Quotations on Thinking

Excellent quotations on thinking from Charles French.

charles french words reading and writing



“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

                                                                           Albert Einstein



“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”




“The unexamined life is not worth living.”


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Evening Sky

Thank you, Mother Nature.

Your evening sky is glorious.

Tomorrow I will show the children in my class.

We will count your colors and talk about the sky.

I wonder what the questions and stories will be.


Posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Imagination, Inspiration, Mother Nature, Nature, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , | 35 Comments

Language, Literacy, and Storytelling – Part 1

As a teacher, I want to grow readers.  I want to help children develop a sense of understanding.  I want children to become curious, and eager to discover.  I learned early on that in order to do this, it all begins with language and hearing words.  Fact:  a child’s success in school in all areas, not just reading, is directly attributed to the number of words s/he hears.  As a parent of young children, that fact alone made me want to run to the public library.  And I did.  As a teacher, I became an advocate for reading to children.  I just knew that pouring all those words into their brains was filling the learning reservoir.  It happens in this order –  listening, speaking, reading, then writing.

Reading aloud became a passion and a constant in my classroom.  The guru of reading aloud, Jim Trelease, visited my classroom to hear me read.  He was curious that I read chapter books to preschoolers, and that they were glued to the story.  He was also writing the latest edition of his million-copy bestselling book, The Read-Aloud Handbook.  I am fortunate to be included in the book.

At chapter reading, children know that they make the pictures in their heads.  This week I said,

“The words go into your ears, and then into your brain and into your heart.  When that happens, you can see the picture in your head.  Can’t you just see Wilbur standing under Charlotte’s web?  Can’t you just see the morning dew making SOME PIG stand out?”

Oh, we had a wonderful, rich conversation!  Language and literacy.  Yes, it starts with language.  But, I felt pulled to do more, to help children cross over, to give them the tools to be a bigger part of it all.  I wanted children to use their own thinking – their own language.  Here is what happened:

I read our first “fact” picture book of the year, Humphrey The Lost Whale, by Wendy Tokuda and Richard Hall.

It is the story of a whale who goes into the San Francisco bay and gets lost.  He turns the wrong way and travels up the Sacramento River.  It took an entire day to look at and talk about the inside cover alone.  Geography at its best!

The small map is the United States.  Note the small red area.  That depicts the location of the large map.  We could see the ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay, and Humphrey’s path up the river – which got smaller and smaller.  Questions and curiosity and conversations were abundant.  Plus, it was so cool that it was a true story.

The next day I read the book to the children.  We often stopped to talk about what was happening.  When we hit this page, I showed the illustration and just said, “Oh, no.”

Silence.  Big eyes.  Worried eyes.  We talked for a long time.  This was a meeting and a marriage of the mind and the heart.  This was also where children expanded on their language.  And so, they told their own story:

“Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.”
-William Butler Yeats-

Stay tuned for Part 2.


Posted in Book Review, books, chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, geography, Imagination, Jim Trelease, picture books, reading, reading aloud, reading aloud, storytelling, Teaching young children, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

The Reading Snapshots Keep Growing

Children’s reading is growing!  Last week my preschool children began to read independently.  It was wonderful.  The photo of children on the rug with their books spoke to the power of reading aloud good books, and children modeling what they love.

And look what happened today:

Children decided to line up the chairs like a train, with every child reading a book. Teachers stood back and smiled, watching all that was happening.  All aboard!


Posted in books, children's books, Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, picture books, reading, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

A New Year of Reading Charlotte’s Web

Every year I start chapter reading with my preschool class on ‘day one’.  And, the first book I read is Charlotte’s Web.  We have barely had three weeks of school and children are totally hooked.  They adore Wilbur and laugh at the goose repeating words three times.  They trust Charlotte. They have met Templeton the rat, and learned of Wilbur’s fate.  When Charlotte’s demise looked imminent in the hands of Avery’s big stick, there were gasps.

I am reading to three and four-year-olds about the beauty of life and the fear of death, about morals (and lack thereof), and about friendships (and lack thereof).  That sounds pretty sophisticated for preschoolers, but leave it to the beautifully crafted words of E.B. White.

Twilight settled over Zuckerman’s barn, and a feeling of peace.  Fern knew it was almost suppertime but she couldn’t bear to leave.  Swallows passed on silent wings, in and out of the doorways, bringing food to their young ones.  From across the road a bird sang “Whippoorwill, whippoorwill!”  Lurvy sat down under an apple tree and lit his pipe; the animals sniffed the familiar smell of strong tobacco.  Wilbur heard the trill of a tree toad and the occasional slamming of the kitchen door.  All these sounds made him feel comfortable and happy, for he loved life, and loved to be part of the world on a summer evening.

We often underestimate children.  Their brains are absorbing the world around them like a giant sponge.  Let’s give them the world through words, the best words written.  I tell the children – with great fanfare and passion – “The words in the story go into your ears and then into your brain, and you make the pictures in your head.”

That’s just what happens, every day at chapter reading.

The beauty of Charlotte’s Web comes from learning about the world, and about every feeling that is important in order to grow into a good person.  Goodness and knowledge, all on a farm.

I had a pleasant surprise; my hardcopy of Charlotte’s Web is of course at school.  As I typed this post, I needed a copy of the book in order to type E.B. White’s words from page 62.  Surely I had another copy of the book here at home.  I did!  As I opened the book, this is what I saw:

Thank you, Gabriel.  You are now in high school, doing very well.  Whenever you visit (once or twice a year), it means the world to me.  And today I found the book you gave me.  You loved Charlotte’s Web.  That book went straight to your heart, and I know your heart wanted to give me something when you left my class and moved on to kindergarten.  From my heart to yours, thank you!


Posted in Book Review, books, chapter reading, children's books, E.B. White, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, Learning About the World, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

A Snapshot in My Classroom This Week

Teachers read aloud to children – all the time.

Children model what they see.

Reading is pleasure.


Posted in behavior, books, children's books, Early Education, Inspiration, picture books, preschool, reading, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , | 46 Comments

repost for new readers: Vincent & Ludwig

Scribbled Verse

“Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh





Vincent and Ludwig.



Do you know, my dear Ludwig, that I’ve sold just one of my paintings?”


“Yes, Vincent, do not despair, my friend, they cannot, will not, fathom the flower that reveals its petals before their eyes”


“I suppose you are right, old friend. They cannot, will not, hear your ‘Ode to Joy’, though it is you who are deaf!”


“But my dear Vincent, you do hear my ‘Ode to Joy’, deep in your soul”


“Yes, I hear it, I feel it, Ludwig, flowing like liquid paint through the canvas of my veins”


“My dear Vincent, I too feel your brush-strokes, and in each swirl of colour I hear your joy, and I can touch your pain”


“What does that make us, my friend? Two men cast adrift on the…

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