“How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck…?”

Thank you, Steve, for being a role model for engaging children in learning and fun.  They will remember you!  I am honored that you dedicated this post to me.  It is a terrific read!

“How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck…?”


“Who was Pavarotti?”

I thought I had them stumped. But stumping wasn’t the end game. The objective was twofold: strengthen our daily dialogue, the fun part; and stimulate their thinking skills, the learning part of our relationship. .

As for Pavarotti, the surprise answer came from a confident high schooler on a unicycle who steadied himself, as best one can on a unicycle, and delivered it with certainty. “Not only was Pavarotti a famous Italian opera singer”, he opined, “but he was a tenor”.  I was impressed.

Crossing Guard PatchI’m a crossing guard for a suburban school district in western New York State. Every school morning and afternoon, I have a minute or so to interact with groups of kids ages twelve to eighteen years, while waiting for their signal lights to change. I try to make the wait meaningful.

“What is the formula for converting Fahrenheit to Celsius?”

Recent mornings been have been cold, bitter cold, the perfect environment to challenge them with this question. And the answer came fast. “(F-32) /1.8”. These kids are good.

It’s become apparent that they almost expect something each day, a quiz, a fact, a general question. An approaching airplane provokes a simple discussion. An unusual sunrise or an odd cloud formation gets us talking and imagining. It’s all about the dialogue.

“Who was Francis Scott Key and what did he write on this day (Sept 14) in 1815?”

“What direction are we facing while waiting to cross? Forward doesn’t count!”

“January is named after the 2 headed Roman god Janus.”

“Why did Frosty the Snowman tell the kids not to cry?”

“How many centimeters in an inch, millimeters?”

For the most part, kids haven’t changed over the years. The younger boys are still immature, they run, yell and ask nonsensical questions.  And boys and girls still hold hands. But there are some noticeable changes. Pink, purple or blue hair is common with today’s girls, and even with some boys. The huge backpacks have replaced gym bags for carrying books. And, nearly everyone is connected via cell phones.

However, kids are still kids. If I can make them smile or laugh as they start their school day, then ‘mission accomplished’. And it all starts with a greeting…and, maybe a new question…

“Good morning, kids. Have a great day!”


“Oh, By the way, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

To my surprise, they had answers. We’re learning from each other.

Jan 2018

Dedicated to a wonderful teacher I’ve been fortunate to know, Jennie, and her cadre of lucky students.

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.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, Learning About the World, Teaching young children and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to “How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck…?”

  1. beetleypete says:

    A lovely dedication indeed, and an inspiring post too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Opher says:

    A lovely tribute!

  3. There should be ‘Steves’ on every street. I love ‘Forward doesn’t count.’ Perhaps my geography would be better than simply ‘up, down, left and right’ if a ‘Steve’ had been outside my school!

  4. Dan Antion says:

    What an uplifting post, in many ways.

  5. Norah says:

    What a lovely post dedicated to a wonderful teacher. But how awesome a teacher is Steve too. We need one on every corner – validating kids’ existence, stretching their minds, providing them with purposeful discourse with an interested adult. I’m truly impressed.

  6. I had seen this post over at Steve’s blog, Jennie. A delightful post and so nice that he dedicated it to you.

  7. srbottch says:

    Thanks for reposting, Jennie. ‘Oh, By the way…’, when asked, Siri said that woodchucks are very environmentally friendly and while they likely could chuck lots of wood, they probably would recycle it’. We all had a chuckle over that answer.

    • Jennie says:

      I love it!! It was a pleasure to repost such a wonderful blog post, Steve. Have you read all the comments about you? Well deserved! Best to you, Steve.

      • srbottch says:

        I did read them, thanks to you. Very nice stuff. Made my day, for sure. I have one HS girl who always walks with her head down. I remarked to her about it and told her that I wouldn’t be happy until she looked up and smiled. She’s getting a little better at it and has a nice smile. I’ll keep you posted on out goings-on as we head toward Spring. All my best to you, Jennie.

      • Jennie says:

        Please do, Steve! You never know when you make a difference, and this girl just might change or feel differently because of you. My best to you, Steve!

  8. So awesome! What a great way to engage and learn. And I don’t know the answer… How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?

  9. srbottch says:

    The answer, according to middle schoolers, is: ‘a woodchuck could chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood’. Just remember, that’s from middle schoolers…

  10. reocochran says:

    I’m so glad Jennie linked us to you! You are really stretching young people’s minds in so many ways!
    Thank you, Jennie. 🌈

  11. Tina Frisco says:

    Jennie, I hope you know what an empowering inspiration you are to those who know and love you. Steve has a beautiful heart, and his tribute to you is wonderful ❤

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Tina. I do know, I’m just the humble one. What Steve does with children is remarkable and so uplifting. His tribute was a surprise and a wonderful gift. ❤️

  12. I’ve met and conversed with many wonderful crossing guards taking and picking up my children from school, but Steve would be a real treat to have! What lucky kids they are to have him.

  13. Fun post and a great tribute!

  14. I really like crossing guard Steve. I wish I had someone like him to talk to each morning as I start my day.

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