And so it begins — a New School Year – #readilearn — Norah Colvin

Teachers around Australia are already thinking about how they will organise their classrooms to maximise learning when the new school year begins at the end of January. They are as excited as the children with hopes and expectations of a successful and enjoyable school year. To ensure a rewarding year, it is important to begin […]

And so it begins — a New School Year – #readilearn — Norah Colvin
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When Gloria Was Away…

In case you were wondering where Gloria was and what she was doing during our big school move and also our holiday break; she was with a child and his family.  They sent me this email today:

Hey Jennie,

We enjoyed Gloria and Connor loved having her.  It brought him great joy.  Thank you so much for this.  Jayden was excited to see that Connor loved Gloria just as much as he did.

Recently, Connor started having a lot of night terrors.  It was a phase where he was waking up a lot.  I think having Gloria gave him an extra comfort, and he would tuck her in on the floor next to her at night.  Having her for 2 weeks definitely helped.  He has reduced his frequency of waking up to maybe once a night if that.  He asked for her the night we brought Gloria back and was not happy, but was happy that Gloria could be with his friends again!

I attached a few pictures that show Gloria was a big part of our vacation!

Thank you for everything you guys are doing.  He loves school so much and wakes up every morning looking forward to going.  As I am sure you have been told, he runs right into school and never looks back!

Thanks again!
Dan and Katie

I think this says it all!


Posted in behavior, Diversity, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Gloria, Inspiration, joy, Kindness, Love, preschool | Tagged , , , , , | 56 Comments

Welcome Back, Gloria

Gloria is back in the classroom.  She has a new stool, which she loves.  She is close to the children and all the action.  She can look out of the windows when we’re on the playground.  Of course the children often bring the action to her.  Many times it’s books.  Book lovers (that would be the Aqua Roomers) want to share their books.

Brooke spontaneously decided to sing the book, “This Land is Your Land” to Gloria and two friends joined in.  I was lucky to capture 17 seconds.

Connor wanted to sign-in Gloria.  Every morning children sign-in when they arrive, writing their name on the easel.  Now that Gloria is here, she needs to be signed in, too.

Everyone has a sit-upon for Morning Meeting.  Now, Gloria has one, too.  She is happy to join us.

Do you see Gloria in the back row of the plane?  We’re learning about Africa, and children are flying in a plane to get there.  The navigator is pointing out directions on the Big Book Atlas.


Clearly, Gloria is thrilled to be back.


Posted in behavior, Diversity, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Gloria, Inspiration, joy, preschool, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , | 61 Comments

The New School Opening… Part 3

Emmett painted this picture of walking into school on the first day.
Do you see the sun?  That came straight from Emmett’s heart.

Yes, there was even more that happened over the first days of school.  On our science table there is an old and very heavy book about Earth.  The photos are fascinating, all taken from above.  A child was lugging the heavy book to the floor to see the photos.

Heavy and old is definitely cool.

I asked, “Do you want to see the photos?  Let’s play “The ‘Stop Game’ and see our planet Earth.”

Seizing the moment is what I do, because it’s the opportunity for some of the best teaching.  So, we played ‘The Stop Game’.  I fan the pages of the book, and children yell out “Stop!”  Whatever that page happens to be, I stop.  That’s the page we study and learn about.  All week, this book has been a huge hit.  The Stop Game is also perfect for poetry books.

We have one ‘Big Book’ in the classroom this first week, “Anno’s Counting Book.”  It’s a classic.  The children love it!

A child was dragging the book across the floor to look at the pages (and count) when I said, “Wait!  You won’t believe what I have!”  I pulled out my own copy of the book.  Connor couldn’t believe there was a big one and a little one.  He insisted on going through every page together to see if they were all the same.

These are the important moments in teaching.  They’re not planned.  They just happen.  And if I don’t pay attention and do something, I have lost a great teaching opportunity.  If I follow the children, they are empowered.  They want to learn more.   

This is a djembe (pronounced jem-bay), an African drum.

This week we learned about its construction, how to make different sounds, and we played the beat of the syllables in our names.  Then, we did something really fun – we went to the doorway of other classes and ‘serenaded’ them with the “Goodnight Moon” rap.  Reciting the words while playing the djembe is very popular.  Other classes loved it!

We weren’t able to go outside as our playground is still under some construction.  Besides serenading other classes, moving and dancing, we used scooter boards up and down the hallway.  This was hard work, great upper body strengthening, and of course fun.  Children who were waiting for a turn cheered their classmates along as they zoomed on scooter boards.

Oh, we also tackled our first 60-piece puzzle.  It took two days to put it together, and we never gave up.  The whoops and hollers when we finally connected the last piece felt good.

Can you tell we have already adjusted?  Children are now familiar and comfortable with their new school.  They know all the ins and outs of routine and where things are.  It feels good.

And then Eddie asked, “Jennie, where is Gloria going to sit?”  Oh my!  Gloria wasn’t at school this first week.  I thought it might be too much.  Leave it to children to notice and want to make their new home complete, with Gloria.


Posted in behavior, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, picture books, preschool, School, Teaching young children, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 71 Comments

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Monday 4th January 2020 – Carol Taylor, Jennie Fitzkee, Judith Barrow

Always an honor to be part of Sally’s wonderful blog!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the first of the blogger daily posts this week with some links to articles I am sure you will enjoy..

The first post today is from food writer Carol Taylorwith her packed Saturday Snippets, today with interesting events on this day in the past, bars of soap making a come back,music, dancing and some great warming soup recipes.. head over to enjoy…

Good morning and it is a cold one here…I have sox on for the first time in 8 years, leggings, a t/shirt and a sloppy jumper…My hands were cold but between typing and kneading the bread they have warmed up somewhat…

I am seeing beautiful images of newly laid snow and I know for many of you it is much colder but I am used to warmth and 11 degrees is cold for me…hence the sox…

Show business and the music industry is well known…

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Today… the New School Opening

My previous post was ‘the night before’ opening school in our newly renovated building.  Here is what happened :

First things first- we opened ‘the box’, the one children packed up with their treasures so they could be part of the move, too.  I’m not sure if anyone remembered what was packed away, but the children were thrilled when the box was opened.  It was like finding a long lost friend.

Inside there were:

  • Two puzzles
  • One set of yoga cards
  • Two rocks
  • One block
  • One community block with a Groton Community School photo
  • Two magnifying glasses, each very different
  • Six vehicles
  • One large road mat

(Books were not part of packing the box.  They would have been treasures, for sure.)

The first thing children did was play!


The loft is a big hit.  Don’t you wish you’d had a loft to play in when you were a child?  Think of a fort, or blankets over furniture.  Lofts are an intimate space where play can be focused, even quiet in the midst of a busy classroom.  Reading a book, taking care of dolls, building, or just ‘being’ is what children need, every day.  The balance of quiet and active is a must.

There are many changes, and one of the best is long and big windows that look out onto the playground and the woodland landscape.  This is new.  This is bringing nature into the classroom.  This is perhaps the best thing that has happened.

Here’s what happened today:  It started to snow.  As soon as a child noticed, we all rushed to the windows to look out.  The snow was going sideways.  Oh yes, that was another big discussion.

We went outside to be part of the snowflakes.  No coats, nothing planned, just a spontaneous reaction to children in awe of the snow. Teacher terminology would be ’emergent curriculum’, paying attention to children and teaching based on their interests.  This was one of those moments.

We actually settled down for group activities.  Morning meeting was in a new place in a different classroom.  Connor, once again, grabbed his favorite book from the shelf, “This Land is Your Land”, and shoved it in my hands.  He loves the song- well, we all do.

I knew we needed to sing, so I pulled out the autoharp and we belted out the song.  I think everyone in the school must have heard us when we sang the chorus.  We were loud.  It was wonderful.

We love books!  From reading aloud, to singing a book, to independent reading- books are a favorite activity.  Today was another ‘book lover’ day.

At lunchtime I noticed many children were looking at Starry Night, the only poster I hang in the classroom.  At last we have a big wall space to hang this poster.  Year after year it has sparked more conversation than you can imagine.  So today’s lunchtime ‘Jennie Story’ was about Juliet, a former Aqua Roomer who loved to draw and paint.

“It Happened Like This”
Juliet loved to draw.  When Milly made the first quilt, Juliet drew a detailed rendition of the quilt.  She proudly gave it to Milly, who cherished it until she died.  One day, Juliet and her family drove to New York to the MoMA museum.  It is the Museum of Modern Art.  Suddenly Juliet saw Starry Night, the real one, the real painting.  She was beside herself and started making a big fuss.  “Mom, there’s the picture in the Aqua Room!  It’s Starry Night!  I love it!

Mom was shocked.  I was shocked.  Juliet had never talked about Starry Night.  But, she had seen it every day, and she loved it.  So her mom took a picture of Juliet in front of the real Starry Night and sent it to me.  Isn’t that cool?  Maybe you will get to go to MoMA one day and see it, too.”

And then it was time for rest.  I was rubbing Eddie’s back.  Guess what he was looking at?

This was a day in the Aqua Room.  Whew!  Pretty terrific.  There is even more, so stay tuned for Part 3.


Posted in behavior, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, preschool, reading, Singing, storytelling, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , | 77 Comments

The Night Before… the New School Opening

It’s the night before the opening of our newly renovated school.  I’ve done all I can do before children arrive tomorrow morning.  You know how hard a move is, and this was a major one.  Teachers have worked long and hard to transform the new space into warm and welcoming classrooms.  We still have some work to do, but we’re ready for children.

Did you see (in the video) the box on the small table, decorated by children?  When we began to talk about the big move, our first activity was to have children pick a toy or something from the classroom that was important, something they wanted to ‘pack up’, too.  Tomorrow our first group activity will be unpacking that big box.  We’re excited!

We have our loft back.  We have big windows for children to see the playground and the woodland landscape.  We’re only steps away from going outside.  We have a sink and a kitchen!

The only thing we need is children, and that will happen first thing in the morning.


Posted in Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Love, Nature, preschool, Teaching young children, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , | 102 Comments

On the Lighter Side

Music and dancing at its best. This Boston based robotics team has nailed it! My favorite rock and roll song with the coolest moves ever. Do I share this song with my preschoolers?
Absolutely! Been doing that for years.
Do they love it? Oh, yes!
Do we dance together? You bet we do!
Now I can show them even more – with technology.

Thank you for posting this, Kim.

By Hook Or By Book

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Light and Hope – Children and a New Year

Like everyone, I was hoping to see the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.  I was disappointed when it was not visible, as it was a cloudy night.  The next day a talented local photographer, Kevin Ting, captured it.

But of course, that is where this story begins.

The photo not only captures the sky and planets, it is centered on a town, my town.  I keep looking at this photo.  I am drawn in, because the lights of the town are as lovely as the lights of the planets.

Far and near, from the universe to a small town, they both come come together.  The common denominator is light.  And light gives us hope.

Light and Hope.

This is a year of hope, so I am ever grateful for light.  I notice and appreciate lights more than I ever did.  Somehow it gives me hope.  I find myself adding more lights to my home. My tree is ‘lights only’ and fires in the fireplace are more beautiful than ever.


I carefully watch children this year.  They already have hope.  Actually, they never lost it. They are the beacons of light.  They always notice light.  A flashlight is the greatest toy. Using a light table to view objects is wondrous for children.  We take for granted looking at stars and a full moon.  Children don’t.  It is a beautiful miracle for them to look into the sky.

Yesterday driving home, I saw a beautiful sunset.  By the time I got home there was a full moon.  I paid attention.

Children see the light and always have hope.  Children are our greatest teachers, especially this year.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I rise.  -Maya Angelou-

Happy New Year!


Posted in Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Nature, Quotes, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , , | 94 Comments

Today’s Quote

Soul Gatherings

It’s our insides that make us who we are,
that allow us to dream and wonder and feel for others.
That’s what’s essential.
That’s what will always make the biggest difference
in our world.

~ Fred Rogers ~

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