When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 8

In Part 7, I told the story of the huge tree that almost fell over on our neighbor’s house.  The Fire Chief in his big red fire truck, and the Tree Man in his cherry picker truck added plenty of real life drama.

Part 8
My storytelling typically happens at lunchtime.  Children keep an eye on the clock, because they know at 12:30, Jennie will tell a story.  The complex act of reading an analog clock is a side benefit.  When the big hand on the clock reaches the 6, the chant begins: Jen-nie-stor-y.  Sometimes this chant is accompanied by fist-banging on the table to each beat.

While a Jennie Story, which is a true story, begins with “It happened like this”, occasionally I surprise children by starting a story with “Once upon a time.”  Typically I will then tell a fairy tale.  The Little Red Hen is a favorite.

I will close this series of Teacher Stories with one last favorite Jennie Story,

The Bird Story

My favorite illustration, painted by my daughter.  While the true story is about her, the story I wrote is about a boy and his bird – thus the illustration.

“It happened like this.”  All my daughter wanted for Christmas was a bird, a soft green bird like the ones she had seen at the pet store.  She wanted to touch and stroke the bird’s feathers.  She wanted the bird to sit on her finger.  She called it ‘finger training’.  As Christmas was soon approaching, she was as good as gold.  So was her letter to Santa.  And on Christmas Eve, we all hoped and wished that Santa would bring her a bird.

Christmas morning finally arrived.  Chirps!  She heard chirps, ran downstairs, and there was a bird in a cage.  He was beautiful.  He was green, and he looked so soft.

She carefully opened the cage and touched his feathers.  Then she slowly put her finger into the cage.  The bird hopped on and she pulled the bird on her finger out of the cage. Just as she touched his soft, green feathers, the bird flew away.  It was hard to get him back into the cage.

We needed a better plan.  I called the pet store.

“The bird keeps fluttering and flying away.  What can we do?”

“Bring the bird in to the store.  We’ll trim the tip end of the feathers on his wings so he won’t be able to fly away.  It doesn’t hurt the bird at all.”

Great idea!  The pet store trimmed the wing feathers, and we had the perfect spot for ‘finger training’ – the bathroom!  The bird would be safe, no place to fly away.  So, we closed the toilet lid and closed the door.  I went downstairs to make dinner.  A few minutes later my daughter screamed, the kind of scream that meant something was really bad.  I ran upstairs and opened the bathroom door.

“What’s wrong?  Where’s the bird?”

The bird had discovered a small round hole in the baseboard under the sink.  He poked his head in the hole and fell in.  The bird was trapped under the floor.  Even worse, he couldn’t fly up to get out of the hole since his wing feathers had been trimmed.

I called the pet store.

“Put a chain down the hole so the bird can climb back up.  Put food and water and light down the hole.  Hopefully the bird will come to eat and drink, see the chain, and climb up to get out.”

We got the right sized chain from the hardware store and hung it down the hole.  Then we tied a mini flashlight to a string and lowered it down the hole.  Next we threw birdseed and water down the hole.

And we waited and waited.

Nothing happened for days.  Everyone was worried.  Sometimes we heard chirps, but the bird did not come.  Our house was old, so the space between the downstairs ceiling and the upstairs floor was big.  What was the bird doing?  Maybe he met other animals.  Maybe there were fireflies and ants and beetles down there, perhaps an entire village.  Maybe the bird made new friends and did not want to come back.

Eight days went by, and no bird.  The chirping had stopped.  My daughter said, “I think he’s lonely for other birds.  We should play bird sounds for him so he’ll climb up the chain out of the hole.”

Great idea!

We went to the music store and got a record of bird sounds.  Then we set up the little record player in the bathroom right beside the hole.  Everyone held their breath as we played the music.  A few minutes later the chain started to move.  The bird poked his head out of the hole.  He climbed out!  As he fluttered everywhere, we all cried a little and smiled a lot.  Especially my daughter.


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.

55 Responses to When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 8

  1. Ritu says:

    Aw! Poor birdie! But look at what determination and faith can achieve!

  2. Opher says:

    Another beautiful story. I bet the kids loved it.
    I had a pet linnet for a while – but that didn’t have such a happy ending.

  3. beetleypete says:

    What a story! I can see that as an illustrated book, Jennie. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. Oh, that put a lump in my throat! What a happy ending! I’m glad there was a happy ending.

    I love stories that start with Once upon a time, but I’m a big fan of “Jennie’s It happened like this” stories now!

    The illustrations are wonderful. Your daughter is a talented artist!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Deborah. It was quite an adventure with (thankfully) a happy ending. Yes, the Jennie Stories are favorites- I’m glad you like them, too. And our artist daughter continues her art, from painting to terrariums to tile. 🙂

  5. Darlene says:

    This is the best story! I also think it would make a super picture book. xo

  6. AJ says:

    Oh what a story!

  7. Lots of natural “tension” in that story. I bet the kids were on the edge of their seats waiting for the ending. What a story!

  8. Great story…but better still a collaboration with daughter/mother on a book, too!

  9. Good story, Jennie. So glad the bird made it.

  10. Its an interesting, daughter so good at mind games, that she tricked the bird out.

  11. Wonderful, Jennie! 🙂

  12. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for another wonderful story!

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Charles. This series of Jennie Stories seemed appropriate and fun to post over the summer. Of course there’s always the underlying importance of storytelling. Charles, do you tell stories to your students? I don’t mean your personal stories. I wonder when it comes to Shakespeare or Shelley or Stoker – do you stand in front of your students and tell them about these writers and their stories? I have pictured you doing this, with passion. I always meant to ask.

    • Jennie says:

      Apologies that I have been behind on reading your posts (and others). Daughter and grandchildren are visiting. It’s wonderful. I will catch up soon. 🙂

  13. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is part 8 in Jennie’s wonderful series–When Teachers Tell Their Stories

  14. petespringerauthor says:

    Another engaging story, Jennie. I’m sure part of the joy for your students was because you were one of the characters. I’m sure they were rooting for the bird, your daughter, and you.

  15. I was very relieved that the story had a happy ending.

  16. Norah says:

    Eight days! That was a long wait, but I’m so pleased your story had a happy ending. I’d love to know the birdie’s story too – what was he doing down there all that time? He had food and water. Maybe he didn’t realise he wasn’t meant to be there. Playing the bird calls was inspired.
    I love your daughter’s illustration. She is obviously an artist, but is she an artist, if you know what I mean. Is she a professional artist?

  17. Pam Lazos says:

    Brilliant in every way!

  18. I love this story. So satisfying, it has all the elements of a great picture book. Your daughter’s illustrations are fantastic.

  19. Dan Antion says:

    That’s a great story, Jennie! I love how you shared calling the pet store. I think it helps children to know that it’s ok not to know the answers but important to know how to find answers.

  20. Your preparations before telling a story are fantastic, Jennie! Near planning a military task. Lol You are a gem! Have a wonderful weekend! Michael

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