When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade!

It happened quickly.  Schools closed for two weeks.  Teachers went in on Friday to do a deep cleaning, from surfaces to toys, even markers and the cover of every book.  Over the weekend the closings of public places skyrocketed.  On Monday schools were mandated to close for three weeks.

As a teacher, I need to reach out to children and teach.  But how?  There is little for them to do outside of home.  And then it struck me.

I can read to them online!

Surely there was a way to do that.  I had read aloud the book The Poet’s Dog on my blog.  Maybe YouTube would work for the children?  I watched a tutorial on how to set this up.  On one hand my heart was pounding with excitement, and on the other hand I was filled with terror.  This non-techy person was on the end of the 10 meter diving platform staring at the deep water below.

I did it.  I persevered.  The idea of being able to read aloud to the children was the driving force to make me jump off that 10 meter platform.  I set up a YouTube account.  Children (and anybody) can go to YouTube, click on ‘channel’, then go to Aqua Room.  Voila!

Every day I will post reading aloud one picture book, and reading aloud the next episode in our chapter reading book, Little House in the Big Woods.  Last week, barely five days ago, we left off on page 53.  I picked up where we left off.

Thank goodness I did!  Children were thrilled, and parents sent me photos of their children watching me read aloud. I was flooded with emails.  Apparently many children told their parents they had to go to school and watch Jennie read.


There I am, on the screen.  It seems surreal.  Yet, it is a good way to be with the children and bring books and stories to them.  Here are the picture books I am reading aloud over the next two weeks, with more to come:

Here I am reading The Seven Chinese Sisters, by Kathy Tucker:

Here I am reading a great episode of our chapter reading book:

Three weeks is a long time, especially for children.  Of course we will be bringing more to them online, yet the constant will be reading aloud.  As the weeks go by, you are welcome to hop over to YouTube and hear a good story.  That might be a ray of sunshine.


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 Book Review, books, chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, Inspiration, picture books, preschool, reading, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

140 Responses to When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade!

  1. srbottch says:

    What a terrific idea. I’ll share this on my neighborhood FB page. Heck, I just might watch!!! A perfect example of the positive use of social media. Nice job, Jennie!👍

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Steve. This was a big change for me, but it’s very popular. The children want me to also tell “Jennie Stories”. Of course I will! 🙂

  2. Opher says:

    Brilliant Jennie. I’ll certainly tune in to hear you read too!
    In trying times we have to try harder!

  3. What a wonderful idea, Jennie, so appreciated by children and parents alike!

  4. joylennick says:

    Excellent idea, Jennie, You’re a great teacher. I bet your children love it. xx.

  5. Amanda Cade says:

    It’s so wonderful that you’re doing this! Your students are lucky to have such a dedicated teacher.

  6. beetleypete says:

    This is just delightful, Jennie. Schools are not closed here, though some parents have taken their children out. (Incuding our grandson) He is now at home with workbooks and drawing books, and his Mum reads to him when he has finished those for the day.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Pete. I am surprised your schools and public places haven’t closed. How will you ever get a handle on the virus? Over here, pretty much everything is closed except for grocery stores. Restaurants can only serve take out, and you can’t go inside the building to get it. Crowds of more than 10 are banned. Think of people who have weddings or funerals. And of course churches are closed.

      I’m glad to hear your grandson is home learning. He can go onto my YouTube and hear me read aloud. 🙂 It is very popular! The local news is featuring it tonight. Best to you, Pete. Stay well.

      • beetleypete says:

        Schools have closed now, and public areas are all but deserted. Profit is still king though, so they are unlikely to enforce closure of businesses.

  7. quiall says:

    If there is a will, there is a way. And you my friend have great will! I applaud you.

  8. Darlene says:

    What a fantastic idea. Everyone will love it!! Well done, you!

  9. Ritu says:

    That is great!

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Ritu! It is so popular, and quite a big change. You can do this if you close. Today the state of Kansas cancelled school for the rest of the year. Yikes! Many states are wondering if we need more than three weeks. I really hope your schools and public places close. It is awful and terribly hard on people, but we have to get a handle on the virus.

      • Ritu says:

        Schools will close on Friday, as such, for students. But not staff. We will still be in to look after the children of key workers, like NHS staff, delivery drivers, supply shop workers, and vulnerable children such as those under social care. It will be more child care than education…

      • Jennie says:

        I understand completely, Ritu. What a big change. This is when children need you and the basics- hugs, music, stories, block building, free play… Just think how much you will mean to these children whose families are stressed. Give them a big hug for me. ❤️

      • Ritu says:

        It will only be the children of key workers, but I don’t know how it will affect our staffing. There may be 50 kids, and 50 staff… There’s only so much we can do, organisation wise… Let’s see.
        But I’m happy to be on call, and help our country as much as I can, as long as it’s not to the detriment of our own families xxx

      • Jennie says:

        Well said, Ritu!!!

      • Ritu says:


  10. You are an inspiration! I am mustering the courage to do the same with my yoga classes. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      We are on the same wavelength! You should definitely do it. My co-teacher will be doing yoga, and I will be adding music and movement. The reading aloud will be the constant. Thank you, Alethea! 🙂

      • Took me at least 45 minutes to try to find a stable angle for the camera, then the cat plopped herself in my lap for about 30 minutes. She never does that. When I finally started recording my dog started barking to be let in the room. This is not easy 🤣

  11. K.L. Hale says:

    Oh I get to see you reading!! I love YouTube for this reason right here. That’s how I’m going to read to my grandson in Alaska. 💚💚💚 you’re amazing!

  12. Jennie, can adults come and listen?
    Count me in…and being a non-techy too, I admire your resolve and the fact that your ‘trying’ yielded a satisfactory result…now **that’s** inspiring.

    • Jennie says:

      Absolutely!!! If you always wanted to hear “Little House in the Big Woods” or just want to listen to a picture book, come on in. 🙂 Go to YouTube, click on channel, and then type in Aqua Room.

      I still can’t believe I actually did this! Now the kids want “Jennie Stories”, too. Of course! Reading aloud is a driving force for me because I know it works. Thank you, Laura! 🙂

  13. Sue Vincent says:

    A super idea, Jennie!

  14. Dan Antion says:

    Excellent idea, Jennie! I’m going to be following your channel shortly.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Dan. Even as an adult, listening to “Little House in the Big Woods” is really wonderful. You know, the picture books might give you some writing ideas. And, they’re good. Let me know how you make out.

  15. I love YouTube! I’m so excited you’re doing this!! I am going to share with Baby Girl and #1 Grandson! I hope he finds you, Jennie! 😀

  16. beth says:

    my co-teachers and i are taking turns doing this and finding ways to connect over the coming weeks, love this

    • Jennie says:

      That is wonderful, Beth. I just had a IM call with my teachers (we can’t meet because all restaurants are closed) to plan a schedule of something every day we can either do or suggest to families. We want to provide structured activities and learning, but parents are so stressed out – it needs to be low key.

      We’re thinking music and movement and yoga on Monday (via us doing YouTube video) drawing pictures and writing on Tuesdays where they can send what they made and we can post for everyone, a building or creating day, from Legos to blocks to puzzles. We thought Friday could be a connect day, and recommend that parents let their child FaceTime or call a classmate. Reading aloud will be every day.

      This is a work in progress! Let me know what you are doing. Thanks, Beth. Stay well.

  17. Jennie, that’s awesome! Congratulations on persevering with the technology!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, John. What a huge and sudden change in teaching this was for me. The techy part is definitely hard and out of my comfort zone, but I knew right away I wanted to/had to read to the children. It has been a huge hit! Now, the children are asking me to tell my “Jennie Stories”. Of course I will! BTW, I woke up this morning to an email from a WBZ TV reporter who wants to include me and some of the video clips in a piece on how teachers are being creative during this pandemic. Something like that. If you are a night owl (not me!) it is supposed to air on the 11:00 news. Stay well, John. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, John! You can teach an old dog new tricks. Reading aloud is definitely the driving force. 🙂

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    When the kids can’t come to us, we go to them instead. Way to make it happen, Jennie!

  19. You are one in a million, Jennie. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  20. gifted50 says:

    What a splendid idea. thank you, I know this will help a lot of parents.

  21. Hi Jennie, this is great! I wanted to share your Youtube channel link to my four-year-old niece, but wasn’t able to. Could you paste a link here? Thanks. A very thoughtful and creative way of helping the little ones stay curious.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Isn’t it providential that you had already heard from your blogging friends how great it was to have you read to us? I know you were a little timid around the technology, but you persevered. I know that each one of us will have a specific way to use our gifts during this challenging time. You have found yours. Well done.

    • Jennie says:

      This is powerful, Elizabeth. Thank you. First, I read aloud to my blogging friends, which was new waters. Then I tackled new technology. The two allowed me to do something worthwhile in this challenging time. To quote Charlotte in “Charlotte’s Web”, that in itself is a tremendous thing. Thank you so much, Elizabeth.

  23. Best lemonade recipe ever! ❤ Quenches the thirst in so many ways… xo

    • Jennie says:

      Bette, the poet in you is ever present and eloquent. Thank you!! ❤️

      • Hugs & Happy Reading, dear Jennie! ❤ I've subscribed to you YouTube Channel and look forward to sharing more of your awesome read-alouds! xo

      • Jennie says:

        Bette, your posting and sharing on FB was absolutely wonderful. The many people I know who don’t follow my blog were thrilled, and so was I. There are now many, many children listening to my stories, thanks to you. You made a difference, and I am deeply grateful. I hope you enjoy more of my stories. Thank you, my friend. ❤️

  24. magarisa says:

    An excellent idea!

  25. Ellen says:

    Fantabulous idea! That is one of Benjamin’s favorite words and according to him it does not get any better than that! I have another suggestion for you should you still have a few lemons remaining and want to make more lemonade. Since 1997 the third Thursday in March is “Absolutely Incredible Kids Day”. It was created by Camp Fire to celebrate children by encouraging adults to write a letter or tell them how much they appreciate them, and how incredible they are. It exists to encourage and uplift children. Adults participate by writing letters or notes, or by making a video or sharing a message on social media. The goal of the day is for every child in America to receive a letter or message. If you want more information you can go to Camp Fire’s website. As the website states : “Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are. In Camp Fire, it begins now. Light the fire within.” It is my opinion that Jennie does just that every single day! Thank-YOU!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Ellen. And, I love the idea! I was a Camp Fire Girl growing up. Children need to be given a spark, and a letter is a a wonderful idea.

  26. I believe there is a silver lining in every catastrophe and you are the kind of person that will make it silver. I’m going to check out your channel in the morning. My DIL’s pre-school is still open for now. Many are thrilled she is still open so they can work. All the schools in the area are closed as is most everything else. This can be an economic hardship on so many people but then, we will have to find other ways to operate as you have. Keeping my fingers crossed that this flattens out and ends sooner than expected. Only you would find a way to carry on for the children. It looks like Beth is doing something similar. Feel the fear and do it anyway seems to be your motto. 🙂 Hugs, M

    • Jennie says:

      You are always so poignant, Marlene. Really. Our son called us today, twice this week- shock. Our daughter is calling and texting often. Emails and texts from friends and neighbors are happening multiple times every day. See? Every time there is a catastrophe, people and the nation pull together. That’s the silver lining. If I can sprinkle some silver into that lining, that’s a good thing.

      The hardship on everyone is terrible, from teachers to parents, and everyone who is suddenly unemployed. Yesterday I needed to meet with my fellow teachers, and hoped we could go to a restaurant. No, all the restaurants are closed. That everyday situation will take time to get used to. My best to your DIL. And my best to you, Marlene. I love my new motto!! 😀

      • Thanks for the visit, Jennie. I loved what you came up with regarding reading stories online to children. Life is all about change and change we must. The important stuff comes to light in a crisis. We stop taking each other for granted and learn new ways to be in the world. This might be a very hard change. Lets hope it goes faster than expected. I hate what it’s doing to the most vulnerable of us.

      • Jennie says:

        Beautifully said, Marlene! I feel exactly the same way.

  27. Wonderful lemonade you made, Jennie! You’re so expressive in your reading of “The Seven Chinese Sisters.” I kinda felt sorry for the skinny dragon and hope he got that bowl of soup! Lovely idea to keep children entertained and educated during this surreal time. I applaud your creativity! 🌹👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  28. Ah, Jennie, you are so thoughtful and kind. A great thing to be doing.

  29. Pingback: A Little Less Crazy | insearchofitall

  30. Forestwood says:

    Fantastic idea. You go girl, and it would be wonderful to keep this up even after Covid 19 disappears. You could reach many people in the underprivileged and underdeveloped parts of the world too.

  31. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, you are simply an extraordinary teacher!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Charles. This seemed like a simple and natural thing to do. Common sense is more the word. The local news posted a few clips on TV. I think I should keep reading aloud even after this virus is under control and we’re back to school. There are children everywhere who don’t have a parent or caregiver to read to them. Maybe this can make a difference for a child. Best to you, Charles.

  32. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is a wonderful post from the extraordinary teacher, Jennie! For those of you teaching young children at home, not to mention, older kids, this is valuable educational resource!

  33. Absolutely brilliant Jennie! Making lemonade out of lemons indeed. You are a constant source of inspiration and a wonderfully expressive reader as well. You can’t see me, but I’m giving you a standing ovation!👏🏻

  34. Reblogged this on By Hook Or By Book and commented:
    I’m imploring everyone to read this marvelous post from Jennie, especially if you have young children stuck at home!

  35. Margie says:

    Such a wonderful idea.
    The children must love it.

  36. kenneturner says:

    Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:
    A teacher who finds a way to reach out when there are school closings. — kenne

  37. Gypsy Bev says:

    You are doing what a great teacher should do. Kudos! Our library is doing readings on YouTube for the children also so perhaps you have started a great event to help keep the children entertained in a good way during this school shutdown.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Bev. I’m glad to hear your library is doing readings, too. I hope,this will be the start of a great event while schools are shutdown.

  38. markbierman says:

    Nice to see that you are reaching out to children. I know, as a parent, I would truly appreciate that!

  39. I love this! I’m an Usborne Books & More consultant and we were given permission to read books for the next 3 weeks (and then delete them in April.) So I’ve been doing a daily story time in my Facebook group.

  40. emberbear says:

    Jennie, this is so lovely. You are truly inspirational.

  41. beetleypete says:

    Reblogged this on beetleypete and commented:
    This lovely post from Jennie shows what can be done to continue the education of children in these difficult times. She is always an inspiration.

  42. Fantastic! Warmest regards, Theo

  43. Pingback: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade! | DearTedandJody

  44. What a marvelous idea! I will have to try that….

  45. You have given them the best thing you can in these challenging times. Children, above all, need a sense of stability and hope, with some strength mixed in, so reading to them is one of the powerful ways to achieve those things. And perhaps drawing things from the books is good too. What about the idea of seeking three secret words in each book or part of the book they read and writing it (even if it is spelled wrong. That will also give them another thing to do sort of like a mystery to be solved. This can bring some good thinking and points for anyone who can spell the words right. A challenge for them to look up. You might have the words posted in another place. Children love games where they have to guess things. If they are too young to do the words, what about finding something in a picture from the book or several things. How about reading to Gloria? Since the children love and know Gloria, they will take to their favorite character and feel a sense of security by seeing her. I know you are an excellent teacher so I know you will think of a lot of things on your own, but I love to share ideas too because it is one of my fondest memories too. Thank you for the wonderful things you always do. Hugs and continued blessings, Anne

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Anne! They are too young to find words. I have been stopping to ask questions as I read, about the picture or about what’s happening in the story. And today I had the children say the repeated phrase along with me. Gloria will visit on Thursday as herself. 🙂 As we were in the middle of learning about France, I will teach her some words and we’ll sing a song together. She will have a lot to say to the children. This is a work in progress! My co-teachers are posting music, movement and yoga. We’re in this together!

  46. sjhigbee says:

    Oh, bless you, Jennie! You are such a lovely person:)). And that was one of my Grandfather’s favourite sayings…

  47. when life hands you lemons……..add sugar

  48. Pingback: Saddle Up Saloon; Story Time! « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

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