Children’s Words, Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about writing thank you letters to the people in our neighborhood, our community helpers.  As a group, we planned the words, and children decorated the letters. This was fun!  They felt excited and proud. They knew the importance of words, their words.  They also knew the importance of saying thank you.

Part 2
It is one thing to come up with words in a group.  It is another thing to tell your own words, your own story.  No one is there to help you.  Children wrote stories about their own neighborhoods.  Imagine being three and four years old, and your teacher says,

“Tell me about your neighborhood.  Tell me your story.”

This isn’t answering a “W” question (who, what, when, where, why) which has a place to start.  That takes words, but you have a directive to build upon.  This is the deep end, not the shallow end.

We’re more than halfway through the school year, one hundred days in fact.  I have read aloud more than two hundred picture books, and we’re finishing our fourth chapter reading book, pouring words into their brains.  They’re ready for the deep end.

               “I have three houses next to me, trees, a pool, two dogs, and a black dog.”

“I have the sun, a big pool, lots of dogs.  Julie and Katy are in my neighborhood.  They have chickens.”


“I have lots of cats, two dogs, one dorm, and a pool next to Brady’s.  I have friends.”


“I have one dog, lots of houses and trees.  My house is very gray.  There are friends, too.”



“I have trees, a teddy bear who is really little, houses, no cats, and only a dog named Abby.”

“I have trees but no pools.  There’s a big road.  There are kids and one baby.”

“I have trees, a bouncy slide, a mom and dad, a backyard, and houses.”

“I have dogs, trees, a blow-up pool, houses.  I like to play in the backyard with my brother.”

Aren’t these stories remarkable for very young children?  In order to get to this point – to be able to think, visualize, process, and execute – a child has to hear hundreds and thousands of words.  You see, the hearing vessel in the brain must be filled before it overflows into the speaking vessel.

So now, after a hundred days of school,  children have conquered bravery, vocabulary, detailed words, and critical divergent thinking.  Words are the golden key, and the surest way to give children a plethora of words is by reading aloud.  I still find it amazing that children who know the most number of words do the best in school, in all subject areas.  All.

I am raising future readers, and thinkers, in my classroom.

“By words we learn thoughts, and by thoughts we learn life.”
-Jean Baptiste Girard-

Stay tuned for Part 3.


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, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, picture stories, preschool, reading aloud, storytelling, teaching, Teaching young children, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to Children’s Words, Part 2

  1. Ritu says:

    I love love love this!!!

  2. beth says:

    I love this idea, they were indeed ready for the deep end

  3. Wow! What you do is so impressive. I’ve never heard an explanation of how verbal literacy is developed in very young children.

  4. Opher says:

    I love the way you work with these children Jennie!

  5. Goff James says:

    Keep up the great work. Have a wonderful day.

  6. quiall says:

    You are the perfect guide!

  7. Darlene says:

    This is so true. I have known a child that didn´t speak until he was quite a bit older than other children born around the same time. The parents even thought there was something wrong and took him to a doctor. It turned out that the parents didn´t speak to the child or read aloud to him. Children need to hear the words in order to be able to speak them and put them together in a sentence. The children in your classroom have done very well. Great little stories.

  8. It is interesting to see the different perspectives the children have about their surroundings. Very remarkable that they can verbalize those perspectives. Thanks, Jennie.

  9. Excellent work, Jennie! Bravo!

  10. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is excellent! I wish the leaders of education would listen to you!

    • Jennie says:

      That is the best thing to hear. Thank you, Charles. I wish they would listen, too. They are still in the (robotic) mindset of the teacher talks and the student listens, and that’s learning.

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is the second part of the wonderful teacher’s , Jennie, post on children and words!

  12. beetleypete says:

    You show such a comprehensive understanding of how this should be done, Jennie. I would suggest that you should be teaching trainee teachers, but the Aqua Room kids would be lost without you. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  13. You have such a firm grasp on what these children need Jennie. I so admire your dedication!☺️

  14. Love them… hugs to all of precious children

  15. Dan Antion says:

    This is great, Jennie. Observant little folk, and you’re helping them share what they see.

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    Everything you do is purposeful, unlike so many things in education that are nonsensical. I know your dream is to write children’s books (mine too, my friend), but look at the way your lessons always connect with people (educators and non-educators alike). If you haven’t considered it, I want you to think about writing a book for preschool teachers. It would be the most valuable resource. It may be time for you to get in the deep end, Jennie. (By the way, I like that analogy almost as much as your lessons.)

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, it is purposeful, even the laughing silly moments. Children watch and notice everything about you, so it must be purposeful. That sounds so structured and scary, but it’s really not. See, I could start on a roll of teaching here. Which brings me to answer your question about a book. My first book idea is exactly what you are suggesting. I sent query letters to agents for over two years. I haven’t given up!! I love the deep end. 🙂 It’s a great analogy, too. Best to you, Pete, and many thanks.

      • petespringerauthor says:

        Too bad I’m not a publisher because that book is a noble pursuit. I know you won’t give up, and I look forward to having you sign a copy for me someday.

      • Jennie says:

        Wow!! I took all my ‘meaty’ blog posts and categorized them into chapters. Of course there is plenty of writing left to do, but that is the overall idea. Don’t you think teachers and parents can enjoy (and need to) reading this handbook? After years of pitching lit agents I put it aside to work on the children’s book(s). I promise you it is not forgotten! Thank you very much, Pete. You keep me going. 🙂

  17. Wonderful stories! You are raising readers, writers and thinkers! Kudos all around… 🙂

  18. Pingback: Children’s Words, Part 2 — A Teacher’s Reflections – Sarah's Attic Of Treasures

  19. Annika Perry says:

    Ahh … what articulate young children and it’s lovely to see what they enjoy about their neighbourhood. I totally agree that:” Words are the golden key, and the surest way to give children a plethora of words is by reading aloud. ” Absolutely!

  20. I love seeing their responses, Jennie. This series is golden. Hugs on the wing.

  21. I think this is a wonderful idea. The results are showing, the children are very motivated to do, with fun. Thank you, Jennie! Best wishes, Michael

  22. srbottch says:

    And I bet that you’re raising future teachers, as well. We can only hope that they’ll be as good at their craft as you are.

  23. abbiosbiston says:

    My son is only three but he tells me such elaborate stories with so many words and I marvel at how you can go from only being able to cry to communicate to full conversation in such a short time remarkable.

  24. This! This is wonderful, Jennie! The stories are great and so is their artwork to go along with their stories.

  25. This explains so much, Jennie. Why some children don’t learn to think things through or keep things in mind. They haven’t the language to create the skill. I like that I understand this better now. Thank you for teaching me something new. Your students are so far ahead of the game of life. I wonder if they have an inkling. Maybe they just know it’s fun. 😉

    • Jennie says:

      Add to that the child who hits or pushes or takes things – s/he simply doesn’t have the language or words to ask or say no. There are many situations that are rooted in words, or lack thereof. I doubt the children I teach realize they’re ahead in life, but they probably will in retrospect many years from now. Thank you, Marlene! I’m glad you learned something new. 🙂

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