Today… the New School Opening

My previous post was ‘the night before’ opening school in our newly renovated building.  Here is what happened :

First things first- we opened ‘the box’, the one children packed up with their treasures so they could be part of the move, too.  I’m not sure if anyone remembered what was packed away, but the children were thrilled when the box was opened.  It was like finding a long lost friend.

Inside there were:

  • Two puzzles
  • One set of yoga cards
  • Two rocks
  • One block
  • One community block with a Groton Community School photo
  • Two magnifying glasses, each very different
  • Six vehicles
  • One large road mat

(Books were not part of packing the box.  They would have been treasures, for sure.)

The first thing children did was play!


The loft is a big hit.  Don’t you wish you’d had a loft to play in when you were a child?  Think of a fort, or blankets over furniture.  Lofts are an intimate space where play can be focused, even quiet in the midst of a busy classroom.  Reading a book, taking care of dolls, building, or just ‘being’ is what children need, every day.  The balance of quiet and active is a must.

There are many changes, and one of the best is long and big windows that look out onto the playground and the woodland landscape.  This is new.  This is bringing nature into the classroom.  This is perhaps the best thing that has happened.

Here’s what happened today:  It started to snow.  As soon as a child noticed, we all rushed to the windows to look out.  The snow was going sideways.  Oh yes, that was another big discussion.

We went outside to be part of the snowflakes.  No coats, nothing planned, just a spontaneous reaction to children in awe of the snow. Teacher terminology would be ’emergent curriculum’, paying attention to children and teaching based on their interests.  This was one of those moments.

We actually settled down for group activities.  Morning meeting was in a new place in a different classroom.  Connor, once again, grabbed his favorite book from the shelf, “This Land is Your Land”, and shoved it in my hands.  He loves the song- well, we all do.

I knew we needed to sing, so I pulled out the autoharp and we belted out the song.  I think everyone in the school must have heard us when we sang the chorus.  We were loud.  It was wonderful.

We love books!  From reading aloud, to singing a book, to independent reading- books are a favorite activity.  Today was another ‘book lover’ day.

At lunchtime I noticed many children were looking at Starry Night, the only poster I hang in the classroom.  At last we have a big wall space to hang this poster.  Year after year it has sparked more conversation than you can imagine.  So today’s lunchtime ‘Jennie Story’ was about Juliet, a former Aqua Roomer who loved to draw and paint.

“It Happened Like This”
Juliet loved to draw.  When Milly made the first quilt, Juliet drew a detailed rendition of the quilt.  She proudly gave it to Milly, who cherished it until she died.  One day, Juliet and her family drove to New York to the MoMA museum.  It is the Museum of Modern Art.  Suddenly Juliet saw Starry Night, the real one, the real painting.  She was beside herself and started making a big fuss.  “Mom, there’s the picture in the Aqua Room!  It’s Starry Night!  I love it!

Mom was shocked.  I was shocked.  Juliet had never talked about Starry Night.  But, she had seen it every day, and she loved it.  So her mom took a picture of Juliet in front of the real Starry Night and sent it to me.  Isn’t that cool?  Maybe you will get to go to MoMA one day and see it, too.”

And then it was time for rest.  I was rubbing Eddie’s back.  Guess what he was looking at?

This was a day in the Aqua Room.  Whew!  Pretty terrific.  There is even more, so 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 behavior, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, preschool, reading, Singing, storytelling, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to Today… the New School Opening

  1. beetleypete says:

    Huge windows, and a small loft. It doesn’t get much better than that, Jennie. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. quiall says:

    I loved that the children are involved, not dictated to, in your classroom.

  3. What a beautiful space for you all to learn and grow in!

  4. I loved your day story.You check my site too.🧡

  5. It looks like the first day was a big success. And that’s such a great story about Juliet and Starry Night. 🙂 Kids are great and so are you. ❤

    • Jennie says:

      It was definitely a great success. Just having the wall space to hang Starry Night was a dream, and sharing that story about Juliet was perfect. Thank you, Diana. 💕

  6. sounds like a great day. Will you be able to put a bird feeder outside your window? That would add an additional level of outside, outside your window. Love the story about Starry Night. It is often crazy to hear what little thing you have in the room that sparks a child

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Lori. Yes, putting up a bird feeder is at the top of the list. The Starry Night story will forever remind me to pay attention to children and acknowledge their talents and efforts. The little things are really the big things.

  7. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, what a perfect classroom which sounds so welcoming and inviting! I think you need lots of loft forts as they must be so popular. How wonderful to be spontaneous with the children and all head out to the snow – memorable precious times! And of course books galore – an uplifting hopeful sight!

  8. What a delightful day. How exciting to open the box.

  9. Well, that sounds like a wonderful, and perfect day!

  10. Don Ostertag says:

    Woody Guthrie and Vincent! Great way to start off a child’s education.

  11. So glad to hear you and your class had a wonderful day!

  12. Ritu says:

    It just all sounds so wonderful, Jennie! ❤

  13. Dan Antion says:

    I”m so glad the day went well, Jennie and that the children love their new space. I would love a loft, even now!

  14. I have seen the real Starry Night and it does stay with you. A loft sounds perfect.

  15. magarisa says:

    Looks like a great place!

  16. Such a memorable day, Jennie!

  17. I’m so glad to hear that move-in day was such a big success!!

  18. Definitely an awesome turnout. Cheers! 🍂🔔🍂🍮🕊

  19. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for another wonderful post!

  20. CarolCooks2 says:

    What a wonderful first day with the children in the driving seat…I love it straight out in the snow and no coats as it should be …You are such a wonderful teacher, Jennie 🙂 xx

  21. petespringerauthor says:

    Sounds like a great all-around day. I loved the Starry Night story with Juliet. They’re processing, learning, and paying attention even when we might not see it.

    One of the good things we sometimes did at our school once a month was to have teachers teach a period about something they were interested in. Then the kids could sign up for the classes they wanted to attend. I remember one of the teachers with an art background giving the kids a lesson on Vincent van Gogh and then encouraging them to paint their version of Starry Night.

    • Jennie says:

      I love what your school did. How exciting for teachers to teach their real passion, and what a great experience for the students.

      You are absolutely right that children are taking in more than we realize. My most memorable Starry Night story is Liam. We were painting on wood like Early Renaissance artists. Liam wanted nothing to do with that. He wanted to paint our Starry Night poster, something he had never shown an interest in before. Then he asked me for red paint. Red? Yes, there is actually a red house in the painting! He noticed, and I never knew.

  22. Lokesh Sastya says:

    I have just followed you because of your work, simplicity and a beautiful heart of a teacher.
    I would like to join your school. I want to tell a lot of stories to the children, this is what I do on my blog.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I love getting the chance to spend the first day with you and the kids.

  24. Oh, Happy Day(s)! ❤ xo

  25. Your new classroom sounds amazing. There was a loft at my sons nursery school which was used for special occasions; the kids did love it.

  26. They conquered the new possibilites very soon. Lol With big windows, this is a fantastic result of all you efforts.

  27. willedare says:

    Yes to the loft! Yes to the windows! Yes to singing together! Reading your blog posts is invigorating!

  28. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is part two in the series by the excellent teacher, Jennie, about the opening of the new school!

  29. “The first thing the children did was play…”

    Oh the lessons we should learn!

  30. Norah says:

    A room full of stars – the painting is only one of them. A perfect day.

  31. A vivid post, Jennie. I love how you love and understand children. It looks like a great space that allows the outside in (or the inside out) and that’s a great story about Juliet and Starry Night.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Cynthia. I love your word ‘vivid’. Your comments are truly appreciated. I’m glad you like the Juliet story – one of my favorites.

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