Memories of Mac

This Christmas card arrived from Mac and his family.  Oh, the memories and stories I have to tell.  He is quite ‘old’ in this photo, so I have to go back four years to tell you about Mac.

“Oh Jennie, how we miss you so!
We are forever grateful for the 2 years Mac had with you
that will serve him for a lifetime.

Lots of love.”

Mac wasn’t quite three years old when he started in my preschool class.  One of my first memories is when he discovered our Memory Garden at school.  He wanted to know about the stones and statues, and the departed classroom pets they represented.  He loved the planted American flags.  We had just had a Memorial Day remembrance at school.  It made an impression on him.  Mac often ‘visited’ the Memory Garden after that day.

November 9, 2017

Mac loved spending time looking at the picture books in the classroom.  His absolute favorite book was “Humphrey The Lost Whale.”  Every time I read this book to children, I think of Mac.  It’s a nice memory for me.

The book includes a map of the United States on the end papers.  This is where Mac started a lesson that exploded in the best of ways.

First we studied the map and traced Humphrey’s route from the ocean to the Sacramento River.  Next, we studied the small map, but it was too small to really see.  I got out our Big Book Atlas.  We found San Francisco and Humphrey’s locale.  We also found Massachusetts (we always relate geography to home), and then the questions started to flow.

“Why is Massachusetts so small?”  “How far away is Humphrey?”
Mac noticed Mount Rushmore on the Big Book Atlas.  “What’s that?”

I told them about carving the huge rock.  I told them about the four presidents.  I tried to explain how big Mount Rushmore really is.  “You would be much smaller than the nose.”

Blank stares.  I had to do more.  I grabbed the iPad and found a photo of a worker on the nose at Mount Rushmore.  That helped show Mac and the children about the size.  This was exciting!  Of course it had nothing to do with Humphrey, but that didn’t matter.  This is emergent curriculum, when a teachable moment presents itself, and that becomes the lesson.  This was a joyful one for everybody.  And yes, we finally read “Humphrey the Lost Whale.”  Mac took it home that weekend.

Mac loved Gloria

January 9, 2019

Mac’s dad was a high school English teacher, and was surprised that I read chapter books to the children at rest time.  We often had discussions about children and reading, even though the ages of the students we taught were far apart.  Interestingly, he reached out to me as to how to get his students to listen to books he read aloud, and of course to get them to read more.  Teacher to teacher.

“Turn out the lights.  Have them put their heads down on their desks and close their eyes”, I suggested.  “That’s what I do at chapter reading.”

He was stunned.  “Really?”

One of the first things children will often ask is, “Where are the pictures?”, and I tell them how to make the pictures in their head: the words go into your ears, then to your brain, and sometimes into your heart.  Then, you will see the pictures.”

We talked about this for a while.  He was excited, as if he had discovered something brand new.  Well, he had.  The following week he couldn’t wait to tell me how marvelous it now was to read aloud to his students.  I smiled.  He did, too.

Mac and his family moved away.  That summer Mac and his dad went camping up north.  They got supplies in a nearby town, including a trip to the local book store for Mac to pick out a book for his dad to read to him.  He selected “Charlotte’s Web”, which Mac loved and remembered from chapter reading in the classroom.  Dad was so happy, he sent me this photo:

July 24, 2019

A few years later – which is now – these memories are still with Mac and his family.  They’re still with me, too.  Thank you, Mac!


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 American flag, chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, geography, Gloria, Inspiration, literacy, picture books, preschool, reading, reading aloud, reading aloud and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

86 Responses to Memories of Mac

  1. Ritu says:

    When you can look back and see how you influenced these children in a positive way, irs magical!

  2. Darlene says:

    This post made my day. It just proves the importance of reading out loud and of a good teacher who cares and makes learning fun. That continues through life! Thanks for sharing this story about Mac.

  3. How lovely Jennie, your heart is so warm and toasty 😘

  4. I was so afraid there was bad news at the end of this post. I’m glad Mac and his family are still here and still growing from your influence.

    • Jennie says:

      When that Christmas card arrived last week, those wonderful memories came roaring back. No bad news, just a warm heart. I hope his parents read the post.

  5. beth says:

    one of the best things in the world about teaching and connecting!

  6. beetleypete says:

    I remember the photo in the tent, a lovely moment. You have laid such wonderful foundations for those children to build on, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  7. srbottch says:

    Lucky kid and lucky you, to have all those wonderful memories is a treasure.

  8. This is so uplifting and wonderful, Jennie. I hope he enjoys reading his whole life, and continues to send you updates from time to time.

  9. willedare says:

    Hurrah for “emergent curriculum, when a teachable moment presents itself, and…becomes the lesson.” I love how your teaching ripples in so many directions — to the children in your classes, to the families of the children in your classes, to us who read your blog posts, etc. etc. etc. May you have an inspirational, peaceful, sustainable, healthy, resilient 2022, Jennie!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, indeed! I love your word ‘ripples’. Thank you for that, Will. That’s exactly what happens. I feel inspired and lucky at that moment, like finding a golden key. And if it trickles down to others, then that’s as good as it gets. My very best to you, my friend.

  10. quiall says:

    What an incredible memory to have! You opened the door for him and he is still walking right through. What an incredible gift.

  11. Jim Borden says:

    what a wonderful story! it highlights one of the many benefits of being a teacher – those connections that are formed and that will last for years. I also loved the real-time learning that was taking place while reading about Humphrey – especially that picture from Mt. Rushmore!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Jim! Real-time learning is rarely planned, and when it happens, I take off like the wind. Mary will tell you it’s the best. Mount Rushmore will always be a great memory. Actually, it reminds me of my old posts, and I look forward to reading yours when you repost them.

  12. M’hmmm… you’re just an amazing person I’m get to meet as the year kicks off, a blessing to humanity.

  13. How lovely to hear from Mac’s family! I remembered him when I reached the final photo in the post.

  14. What a delightful post. Thank you for sharing Mac with all of us.

  15. A great memory of Mac, Jennie. Thanks, for sharing.

  16. Don Ostertag says:

    Sweet memory, Jennie. Not only did you influence Mac, you influenced another teacher.

  17. joylennick says:

    How lovely hearing about the memory of Mac’s awakening, Jennie. I’m sure it has happened countless times in your long career. I’m quite ancient and will ever especially love some words, their meanings and how they make one feel….I’m musing on ‘alchemist’ at present….A very Happy New Year to you. xx.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad this made you smile, Joy. While many memories like this have collected over the years (I’m ancient, too), they are always my brightest star. I know what you mean about loving words and how they make you feel. It’s what I want to read, and write about. Happy New Year to you!

  18. Carla says:

    What a wonderful post, Jennie. I am smiling thinking about Mac and his love for books that you cultivated. Fantastic Memories.

  19. Making memories! Oh, for the love of children and books and teachers and parents… the list goes on an on! Thanks for sharing, Jennie!

  20. Ellen says:

    Another of your heart touching shared memories! “Memories are simply moments that refuse to be ordinary.” – Diane Keaton, 2011 memoir “Then Again”. Thank-you!

  21. prather742 says:

    Thank you! I love this so much and since I recently learned I’m going to become a Grandma, I can’t wait to have story and read aloud times once again!!

  22. Linda Kosinski says:

    Nice memories Jennie!  Love the camping photo.  Always so interesting to see how we influence families and their child rearing!! Sent from Mail for Windows From: A Teacher’s ReflectionsSent: Sunday, January 2, 2022 6:01 AMTo: lkosinski@grotoncommunityschool.orgSubject: [New post] Memories of Mac Jennie posted: "This Christmas card arrived from Mac and his family.  Oh, the memories and stories I have to tell.  He is quite ‘old’ in this photo, so I have to go back four years to tell you about Mac. "Oh Jennie, how we miss you so! We are forever grateful for t"

  23. This is magical, Jennie!

  24. barbtaub says:

    Another of your students—the luckiest kids in the world!

  25. bosssybabe says:

    What a wonderful dedication to a memorable student! Students are often the ones reminiscing about their favourite teachers but it’s lovely to see you remember one of your students so fondly! Touching! I love that .. close your eyes and lay your head down. That’s a great tip for young kids!

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Jen! I think the students are what makes teaching such a joy. I remember many! One more story coming tomorrow. The ‘close your eyes and head down’ thing really works to cement language and imagination. I often tell parents that bedtime stories don’t have to end once a child can read. That’s the best time to start reading chapter books!!

  26. Dan Antion says:

    I always love when you get to see the lasting influence you’ve had on children.

  27. dgkaye says:

    That’s all you Jennie and the imprint you leave in children’s hearts and minds. ❤

  28. Elizabeth says:

    The last page of this past Sunday’s New York Times book review section has a priceless graphic story of a man reading “Charlotte’s Web” to this very elderly mother as she nears death. You must find it if you haven’t already.

  29. petespringerauthor says:

    I put this in my folder to respond to when I had the opportunity. Of course, I loved Mac’s story (We never forget those students) and your memories of him. Seeing him listening to his dad read Charlotte’s Web brought back many memories of when I did that with my son. I read to him every night until he was through 6th grade. Even though he was an excellent reader by then, this was our special time together. It does my heart good to see him still reading whenever he comes home. I don’t think I mentioned it to you yet, but he got engaged over Thanksgiving. We’re going to have a daughter-in-law! (not until June of 2023). Woo hoo! (hopefully, a grandchild or two!)

    We live about five hours north of San Francisco Bay, so Humphrey was a celebrity around these parts. We’ve had a few incidents of whales swimming from bays upriver. Here was a story from 2011 about a gray whale who got himself stuck in Klamath, CA (an hour north of where we live.) We didn’t know anything about this and we’re driving along the highway and suddenly saw hundreds of people lined up on a bridge looking down at the river below. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same happy ending.

    • Jennie says:

      Hi Pete! The whale in the Klamath River sounds much the same as Humphrey’s story, except she died. When I read this book at school, the geography piece is huge, but also it is a fact book. I can teach about non-fiction stories. I love this book.

      You often talk about reading to Ryan long past the time he was able to read on his own. Can I clone you as a father to all children? Seriously, the reading piece is huge. Did you know that fiction books are most important to read? I think they cement kindness and morality.

      Congratulations in the engagement!! How exciting! When their first baby is due, may I have the pleasure of sending the first gift? It it will be Goodnight Moon and The Read-Aloud Handbook.

      Thank you, Pete. I’m so glad you enjoyed this story.

  30. CarolCooks2 says:

    This is so lovely I needed a tissue xx

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