from the little house in Wisconsin began, everything was packed into a covered wagon, and off they went.

They had to cross the Missouri River.  That’s when the questions and geography started.

The river was frozen, so the horses pulled the wagon across the ice.  Then, after many weeks of traveling, they were on land that had no hills or trees.  It was the prairie.  Wait!  Our beloved picture book of “This Land is Your Land” has a prairie.  We looked at that illustration and talked about how different a prairie is.

I pulled out our Big Book Atlas to show children Wisconsin.  Laura and her family had traveled from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri.

As we looked at the big map book, we saw the river, and then we traced every river into the oceans and the gulf.  We learned about North, South, East and West.  We found mountain ranges where snow never melts.  We compared the sizes of states.  Children thought Massachusetts was big, but no.  We learned that there are fifty states, and that’s the same number of stars on our American flag.

Geography is interesting and exciting for children.  Learning through books is the best.  Thank you, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Jennie

Posted in America, American flag, Book Review, chapter reading, children's books, geography, reading | Tagged , , , , | 78 Comments