Quotations on Books

These are three of the best quotations on books; powerful words, a quiver of arrows to the mind and heart. Thank you Dr. Charles French.

charles french words reading and writing

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“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

                                                                Marcus Tullius Cicero

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“Books are the mirrors of the soul.”

                                                                Virginia Woolf

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“I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”

                                                                J. K. Rowling

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A Joy Story!

Got four minutes?  Want to see one of the greatest clips of real joy?  I mean real.  Grab a seat.  En-joy!

Thank you to Inga, my fellow teacher.  She is a magician because she finds these things that are the most important, including the best children’s books.

Jennie

Posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , | 42 Comments

A Memorial Day Remembrance

We have a Memory Garden at school on the playground, and it is oh so lovely. Children often stop to look, or just “be”.  Somehow they understand that it is a special place. Classroom pets who have died are buried with markers. Children who are now in heaven have a special statue or stone so they can be remembered.  The Memory Garden was the venue for our Memorial Day Remembrance.

It came to life with the planting of American flags, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sergeant Curran, our pen-pal from Afghanistan, is back home- he was the proud guest of honor.  All the children and staff were there, along with a host of parents and guests.

We opened with The Pledge of Allegiance.  My class was honored to hold the big American flag and sing “God Bless America” as we wore our flag hats.  I doubt many children have witnessed a service member saluting the flag. Sergeant Curran did, with a demeanor that gave me and others a lump in the throat.

Seargent Curran spoke to the crowd.  He told the story of the white star:

“When I was in Afghanistan I carried a white star in my pocket, right here (patting the uniform pocket over his heart).  The star is just like the ones on the flag you’re holding.  Do you know the blue box in the post office for people to donate old flags?  There is a group who takes those flags and cuts out the stars. They send those stars to our military who are stationed overseas.

I always carried my star.  It reminded me of home. It reminded me of why I serve.  It made me feel proud to be an American.”

Each class led the crowd in singing a patriot song.  We sang, “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Red, White, and Blue”.  Then, the Yellow Room children sang “God Bless the USA”. When they sang the line, “And I gladly stand up, next to you…” every child pointed both fingers with outstretched arms directly at Sergeant Curren, when they said the word YOU. That line is part of the chorus, and the chorus is repeated many times in the song.  That means the YOU finger pointing thankfully happened many times.  Not many dry eyes.

Next, a child from each class helped Sergeant Curran to plant an American flag in the Memory Garden, and he planted one on his own.  Who knew that nearly a hundred children could be so quiet.  They understood with respect and responded with solemn faces.

Finally, Sergeant Curran shook hands with each and every child.  What a treat for the children!  Here is a partial clip of that:

The Remembrance was over, yet what happened after all the thank yous and goodbyes was perhaps the highlight of the day.  A little boy, Jared, and his mother came to personally thank Sergeant Curran.    Low and behold, the sergeant reached into his pocket and presented Jared with a patch.  He didn’t realize how important that patch would be to Jared until he heard the mother’s story:

“Jared has one other patch which he treasures.  You see, last year he had a very difficult time at school.  I finally had to pull him out and home school him.  Whenever he had a bad day, he would go and get his patch.  That was what helped him get through the tough times.  And now, you are giving him a patch.  I can’t begin to tell you how much this means.  Thank you!”

The tears flowed.  Jared just beamed.  Then, we all had snack together.

Thank you, Sergeant Curran.  Thank you for today, and thank you for your service.  Never forget.  You make me proud.

Jennie

Posted in American flag, Early Education, Giving, Kindness, military, patriotism, Peace, Singing, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , | 72 Comments

Get Caught Reading

Get caught reading!

Jennie

Posted in books, children's books, Early Education, picture books, reading, young children | Tagged , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Guest Readers

 Guest Readers.

Superheroes.

They remember books, stories, and chapter reading in my classroom.

Children return.

Every year.

They love to read.

Thank you, Emma and Liam.

“The more that you read the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  –Dr. Seuss

Jennie

Posted in books, children's books, Early Education, Giving, picture books, reading aloud, reading aloud, Student alumni, young children | Tagged , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Teaching Patriotism and Singing Books, Part II

This repost is far too important, and the perfect Part II to the patriotic books I read and sing in my classroom.   Here is a close-up of  “the best of the best.”

Every year I make our country’s National Anthem ‘come alive’ for my preschoolers.  This is a hard song to sing, especially for children.  They know the tune, and thanks to baseball on television and sporting events, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is familiar.  Yet, there is so much more they need to know, never mind singing the song.  Way back when, I bought Peter Spier’s book, The Star-Spangled Banner.  This started my quest, and gave me the perfect tool to teach, inspire, and instill pride.

I remember the day I learned that America did not have an official National Anthem until the 1930’s.  What!  How could that be?  I called my Mother and she confirmed this upsetting news.

What did you sing when you were a little girl?

We sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

Really?  While this didn’t bother my Mother, it fueled me.  It was the “GO” button, and I pushed it.

I had Peter Spier’s book, The Star-Spangled Banner.  Every page is a full color illustration of each sentence in the song.  When I would read the book to children, instead of reading the words I sang the words.  The words were the song itself, so singing them helped children link a familiar tune to what those words really meant.  Every page became a lesson in history, and a barrage of questions.

We stopped to talk about costumes, the sails of the ship, the rocket’s red glare.

We found the American flag on every page.  We learned that the rockets and bombs illuminated the flag.  This is where I always stop singing and tell the story of Francis Scott Key as he wrote the song.

“He was trapped on a ship in the middle of this battle.  He watched everything that happened.  The only way to know who was winning was to see the flag that was flying.  And at night, it was the rockets and bombs that gave the light to see which flag was flying.”

Oh, now they get it!  They understand.  The illustrations are crystal clear and make perfect sense.  More importantly, they understand the words to the song, our country’s National Anthem.  Children know far more about this song than I knew as a child.  I dearly wish I’d had a visual to help me understand.

Pictures bring words to life.  Like a ‘towering steep’.

The book gets better, and so do the opportunities for learning.  There is more than one verse!  I sing those words as loud and proud as I do the first verse.  Again, every illustration gives pause for talking and learning.  Sometimes it is sad, and that is important to talk about.  Oh, we talk about soldiers and dying, and freedom and liberty, and why.  It always feels warm and understanding.

The cemetery in Normandy, France.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  When that happens with our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the world of understanding opens and the song comes alive.

Every year my class is filled with new children, and every year it is the same- children embrace the pictures and the words.  They have so many questions.  We sing our hearts out.  Every year.

Jennie

Posted in American flag, Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, history, military, patriotism, picture books, Singing, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Teaching Patriotism Begins With Singing

Today is Armed Forces Day.

Teaching patriotism is something I do in my classroom, and I do it frequently. It is rarely a planned activity; it just happens.  Much like teaching kindness or giving, or even bravery, the learning comes from doing.  And the way we learn about patriotism often begins with singing, especially if the song is also a book.

Yes, I sing books.  It’s the best way to learn a song because there are pictures to the words. Pictures cement the meaning to the song, and children understand.  And, they sing with pride.  When I play the Autoharp to sing a patriotic song and have a fellow teacher (and Gloria) sing-along, children stand and place their hands on their hearts.  They love singing, and naturally gravitate to what a song feels like.  Children are far more tuned-in to feelings than adults.

We sing “God Bless America”, “This Land is Your Land”, “Red White and Blue”, and “The Star-Spangled Banner”, while we read the books.  Children belt out the words.  They stand tall with hands on their hearts because they are filled with pride.

Is there a part of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that gives you a lump in your throat?  When I sing, “…gave proof through the night”, that does it for me.  We all hold dear parts of songs that empower us.  Patriotic songs seem to do that ten-fold.

Irving Berlin did not particularly like our National Anthem, and he wrote “God Bless America”.  Woody Guthrie did not like “God Bless America”, and he wrote “This Land is Your Land”.  Isn’t that interesting? I told this to the children.  We took a tally vote of our favorite song, yet there was no clear winner.

When my son was eight, I bought him the book The Star-Spangled Banner by Peter Spier.  Suddenly all the words to a song that he loved came to life.  Every time I read this book, something remarkable happens, because this book has full page illustrations that tell the story.  It is history for young children.  This is part of what I wrote to families a few years ago when children wanted to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner”:

“It was one of the most exciting, intense, and passionate twenty minutes with children that a teacher can have.

Troy wanted to have a ‘show’, so he and Jill and Sam went to the top of the loft.  No, they did not want to sing “Proud To Be An American.”  They wanted to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner”.  Of course it was wonderful and we all clapped.  Then I said, “Do you want to know what the song looks like and what really happened?”  I ran to get Peter Spier’s The Star-Spangled Banner, but before I opened the book I said, “The guy who wrote this song was on a British ship, watching the battle.  He couldn’t get off the ship and it was night time.  The only way he knew if we were winning was if he saw the American flag.”

Suddenly I had every child pushing and eager to see the pictures and hear the whole story.  Oh, we went through the entire book.  It was perhaps the best lesson in history and patriotism for children.

We learned how to properly shake hands, and how to say “Thank you” to a member of our armed forces.  Thank goodness for patriotic songs that help children feel pride in America.  At the end of the day, long after we had been singing our hearts out, Kate kept singing while she was drawing.  Over and over she sang, “God bless America, land that I love.”  Just those words. The children standing nearby hummed and sang a few words along with her.  The more Kate sang, the more it felt like hearing the words to Goodnight Moon, a beloved story that I read-aloud every day: safe, loved, and strong.

Jennie

Posted in American flag, children's books, Early Education, Giving thanks, history, military, music, patriotism, picture books, Singing, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 62 Comments