When Nothing Goes Right, There’s Mister Rogers

Mister Rogers

Nothing went right yesterday at school.  I should check to see if there was a full moon. Grumpy was the mood of the day for children.  At our Morning Meeting Allie, Gloria’s BFF, stood with her arms crossed.  Stone faced.  She wouldn’t sit down.  Tessa turned away and refused to look at anyone.  Lincoln drooped her head and cried because Will had poked her.  Then Will had a meltdown.  No words could console him at that moment.

I stopped everything and looked around at our fragile group of children.  Nothing mattered at Morning Meeting.  Learning went out the window, yet the best learning was about to come.

We discovered that one of the plastic forks used at snack had extra plastic on the edge.  Interesting.  Naomi, my assistant teacher, said to the children, “I wonder how plastic forks are made?”  Lightbulb moment.  She rushed to get the iPad and find a YouTube video on how plastic forks are made.  Well, the only video she found was so-so.

I thought of Mister Rogers.  I knew immediately that his TV show had incredible footage of how things were made.  The video on making crayons was one of his best.  So, we switched gears and plugged in Mister Rogers and How To Make Crayons.


Wow!  It was fascinating.

Just watching Mister Rogers brings on a blanket of wonderfulness.  Besides his innovation, he understood children and their place in the world.  Mister Rogers listened, truly listened to everyone.  He understood.  He was the Santa Clause of matters of the heart.  I dearly miss him and his TV show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

My dialogue with the children went something like this:

“Do you know what we are?  We’re a family.  We’re the Aqua Room family.  Every family has sad times and bad times.  Hey, I made rhyming words.  Today many of you are not feeling happy.  You’re grumpy.  And that’s okay.

Did I ever tell you about the time I was mad at my sister?  I did a terrible thing.  I hit her with the phone.  Phones back then were really heavy.  I hurt her, and I felt terrible.  But I was mad.  Just like you.

We help each other and stick together.  That’s what families do.  Naomi and I are like your Mom and Dad.  And you’re our children.”

Long pause.

“Will, do you need a hug?”  

Yes, he did.  And so did Tessa, and Lincoln, and Allie… and everyone else.

Thank goodness for Mister Rogers.  Just watching him on the crayon video brought me the understanding I needed in order to help the children.  It felt good.  They sensed it, too. Don’t we all need someone to listen?  Don’t we all need to be hugged?  That’s what Mister Rogers did best.

Fortunately, I have a little piece of him, right here:

Today is a new day.  In the words of Mister Rogers, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood 🎶…”


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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57 Responses to When Nothing Goes Right, There’s Mister Rogers

  1. Darlene says:

    Mr. Rogers to the rescue! Even after all these years, he is just what the kids need. (and adults sometimes!)

  2. What a great way to change the mood, Jennie. Great idea.

  3. Jennie, This is beautiful. Your understanding, caring and wisdom shines through in every story. I hope today is better for all of you. – Susan
    P.S. I love the crayon video. It’s the best! We are all so fortunate to have had Fred Rogers and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood in our lives.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Susan! I so appreciate your kind words. Fred Rogers is the best. I heard that his How To Make Construction Paper video is excellent. Gotta watch that with the kids. 🙂

  4. beetleypete says:

    Using him was a great way to alter a darker mood that day. I don’t think he was ever on TV in the UK, but by coincidence, my last school headmaster was also called Mr Rogers, and he was a nice dignified man. This post made me think about him, for the first time in ages.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      What a nice story to read that Mister Rogers made you think of your Mr. Rogers, the headmaster from ages ago. Isn’t it wonderful when a good memory is triggered? I’m so glad. Many thanks, Pete.

  5. Awww that was just a wonderful super turn around Jennie, and so loved how all the little grumpys turned into little happys and gave each other a ‘Huggle’ 🙂 Fantastic share. And you led me to a new Youtube of Mr Rogers.. 🙂

  6. “Just watching Mister Rogers brings on a blanket of wonderfulness.” What a wonderful line, Jennie. I’m sorry it was a rough day. My Wednesday has had huge obstacles between me and the top of that midweek hump. Here’s to beautiful days in the neighborhood. Hugs.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Teagan. Love that line, too! Today was fabulous. An impromptu game of animal charades on the playground had children flocking over in droves. A beautiful day in the neighborhood. 😀

  7. Today has been a bit bumpy here too.

    I loved Mister Roger’s Field Trips, and that crayon factory is a favorite of mine too. I miss him too.
    #1 Grandson likes Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, but, honestly. It’s not the same.

    I hope the rest of the week is fun, and wonderful for the whole class.

  8. Fred Rogers was a treasure; I’m glad you were able to connect your students to him.

  9. I remember that crayon show…I wonder if my kids do, too?

  10. John Fioravanti says:

    Wow, Jennie – more magic! Great thinking!

  11. Mary Bond says:

    Mr. Rogers brings out the best in everyone. What a gem and how I miss him! Love the post!

  12. Ritu says:

    I need to check out Mr Rogers!
    And when things are going a little squiff in school I am also one to check the status of the moon first!!!
    Glad you got things sorted out though!!!

  13. A lovely story, Jennie. Sometimes plans have to change and hugs are in order. I did smile at your mention of hitting your sister with the phone. I walloped my brother and, yes, it hurt! I still remember it to this day and apologized to him again recently, 50 years later! Kids are sensitive and you display such wonderful attention to what’s going on in your classroom. Happy Weekend!

  14. srbottch says:

    Terrific. Jennie. I’m sure you’ve done this but let me share with you several morning ‘ice breakers’ I’ve used with the kids (6th thru 12th gr) I cross. Today was ‘show me your socks day’. I wore Buffalo Bills socks. Earlier this week, when the sun finally shone, I sang (poorly) a chorus of ‘oh, what a beautiful morning’ from Oklahoma. I’ve done the Mr. Roger’s theme and a popular one was ‘don’t worry, be happy’. Some kids probably think I’m a bit overboard but I see lots of smiles and that’s their fare to cross the street. 😄

    • Jennie says:

      You have no idea how wonderful this is, Steve. I’m not kidding. What you are doing for children is so important. The little things really are the big things. Why don’t you write about these stories on your blog? Hint-hint. I would be glued, and so would many other readers. Because it’s the good stuff, and the important stuff. Many thanks! 🙂

      • srbottch says:

        Jennie, I already have a couple of titles in mind. I plan to write one as soon as I finish one I’m working on now. I have to get better at writing more than one at a time. I’m anxious to get at it now that you’ve urged me. By the way, the police captain that supervises the crossing guards advised me of a complimentary call from a parent of a high school girl. She “She was very appreciative of your exceptional service and the positive interaction that you have with the students.” That made me feel terrific. Have a great weekend, Jennie. 😉

      • Jennie says:

        That definitely should have made you feel terrific, Steve. Looking forward to your posts. You have told me before of things you have done as a crossing guard. So, you have many stories squirreled up in your heart, and your brain.

      • srbottch says:

        Thank you, Jennie. Goodnight!

  15. Dan Antion says:

    He always had a way of keeping the day beautiful.

  16. Tina Frisco says:

    Brilliant insight, Jennie. I felt the hugs as I read this ❤

  17. I don’t think there is anything of the quality of Mr. Rogers on TV anymore. Some days are just that way. Everyone is a little off and no one knows why. Great job sensing it and finding a way to navigate through to the other side toward happy.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Marlene. Yes, some days are just like that. If I can find the way to navigate, that’s a good thing. Mister Rogers was the best. I doubt if children find that kind of show today. Sad.

  18. I just recently saw a video of Mr. Rogers helping Margaret Hamilton (actress that played The Wicked Witch of The West) get dressed up in her witche’s clothes. It so valuable to children. Not only did the video demonstrate the intricacies of putting on the costume, he also explained the difference between the scary character and the real life actress. Not to mention the amount of patience that man had.

  19. I’m another Mister Rogers fan and loved sharing his programs when my children were small. He made an impact (kind of like you do..). 🙂

  20. Mr. Rogers has a special place in my heart. He was always there through sad and happy times. Lovely and inspiring post, Jennie! I hope the Aqua Room Family are doing well. 💙

  21. Anastasia says:

    Awww 🙂 love this story

  22. dgkaye says:

    There is no replacement for Mr. Rogers. And yes Jennie, there has absolutely been a full moon going on. 🙂

  23. What a beautiful tribute. Mr Rogers was a kind, gentle man, the likes of which we rarely see. I always trusted him never to harm my kids when we tuned in. 🙂

  24. reocochran says:

    Hugs make things feel better. Talking about bad or grumpy days 🌬 is important. They help the kids to plan out ways to “cope” with unexpected things coming their way and change their own attitude. 🌈

  25. ren says:

    Another wonderful post, Jennie.In the early 1990’s, my 2 preschool children ‘wrote’ a letter to Mr. Rogers. To our surprise, each child got a hand written reply and an autographed picture of Mr. Rogers.

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