Smorgasbord Reblog – #Pre-School Nature is the Greatest Teacher for Children by Jennie Fitzkee

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Jennie Fitzkeeis back at school and shares how valuable it is for children to spend time outside exploring nature and discovering new things for themselves.. Head over to the post to read the newsletter that Jennie sends to the parents including some great photos of children learning by experiencing.

Nature is the Greatest Teacher for Children by Jennie Fitzkee

Covid-19 has actually made teachers rethink how to best teach young children. At school, we decided that spending more time outside is better for children. We teachers all know the benefits of nature, yet the demands of what children need to learn, including providing opportunities for technology, have pushed nature aside over the years.

Not this year!

At last we are back to basics, the root of investigating and discovery. Thank goodness.

The erosion of outdoor play in schools, and also art and music, has been a thorn in my…

View original post 336 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments



“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence”. —Denis Waitley

Teesdale, UK 2012

A person’s a person, no matter how small”.Dr. Seuss

Ryhope Water Pump, 2012

Never have more children than you have car windows. — Erma Bombeck

Staithes, UK 2013

You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going. P. J. O’Rourke

Folkestone, UK, 2014

Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance. Joseph Chilton Pearce

Cal & new friend, Washington Wildfowl trust,UK 2015

You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope. Like the future in a basket”.Lish McBride

Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK 2016

A child educated only at school is an uneducated…

View original post 152 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Comments

The Student’s Letter…and More

Roshan visiting four years ago.

I am always surprised when I hear from a former student.  This letter from Roshan made my day:

Dear Ms. Jennie,

How are you doing? This is Roshan. I am currently in 12th grade this year – school starts next week and I’ve opted to go in person, so I’m excited to see what school will be like. This school year I’m also looking to do my Eagle Scout project this year. For my project I am hoping to lead a team of scouts to interview 10-15 veterans in Groton and submit the interviews to the Library of Congress in order to preserve their stories. The Library of Congress has a project called the Veterans’ History Project which I’m hoping these interviews can be a part of. Do you know any veterans in Groton who may be interested in taking part? I am still in the planning stages of my project and I’m trying to come up with a socially-distanced way for interviewing, but I’m hoping to start sometime this fall. Please let me know what you think.

Thank you,

You could have blown me over with a feather.  Veteran’s interviews to be preserved at the Library of Congress?  How noble.

When Roshan was a preschooler in my class, I thought he might become an artist,  He had the hands.  He had the mind.  The private school he now attends is outstanding.  He also had the interest.  Picasso’s painting, Three Musicians, is a case in point.

Every spring we learn about art and the old masters, in earnest.  This is exciting for children, who are natural artists.  Picasso said, “It took me a lifetime to paint like a child.”  This is also the first step in preparation for our annual art show for the community.

Roshan was especially taken with Three Musicians.  The geometric shapes connected with him, and he began to create a horse (I remember it was yellow) that resembled Picasso’s masterpiece.  It was incredible!  I told his parents and encouraged them to have the painting framed- which they did.

I should have known.  Art is math.  Roshan is currently ‘Mr. Math’ at school.  Now I understand how the early years, rich in art, were a foundation for his strong math skills.

Years later I was invited to Roshan’s house for dinner, along with two other teachers.  It was a lovely meal of authentic Indian cuisine.  After dinner, Roshan wanted to play the piano for everyone.  He played “Tarantella” by Albert Pieczonka.  Seriously.  We were all thunderstruck.

Again, I should have known.  Music, like art, is grounded in math.

I replied to Roshan’s letter:

Hi Roshan!

It is so good to hear from you.  You are doing a fine thing for your Eagle Scout project. Thank you! Those stories need to be recorded and remembered.  Whether it is a heroic action, or an everyday story – they are all important.

Let me give you an example: I talked to Bonnie at the front desk, as her fellow was in the Air Force.  He was only in for a year, so she didn’t that was important.  But, he was in Vietnam repairing aircraft.

I am working on a list for you.  Roshan, thank you again for doing this.  I’m sure you have contacted the local VFW.  I will get names to you.  I’m very proud of you!

Thank you,

And, Roshan replied to me:

Hi Jennie,

Thank you so much for your response! I totally agree that both the heroic actions and everyday stories are important, and I hope to capture a wide range of experiences through all the interviews; it would be so cool to interview Bonnie’s fellow!  If there are any other people you know who may be interested, it would be great if you could give me their contact info.

Thank you so much for your support.  Best wishes,

Our correspondence continues.  I will be invited to attend his Eagle Scout ceremony.  I can only imagine the wonderful road of life ahead for Roshan.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go” -Dr. Seuss- 


Posted in America, art, Early Education, Giving thanks, history, Inspiration, Math, military, music, patriotism, preschool, Quotes, Student alumni, The Arts | Tagged , , , , , , | 66 Comments

Today’s Quote

Soul Gatherings

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Nature is the Greatest Teacher for Children

Covid-19 has actually made teachers rethink how to best teach young children.  At school, we decided that spending more time outside is better for children.  We teachers all know the benefits of nature, yet the demands of what children need to learn, including providing opportunities for technology, have pushed nature aside over the years.

Not this year!

At last we are back to basics, the root of investigating and discovery. Thank goodness.

The erosion of outdoor play in schools, and also art and music, has been a thorn in my side for decades.  Parents want their child to succeed, and they think computer programs and phonics are the way to go.  They want school to have straight instruction.  The problem is, children need to figure things out on their own, and that happens with teacher and parent support, not direction.

Public schools answer to parents.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could educate parents?  Schools might look different.  I figured this out decades ago.  If I educate parents, I am helping the child, too.  Parents are always hungry to learn, and isn’t it better to learn straight from the teacher?  Makes perfect sense to me.

That is why I write newsletters to families.  They soak up everything, because they care about their child and they truly want to learn.

Back to the topic of nature… here is the newsletter I sent to families. I will be able to build upon this and explain in detail how math and science and writing and stories ‘happen’.

Hi Families,

Nature is truly a great teacher.  We have been including more outdoor activities in our day, and your children are learning and having fun.

Our play packs are perfect to bring along.  The tools inside include binoculars, magnifying glasses, crayons, and a clipboard for drawing and recording our finds.

Our short walk to the Woodland Grove was an opportunity to use our tools.  There are shapes of different colors mounted onto trees.  We had to look hard to find them.

Of course there were other things along the way to discover, such as leaves, bird feathers, and interesting rocks.  We will continue to visit and explore the Woodland Grove.

We have a StoryWalk close to the playground.  There are twelve poster-size yard signs, each depicting a page in the book “How Do You Wokka-Wokka?” and challenging children to move in different ways.  Can you stand on one foot while raising your opposite hand?  Can you dance?  The book inspires movement, and is perfect for a StoryWalk.

As the school year progresses, the StoryWalk will change periodically.

Stay tuned as we continue to learn from the great outdoors.


Posted in Early Education, Inspiration, Nature, preschool, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , | 86 Comments

The Crossing Guard Chronicles: ‘Change Is The Only Constant’ *

When I first ‘met’ Steve, he wrote about his school crossing guard mornings, asking children questions at his corner, “Who is Pavarotti?” Really? I was floored. This was the kind of teaching I had always known to be the best – inspiring, fun, and stimulating.

Every morning at his corner he was ready with a new question. “What is the formula for converting Fahrenheit to Celcius?” “Why did Frosty the Snowman tell the kids not to cry?” His relationship with children became strong. His crossing corner became the Curbside Classroom.

If you want a big dose of inspiration, I recommend Steve’s blog posts as some of the best reads. There are plenty of great stories! He is retiring, as change is inevitable. He will be on the substitute list, so we may occasionally hear more from the Curbside Classroom.

With thanks for being one of the best teachers, inspiring children and fellow teachers alike. -Jennie-


* The credit for this quote goes to a Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who lived around 500 BC. He believed that permanence does not exist, everything is in a state of ‘change’.

Heraclitus was right, I believe. ‘Change’ is a force that moves us to modify our behavior, to adapt. We really have no choice.

The novel Covid-19 is an example of ‘change’ and how we have adapted to new circumstances with new patterns of behavior: the wearing of masks, social distancing, acquiring enough toilet paper for a family of 7 when there are only 2 of us, hoarding.

Schools are adapting to stay on mission, educating our youth, with different methods of teaching: in person, on-line, or a combination of both, a hybrid. The objective is the same but the delivery is different. Educators have a history of adapting, changing to the circumstances, and that’s a good thing.

Heraclitus and…

View original post 135 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – Share your Children’s book reviews – #PictureBooks with Jennie Fitzkee

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new series where you can share your reviews for any children’s books you have read recently and posted on your blog, Amazon, Goodreads or any other online bookstore. If you would like more details here is the post that explains how it works: Showcasing Children’s books

Recently Jennie Fitzkee shared part one of her recommended books from the summer and I am sharing some of the books that she featured along with her reviews.  The mother lode of great children’s books and I will share more over coming weeks.


My Summer of Books Part 1 by Jennie Fitzkee

My summer has been filled with reading children’s books, from new picture books to books for older children, and classics. Every one has been satisfying and thrilling, yet in different ways. Some books are funny, some are filled with history, some teach important lessons in a subtle way…

View original post 616 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Books, Reading, and Puzzles

I can’t say enough to the families of the children I teach, about books and reading. The more they know and understand, the better it is for their child. This is a newsletter I sent to families yesterday:

Hi Families,

Every year it seems that our bookshelf is a popular and constant draw for children.  That’s wonderful, and this year is no exception.  Books are more than a teacher reading at storytime.  They are there for children to look at and access anytime.  The feel of turning the pages, looking at words in print, and the illustrations, are a step to reading readiness. Children become comfortable with books.  As they are learning to read, picture books become ‘a natural’ for them. Our wonderful bookshelf changes frequently.  As you can see, there is a collection of fiction, fact, old, new, classics, and favorites.  We’re picky about good books!

Did you know that puzzles are also a step in reading readiness?  Finding the knobs that connect to the holes is much like identifying a ‘b’ or a ‘d’.  We have puzzles out most every day for children.

Another important part of reading readiness is hearing the words.  Rhyming words are popular.  Following a story without pictures is something we do in the Aqua Room. Children have to concentrate and make the pictures in their head.  This is chapter reading. Every day at rest time we chapter read.  We have just started “Charlotte’s Web” – children love it!  They are listening, getting a huge dose of language and new words, and making their own mental pictures.  Stay tuned, as we read many chapter books throughout the year.

As the school year goes along, I will read aloud with passion every day, from picture books to chapter reading.  Some books will be planned, others may be totally spontaneous.  That’s the wonder and beauty of teaching.  I call it ‘seizing the moment’.


Posted in books, chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, Inspiration, picture books, reading, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , | 68 Comments

Happy National Read a Book Day!

Today I begin the wonderful journey of reading aloud “Charlotte’s Web” to my class. These quotations bring to life the passion and importance and learning that happens when reading books.

By Hook Or By Book







View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Small Town America – Labor Day

This is my town.
Small town America.
Flags fly on Labor Day.

This Labor Day is so important
to thank all those who have labored for us,
especially firefighters, first responders, police officers,
military, teachers, doctors and nurses.

I cannot imagine 2020 without their help and bravery.
Thank You!


Posted in America, American flag, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Kindness | Tagged , , , | 49 Comments