astonishing.

I didn't have my glasses on....

image credit: pictoral arts journal

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The Old Burying Ground

I love history.  It’s the stories, and understanding life way back when, that is deeply important – to me.  When those lives are on hallowed ground, in the beauty of fall, history comes alive.

Groton’s Old Burying Ground is simply wonderful.  My school had a fundraiser, a scavenger hunt throughout the town today.  I volunteered at the Old Burying Ground.  First, let me show you how beautiful it was today:

Groton’s first settlers chose the corner of Hollis and School Street for their second Meeting House in 1678.  While the location of the church was changed in 1714, the Old Burial Ground remained at the original site and was the sole public place of burial in the town until 1847.

The most important part, of course, are the headstones.  When we first moved to Massachusetts in 1984, I visited the old cemetery.  I was shocked at what I saw – the headstones had beautiful, intricate  carvings.  The words and carvings were not worn.  They were crystal clear, on the headstones that were made of slate.

 

They also told stories.  I had never seen anything but names and dates on headstones.  This was a whole new world, full of stories of real people and their lives.


Mrs Abigail Kendrick Widow of Capt Caleb Kendrick left her pleasant habitation in Newton & come to her Daughter Dana’s in Groton on account of ye civil War & Sept 5 1775  E 70 was removed by a dysentery, to that place where ye wicked cease to from troubling and ye weary are at rest.

Oh, my!  What a story.  Most of the headstones have a story, or a few words that give you a glimpse into the life of the person buried below.  A double head stone typically meant siblings who died on the same day.

I can’t gloss over this, because the people are right there.  Walking the paths, stopping to look at the headstones, I think of the stone carvers.  They carved beauty and sadness.  I stop at clusters of stones, because often they are a family with children who all died.  There is a family whose children died of throat distemper (my pediatrician told me that was diphtheria.)  The beautiful art and writing preserve these people and their families.

I am drawn to art, writing, history, and the beauty of nature.  This place has it all.

I told the many people who stopped by today to look for the stories.

Thank you, Groton, for preserving your founding fathers and their lives.  Thank you, Mother Nature, for making this special place of history beautiful and welcoming.

“Stories help us remember what we never want to forget.” –Emory R. Frie-

Jennie

Posted in America, art, Death and dying, Expressing words and feelings, geography, history, Inspiration, Mother Nature, Nature, The Arts, wonder | Tagged , , , , | 68 Comments

Gloria’s First Day at School

It happens every year.  Gloria comes to school, and children are wide-eyed.  Silent.  Maybe scared.  And somehow, she becomes a friend.  Well, not exactly.  She becomes herself, and children want to be her friend.

It started with Eddie.  He was smiling and waved.  He wanted to shake Gloria’s hand.  James did not.  He watched, he listened to his classmates who had older siblings that knew Gloria.  Suddenly he burst out, “Gloria, I have a sister!”

Gloria told the children she was shy and scared.  She told them that she had been called unkind words, and that’s why she became an Aqua Roomer.  The children listened.  Children have big hearts.  Sometimes they just need a reason to share that heart.

The conversation and questions went something like this:

I like your mask.

Do you have ears?

Does Gloria like unicorns?

Has she been pumpkin picking?

Gloria, how did you get to school?

When Gloria’s ‘meet and greet’ was over, it was time for a story.  Nolan spoke up:

Can she sit with me?

She did.  Thank you for taking such good care of Gloria, Nolan.

Jennie

Posted in Diversity, Expressing words and feelings, Gloria, Inspiration, Kindness, preschool, Teaching young children, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , , | 77 Comments

Gloria!

Gloria’s first day back-to-school is tomorrow.  She is excited!  She has a new face mask with dragonflies.  I can tell she’s nervous.  I have been reassuring her all day that everything will be fine, and I’ve also been listening to her worries.  Stay tuned for tomorrow.

For my new bloggers who are not familiar with Gloria, the is a hallmark in my classroom.  She brings to children diversity, understanding and acceptance.  She joined the classroom after she had been called a ‘witch’ by other children.

Yes, I know, that is shocking.  My preschoolers felt the same way.

Frankly, she is beloved.  She’s the kindest person I know.

Jennie

Posted in Diversity, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Gloria, Inspiration, Kindness, preschool, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , | 70 Comments

October in My New England Town

The poetry of Robert Frost is a perfect accompaniment to October photos in my small town.  These images and scenes are much the same as what Robert Frost would have seen.  Surely he was inspired to write poetry in order to paint a picture, with words, of the beauty he saw.

October
by Robert Frost

Oh hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.

           

Oh hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!

     

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost-
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

   

Reading poetry aloud to children is important.  I watched our son read poetry to his firstborn, long before she could walk.  He read to her “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, and “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman.  The results speak for themselves in academic success and humanity.

Jennie

Posted in America, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Mother Nature, Nature, Poetry, The Arts | Tagged , , , , | 59 Comments

Reading Aloud “The Giving Tree”

My post yesterday about The Giving Tree was well received.  Only one thing was missing – reading the story aloud.  Thank you John Howell at Fiction Favorites for his comment:

Darn.  I settled in and thought you were going to read the whole book.  Yes, I read it but would like to again.  Our copy was destroyed in a flood.

I hope hearing the words read aloud, and seeing the pictures, bring back the book for you.  For those of you who have never read the book, and for those of you who have never heard the book read aloud, grab a tissue and fasten your seatbelt.  Here it is:

Jennie

Posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Inspiration, picture books, reading aloud | Tagged , , , , | 42 Comments

The Giving Tree

There is a tree on the playground that is old and big.  Its branches dip down.  Each one seems to have a mind of its own.  The boughs sway and reach, and children look up.

I wonder if the tree loves the children.  The children love the tree.

Trees are one of nature’s greatest teachers and also givers.

Yes.  Givers.

Shel Silverstein made that connection with trees decades ago.  His book, The Giving Tree is both beloved and revered.

My copy is well loved and well worn.  I have read the words aloud to children (and to myself) more times than I can count.

Thank you, Dana, for giving me this book.  You knew it was a treasure.

The story is timeless.  A tree loves a boy, and the boy loves the tree.  The beginning pages read:

Once there was a tree…
and she loved a little boy.
And every day the boy would come

and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree…

very much.
And the tree was happy.

But time went by.

Those words set the stage for the story.  I have only shown you a few of the illustrations.  Every line in the book has an illustration.  Yes, and each one is just as simple and powerful. The tree keeps giving as the boy grows up… well, you need to read the book.  While it’s a children’s book, it pierces the heart of adults.  It reminds them of all that matters, all that made them feel good.

Everyone needs to read this book.

The trees all around as I drive and walk seem to have low, bowing branches, much like the tree at school.  Everywhere I look, trees are reaching down… or reaching out, like The Giving Tree.

I am continuing my reading aloud to Miles as he recovers from his brain injury this summer.  I posted his story August 24th, “Reading Aloud to the Rescue.”  This week, the tree in his front yard had the same branches.  How could that be?  I asked Miles and his sister to stand by the branch so I could snap a picture.

Your greatness is not what you have, but what you give.  –Winnie the Pooh-

Jennie

Posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Inspiration, Kindness, picture books, reading, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , | 104 Comments

Today’s Quote

Soul Gatherings

When we think good thoughts, we feel good.
When we feel good, we make good choices.
When we feel good and make good choices,
we draw more good experiences into our lives.
It really is that simple…and elegant…and true.

~ Cheryl Richardson ~
____________

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Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – Share your Children’s book reviews – #PictureBooks with Jennie Fitzkee Part Two

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new series where you can share your reviews for any children’s books you have read recently and posted on your blog, Amazon, Goodreads or any other online bookstore. If you would like more details here is the post that explains how it works: Showcasing Children’s books

RecentlyJennie Fitzkeeshared part two of her recommended books from the summer and I am sharing some of the books that she featured along with her reviews.

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My Summer of Books – Part 2 – picture books, and bridges to older children’s books by Jennie Fitzkee

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Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud, by Lynn Plourde

Buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A Model T Ford is ‘stopped in the rud by some pigs in the mud’. Grandma is in charge. The rhyming is classic and draws in the reader. “Oh…

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Life is Beautiful

This gallery contains 44 photos.

Originally posted on Mitch Teemley:
 Yes, life is hard. But it’s also beautiful.  And funny.  And sweet.   And we aren’t the only ones who know it. “If animals spoke, humanity would cry.” ~Manuj Rajput Click on any image to enlarge…

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