Gloria, Elephant & Piggie, and the Leprechaun

Saint Patrick’s Day in the classroom

We tried SO hard to catch that leprechaun.  It took three days to make a trap.  First we painted a box green, then we made rainbow ladders out of popsicle sticks and tunnels out of toilet paper tubes.  Finally, we made big rainbows with paper plates and daub markers.

The trap was set!

But… that leprechaun had other ideas.  He spilled green everywhere, left green balloons and rainbow streamers, and gold coins.  He hung Elephant & Piggie from the ceiling!

Apparently Gloria had a grand time playing with the leprechaun.  She took apart the new stuffed chair and did gymnastics.  What a party in the classroom last night!

I hope you enjoy Saint Patrick’s Day as much as Gloria did.


Posted in behavior, Gloria, Imagination, preschool, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , | 56 Comments

What Kids Did Before The Internet

Play. Outdoor play. It stimulates the brain and develops muscles. Children learn to get along and make friends, to take risks and be brave. None of these life skills happen when children’s play is on the internet, and not outdoors.. Thank you to Beetley Pete for posting pictures of play. While they are from the 60’s, they’re just as relevant and important today.


Being outside was a huge part of growing up. These kids, and their parents, knew how important that was. Wherever you lived, I am sure you will identify with this, as long as you are over forty!

Leap Frog.

Reading Comics.


Hoses in hot weather.

Riding bicycles.

Walking to and from school with a friend.

Hide and Seek.

Playing Jacks. (Or marbles)

Climbing unsupervised at the park or playground.

Pogo Sticks in the street.

‘Oranges and Lemons’.

Hopscotch in the road or school playground.


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Posted in Uncategorized | 34 Comments

From Little House in the Big Woods to Little House on the Prairie

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 just started the next book, Little House on the Prairie.  What has happened in those first 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 Lake Pepin.  That’s when the questions and geography started.

The lake was frozen, so the horses pulled the wagon across the ice.  I had to stop, because children needed to ‘picture in their head’ crossing a huge frozen lake in a covered wagon.

I pulled out our Big Book Atlas to show children Wisconsin.  There are trees, and a big lake, pictured on the map.  Children wanted to run their fingers across the trees and the lake.  They wanted to connect with – and say goodbye to – the little house in the big woods.

“Where is the prairie?”  Oh, that was just the question I wanted to hear.  There are corn stalks and wheat on the map of Iowa and Nebraska, but that doesn’t give children a picture of a prairie.  Kansas, where they settled, was no better.  Never fear, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s words paint a prairie, children can ‘make the picture in their head’.  She writes it perfectly, through the eyes of a child; the prairie is endless, the same every day, like being in a big circle of sky and land with tall grasses blowing in the wind.

Yes, children can now picture a prairie.

Geography is interesting and exciting for children.  Tomorrow we’ll use the Big Book Atlas to find West.  Pa wanted to go West.  We’ll use a compass again to find West (we just used a compass to find East, as we’re learning about Italy.)  I anticipate more questions, and that’s the wonder of learning.  You see, the teacher can open the door, but it’s the students who direct the pathway.

Learning through books is the best.  Thank you, Laura Ingalls Wilder.


Posted in America, chapter reading, children's books, geography, Inspiration, Learning About the World, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , | 49 Comments

The Last Winter Sunset

A last winter sunset.  Do you see the house looking at the barn, with wide eyes and an open mouth?  Do you see what it’s saying?

Hey, barn!  Do you see what I see?  It’s a beauty of a sunset.  It’s one of the last this winter.  Let’s enjoy this together, okay?

You’re a barn.  E.B. White loved barns.  He said to always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.  Hey, I think this sunset sure looks like the presence of wonder, don’t you?  Yes, let’s enjoy this together.


Posted in E.B. White, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Mother Nature, Nature, wonder | Tagged , , | 46 Comments

Happy Birthday to “The Star-Spangled Banner” becoming America’s National Anthem

My well-loved and well-read book.

March 3rd, 1931.  “The Star-Spangled Banner” becomes America’s National Anthem.  Wait…1931?  I remember the day I discovered the date; Milly the Quilter had finished the God Bless America Quilt, and we had been singing the song.  One of the reasons Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America” was because he didn’t like “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  It was hard to sing.  Berlin talked about the song becoming our National Anthem.  In 1931.

There must have been a mistake.  Our country didn’t have a National Anthem before 1931?  We’d been around a long time.  I called my mother.

“Mother, was “The Star-Spangled Banner” the National Anthem when you were a child?”

“No, it wasn’t.”

I think she could tell I was not a happy camper.

“What did you sing growing up?”

“My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

She was fine.  She had lived through the wars and the depression.  She was happy to sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”  I think she was bothered that I was troubled.  Our parents can always put a perspective on history.  Thank goodness.

Happy Birthday to “The Star-Spangled Banner” becoming America’s National Anthem.


Posted in America, history, music, patriotism, Singing, Teaching young children | Tagged , , | 61 Comments

We Got Mail!

Our pen pals in Michigan loved our valentines, and they wrote back.  That’s what pen pals do.

They’re the MAC PACK.  How cool is that?

Dear friends in the Aqua Room,

Thank you for our Valentines.  We are so happy to be your Pen Pals!



What is it about pen pals?  If you ever had a pen pal, you know; the thrill of getting a letter from someone you’ve never met, and then writing back, is a communication that emailing can’t begin to match.  It’s bonding.  Pen to paper is emotional.  Your heart  comes out of that pen.  When the reader holds your letter and reads the words, it’s a cresting ocean wave, in the same way.

Yes, wow!

For young children, there’s more.  Writing letters and communicating with other children is huge in developing social and emotional skills.  In today’s world, giving children a strong sense of self and also of others, is #1 in growing kindness and goodness and giving.

And that can all happen with a pen pal.


Posted in behavior, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Kindness, literacy, preschool, Teaching young children | Tagged , , | 51 Comments

Hector Fox at the Eric Carle Museum, and More

Few museums give patrons an up-close, personal experience.  The Eric Carle Museum in Massachusetts is a master at doing just that.  Their three rotating exhibits are grounded in the best art of illustrators, and patrons can be inches away from their favorite books.  I have seen brush strokes, pencil outlines, thick paint, and even linoleum from the art of my favorite children’s books.

There’s more.  Artists visit and give readings and presentations.  This week Astrid Sheckels, author of the popular Hector Fox books, was at the museum with her latest book.  I was there!

Hector Fox and his friends (all animals native to New England- including a marten) have adventures.  The illustrations are glorious, detailed, and draw the reader in.  The text is exciting, with challenging words that keep the reader hooked.  For example, Hector’s first book is the Giant Quest.  Yes, ‘quest’, just the word I want my preschoolers to learn.

Astrid Sheckels had a wonderful presentation and reading of her new book, and she drew Hector Fox with the audience.

One of her illustrations is a new museum acquisition.  It is magnificent!  There’s nothing like the ‘real deal’.

Of course I had to see the other exhibits.  One was an illustrator, Christian Robinson.  I recognized his art right away.  And then…there it was.  Gaston!

YES!  It’s the story of puppies in two very different families.  There’s a mix up, an exchange, and dog families who learn that being different is okay.  My preschoolers love this book.  I do, too.

Okay, I was out of control, yelling at my fellow teacher to look at the brush strokes.  “Naomi, this is IT, the real art, and we can see every brush stroke!”

For art lovers, seeing a beloved masterpiece is thrilling.  For book lovers who have seen that art hundreds of times reading the book to children, the experience of seeing the original art is tenfold.

Thank you to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for bringing the art of illustrators for all of us to see.


Posted in art, Book Review, children's books, Diversity, Dogs, literacy, museums, picture books, reading, reading aloud | Tagged , , , , | 70 Comments

Goodnight Moon – It’s a ‘Rap’

Before children learn to read, first they must hear the words.  It’s developmental, like learning to crawl before learning to walk.  The auditory piece, including singing, hits both the brain and the soul in learning.  In my preschool class, reading aloud is a top priority, so I constantly read picture books and also chapter books.  I use a ‘voice’, stop all the time to ask questions, and often the story takes a very different turn.  We have pretty deep and serious discussions as a class, because we love reading.

Every day before chapter reading I recite Goodnight Moon.  The children love it for two reasons; they know that chapter reading is next, and they feel connected to the words in the book.  I recite the story, all the words, and they have no pictures to see (just like chapter reading.)  Over the course of the year, I have changed the words to incorporate the names of the children.  “And Tommy’s red balloon, and a picture of Sarah jumping over the moon…”.  This has been hugely successful.  The children think it is so much fun, but I realize that there is a bigger connection with the language they are hearing.  I have taken a story they love, recited with no pictures, and changed the text.  That means changing your brain, and children do that so well.

It gets more complicated, or perhaps I should say more simple.  Reciting Goodnight Moon then naturally flowed into singing.  It was already a story with a rhyme, and it already had children’s names as part of the rhyme.  So, I sang Goodnight Moon.  It didn’t matter what the tune was.  The important part was singing, as that brought ‘life’ into the words.  I occasionally changed the ‘beat’ as well, clapping or tapping my foot.

Oh, it gets better.  When COVID hit and I was reading to children on Zoom, it wasn’t enough.  I read a picture book and a chapter in our chapter reading book every day.  But, how could I recite Goodnight Moon?

I could sing it!  Better yet, I could do a Rap.  I did, and the children loved it!

Fellow blogger Pete Springer
reminded me of Jennie’s Rap and thought it was time to see it again.  Thanks, Pete.

Teachers naturally address visual learners.  Whether it is a classroom chart or writing on the board, the majority of information for children is often visual.  If we address the auditory learners through singing, rhyming, and chanting, we are crystallizing language.  And, it is fun!  So, I now sing poetry, stories and rhymes whenever I can.  The children love it, and it works.  Goodnight Moon is proof.


Posted in chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, literacy, music, picture books, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud, Singing, Teaching young children | Tagged , , | 48 Comments

Reading Aloud Heals Just About Everything – Part 2

My post on ‘Reading Aloud Heals Just About Everything’
gave my readers a chance to reflect and tell their stories.

Thank You!

“Few days before my father died I was reading to him. I don’t remember what the book was. He wasn’t aware of what the story was but he told my mother that the fact that I was reading to him gave him such a sense of peace that he would smile. I’m always proudest of that.”

“But reading fixes everything. I read to mom in her later years and even though she had dementia, she loved it and it made her smile. 😊 I hope you will be better soon and back to school with the children.”

“As to the healing art of reading aloud – during ‘lockdown’ hubby started reading the book he was reading to me as a sort of bedtime ritual. The book? No, not The Princess Bride, but we have both the book and the video. The book is called, “The Soul of an Octopus – A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness” by Sy Montgomery. As the isolation of COVID continued, I then began to read aloud the same book again to hubby! It’s now part of our history together as is COVID itself.”

“As to the healing art of reading aloud – during ‘lockdown’ hubby started reading the book he was reading to me as a sort of bedtime ritual. The book? No, not The Princess Bride, but we have both the book and the video. The book is called, “The Soul of an Octopus – A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness” by Sy Montgomery. As the isolation of COVID continued, I then began to read aloud the same book again to hubby! It’s now part of our history together as is COVID itself.”

“Absolutely. I also read to my mom the last few days of her life. It was The Greatest Story Ever Told, so she’d know him when she saw him. I hope it comforted her.”

“I wrote a children’s book a few years into my mom’s dementia, illustrated beautifully by a friend. I read the book slowly to my mom – the words didn’t matter to her, but the reading of the book while showing her the illustrations brought a lightness to her face.  In my (adult) writing classes, we read our stories out loud. Everyone LOVES reading their own stories as well as listening to those of others. What a fabulous post, Jennie.”

Stories are keepers, they are memories, they pierce the heart.


P.S.  Stay tuned for a reading aloud ritual that continues to be popular.

Posted in Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, reading aloud, storytelling | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

Happy Anniversary

It’s always a nice surprise when a
WP anniversary is announced.

  1. 9 Year Anniversary Achievement
    Happy Anniversary with!
    You registered on 9 years ago.
    Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.
Posted in Writing | Tagged | 55 Comments