Gloria joined the classroom this week, and oh what a homecoming it was.  I doubt Santa Claus would receive such a welcome.  After all these years I am still amazed at the difference Gloria makes and how children are drawn to her.  It started many years ago…

You see, Gloria is different.  She is very shy and loves to wear black.  She’s not pretty on the outside, but she’s beautiful on the inside.  I knew that in order for children to learn about the world, they needed to learn about the people in the world.  And that meant introducing them to diversity… to Gloria.

Children don’t even see that she’s a puppet.  The word witch is never spoken.  It isn’t even a thought in their heads.  They see her ‘insides’; that she needs help singing the ABC’s, that she loves Maine, that she likes to be silly, and likes to be read to.  That’s what children really see.

When Gloria arrived this week, I introduced her after Morning Meeting.  The tables were set up with activities for children, but no one wanted to play.  They wanted to be with Gloria.  First, she was the Helper of the Day.  That meant she had to sing our calendar song and recognize numbers.  Gulp!  Gloria asked for help, and in an instant fifteen children were pressed against me and her.  Gloria got through her job, and then the questions and conversations began.  Interestingly, children made direct eye contact with Gloria (they always do).  I was just ‘there’.

“What does Gloria like?”
“She likes us to read books to her.”
“And she likes hugs.”
“What’s Gloria going to be for Halloween?”
(Me) “I don’t know.  She was Minnie Mouse once.”
“Gloria, what are you going to be for Halloween?”
(Gloria) “A ghost!”

And so it went, on and on, until we had to stop and clean up for lunch.  We gave Gloria her Peace quilt and tucked her on the couch.

Gloria has become so well known that children and teachers throughout the school stop by to say hello.  She has a journal of her weekends spent with children.  She has been to the beach, a high school graduation, a basketball game, and Thanksgiving dinner.  She has helped decorate a Christmas tree, watched a New England Patriots football game dressed in gear, gone sledding, and even made snow angels in the snow.

Many years ago she stayed in the classroom in a picnic basket.  I accidently left her out one day.  Thank goodness, as the children were thrilled, and there she stayed.  Weekends were never a thought until Collin asked if he could take her home.

“I don’t know, Collin.  She’s never had a sleepover.”
“I have a night light.  She won’t be scared.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Don’t worry.  I’ll have a talk with her.”

And, he did.  Gloria had a marvelous time.  Thus began many wonderful weekends, adding to children’s experiences and acceptance of others.  Welcome to a new school year, Gloria.


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.
This entry was posted in Diversity, Early Education, Imagination, Kindness, Teaching young children and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Gloria

  1. Ritu says:

    Its wonderful to use props such as Gloria! We have Bertie and Betsy bear who want to make friends and stay over at the children’s houses!!!

  2. beetleypete says:

    Always a delight to see the reaction to Gloria. She is a wonderful idea, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. abbeynovah says:

    Such a great idea! 🙂

  4. Darlene says:

    What a great idea. I love Gloria already.

  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Meet Gloria who joins Jennie Fitzkee’s classroom as a friend and teacher’s assistant. She is loved by all and gets to go home for sleepovers… #recommended

  6. mitchteemley says:

    I suspect Gloria has very kind and loving alter ego.

  7. Adorable. I’d want to take Gloria home with me. Such a great teaching asset.

  8. Dan Antion says:

    Gloria seems like a great addition to the classroom.

  9. Great to see Gloria again on your blog…I especially love how a little boy made sure she wouldn’t be scared since there’d be a night light for her during her overnight!

  10. Tina Frisco says:

    How wonderful, Jennie. Puppets are sometimes used in therapy with children. It’s amazing how easily they open up to and feel comfortable with an inanimate entity. Thank goodness ‘Gloria’ knew the words to the calendar song 🙂 ♥

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Tina. Children readily connect with puppets. It’s really a good thing. I am always amazed at how quickly this happens on day #1 with Gloria, every year. And, I’m amazed that every child who talks to Gloria makes direct eye contact with her. The children see her as real, one of them. No, Gloria did not know all the words to the song, but the children helped her so she could do it. Very cool!

  11. How awesome. I love the use of this puppet or other toys to teach our kids about the importance of acceptance of others. Gloria you are a great ambassador. 🙂

  12. Norah says:

    I love Gloria, just as your children do, Jennie. I never tire of hearing her stories. She is gorgeous!

  13. What a wonderful idea. It reminds me of the Humphrey stories except, of course, that Humphrey is a hamster, but the concept is similar.

  14. Brenda says:

    A wonderful idea and story!

  15. FlowerAlley says:

    I love Gloria. She is precious.

  16. I fabulous idea! What a wonderful way of helping to teach children 🙂

  17. paulandruss says:

    This is lovely way to help children resist the social pressures of stereotyping they learn from society and help them have confidence in their own perceptions and judgements.

  18. dgkaye says:

    Beautiful post Jennie. Children can relate well to puppets and dolls, so this was a great idea. 🙂

  19. Lynda Jensen says:

    What a wonderful way for kids to accept and love diversity! Gloria is an angel!

  20. John Fioravanti says:

    Your imaginative approaches to teaching young children continue to blow me away, Jennie!

  21. ren says:

    I love Gloria! Say “Hey” to her for me! Thanx

  22. It’s lovely to see Gloria again. I hope she has fun on all her sleepovers. 😀 She’s a busy lady!

  23. This is the teaching to judge or like others by the content of their character. Great lesson here!👍👍

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