We’re Still Pen-Pals

Last summer a child who had moved on from my class was missing me.  His mom emailed:

He said, “Mumma, I miss Jennie.”  I said, “I’m sure you do.  What is it you miss about her? ” He said, “I love to play with her.  I miss that.”

That was a lightbulb moment for me to write a letter and become pen-pals.  We have written back and forth a few times.  It is always a thrill.  Always.

Over Christmas break he went to the Science Museum in Boston and…. there was Spot, the Boston Dynamics robot.  He was so excited!  What a surprise.

Last year we learned about their robots, thanks to their YouTube video.

We even Zoomed with their engineers, and Spot became everyone’s best buddy.

It was now my turn to write a pen-pal letter.  It’s the dark ages in New England, and cold, and hard to find things to talk about.  Still, I needed to write to my pen-pal.  We both needed sunshine and smiles.

My card to my pen pal.

Hi Pen Pal!

I saw this card and it reminded me of your big, happy smile.  Do you know that a smile can change the world?  It always makes others feel better.  I know that when you smile at me, I feel warm and happy inside.

Happy fifth birthday (a little late.)  Doesn’t it feel great to be five years old?  Was the trip to the Science Museum a treat for your birthday?

I can’t believe you saw Spot the robot dog- how exciting!  Did you jump up and down?  I bet you gave the biggest smile, ever!

Your friend and pen-pal,


It’s the little things that are really the big things.  A smile certainly is.  So is a letter to a pen-pal.  You never know the difference it might make for someone else.  That smile across the classroom to a child at rest time years ago changed my teaching; pay attention to children first.  They matter more than the curriculum.  What follows is the best learning, and a close bond with children.

I’m so glad to be a teacher.


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 Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Teaching young children, wonder and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to We’re Still Pen-Pals

  1. beth says:

    a letter is a very powerful thing – wonderful!

  2. You are so lovley to your children Jenny. x

  3. This brought a smile. 😀

  4. It’s a so effervescently beautiful composed letter of 21st-century world endeavors.

    Heartiest thanks for your valuable sharing. Have a blissful time ahead with divine graces.

    Thanks, Regards

  5. So kind yet so ordinary. He will treasure thar sunflower card!

  6. VJ says:

    Love this Jennie. The rewards of teaching often come unexpectedly.

  7. Don Ostertag says:

    The card is perfect for your sweet note to your new pen pal, who misses you.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Just in case you don’ t know about him, this morning I ran across the Dutch artist Theo Jansen. His walking creations would tickle your kids no end. I love your love of things robotic.

  9. Darlene says:

    Every kid should have a pen pal! What a great idea.

  10. you are like Johnny Apple seed sowing riches into the minds of many children Jennie

  11. beetleypete says:

    As a child, receiving a letter was my greatest thrill. You made me remember the joy, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      It was my greatest thrill, too. Perhaps that’s part of why I want my students to write letters. Even if they can’t write the words, they can still draw the pictures and experience the same thrill we did. I’m glad you remembered the joy. Best to you, Pete.

  12. I’m so glad you are a teacher too. Your kids have the best there is.

  13. I bet he’s going to treasure that letter. I’m glad you’re a teacher too!

  14. Dan Antion says:

    You are the best teacher ever, Jennie!

  15. I miss those days of writing letters. Beautiful and heart warming post Jennie ❤️

  16. Ritu says:

    This is so lovely!

  17. willowdot21 says:

    I really think this is a wonderful testimonial to what a wonderful teacher you are , the fact that your expupils still want to keep in tuchs amazing! 💜💜

  18. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Just wow. That is all I can say. You are such an incredible person, Jennie!! xoxo

  19. quiall says:

    I’ve always said that the best way to change a cloudy day into a sunny one is to smile. Even over a great distances, it still works.

  20. petespringerauthor says:

    I used to love the whole pen pal idea too. It was the way I finished the school year. I gave out my address, hoping to hear from some of my students during the summer. Sure enough, I’d get a couple of letters most summers, which I promptly answered just like you. The letters have mostly stopped, but I have run into former students who’ve told me, “I remember when you wrote me a letter.” I know I’m preaching to the choir about this, but what child will not love receiving a letter from a special teacher? Way to go, Jennie!

    • Jennie says:

      I remember you telling me about writing a letter to your students at the end of the school year. This really stuck with me. I think every teacher from 2nd grade forward should do this. You left a memory with your students. I never expected that I would have a student pen pal at such a young age, but when they ask questions and miss you, things fall into place. I’m glad! Yes, every child would love receiving a letter from a special teacher!
      My class pen pals from last year are on again (Ritu and Beth.) I thought sending them valentines would be a great way to reconnect. Today we started, and it was a flurry of excitement! Stay tuned. Thank you, Pete!

  21. CarolCooks2 says:

    I have always been a letter writer and even in today’s world of texts and emails a card or a letter always brings me such joy…A lovely gesture but I didn’t expect any less from you Jennie 🙂 x

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Carol. A letter is the ‘real deal’ unlike an email or a text. There is something very special about that ‘hard copy’ with treasured words. I still write letters, even handwritten Christmas cards. Stay tuned, as our preschool pen pals from last year (Ritu and Beth) are ramping up again. Thank you for your kind words, Carol.

  22. Equipping says:

    A very good article; thanks for sharing it.

  23. Norah says:

    This is lovely, Jennie. The card is full of brightness and smiles. I’m sure it made a little boy very happy.
    I’m glad you’re a teacher too.

  24. Jennie, another example that smiles…pen-pals…and great teachers (!) are all powerful outlets in expressing kindness, thoughtfulness, and friendship.

  25. Imane says:

    This was a delight to read! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jennie ❤ Aside from being a great memory as a teacher to your student, you’re also sharing with him the joy of writing letters! Keep going.

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, the joy of the written word. A letter is something you can touch and feel. It’s ‘real’, unlike an email or a text. Thank you for your kind words.

  26. The Hook says:

    The world is a better place with you as a teacher, Jennie.
    Thank you.

  27. Idrees Farooq says:

    What a heartwarming story! It’s amazing how a simple act of kindness can make such a big impact in someone’s life. The pen-pal relationship you have formed with this child is truly special and will surely bring both of you joy and memories to cherish for years to come. And who would have thought that your bond would cross paths with a robot at a museum! It just goes to show how the world is full of unexpected surprises and connections. Well done on making such a positive impact on this child’s life. ❤️

  28. It sounds wonderful. Beside our modern ways of communication a letter can say so much more. Congratulations, Jennie! Enjoy a beautiful weekend! P.S.: Have a look for balloons in the sky. 😉 xx Michael

  29. Hi Jennie, how wonderful that this student of yours has kept in touch as a pen pal. What a terrific idea.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Robbie. It started last summer when he told his mother he was missing me, and my first thought was to become pen pals. I’m glad we are still in touch, and I hope it continues. Pete Springer would write a letter to his students at the end of the school year and encourage them to write back. Isn’t that wonderful? In today’s world, letter writing with a child gives them hope, security, and friendship.

  30. Ana Daksina says:

    If you wish to, type into my site’s search bar, “The Value of a Smile.” I think you will enjoy this poem.

    Smiling is so powerful that it is too often considered appeasing or dangerous among us (and why not? Among us, way too often, it is motivated by very other things than happiness or pleasure or openheartedness). In very repressive regimes, it becomes a crime to smile ~ written of in another poem you can find there, entitled “Dangerous Smile.”

    Wonderful post! Wonderful teacher ~ with whom work is remembered by the student as play. You show us how it’s done, sister 👍👏👏

  31. Jim Borden says:

    what a wonderful pen pal to have!

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