We just finished a wonderful unit on Kings and Queens at school. What child doesn’t want to be a king or queen, live in a castle, and dream of dragons?
Of course things took a turn – quite a turn. That always happens when I really listen to children. But, let’s back up and start at the beginning.
Although we played with castle blocks and used our imaginations to create our own picture stories, and make King and Queen portraits…
Taking care of people and animals was a common thread
in these stories. I was glad.
The main focus was on fact, not fiction. We used David Macaulay’s book “Castle”. His story takes building a castle from finding the land to finishing the castle, over hundreds of years. Children enjoyed learning that a castle is far more than just a castle; it’s a community.
John S. Goodall’s book “The Story of a Castle” does the same thing, but with ‘half pages’ that allow the reader to transition from era to era – beginning in the 1100’s and ending in the mid 1900’s.
(That’s my hand turning a half page)
The more we learned about castles, the more we wanted to learn about real Queens and Kings. We started with Queen Elizabeth, reading much about her and looking at many pictures. Oh, the crowns and the jewels! Did you know she has pipers who play outside her window? And she has swans.
Of course we had to write a letter to the Queen! Letter writing stimulates language and literacy. Plus, it’s an important thing to do. People may say letter writing is a lost art. Not in my classroom!
While all of these activities were happening, something else was, too. The day-to-day of masks and cleaning and trying to social distance with young children is, well, an umbrella that hovers over us all. It is quite interesting that our current chapter reading book is “The Story of Doctor Dolittle.” If you don’t know the book, the doctor goes to Africa to cure the sick monkeys. First he separates the the well ones from the sick ones. Then he vaccinates all the well ones. The monkeys call it The Year of the Great Sickness.
Very timely. The book was written in 1920, one hundred years ago.
Someone said, “Maybe Doctor Dolittle can come and cure our sickness.” Wow! That was the golden sentence to do something. Children know there is a sickness. They want to help. So, could Doctor Dolittle really help?
We wrote him a letter.
To whom do I mail this wonderful, important, heartfelt letter? Well, Doctor Dolittle is from England. Pfizer is providing the vaccine to England. I wrote an accompanying letter to Pfizer in their Sandwich, Kent location. I hope you enjoy reading the letter as much as I did writing it.
What’s the bottom line?
- Listen to children. Be their champion.
- Give children an opportunity for plenty of play and imagination.
- Encourage them to voice their ideas through picture stories and art.
- Put their words into print.
- Teach them that reaching for the stars and being brave is important. Yet, teach by example, such as writing to the Queen, and asking Pfizer (aka Doctor Dolittle) to cure the sickness.
My goodness…I get to do these things with young children.
what a wonderful unit
Thank you, Beth. It was fun!
Jennie, you’re creativity in the classroom never ceases to amaze me. Of course, you may not consider it creative because for you, it’s the natural thing to do, listen to the children. All schools should be so lucky to have a ‘Jennie’ on their staff.
Thank you, Steve. It is just a natural thing, and I wish it were natural for all teachers as well. Children know if you care and really listen to them, just like you did at your Curbside Classroom. Your kind words are appreciated. 😊
What a wonderful project. I think Queen Elizabeth would be happy to get that letter. Her staff would probably answer it too. Also, the letter to Pfizer is perfect. We sometimes forget that the children are concerned about the virus as well. Bless them and you, xo
Thank you, Darlene. We wrote to Queen Elizabeth a few years ago, and her Lady-in-Waiting answered our letter. That was wonderful. I think sending Doctor Dolittle’s letter to Pfizer in England was the right thing to do. I hope they answer. Yes, acknowledging that children are concerned is important. We adults sometimes forget that.
Thanks, Ritu! 🥰
Empowering children let’s them know they ARE important.
Hmmm, I seem to recall a few other times when the class wrote and sent (with teacher’s help) letters…and got responses!!! Specifically, I’m remembering the USS Intrepid connection and I think it was with one of yours and Millie’s and classroom’s quilts???
Anyway, I’m just saying you and your class have a fantastic track record of being listened to!!!HA!
Gotta love the Doctor – Who? – oh no, not that Doctor! (Had to throw in a little punny funny levity to this comment, hope you didn’t mind)
Stay strong, teacher!
Laura!! You remembered these stories. Yes, the USS Intrepid connection was one of the quilts Milly and the classroom made. I think the children are good writers and ask good questions because of all the books we read together. And I love writing an accompanying letter to explain everything. I guess my track record is pretty darn good!
I picture the person at Pfizer who opens this letter. I want to be a fly on the wall and see their big smile. Really. And yes, I will stay strong. Thank you, Laura. ❤️
I love that they made the connection with Dr Doolittle and curing Covid-19. I really hope someone from replies back to your class
Yes! Making that connection was a wonderful moment. Building on that and writing the letter was the best. Fingers crossed that someone replies! Thank you, Lori.
Real world connections… Awesome! That’s what learning is all about.
Absolutely! Thanks, Bette.
Such wonderful ideas, Jennie!
Thank you, Becky!
That’s brilliant! The letters are wonderful and the unit is one I’m sure they’re going to remember for a very, very long time.
Thank you, Deborah! I hope so. 🙂
I like that you emphasize the responsibility part of being a king or queen. They have to take care of people and animals – the whole community. It’s not just about being rich and getting “things.” Great teaching opportunities.
Exactly!! Teaching opportunities can be everywhere.
This was very nice, Jennie. It’s fun to read what they want to know from the Queen.
Yes, it is fun to read. I liked, “Is your crown heavy?” From the mouths of babes.
I imagine that the letter will cheer someone at Pfizer quite a bit. Nice way to let the kids know that others value their opinions and questions.
I hope/think it will bring Pfizer some cheer. Yes, letting children know what they say is important helps build their self esteem.
I received letters back in grade school during such projects. I still have one from Jacqueline Kennedy’s secretary.
That’s why I appreciate such assignments for kids.
This is so awesome Jennie. Let us know if you get a reply.
Thank you, Carla. Will do!
Great unit! In my class, we sometimes wrote authors with questions after we were done reading their stories. More often than not, the author would write back to the class—lots of fun.
It’s a kick reading the “if I were responses” from the kids.
Yes, most authors are good about that. Even the Queen replies. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Pfizer opens their letter. And those picture stories are priceless. 🙂 Thanks, Pete.
Oh, I love thse letters! I’ll bet someone at Pfizer will answer the Dr. Doolittle letter. 🙂 When the children grow up, they are going to have such fond memories of this year.
I hope they do! Thank you, Liz. 🙂
You’re welcome, Jennie.
I’d love to see the face of the person at Pfizer who opens that letter Jennie. I do hope they write back.
I feel the same way. I want to be a fly on the wall. Best to you, Kim!
Jennie, what a wonderful letter to Pfizer and surely it must melt their hearts! 😀 Yes, the vaccinations have started in earnest but of course there is a long way to go … nobody in my family qualifies for quite a while yet so we are keeping safe.
I love all the imaginative and creative work by the students – and they are as insightful and deep-thinking as ever! All whilst having fun!😀
Thanks so much, Annika. I do hope it melts their heart ♥️ Children are intuitive and think deeply. We need to listen and definitely have fun!!
We don’t qualify either. There is talk of teachers, but not preschool teachers. Stay safe, and Merry Christmas! 🎄
Wow. So cool, Jennie. Now I want to learn about castles and see all those jewels! And I’ll bet you get a letter back from the Queen and from Pfizer (hopefully). That would be memorable. I remember as a little kid writing a letter to EB White and getting a reply (a form letter). I was thrilled! You are wonderful.
Awww… thank you, Diana. The Queen usually replies, and yes, it would be wonderful if Pfizer replies. You really wrote a letter to E.B. White? And he replied? Wow! Even a form letter is priceless. Do you still have it?
I don’t have it, Jennie, (that I know of). At age 9 or 10, I didn’t know how sweet it would be later. But I never forgot it. 🙂
Memories are a wonderful thing! Of course, as a child you didn’t know at the time that it would be important. Yet, you will never forget. 🥰
What lovely earnest thoughts from kids. Pfizer and the Queen will be gratified to receive them.
Thank you, Jacqui. I hope so!
What a lovely idea, Jennie. Letter writing is not a lost art in my house. Michael is writing a book – such fun.
That’s wonderful to hear. And thank you, Robbie.
Jennie, you are teaching them more in preschool as our children in Germany are knowing after second class of primary school. 😉
Maybe in some years another DJT will blame Germany. Lol Michael
Thank you, Michael. It’s frustrating when you witness how different schools can be.
Inspirational learning at its best! ❤
Thank you, Debby! 🥰