The Past Two (and more ) Weeks – School Then and Now, Part 4

In Part 3, I jumped right into what children need most and what I do best, reading aloud.  Setting up a YouTube channel gave them stories every day.  It was also a constant.  Then, we challenged children with art, scavenger hunts, plus math and science activities.  We encouraged children to send us photos of what they were doing, and also how they responded to our challenges.  They loved it.  The pictures flowed, and that opened the door to writing back and forth with children.

Part 4
When there is a pandemic or a crisis of any kind, we all grab onto what is near and dear to us.  Routine and familiar events and faces that we take for granted suddenly become incredibly important.  For children this is magnified, and perhaps their one and only lifeline.

As a teacher, I know this all too well.

The constant I can give children is chapter reading, picking up where we left off at school and never letting that drop.  Never.  From page 53 in Little House in the Big Woods, I have continued reading every single school day.

We finished the book, and on Zoom we asked children if they wanted to hear a new book, or the next adventure with Laura and Mary.  Hands down, they wanted the next book in the series.  I think they needed that, wanted that.

And so, I have started reading aloud Little House on the Prairie.  My goodness, in between the two books I pulled out maps to show children the long journey from Wisconsin to Kansas.  Rivers played an important part in the book, so my geography lessons with maps were included.

Last week I read perhaps the most heartfelt chapter, ‘Crossing the Creek’.  Did I cry?  You bet I did!  It is powerful.  My favorite blog post, ‘The Boy Who Cried Tears of the Heart’ is all about reading this chapter to children.

The following chapter, ‘Camp on the High Prairie’, is a must to understand what happens next.  Yes, I cried.  Dog lovers cry.

For those of you who enjoyed hearing me read aloud The Poet’s Dog and asked me to read aloud more, I hope you enjoy these two powerful chapters.  Jack the dog in this story is as wonderful as Teddy the dog.

Reading aloud is a warm blanket for children.  It is also a source of inspiration, adventure, and escape.  As the weeks go by in school with distance learning, we will have great activities for the children.  Yet, everything is grounded in what they know and love, chapter reading.

Stay safe and stay well.  Reading rocks!


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 America, Book Review, books, chapter reading, children's books, Dogs, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, geography, history, reading aloud, reading aloud and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to The Past Two (and more ) Weeks – School Then and Now, Part 4

  1. Opher says:

    Reading sure does Rock!!
    Keep on Rockin’ Jennie!!

  2. beth says:

    I’m so glad the kids want more, a sure sign of you drawing them in and keeping them engaged and connected)

  3. quiall says:

    Reading is like a warm blanket at any age!

  4. Norah says:

    This is wonderful, Jennie. The richness of experiences you are maintaining with your children is just wonderful.

  5. Darlene says:

    My favourite sentence. Reading aloud is a warm blanket for children. So true. Keep up the good work.

  6. So wonderful that you’ve continued reading aloud the chapter books to kids, Jennie. I’m sure they look forward to this in their uncertain worlds! Stay well!

  7. Ritu says:

    Wonderful, Jennie!

  8. K.L. Hale says:

    Way to go, Jennie! God bless you! 💚

  9. Dan Antion says:

    Reading is the best, Jennie. Take care – stay well!

  10. beetleypete says:

    Whatever else happen in their lives, the kids will NEVER forget the time you read to them during the ‘Great Outbreak of 2020’. That’s a future legacy right there, Jennie. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  11. Jim Borden says:

    I agree, Jennie. Reading is the best activity, and I’m sure a source of comfort during these strange times…

    • Jennie says:

      Hear, hear! Do you know “The Read Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease? Million copy bestseller, been around since the 80’s, many editions, my bible when my kids were little. Best book ever. Really.

      • Jim Borden says:

        My wife reminds me that we had that book when our kids were little and it is was one of her favorites as well. I’m sure I read out of it multiple times, I just can’t seem to recall it. And sorry for spelling your name as Jenny in my last comment!

      • Jennie says:

        I figured she (and you) knew the book. 🙂 Tell your wife Jim Trelease came to my school to hear me read aloud. One of my top ten days in teaching. No worries about the spelling, Jim. Happy weekend!

      • Jim Borden says:

        that must have been a fun day at your school; my wife is quite jealous!

        The famous kid’s author around here is Jerry Spinelli, and he always seems to be generous with his time visiting schools and libraries.

      • Jennie says:

        Here’s the back story for your wife. She will love this:

        I went to a teacher conference and Jim Trelease was the keynote speaker. That was cool, because I already had his book and knew first hand everything he was writing was important. WELL, when he spoke, I wanted to stand up and scream at all the teachers in the audience that this man was telling them the most important things in teaching. His speech was as good as his book.

        I wrote him a letter and included one of my newsletters to parents. I wanted him to know that there are teachers who “get it”, know reading aloud is #1, and practice that in their classroom.

        That was that. A year went by and I had an email from him, thanking me for my letter, and more importantly my newsletter to families about reading aloud and chapter reading.

        Wow! That was wonderful. Another year went by, and he emailed me that he was doing his final revision (#7) to The Read Aloud Handbook. He wanted to come and hear me read aloud. You can imagine what things were like at school on the day of his visit. He also wanted to interview parents. He spent most of the day at school.

        I wasn’t nervous at all. He was a fly on the wall with a yellow note pad. When a child brought me a book and asked me to read, I remember he was behind me, watching as my finger scrolled the words. He was shocked when I turned out the lights at chapter reading. I told him how this helps children make the pictures in their heads. Then I told him about the head of the English department at our local prep school who does exactly the same thing with her seniors!

        Jim Trelease emailed me a gazillion questions afterwards, then returned for photos. I was shocked, because his book has very few photos. So, I’m in his seventh edition (there is a new eighth, which is not Jim, and is not very good).

        Apologies that the short story version is actually long.

        Jerry Spinelli is wonderful! His books aren’t what I read aloud to my preschoolers, but they are excellent. Were his illustrations displayed at the Eric Carle Museum? I think they may have been. When authors and illustrators give their time visiting schools and libraries, they make a huge difference.

        I’m so sorry this reply is way too long.

      • Jim Borden says:

        it’s funny what happens when you show some gratitude and initiative; what a great story. I am not familiar with the Eric Carle Museum. Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

      • Jennie says:

        Showing gratitude often has rewards, big and small. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. The Eric Carle Museum is dedicated to the art of picture book illustrations. It is in Amherst, MA. Thank you, Jim.

      • Jim Borden says:

        that sounds like a fun museum to explore. by the way, my wife loved the story about Jim Trelease!

      • Jennie says:

        It is a wonderful museum. The first time I was there, I was face to face, inches away, looking at the original illustrations of Madeline. Sigh! I’m so glad your wife enjoyed the Jim Trelease story. Thank you, Jim.

      • Jim Borden says:

        wow! Some original Madeline illustrations – that is pretty cool. Have a good week!

      • Jennie says:

        It was very cool. For a preschool teacher who loves children’s books and reading aloud, this is the holy grail. Have a good week, Jim.

      • Jim Borden says:

        it’s nice to have such experiences!

  12. Thank you, Jennie! You should create more videos. I am sure, at least you will have more viewers and listeners as the honorable President. 😉 Michael

  13. Thanks for sharing, Jennie.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I think the kids relish getting to hear your voice. I know that I treasure getting to watch our Friars delivering homilies. It is reassuring to really know that people we care about are alive. It is too easy to worry that they have disappeared somehow. Especially for kids.

  15. petespringerauthor says:

    There were times when I read a story to my students when I remember crying. There are lessons taught even when moments like this occur. Demonstrating that it is natural for us adults to feel things genuinely is essential for kids to see. It didn’t matter if it was with younger or older students. I’m sure I cried more than once when I was reading Old Yeller to my sixth graders.

    • Jennie says:

      You hit the nail on the head, Pete. When students know their teacher is ‘real’, that makes all the difference in their learning. The lessons taught are many. What is it about dogs? I can’t get through Teddy in “The Poet’s Dog”, nor Jack in “Little House on the Prairie.” I would be blubbering through “Old Yeller” and it would be wonderful. Did you read aloud “Where the Red Fern Grows” to your sixth graders?

  16. You’re so busy! I’m glad that your teaching continues to be so interactive and enjoyable and exciting for your students. Lovely post, Jennie. Your kids are so lucky to have you. 🙂

  17. Great books to read, Jennie. I have read all the book in the Little House series over and over again. I still need to write a post about it.

  18. L. Marie says:

    What a lovely thing to do for the children, Jennie. They so need to hearing a loving voice reading to them. Such a sign of continuity in their lives.

  19. srbottch says:

    I am going to get my tissue box and read this later. Hope I make it to the end…

    • Jennie says:

      I hope you do. My two favorite chapters, one follows the other. Please let me know if you watch the videos. ❤️

      • srbottch says:

        I shall. I already forwarded it to my son/wife. They have three year olds who are on shutdown from a preschool and I doubt they’re getting the same level of distance teaching that you give. Then again, not many are. You’re top shelf.

      • Jennie says:

        That’s so kind, Steve. I read a picture book every day, and also a chapter reading episode. For the three year old, they’re on YouTube. Go there, select channel, and type in Aqua Room. Voila! There is something good every day. Thank you. 🙂

  20. Oh, my goodness! It has been more than fifty years since I read Little House on the Prairie, but as soon as you started reading the river fording chapter, I immediately remembered it.

  21. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, once again–thank you so much for another wonderful post!

  22. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another excellent post on reading from that extraordinary teacher–Jennie!

  23. kevin cooper says:

    Keep up the good work, Jennie! 🙂

  24. Just wonderful Jennie, and can I say my own granddaughter has enjoyed listening to you read.. 🙂

  25. dgkaye says:

    It’s no doubt the kids love these readings Jennie. You are so engaging and animated when you read. How could anyone not stay tuned. ❤

  26. willedare says:

    Delightful and moving!!! Thank you for teaching all of these children AND all of us who love your blog so much!!!

  27. Ellen Hawley says:

    I’m sure you’re right about reading. I’m in my seventies now and still remember being read to. It was wonderful.

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