When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 4

In Part 3, I talked about telling scary stories.  Children love that anticipation of being scared.  One of my most popular Jennie Stories, “The Bat Story”, is just that – being scared.

Part 4
Adventure and ‘cliffhanger’ moments, when they really happened to your teacher, are gripping stories for children.  Every word becomes a thread to hang on to.  That means language and literacy is at a peak.  Bonding with your teacher is an added bonus.

The Raccoon Story

“It happened like this.”  Many years ago when my children were little, we lived in an old stone farm house in Ivyland, Pennsylvania. In the summer it often got very hot and we had no air conditioning.  Our house had three doors, two on the front and one on the back.  They each had a screen door, and those screens went all the way from the top to the bottom of the door.  On hot days we opened the doors wide and just used the screen doors.

One night in August it was so hot!  The doors were opened wide and the screen doors were latched.  I was upstairs in bed reading before I turned off the light to go to sleep.  Oh, no!  I could tell that I’d left the kitchen light on.  So, I climbed out of bed, went downstairs to the kitchen… and there in the middle of the kitchen floor was a raccoon!  He was huge.  The whole bottom of the screen door had been ripped open by his little paws.  And, there in the kitchen was our dog, frozen, and staring at him.

We kept the dog food bowl by the kitchen door.  On that hot summer night the raccoon must have smelled the food and torn open the screen to get it.  I didn’t know what to do, so I yelled for my husband, “Steve!”  A few seconds later I heard his feet running down the stairs.  He ran into the kitchen, saw the raccoon, and like the others, he froze and stared.

Then he said through gritted teeth, not really moving his body, “Jennie, get me the broom.  Please.”  I did.  With fear and bravery he scooted the raccoon out the door with the broom.  Whew!

Then my husband said, “Jennie, I want to make sure the raccoon is gone.  I’ll just open the door and have a look.”  I wasn’t so sure about this.

I said, “Well, I don’t know…” but he cut me off to reassure me everything was fine.  He opened the door and looked to the left.  No raccoon.  Then he looked to the right.  No raccoon.  So he closed the door and we headed back up the stairs to bed.  Then he said, “You know, I really should make sure that old raccoon is gone.  I’ll just step outside and have a look.”

This is where children’s eyes grow big and they shake their heads ‘no’.  The anticipation of something big happening swells.  They know it’s coming.

I said, “Steve, I really don’t think this is a good idea.”  “Jennie, don’t worry”, he said.  “It will be fine.”

He opened the door and looked to the left.  No raccoon.  Then he looked to the right, and there was the raccoon!  The raccoon started to chase him.  We had a root cellar in the yard, so Steve started running around it in circles, hoping to make a dash back inside.  One, two, three times he ran around that root cellar with the raccoon chasing him, yelling, “Jennie!”  And guess what?  He was wearing his underwear!  Peals of laughter!  After that night, we made sure we never kept the dog food bowl beside the kitchen door, especially on hot summer nights.”

That story brings howls of laughter from all the children.  It is a favorite, along with “The Bat story”.  Then, there’s “The Bird Story”, “The Spider Story”, “The Tree Story”, “The Halloween Story”, and at least ten more.  I’ll post as many as I can this summer.  They’re all true, and I hope they inspire you to tell your own stories.


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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101 Responses to When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 4

  1. Opher says:

    A great story – I can picture it. No wonder the kids loved it.

  2. Norah says:

    What fun, Jennie. I can imagine the children’s delight and laughter.

  3. ksbeth says:

    I’ve loved all of your stories, I can see why the kids love them

  4. A man in his underpants being chased around the yard by a raccoon–the stuff of legend!!

  5. beetleypete says:

    I can imagine the kids loving that story! 🙂
    We don’t have raccoons here, nor screen doors. I was surprised to hear that it chased your husband. Are they aggressive?
    Best wishes, Pete.

  6. Steve says:

    This is my first comment on Jennie’s blog! I am Steve – the guilty partner of this wonderful woman. After 35 years of seeing the look on children’s face when I stop by class to deliver something and she says: “This is my husband Steve, you know the one from the Raccoon story.” The immediate sound of giggles and laughter always follows. The most striking example was at the local super market (if you could call it that) when a little boy and his Mother came up to us in an aisle and he looked at me and said to his Mom – “This is the guy in the raccoon story” and she glances at Jennie and says:to me “Oh, you’re the one with the underpants on your head being chased by the raccoon.” Obviously the language part of the learning is there but comprehension…

  7. AJ says:

    You have awesome stories!

  8. Darlene says:

    I love this story the best! And your dear hubby having to deal with the looks of the children as they imagine him being chased in his underwear by a racoon. LOL. We had racoons in Vancouver and they would walk through our back patio and one evening one came in our bedroom. We chased it out with a broom as well. They are quite cute, especially the babies. You should put together an anthology of all your “It Happened Like This” stories. In fact, that would be a perfect title for it.

  9. The anticipation and then the comic relief of the underwear – those make the story memorable for the kids. Wonderful story!

  10. LOL! That’s a great story!! I love Darlene’s idea of you putting together your stories in a book!

  11. I have many raccoon stories. I can see Steve out there in his underwear. I’ve been there as well. I do have one skunk story. I lived in Connecticut, and we had several animals around. One night I was working late and finally came home. I was so tired I didn’t pull the car in the garage but stopped and opened the car door in the driveway. When the door opened, it hit a skunk who was drinking water that my wife put out for all the animals in the hot summer. The skunk was frightened and sprayed me as well as the inside of the car. I immediately stripped off my clothes and left them on the drive. I then went into the house and tried to be quiet. I climbed in bed, and my wife whispered. “Pretty late tonight. Have you been drinking?” I had to laugh out loud. She made me get up and take a shower.

  12. Wonderful! I wish my teachers had told me tales like this.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you! I wish every teacher could/ would tell their stories. Suddenly their classes would be popular, and therefore kids would pay attention and learn. I, too, wish my teachers had told me stories.

  13. Ritu says:

    What a brilliant story!!!

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Once again the time honored underwear, sure to get the class in giggles!

  15. mitchteemley says:

    Feisty little buggers, racoons. Fun story indeed!

  16. Dan Antion says:

    I feel bad for your husband and I feel bad for laughing) Jennie. I can imagine the kids enjoying stories like this.

  17. I just loved it. Who has not had a real life scary story along these lines to tell. Ours was with a couple of determined rats who came in through the holes where the pipes come into our mobile home. And we have six (yes, that’s right) chihuahuas – 3 boys and 3 girls, and all are seniors, so not a lot of help except they can bark a lot. Anyway, these mice headed right for the dog dishes and the dogs headed right for mama and daddy because they had not encountered this kind of creature before. They might have been mice, but either one is not our friend. And Yao Yao the cat was no help either. We inherited her when a senior neighbor passed on and she had been declawed so other neighbors brought her to us and told us we were the only ones who could keep her because they knew she would not be let loose to go outside, which was true. But she only likes to terrorize the dogs, and she knows the dogs and what THEY look like. But when she saw these tiny creatures running around and mommy and daddy trying to stay out of the way of these horrible creatures, she decided she would do the same, so she went to her cat house and climbed up inside the top floor house. So finally mama and daddy had to try to figure out what to do and we went to a big hardware store and got some food that would make the mice go to sleep and not wake up again. We hope we don’t have to do this again because when the mice went to sleep, they came out in plain sight to do it, so good old mama had to get the pickup stick and get them and take them outside to the trash can. Now this may seem mean to some of us, but after all, mice and rats just LOVE garbage cans almost as much as they love to get into someone’s house if they get the chance.

    Great story as always, Jennie! I felt like one of the kids, sitting on the edge of my chair and sitting ready to jump up and run away myself! Whoo hooo! Now that is a good story!

    • Jennie says:

      What an adventure you had, Anne. I could picture the whole thing. And you were left to dispose of the critters. City folks don’t get to experience animals the way we get to. Ha! Many thanks. So glad you were ‘there’ in my story. More stories to come! 🙂

      • Oh good, Yes, you probably remember my post about “Summoning Forth the Boogeyman,” and how I related to that to the way we learn to empower ourselves. I guess this is another form of it we get to do when we are grown up (or think we are). Hugs and blessings, Anne

      • Jennie says:

        Yes, I remember that post. I think this is a way to empower ourselves, and also to empower children. Win-win. Best to you, Anne.

  18. srbottch says:

    Wonderful, Jennie. Even an old coot can enjoy them. Yes, I’m enjoying them. 😂😂😂

  19. petespringerauthor says:

    Great post, Jennie. We sound a lot alike. I enjoyed telling my students stories too. Many times there was a moral for them in the story. On the other hand, sometimes I’d throw one in at the end of the day if we had two minutes purely for entertainment—nothing quite like that feeling when you see your students’ eyes get big or squeal in delight.

    • Jennie says:

      We are definitely a lot alike, Pete. Stories with a moral are high on my list, yet I tell them in subtle ways so that the message is real. My Jennie Stories seem to be about bravery, the adventures that happened to me as a child and as a adult, when I was not brave at all but had to be. I don’t have to say ‘brave’ when I tell the story, because the story does that on it’s own. I know you understand. I’m so glad you told stories to your students. It is the best!!

  20. I agree, you tell stories the best way. We all have them but you have storytelling down to an art form. Love everyone so far and I think I’m finding that little kid in me when I read these. I love coming here.

    • Jennie says:

      Music to my ears, little kid Marlene. 🙂 There are things I do in the stories, movements, that are difficult to recreate in a writing format, like opening the door and carefully looking left and right. I’m glad most of the story comes across. Many thanks! And, more to come.

  21. Fantastic! You are a great storyteller too. Thank you for sharing. Michael

  22. Children do like to hear scary stories, that is one reason that halloween is so successful. Great post, Jennie. I still love scary stories with mystery and a little danger (as long as there is a happy ending). 🙂

  23. jilldennison says:

    I can certainly see why the children love that story, for so do I!!!!

  24. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is wonderful!!! Thank you so much!

  25. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is part 4 in Jennie’s wonderful series — When Teachers Tell Their Stories !

  26. A most entertaining post, Jennie. I don’t know much about raccoons but I suspect they can bite you.

  27. lisakunk says:

    So cute. Thanks.

  28. dgkaye says:

    Lol, not difficult to figure why the kids have such a good time. Love your stories Jennie ❤

  29. Lieu says:

    I can see why they loved it! Great post!

  30. Great story for all to enjoy!

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