This Was a Great Day!

Romana, Geography, Milly, and ‘Blind Travel’

“The Story of Learning, and a Great Day in the Aqua Room”

The best learning often takes place at unexpected times.  As teachers, we have to recognize the moments when children are curious or excited, and turn those moments into a learning opportunity.  Today, those moments seemed to multiply.  It was wonderful.

It all started with Milly the quilter.  She was visiting today to finalize helping children select fabrics for our quilt.  Romana wanted to tell Milly that she was going to Romania, so we opened our big book atlas and found Romania.  This was an in-depth discussion with everyone.  We looked at how far Romania is from France (we studied France last year).  We didn’t know that Romania is on the Black Sea (did you know that?).

Of course we used the atlas to see where Massachusetts is, and how far it is from Romania.  Then, we found England and Brazil, because Doctor Dolittle (our current chapter reading book) is from England and is sailing to Spider Monkey Island, off the coast of Brazil.

Whoa!  Is your head spinning?  Yes, this is what happened, and this is how young children learn.  This was not in the plans, but we certainly embraced it.

It gets better!  Toward the end of rest time, children who are awake get a book or a nap toy.  Today teachers watched that full group of children use the big book atlas, together.  No child picked an individual book or a toy.  Collectively, they wanted to find Brazil, Romania, Massachusetts, and Spider Monkey Island.  When the lights were on, they wanted to play Doctor Dolittle’s “Blind Travel”.  That means closing your eyes, opening an atlas, circling a pencil three times, and then putting it down on a location.

We played “Blind Travel” for twenty minutes.  Your children traveled to Europe, South America, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas.  Those were just the locations with a teacher.  Romana and Milly and Doctor Dolittle gave your children a powerful lesson in geography, yet all learning is interconnected.  Today, chapter reading, an atlas, Romana and Milly helped to inspire learning.


(The Aqua Room is my classroom at Groton Community School)

P.S.  I will post a blog a week.  Today at school was so profound that I will post that in a few days.  I just can’t wait!

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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4 Responses to This Was a Great Day!

  1. Mo Fitzkee says:

    We love that atlas!!! We visit MA quite frequently on it.

  2. Jim Trelease says:

    Ah, if only every teacher had a blog with which to share the day’s learning with parents. Great and inspired job, Jennie!

  3. My grandfather bought me a big atlas when I was 4. I owe my knowledge of geography to that atlas.

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