The Real Beginning of ‘Gloria’

Last year at this time all of my teaching was done remotely.  It was hard, and I reached out in so many ways to make things fun and keep a connection with my preschoolers. Here is what I did, in full ‘costume’, and what I wrote:

This all has to do with Gloria, in a BIG way.

“My preschoolers hear me recite the classic story “Goodnight Moon” every day at school, just before chapter reading. Sometimes they ask me to do it the ‘silly way’, either interjecting their names into the story, or making a beat as I recite the words. So, I made them this video of me doing the “Goodnight Moon Rap.” I miss them so much. I hope this makes them smile on a rainy day.”

Beth, a former parent, saw this post on FaceBook.  Well, she’s much more than a former parent – her child was the one who made Gloria who she is today.  Really.  Before I tell the story, here are our back-and-forth comments on FB:

That is just so awesome Jennie! We miss you so much and wish we could freeze time in the Aqua Room. Colin is about to get his drivers license 😁 😮. So many emotions about that! Missing everyone at GCS

It’s so good to hear from you! I think of Colin often. Please tell him that ‘Gloria’ says hello. I can’t believe he is getting his driver’s license. Where has the time gone? As soon as school can open their doors to families, past and present, I really look forward to seeing the Flood family, especially Colin.

I will. He loved Gloria! Will have to find a picture of him with her. Absolutely we will be back for a visit… hopefully soon. He’s actually at the movies tonight with Sam Brewster! Friends forever, including Sam Landry.

That’s wonderful! Hope you find a picture. I’m so glad to hear that Colin is still friends with Sam and Sam. We need a GCS reunion.  

So, how did Gloria the puppet become Gloria the person?

I know puppets help teach preschoolers.  Any good teacher knows that.  When I first realized that a puppet in the classroom would be a great teaching tool, I had no idea that it could be, or would be, so powerful in teaching both the children and me.  That was twenty-five years ago.

When I discovered Gloria among a collection of Folkmanias puppets, I knew she would ‘work’.  I have watched other teachers use multicultural puppets, but we’re not a very diverse community.  A three-year-old back then was not as likely to meet children or people from other countries or races.  BUT, they would meet old people, shy people, people with disabilities, or those who were not beautiful.  If my puppet represented the differences that preschoolers encountered, she would be far more effective than a multicultural puppet.  Accepting differences that are familiar to children is the first step to accepting global differences.  Learning is all about building blocks, and I had to start with something that was ‘different’.

For a number of years Gloria (named by the children, of course) lived in a picnic basket on top of my cabinets in the classroom.  She came out as part of our curriculum every month or so.  She was always a big hit, and very successful introducing everything from emotions, to how to count, or sing the ABC’s.  Once a month, everyone loved Gloria.

One day I forgot to put her back into the picnic basket.  She was on the little couch in the classroom.  Children walked over to talk with her.  They brought her toys and held her.  This was a big wake-up call for me.  Why had I kept her in the picnic basket, when every ‘visit’ in the classroom was so successful and important?  I was not seeing Gloria as a person, and the children were.  Gloria continued to ‘live’ on the couch.

One day I took Colin to the bathroom at rest time, and he looked very pensive.

“Jennie, can Gloria come to my house for a sleepover?”

I wasn’t sure what to say, as this was a first.

“Colin, Gloria has never been on a sleepover.  I don’t know.”

“I have a night light.  She won’t be scared.”

“Colin, I don’t know.”

“Don’t worry.  I’ll have a talk with her.”

He did!  And Gloria was fine.

When Beth sent me this photo of Colin and Gloria, I asked her, “Beth, do you remember when Colin was the the first child to take Gloria home for a sleepover?

She answered, “Yes I do remember that, Jennie. He was so enamored by her. Took her home every weekend for a while until the other kids started getting wind of it and wanted to start taking her home too.”

Therefore, I started a Gloria journal.  Now, she was living on the couch, and was spending some weekends with children.  The journal was instrumental in recording Gloria’s adventures and making a bigger connection with both children and families.  If there was a fire in the school and I could only grab one artifact, it would be Gloria and her journal.  That year Erin took Gloria Trick-or-Treating.  Really.  Gloria was Minnie Mouse.  Her parents were a little annoyed that other neighborhood families Trick-or-Treating did not ‘get it’.

This is Gloria’s first journal, one of three
packed with stories and photos.

“Why is the witch dressed as Minnie Mouse?”, people asked them.  The family told me (with much frustration.)

“I kept telling them that she’s not a witch.  She’s dressed up for Trick-or-Treat as Minnie Mouse.  Why didn’t they understand?”

Ahh… Gloria is very real, indeed.

Colin is now in 10th grade, and Gloria continues to give children love, hope, understanding, and great memories.


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, Diversity, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Gloria, Inspiration, Student alumni, young children and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to The Real Beginning of ‘Gloria’

  1. Just wonderful, Jennie! You should have little Gloria figures made. It would be a great giveaway and a wonderful mascot for your school. Gloria as Minnie Mouse is definitely the best. Lol But one can see how hearttouching she is. Thank you for telling, Jennie! Have a beautiful rest of the week! Michael

  2. Norah says:

    This is gorgeous, Jennie. The origins of Gloria. How delightful.
    BTW, did you see a tweet I sent you about a Goodnight Moon artistic installation. I tried to send it on Facebook where I saw it but couldn’t, so tweeted it. I’m not on Twitter very often so don’t know if you’ve seen it.

  3. beth says:

    Oh,I love this!

  4. davidprosser says:

    What a joy it must be to attend classes at your school Jennie. I can’t imagine a single student not wanting to be there every day.
    Huge Hugs

  5. GP says:

    It is wonderful how go all out for the children. They become your children as you entertain and educate them! Too bad all teachers can’t be this open and caring. BRAVO, Jennie!

  6. quiall says:

    It is a wise teacher who is willing to be taught by her children. It benefits everyone.

  7. barbtaub says:

    And THAT’S why the luckiest kids in the world go through your classroom!

  8. Darlene says:

    Lucky Gloria to be part of your classroom. And lucky you and the children to have Gloria there. I love that the parents still keep in touch with you. The picture of Colin and Gloria is great!

  9. I love that it was the children who made Gloria… well Gloria. They were the ones who started the connection and brought her to life

  10. An update of ‘The’ Colin I’ve read about in your past posts…fantastic recounting of the emergence of Gloria as a person (Velveteen Rabbit, anyone?).
    I wondered if Gloria’s name came from your generational knowledge of the “G-L-O-R-I-A” song but it makes more sense that the kiddos named her!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, the same Colin! I hadn’t thought about the comparison with the Velveteen Rabbit. Wow! You’re not the first person who has wondered about the song 😅 but the children really did name her. Thanks, Laura.

  11. This was wonderful learning the origins of Gloria. And the Good Night Moon rap was spectacular! I swear Jennie, you’re like a female version of Mr. Rogers!🤗

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Kim! When my assistant teacher left a few years ago, our director asked her if I hadn’t done enough for her. She replied with “Jennie is the modern day Mr. Rogers.” Wow! And now you have a similar comment…my heart is full. 🥰

      I’m glad you enjoyed Gloria’s backstory. I figured it was time people knew. Doing the rap was really fun!

  12. beetleypete says:

    The story of Gloris touches my heart every time she features on your blog. Every school in the world should have a Gloria, and a Jennie to show them how to love children.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  13. What a great story, Jennie! I got goosebumps.

  14. I love everything about Gloria!

  15. Ritu says:

    I absolutely love the history behind Gloria!

  16. Great story, Jennie. It is good to catch up with Gloria’s background.

  17. petespringerauthor says:

    Another beautiful story, Jennie. Two key elements for me: 1. Kids think of things we haven’t considered all the time. In Colin’s mind, having a sleepover with Gloria seemed like a normal thing to do. You were smart enough to run with the idea and enhanced it by adding the journal. I’ll never forget when a little guy in my class brought in some invitations for a sleepover and gave one to me too. I obviously didn’t go, although now that I think about it, it’s not that different from taking sixth graders on a campout which I did many times. 2. Another part of your delightful story is hearing that Colin and the two Sams are still buddies.

    • Jennie says:

      I thought you would really enjoy this, Pete. Thank you! She has a great backstory. Kids often think outside of the box; we just have to pay attention and give support. I literally wrote down Colin’s words as soon as we got back to the classroom, as they were remarkable, and just how a child would think. I love your story of getting invited to a sleepover! That speaks volumes for you. I didn’t realize that he was still friends with the two Sams until his mom told me.

  18. No one who has met her will ever forget Gloria.

  19. A Good Night Moon Rap and Gloria’s backstory… Basking in the beauty of it all! ❤

  20. I remember the Good Night Moon Rap–a big favorite! Thank you for providing Gloria’s backstory, particularly your reasoning for choosing her rather than a multicultural doll. I also appreciated Gloria’s “coming out of the picnic basket.” Nobody wants to be relegated to curriculum!

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad you liked the backstory and understood my reasoning for choosing Gloria. I saw her in a store and immediately knew she would work for my community. It was an ah-ha moment. Leave it to children to see things in a way that we all should; of course Gloria shouldn’t be in a picnic basket, she was real. 🙂 Doing the Goodnight Moon Rap was really fun!

  21. Elizabeth says:

    I have many Folkmanis puppets. As I write I am watched over by the protective eagle and the loving dog. I know that they are real, so I have no trouble identifying with the kids’ view of Gloria.

  22. This is a very nice story, Jennie. I had a rag doll who was my Gloria. Her name was Mary Lou. I would have dressed her up for Halloween too. I even sewed clothes for her – by hand in those days.

  23. It was good I mean really good and you’re making the childhood of those really memorable and beautiful..

  24. hailkunst says:

    This is such a sweet amazing writeup. It feels so mesmerising to know how much our teachers work for each thing presented in the class! I am in college right now and this post has moved me to get in touch with my school teachers! Thank you!

  25. dgkaye says:

    Jenny, I lovedddddddddddddddd your rap! ❤

  26. This is wonderful.
    Gee, maybe Gloria might want to sit up at a certain bar we both know and tell of some of her adventures…

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, D. Oh boy, Gloria has had more adventures than we have. And she’s the shy one. Somehow that makes everyone love her. She has even sparked a quilt that hangs at a national museum. Really. She can tell you many of her tales.

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