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I was invited to be a guest blogger on The Recipe Hunter’s terrific blog. Thank you, Esmé. It’s a great story… about me!
Meet Jennie @ A Teacher’s Reflections
Thank you, Esmé, for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog. First, let me introduce myself. I am Jennie, a long time preschool teacher, 30+ years is definitely a long time, and… well, that’s what I want to talk about.
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I was a guest blogger on Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo, telling one of my first “Jennie Stories.”
Teacher Jennie Fitzkee shares another of her ‘Jennie stories…tales she tells to delight the children in her care… and the child inside the rest of us.
“It happened like this… When I was in first grade, second grade, and third grade, there was a man who lived in my town- Doctor Tyler. Now, Doctor Tyler was old, really old. He was short and fat, and he had snow-white hair and a long white beard. He was a kind man. Do you know anyone who looks like that?
(Long pause, and inevitably a child says, “Santa Clause!”)
Yes! He looked exactly like Santa Clause. But he wasn’t. Doctor Tyler had a peanut farm. All summer long he grew peanuts. They grow in big bushes above the ground.
When the school year began, Doctor Tyler would come to school. Unannounced. The principal didn’t know when he was coming. The teachers didn’t know…
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“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein-
And, a picture really is worth a thousand words~that light the fire of imagination. What if there were books that could do just that? Books with pictures only, deeply rooted in vivid imagination, and in the form of a story?
Yes, there are such books. David Wiesner has mastered the art of wordless storytelling. Think they’re for children? Think again!
Years ago I discovered the book, Flotsam. A boy is at the beach, an old underwater camera washes up on the shore- with a roll of film inside. He develops the film only to discover…
A picture of a picture, of a picture, and so on. This leads to what is perhaps really beneath the ocean, and a sequential history of sorts. The art is incredible. Not surprising, as it is the story itself. Images of what if abound to plant the seeds of imagination.
History goes back to the turn of the century. I love history as much as imagination. The discussion and conversations about the children in the book, pictured back to the turn of the century, emulates just what reading aloud does, adding vocabulary and opening new doors of discovery. Talking and thinking. Brain building. Soul building. The illustrations stand on their own as a gateway to…wherever the mind can go.
Wordless books are sometimes my uphill battle with adults. Many parents are so locked into the words telling you the story, that they can’t see the forest for the trees, or the immense opportunities to unlock their child’s brain and stimulate vocabulary. Hey, the reader and listener have to talk, really talk.
All I can say is, “You have to read the book!”
Another remarkable David Wiesner book is Tuesday. On a Tuesday, something happens to frogs. The illustrations are a slow growth into an adventure that any and every child (and adult) delights in and understands. Marvelous in imagination! The ending has a terrific twist.
The day after I saw the exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum, Ryan happened to bring his frog to Summer Camp, a perfect replica of David Wiesner’s frogs. I said, “Ryan, there is a book about your frog!” I grabbed his hand and we went to the library at school. Well, we actually ran. I found Tuesday, and we dove into the book together. Oh, how we read, talked…you get the picture. Ryan said, “This is the best book I have ever read.” He meant it. He ‘got it’.
Thank you Bridget for this wonderful George Bernard Shaw quote!
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
― George Bernard Shaw
This post first appeared on April 20 2014
I talk about peace often in my classroom. Well, that’s partially true. When children talk about peace, I jump right in. They have a lot to say. We adults should listen more.
Years ago, when I first had the the good sense to listen to children, it struck me to paint a peace dove in our parking lot, right in front of the entrance to school. Janine, an artist and parent of Juliet (Starry Night post) and Audrey, was happy to do the job. Since then, she has returned many times to repaint this simple, beautiful bird. It has become a symbol to welcome all the families and visitors who come into our school. Crossing the threshold of peace.
Peace is really very simple. Children know. When asked, “What is peace?”, they pause, and pull an answer from their soul. I think the soul is a heart that has lived. “My new baby sister, dancing, dinner with my family”… true peace. That’s what children say.
It took me a while in my teaching to let go of the structure of teaching peace. I remember interviewing children when we were sitting under a Peace Portal that we had made in the classroom.
I asked, “How does peace make you feel?”
Colin answered, “It makes me feel hearty.”
“Oh… it makes you feel strong?”
“No, Jennie. It makes me feel heart-y.” Then he patted his heart.
Oh my goodness!
Colin answered with a why-are-you-asking, and a don’t-you-already-know, mindset. He was right; I did know. I was teaching peace as part of my curriculum. I realized that peace is learned by doing. I had to set the stage, be a role model, stop and talk at all the little and big things that happened in the classroom, read plenty of books aloud that open the door for both goodness and evil- oh, the conversations we have are pretty intense; from fairy tales to the more subtle, like Templeton the rat in “Charlotte’s Web”. I made sure children felt comfortable saying what they thought and asking questions.
I was right. It made a difference. Thereafter, peace became something real. Now, peace in my classroom is something children just understand. Talking about it, or making a book, or designing a quilt happens as a reflection of what they already know and feel.