When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 6

In Part 5, children were connecting words to other stories.  Their language and critical, divergent thinking was expanding.  I told another Jennie Story that had plenty of excitement, “The Spider Story.”

Part 6
Turning off the lights when telling a story is an attention grabber.  When that story is about Halloween, all the better.  This story also has a lesson, adding to the importance of storytelling.

The Halloween Story

It happened like this.”  When I was a little girl, children went trick-or-treating all by themselves.  There were no parents trick-or-treating.  We were…alone.  I’ll never forget the Halloween when I was eight and my sister was six.  We were so excited!  I dressed up as Raggedy Ann and my sister dressed up as a scarecrow.  We had our bags ready to collect candy.  Then my Mother said, “Jennie, don’t forget to go trick-or-treating at Mrs. Crotty’s.”

Mrs. Crotty!  She was old and mean.  She never smiled.  Her house was always dark.  Even the bricks on her house were dark.  And, the bushes and trees were enormous and grew all over.  I never saw a light in her house.  It smelled old and funny.  She did, too.  I did not want to go trick-or-treating at Mrs. Crotty’s.

I didn’t say anything and my sister and I headed off all over the neighborhood.  We had so much fun and stayed out until it was very dark.  When we got home we spread our candy out.  I gave my sister the Tootsie Roll Pops and she gave me the Reese’s peanut butter cups.  We were having a great time.  Then my Mother said, “Jennie, did you go trick-or-treating at Mrs. Crotty’s house?”  I looked down and didn’t say anything.  She said, “Take your sister and go, now.”

This was bad.  I was scared.

I took my sister’s hand and we walked to the house.  By now, trick-or-treat was over, and there were no lights on at any house.  The whole neighborhood was pitch black.  Of course Mrs. Crotty’s house was the scariest of all.  We walked up to her dark porch.  It was the longest walk, ever.  I was squeezing my sister’s hand so hard.  I was sure my heart pounding was visible.

“Sarah, you knock on the door.”

“No!  Mother told you do it.”

So, I swallowed hard, held my breath, and knocked on the door with my heart pounding.  Then, there was a creak of the door.  Just as we were ready to run away the lights came on, and Mrs. Crotty was there.  She was smiling!  She said, “Hi Jennie and Sarah.  Wait right there.  I have something for you.”  She went to the kitchen and brought back each of us a huge popcorn ball, warm and covered with caramel and butter.  She wasn’t even scary!”

And the moral of this story for children?  Face your fears.  You can be brave.  Scary things might not be so scary after all.  The lessons learned here are not direct.  There are no words in the story that say, “Be brave.”  I call this the indirect approach, which is far more powerful.  Children have to reason and come to that conclusion on their own.  I think that in itself is why the story is a popular one, packed into Halloween.


Stay tuned for Part 7.  It’s not for the shy and the weak.

Posted in behavior, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Halloween, Imagination, preschool, storytelling, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 73 Comments

Today’s Quote

Soul Gatherings

When we love a person,
we accept him or her exactly as is:
the lovely with the unlovely,
the strong with the fearful,
the true mixed in with the facade.
And of course, the only way we can do it
is by accepting ourselves that way.

~ Mr. Rogers ~

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Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Bridges, Old and New, Returning Home

Every bridge along the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut is 1930’s Art Deco.  Each bridge is different, and a piece of art.  I had my iPhone on the dashboard of the car, hoping to capture some beauties.

Winged Victory is a popular favorite.

This is my personal favorite for the pure art.  Scroll in.  Big wow!

The bridge’s end columns are magnificent.

Art Deco at it’s best.

The trip had many other bridges.  All were very different.  Each was beautiful in their own way.  I couldn’t help but think about the commonalities with people.  We are all different and beautiful in our own way.

The Delaware Memorial Bridge is tall and majestic.

This bridge in Annapolis, Maryland is so pretty.

A golden wonder across the Delaware canal.

The best part of our journey was bridging the years with dear friends, hubby’s Commanding Officer in the Navy back in the 70’s and his wonderful wife.  They came to our wedding in 1976.  We keep in touch.

Long live bridges.


Posted in Diversity, geography, history, Inspiration, The Arts, wonder | Tagged , , , , , | 51 Comments

Charlotte’s Web – Another Story

Mac was in my preschool class for the past two years.  He always loved chapter reading and was a vessel full of questions.  Does chapter reading work with the youngest of children?  Can a four-year-old grasp the content?  Do they have the capacity to understand and feel the emotion in good books?


I begin chapter reading on ‘day one’ of school, and I begin with Charlotte’s Web.  We jump in with both feet.  By the time we get to the end of the book it is mid to late October. Children and teachers have bonded, the routine is comfortable, and chapter reading is popular.  When Charlotte dies, children cry.  I cry.  When Charlotte’s babies are born, we are elated – together.  The roller coaster of emotions help children to become kind and understanding.

I am not only growing readers, I am sowing the seeds of goodness.

It comes as no surprise that Charlotte’s Web is often the children’s favorite chapter reading book. Nothing says it better than an email and photo from Mac’s parents:



We have been thinking of you and the GCS family all summer. After a few weeks in Texas, we are now in Vermont enjoying the cool nights.

To celebrate our annual backyard camping night, Mac was delighted to select his own copy of Charlotte’s Web from the bookstore near here. And he and Colin read many chapters in the tent underneath the stars until Mac couldn’t keep his eyes open.

We miss you!
Love from the Igoes

I will always champion for reading aloud.  -Jennie-

Posted in Book Review, books, chapter reading, children's books, Death and dying, E.B. White, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Kindness, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , | 55 Comments

When Teachers Tell Their Stories – Part 5

In Part 4, I talked about adventure stories.  A cliffhanger ending holds  the attention in children, and that means more language and words are pouring into their minds.  Teacher bonding is an added bonus.  I told a Jennie Story with plenty of adventure, “The Raccoon Story.”

Part 5
The thrill of adventure stories continue.  Children are now connecting words and scenes with other stories we read aloud.  For example, when  Wilbur the pig was frozen with fear in Charlotte’s Web, a child asked, “Like Steve?”  Yes!  (You will understand after reading the story below.)  Making connections with stories across multiple avenues means critical, divergent thinking is developing.  Wonderful!

The Spider Story

“It happened like this.”  When I was first married we lived in Virginia, which is pretty far south.  The farther south you go, the bigger the bugs are.  Bugs are so much bigger in Virginia than in Massachusetts.  One evening after dinner I brought the dishes into the kitchen, and in the middle of the kitchen floor was the biggest spider I have ever seen.  We’re talking gigantic.  The spider was not moving at all.  I didn’t know what to do, so I yelled for my husband, “Steve!”  He came running into the kitchen, but when he saw the spider he froze.  I mean he totally froze.  He couldn’t even speak.

I asked him to do something, anything, but he just stared at the spider and never moved.  The Spider didn’t move either.  I had to do something, so I opened the cabinet under the sink and got the can of Raid.

At this point in the story the children have no idea what Raid is, or why it would be under the sink.  What should I do? 

I was so scared.  The spider still wasn’t moving.  I had to be brave.  It was up to me to get the spider.  I took a deep breath, shook the can of bug spray, and with trembling fingers I sprayed the Raid on the spider…. and instantly wooosh hundreds of baby spiders burst forth!  They were everywhere.  So, I used my feet and stomped all over the kitchen floor, getting the spiders.  Whew!  To this day, my husband is still afraid of spiders.


Posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Nature, preschool, storytelling, Teaching young children, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 81 Comments

The Eagle Scout and the Castle

Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout

Attending an award ceremony for an Eagle Scout is a complete experience.  The event is full of tradition, with Boy Scouts as flag bearers and candle lighters, reciting the oath and honoring their fellow scout.  Speakers include Scout Masters, State Representatives, and leaders in the community.  As I listened, the words and ideals centered on character.  Leadership, being humble, and giving service to others stuck with me.  That’s certainly Wesley.

The ceremony was quite moving.  Did you know that there is only one group of people, all of whom were Eagle Scouts? One. That group was the astronauts who landed on the moon.  I learned that only 4% of Boy Scouts of America have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

When Wesley was in my preschool class, his favorite toy was a large castle.  He was obsessed with that castle.  He begged his mom and dad to buy him one.  He cried when they said, “No.”  So, I often had the castle available for Wesley to play with.  He never tired of this toy.  Never.

Fast forward ten years.  Every so often teachers do a major cleanout of our school’s attic.  Yes, there was the castle stored away in a far corner.  It was designated for the trash, as it was “well loved.”

“Wait!  You can’t throw out that castle!”

“It’s broken in spots and has some sharp edges.  It’s gotta go.”

“I’ll take it.”

And I did.  It went to my basement.  My grandchildren loved playing with it when they visited.  In the back of my mind I was saving the castle for Wesley.  It would make a perfect graduation present.

Four years passed, and I got the invitation to his graduation.  The event was outdoors at the new football field, so bringing along this gigantic castle was not an option.  As I pondered the best way to deliver the gift, I received an invitation to his Eagle Scout ceremony, at the local church.  There would be a reception afterwards, downstairs in the church reception hall.

I could make this work!

My husband and I arrived early, and I slipped downstairs to put the castle in the kitchen.  It was wrapped in a huge black trash bag, covered with bows and ribbons.  Done!

When the ceremony was over we all headed downstairs for the reception.  After many hugs and best wishes and congratulations, I said, “Wesley, I have something for you.  Can you get your mom and dad?”  He looked confused as I dragged out this large trash bag.  It stirred much curiosity to those close by, so there was a group looking on as Wesley opened the bag.

“The castle!  It’s the castle!!  I remember this.  I loved this castle.  How did you get it?”

And I told him the story of rescuing it from the attic years ago, and saving it for him.  His mom cried.  His dad thought surely this wasn’t THE one.  Wesley couldn’t stop touching.  He was beside himself.  Of course we all had to relive the story of the castle when he was a preschooler.

It was wonderful.

No words needed.

Posted in Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Inspiration, joy, Kindness, Student alumni, Teaching young children, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , , | 98 Comments

Bridges, Old and New


Along the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut

where every bridge is different,

and old.

Art Deco at its best.

The Tappan Zee bridge

over the Hudson River in New York.

Newly constructed.

Modern architecture at its best.

Being surrounded by by these beautiful bridges today, old and new, gives pause for beauty.


Posted in art, Inspiration, The Arts, wonder | Tagged , , , , , | 49 Comments