A Belated Graduation

Pete Springer is an outstanding teacher who cares as much for his students as he does for education. He is retired, yet he still reaches out to ‘his kids’. This year with Covid-19, he felt a big loss for his former third grade students. Read just what he did!

Pete Springer

Schools in our area shut down in March, and the students finished their school year online. The high school decided to postpone graduation with the hope that they would be able to hold a formal public graduation ceremony on July 31st. Sadly, health conditions have worsened in our area. I don’t know all the specifics, but today the school district is doing the responsible thing and holding a virtual graduation.

One of the little-known secrets about education is that many teachers get emotionally invested in their students’ lives. In other words, the kids become our students for life. The relationship doesn’t suddenly end when they leave our classrooms. It does not conclude for many of the students, either. Some occasionally drop by or reach out online to say hello. It’s always great to catch up and hear about the latest news in their lives.

Over the years, I’ve…

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Becoming Inspired to Write

The days have been hot and humid, not the best for writing.  Today I had a huge dose of inspiration.  I played with E.B. White’s Underwood typewriter.  Really.


I was so very careful.  Of course I didn’t hit a key.  What I did was even better; the keys on the typewriter are slightly indented and round, perfect for a finger.  I fingered the keys, running the tips of my fingers in circles on each key.  I was soaking in all the words E.B. White had typed.


This typewriter typed “some pig”, “terrific”, and many more wonderful words.  Did I find those letter keys?  T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C?  Of course I did.  Can you imagine the feeling of touching the words E.B. White wrote?

There’s more.

E.B. White read aloud Charlotte’s Web.  His original recording, chapter by chapter, was made on record albums in a boxed set.  I had no idea.



I opened the box and read the labels on the albums.  Each record side has two or more chapters.  This boxed set was a gift from E.B. White to his grand niece.  He is Uncle Andy to her.

“Jennie, you’re crying.”

“I guess I am.”

“He wrote me a letter when he sent the recording.”


“Do you see where he started to sign it E.B. and then crossed it out, remembering it was for his grand niece?  Will you read the letter aloud to me?”

I noticed the signature.  Very cool!  And, I read the letter aloud.  Gifted writers use few words to convey many thoughts.  This letter is a case in point.  And, when was the last time you used the word ‘dispirited’?  What a lovely letter to Lindsay from her Uncle Andy.

When a new school year begins, I start chapter reading on ‘day one’.  Every year the first book I read is Charlotte’s Web.  It is always the favorite.  I have written many blog posts on Charlotte’s Web and on reading aloud.  This is the most important thing I do in teaching.  Having the opportunity to touch E.B. White today inspires me to write. Oh, does it ever!  It also gets me excited for the new school year and reading aloud Charlotte’s Web.


Posted in books, chapter reading, children's books, E.B. White, Early Education, Inspiration, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 65 Comments



“It was a dark and stormy night.”

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The Calm Before the Storm


Mother Nature is giving us a delightful and playful calm
before tomorrow’s storm.
Wispy clouds are dancing, like children.


Posted in Imagination, Inspiration, Mother Nature, Nature, wonder | Tagged , , , | 46 Comments

Home schooling and how it has impacted my attitude towards teachers

Parents and teachers are anxiously waiting as schools take steps on how to reopen. As a parent whose children have different learning styles, Robbie writes an excellent post on distance online learning at home. As a teacher, I know she is spot on. This is a must read for educators and parents.

Robbie's inspiration

Gregory in a school concert when he was 8 years old

My sons have been home schooling since our schools first closed on 18 March this year. That equates to four and a half months of my having to drag my youngest reluctantly from his bed each school day, feed him and force him to sit in front of his computer for at least some of the day. It also involved me having to try to get to grips with all his Google classrooms, on-line tasks and their submissions and even his school email. It has been hard work to say the least.

I had no such issues with Gregory, my older son. Greg is exactly like me, hugely driven and determined. Nothing was going to stand in the path of his personal goals and success. Greg simply got stuck in and spend most of my 8 hour working day…

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More at The Carle, the Art of Maira Kalman, and “Fireboat”

After visiting the Angels exhibition at the Eric Carle Museum, I viewed the art of Maira Kalman.


I knew this dog, at least I thought I did.  While there was something familiar here, I had to admit I don’t really know the author or her books.  It’s a good thing I toured her exhibit.  What I recognized was her style.  Most of Maira Kalman’s art that I had seen was on many covers of The New Yorker magazine.  How prolific to write and illustrate children’s books, and also grace the covers of well known magazines.

There’s more.  Maira Kalman illustrated the book, The Elements of Style, co-authored by William Strunk and E.B. White.  This book is a classic for writers.  I was both impressed and surprised to learn that she did the illustrations.

Here’s where it gets even better.  Alongside every exhibit at the museum are the books by the author and illustrator.  Visitors can sit and read while admiring the art. Which is exactly what I did.  Thank goodness, as I discovered Fireboat, The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey.


Are you familiar with the John J. Harvey fireboat?  I wasn’t either.  It was launched in New York City in 1931, the same year Babe Ruth hit his 611th home run, and Snickers hit the candy stores.  The popular word Hot-Cha was invented.

The book opens with events and structures in New York City, such as the George Washington Bridge suspended over the Hudson River.


All the illustrations are beautiful.  The reader becomes part of the city in years gone by. Time passes.  We learn about the working parts of the fireboat and the crew.  The John J. Harvey helps to fight the fire on the ocean liner NORMANDIE.  Sometimes it goes out in the water just to celebrate, shoot water, and have fun.

By 1995 there were many fireboats, and the Harvey was set to be retired and sold for scrap. Of course the people who loved her rallied to save and buy the boat.  She was repaired and spent her days on the water, visiting other boats.  Did you know that four toots means hello?

Then something terrible happened at 8:45 AM on September 11, 2001.

The John J. Harvey wanted to help and get back to work.  We learn what each crew member was doing at the time, before they rushed to the fireboat.  No, she was too old to fight the fires, but she could help rescue people… and then at last she got “the call”, she was needed to supply water to the firefighters.  She was once again a real fireboat.


Can you see the many firefighters in this illustration?  That is one of the paintings at the exhibit.  A lump-in-your-throat painting.  The John J. Harvey was a hero.  The book shows the award she received, and a beautiful illustration of the harbor and the fireboat.  Among the last words are, “All that’s left to say is HOT-CHA and thank you.”

You can believe I will be reading this book to children.

Thank you to the Eric Carle Museum for another wonderful exhibition.  I learned much.  I am once again filled up.


Posted in art, Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Eric Carle, Giving thanks, history, Inspiration, museums, picture books, reading, reading aloud, Teaching young children, The Arts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

A New Exhibit, Eric Carle’s Art Comes Full Circle…and More

After months of having to close its doors to the public, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts has reopened.  I was thrilled.  The number of visitors and safety procedures were controlled, yet the experience was full and open – I was once again a child on discovery.

And discover, I did.

In my customary note of appreciation to the museum I said,
“It always astounds me that every single visit to the Eric Carle Museum is nothing short of remarkable.  Really.  Today was no exception.  The angels exhibit was nothing at all like what I expected, and one of the best exhibits I have seen.”

As a member of the museum, I was greeted so warmly upon my return by the staff- like an old friend.  They gave me extra copies of their spring newsletter (where I am featured), and asked to take my picture.  I shared some stories of past visits, and heard “That was you?”  It was a lovely “welcome back.”

Eric Carle has a new exhibition- Angels.  I imagined it would be soft colors, sky and clouds, perhaps tissue paper art.  I was very wrong.  Walking into the exhibit, I immediately saw it was An Homage to Paul Klee.


Wait a minute.  Of course.  Paul Klee, one of the “degenerate, forbidden artists”.  An artist who was instrumental in shaping Carle’s style of art.  An artist he revered.


When Eric Carle studied art in Germany, at the height of WWII, his art teacher risked his own life to show Carle the art of Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Klee.  That changed Carle’s life.

I will never forget learning that.  In many ways, it changed my life, too.

Here’s the interesting part; Klee was a big fan of angels, and Carle was not.  Yet, at nearly 90 years of age Carle is drawn to making the art of angels.  He is pulled to Klee, and feels the need to pay homage, say thank you, and make his interpretation of the art Klee loved.

Angelus Novus by Paul Klee

Yet, it is deeper than that.

Eric Carle has always enjoyed self expression in his children’s books.  His art is among the best.  His children’s books have a theme and a focus, and his art follows suit.  Now, he has made art that is unbridled – there is no children’s book, there is art in a joyous and deeply moving way.

8E009658-4DA7-43CC-8C94-A82B95C7DA137755D9F9-606B-4551-8343-2D367768714DI couldn’t get enough of this angel.  The wings, the thick paint, the face…

1041CCFC-7529-4651-A600-C3E7394C7794This angel is playful, almost celebratory.

D0ED693A-1C47-4C3E-BD47-CE33624C4592Look closely at the fingers and body.  Using ‘tools’ on hand makes a wonderful angel.

2A8CE1E1-6FF9-409B-B2DF-3A016FEE1AA1This angel was perhaps my favorite.  I love the paint!

There is more!  Stay tuned for the Maira Kalman exhibit which was on display as well.  I found a fabulous book she wrote, which I must share with you tomorrow.


Posted in art, Eric Carle, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Inspiration, museums, The Arts | Tagged , , , , , | 46 Comments

The Sky, and Really Talking

A hot night and a beautiful sky.
We dangled our feet in the water and looked up.
The wonder and conversation began.


The quarter moon a few days ago is now a half moon.
Did the first caveman watch the changes in the moon,
or did he watch the changes in the plants?
Which was most important?

What was the biggest discovery?

Hubby thinks it was figuring out that moonlight is the reflection of the sun,
and the Earth revolves around the sun.
I think it was discovering the Earth is round and not flat.


We talked about the changing colors in the sky.
How did early artists paint the sky?
How did they feel when looking at what we are looking at tonight?
I wonder what Vincent was thinking when he painted Starry Night.


We walked through history and science and art, together.
We talked for a long time.
The sky can open up wonders.


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Look Up, Look Down

We can all take a lesson from children.  They notice everything.  They look up, and they look down.  They stop to look, really look, and to wonder.  They remember what they see, and if an adult is around they ask questions.

The wonder children see is always there.  We just have to stop and look up and look down.  I did that tonight.


I looked up.



I looked down.



The moon began to rise.  Do you see it on the left?  I stayed to watch, and it looked like the Northern Lights were in the sky.  The sky changes quickly, so I pay attention.



The moon is high.  The sky and trees are beautiful.  It reminds me of summer camp and slow evenings of wonder.  It reminds me of the lyrics to Taps, played by a bugle.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh. 

Take it from children, look up and look down.  I do.


Posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Nature, summer camp, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , | 87 Comments

Inhale and Exhale of Timeless.

ram H singhal quotes

Sunrise and Sunset are inhale and exhale of Time .

Love and Happiness are inhale and exhale of Timeless.

Love all.

(c) ram H singhal

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