When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 2


In Part 1, I talked about storytelling, true stories, “It happened like this” stories.  I had always read aloud to children, but telling them my stories was different.  It turned out that I had discovered another pathway to language and literacy, with a bonus of children bonding with their teacher.  Children then began to tell their own stories as well.  This was big!

Part 2
Storytelling is important to young children because oral language is the key to reading readiness.  It’s also a key to academic success.  Think about it; in early elementary school the primary source of instruction is oral.  At school, I tell stories every day at lunchtime.  They are true stories from my childhood and adulthood.  Everyone knows “Jennie stories”.  Decades after children leave my class, they still remember those stories.  Over the summer, I thought I would share some of those with you, and perhaps encourage you to tell your own stories.  Yes, it matters.  This is the first story I told to children:

The Peanut Man Story

It happened like this.”  When I was in first and second and third grade, there was a man who lived in my town, Dr. Tyler.  He was really old.  He was short, heavy, and he had white hair and a white beard.  Who do you think he looked like?  Yes, Santa Claus.  I thought he was the real Santa Claus.

But, Dr. Tyler was not Santa Claus.  He was a peanut farmer.  His peanut farm was quite big, and over the summer he grew plenty of peanuts.  I’ve never seen peanuts growing.  Have you?  In the fall, he picked them all.  He had hundreds and thousands of peanuts, all in shells.  Then one day he would come to school.  No one knew when he was coming.  The principal didn’t know.  The teacher didn’t know.  He would just show up.  We could hear footsteps in the hallway and the classroom door would burst open.

This is where I stand up, pretend I have a big sack over my back, open it up, and then begin to make grand movements of scooping up and throwing giant handfuls of peanuts.

There he stood, saying nothing, carrying a big sack of peanuts over his back.  Now he really looked like Santa Claus!  He dropped the heavy sack onto the floor and the teacher yelled, “It’s the Peanut Man.  Duck”.  Everybody dove under their desks.  Then he took his big hand, scooped a huge handful of peanuts, and threw them across the classroom, hard.  We covered our ears and closed our eyes.  He did this again and again, throwing peanuts everywhere.  It sounded like pelting rain.  The peanuts were hitting the desks, the chalkboard, the lights…everything in the classroom.  Suddenly the sound stopped.  Everything was empty.  We heard footsteps, and the door slamming shut.

The teacher said, “Boys and girls, the Peanut Man is gone.  You can come out now”.  Wow!  The whole room was covered with peanuts everywhere.  The floor was so full that you stepped on peanuts wherever you walked.  They were in the lights on the ceiling, too.  We spent the rest of the afternoon picking up all the peanuts, putting them on our desks in a big mound, cracking the shells, and eating them.”

Storytelling bonds teachers, parents and grandparents to their children, passes down interesting and funny stories, and creates memories.  It’s important!  My next few posts will be the favorites of children in my classroom, such as “The Bat Story” and “The Raccoon Story”.  Summertime fun for me to tell you my stories, and for you to read them.

Stay tuned for Part 3.


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 Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, preschool, storytelling, Teaching young children, wonder and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 2

  1. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is part 2 in Jennie’s excellent series “When Teachers Tell Their Stories”

  2. Anonymole says:

    “Do you know the Peanut Man, the Peanut man, the Peanut Man…” (Who lives down Butter Lane.)

  3. beetleypete says:

    I like the Peanut Man story, but I am eagerly anticipating ‘The Bat Story’, as I love bats! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. Darlene says:

    What a cool story for the children to hear and a great memory for you. How many other folks can relate a true story about a peanut man? I look forward to the other stories. I hope you are having a super summer.

  5. Opher says:

    What a great story. Reminded me of my adventure with ‘Chubby Daddy’ when I was a kid

  6. Dan Antion says:

    That’s a great story, Jennie. I wonder if that’s what the squirrels think when they seem me and Maddie coming out to sit 😉

  7. Elizabeth says:

    When my grandkids were younger my husband and they made up a series of big sister little brother tales to pass the time on long car rides. They love remembering them still.

  8. I dare say today the peanut man would be tased or worse. Good story though.

  9. Ritu says:

    I do love these kinds of self told stories, Jennie! ❤

  10. TanGental says:

    I suppose what with allergies and so forth you’d need a health and safety check and risk analysis today but delightful idea

  11. AJ says:

    What an awesome story. I share stories from my life, but nothing this exciting!

  12. krc says:

    harvesting peanuts is tough work
    great post!

  13. CarolCooks2 says:

    What a fun story even though a little scary but kids like scary don’t they? My children and grandchildren liked my Mickey Monkey story it changed every time I told it and that was every night with my youngest and every time the grandkids stayed over…They remember as I used to sing Lily to sleep if she wouldn’t go down she was given to me I have the most beautiful video of her when she was a little older singing her dolly to sleep (with) a lisp but she had the actions…I am sure your children will remember those stories forever 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      How wonderful, Carol! Yes, kids like scary. Thank goodness you have that video of Lily. Storytelling is the best, whether the story is real or pretend. Great memories, indeed!

  14. Oh my goodness! What a grand, extraordinary figure to have in your childhood, Jennie. I can just imagine the children’s eyes as you began acting out the throwing of peanuts.
    You are a marvel. Hugs on the wing!

    • Jennie says:

      Teagan, Dr. Tyler did his Peanut Man event when my mother was a little girl. Wow! He was really old. I will never forget this. Yes, the children’s eyes were saucers. Wish you were a fly on the wall! 😀 Thanks and hugs, Teagan.

  15. Oh Jennie, you are an endless fountain of creativity. How wonderful for you and for the children you get to work with each year. Children do need to relate not only to fictional characters, but to real life people and what a great way to teach them.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Anne. The ‘real life’ is incredibly important for children. When it comes to teacher storytelling, children feel relieved, almost empowered, because if their teacher was scared, worried, messed up (long list), just like they feel… then they know it will be okay.

      • That is true wisdom, Jennie. I never honestly thought about sharing some of our own fears, etc. and that is a fantastic way to teach them that it works out ok in the end. Thank you forever.

      • Jennie says:

        You’re welcome, Anne. It’s a good thing to share with children. Best to you.🙂

  16. dgkaye says:

    Wonderful way to get the curiosity flowing and the excitement. 🙂

  17. srbottch says:

    A wonderful memory. Today, a SWAT team would probably tackle him and haul him away in cuffs. That must have been a blast when he visited and I bet your listeners were wide-eyed while listening to your story.

  18. A great story, Jennie. How times have changed. The Peanut Man would even get into a modern school now.

  19. I’m glad I’m catching up with you here and didn’t miss these. I love these stories. They make me feel like a kid in a classroom. 🙂

  20. Hi Jennie
    How lovely to be telling your own stories…as a volunteer classroom/reading assistant for Year 2s (6-7 year olds) in the UK, I know they will just love it. And they will love it when people listen to their stories too. I find that children are very keen to talk to any attentive adult who will take the time to listen.

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