Look Up, Look Down

We can all take a lesson from children.  They notice everything.  They look up, and they look down.  They stop to look, really look, and to wonder.  They remember what they see, and if an adult is around they ask questions.

The wonder children see is always there.  We just have to stop and look up and look down.  I did that tonight.

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I looked up.

 

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I looked down.

 

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The moon began to rise.  Do you see it on the left?  I stayed to watch, and it looked like the Northern Lights were in the sky.  The sky changes quickly, so I pay attention.

 

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The moon is high.  The sky and trees are beautiful.  It reminds me of summer camp and slow evenings of wonder.  It reminds me of the lyrics to Taps, played by a bugle.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh. 

Take it from children, look up and look down.  I do.

Jennie

Posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Nature, summer camp, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , | 87 Comments

Inhale and Exhale of Timeless.

ram H singhal quotes

Sunrise and Sunset are inhale and exhale of Time .

Love and Happiness are inhale and exhale of Timeless.

Love all.

(c) ram H singhal

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Thank You to the Eric Carle Museum, and Kate DiCamillo’s New Book.

Just before the pandemic hit, the Eric Carle Museum asked me if they could include in their quarterly newsletter my story, my blog post, about visiting the museum and hearing author Kate DiCamillo speak.

Yes!  Of course, yes!

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They enjoy reading my blog posts about my visits to the museum.  Well, how can I not write about a visit?  Every one is remarkable.  When I heard Kate DiCamillo speak, the blog post flowed.  She is one of my favorite authors- for many reasons.

Little did I know that my inclusion in the newsletter would be a full page.  What an honor!  Thank you Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art!  Their write-up was terrific.

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Good News!

The museum is opening this week for members only (I snagged my reservation right away) before it opens in August for the public.  Yes, the protocol procedures will be strictly enforced.  I will have two (wonderful) hours to visit.

Kate DiCamillo has published a new book in her Tales From Deckawoo Drive series.  It is phenomenal.  Before I tell you about this book, I need to give you some background.  ‘Kate 101’.  She was a struggling writer, like many of us, and was ready to quit at rejection letter  #473, after five-and-a-half years.  Few if any writers have had that many rejections or as much persistence.  She hung in there a bit longer, and then got a hit.  Not only that, the book won the Newbery Medal.  For those of you not familiar with children’s books, the award is the Holy Grail.

The book was Because of Winn-Dixie.  Yes, many of you know that book.

She continued to write more winners, like The Tale of Despereaux.  My favorite is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  Next, she wrote books for the very young, a series titled ‘Mercy Watson’.  Mercy is a pig who… well, you have to read the books.  The characters in this series became popular ‘household names’, and she wrote a series of books for slightly older readers titled ‘Tales From Deckawoo Drive’, based on these characters.  Her new book is about one of those characters, Stella.

Kate then wrote a book for older readers, Raymie Nightingale.  I was glued to the book.  There are three characters, and the other two now have their own book.

My point?  Kate DiCamillo can write at many different age levels.  That is an enormous task few writers can do.  I am amazed and ever-inspired.  Her new book is Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem, in the Deckawoo Drive series.

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Stella adores her new teacher Miss Liliana, yet dislikes the brainy know-it-all and irritating classmate, Horace Broom.  When I read the words Stella’s teacher said, “Class, I want you to know that I believe in listening closely and speaking softly and singing loudly.  I also believe in examining mysteries.”- I was hooked.  Courage and curiosity are Stella’s mantra as she and Horace are on the way to the principal’s office.  Horace has much to learn, even though he knows most everything about the planets.  When he showed Stella the planet Venus through his telescope, she said, “It’s beautiful and bright.  It’s a heart humming in the night.”

Kate DiCamillio’s character development is subtle, humorous, and well-crafted,  leaving the reader with a smile, and feeling as if a good lesson was woven into a great story.  This newest book does not disappoint.  I highly recommend the Deckawoo  Drive series.

“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.”
-Roald Dahl-

Jennie

Posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Eric Carle, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Inspiration, reading, Teaching young children, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

“Hitch Hiking” 196 Blocks Through New York’s Central Park! Peering Into Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window!”

Enjoy a Sunday walk through Central Park in New York City, courtesy of John Rieber. This made my Sunday morning a beautiful day.

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“Hitch Hiking” Through The Urban Jungle!

My wife Alex came up with the idea of “Hitch Hiking” – a cool hike followed by a classic Hitchcock thriller – and as we are all living a #quarantinelife, I can’t share new hikes right now.

Alex and I are eager to share more shadows like this one, but for now, let’s look at one of my favorite urban hikes!

The Majesty Of Central Park!

This incredible view from W. 57th street shows the magnitude of the park – it’s 2.5 miles long between 59th Street (Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North), and is 0.5 miles wide between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West.

A single day doesn’t even scratch the surface of what there is to see in this park, but since we needed to get an urban hike in, we were going to see how far we could…

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My Happy Garden of Children

Today the flowers in my garden, my children, are happy.
You might spot a fish or two.
They are the 
caretakers.

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Jennie

Posted in Giving thanks, Mother Nature, Nature, wonder | Tagged , , , | 62 Comments

Current News – Lee Greenwood & the Air Force Band Singing Sergeants

I have always loved Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the U.S.A.” The children at school do, too. GP Cox at Pacific Paratrooper posts the amazing new rendition, where Lee Greenwood teams with the U.S. Air Force Band Singing Sergeants and the a cappella group Home Free. It is music that will fill your soul. Warning- you might cry.

Pacific Paratrooper

Home Free – Greenwood & the Air Force Band Singing Sergeants

The traditional rendition of country music singer Lee Greenwood’s iconic “God Bless the U.S.A.,” already has a broad appeal as an uplifting song inspiring patriotism and love of country.

It’s likely you have listened to the song in recent days as Americans celebrated the 244th birthday of our nation on Independence Day.

But a stirring new version of the song that features members of the U.S. Air Force Band joining Greenwood and a cappella group Home Free has been produced that might just blow you away.

Recordings were done during the corona virus pandemic in studios in Nashville, Tenn., Los Angeles, Calif., Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis, Minn. There are no guitars, drums, keyboards, but the sound is unbelievably full and strong.

If you like a cappella, and if you’re a fan of military members in uniform with a talent…

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The Purple Snapdragon

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Dear Purple Snapdragon,

Your stalk grew too tall.
You fell over every day.
I cradled you and propped you up.
Nothing worked.  Nothing helped.

Finally I let you go.
I put you in the garden to fend for yourself.
I gave you water and walked away.

And what did you do?

You made it on your own.
You are curving toward the sun.
You look proud and beautiful.

I gave you roots.
I gave you wings.
Both were hard.

I can’t stop admiring your beautiful curve as you find your way up.
Your pink sisters are welcoming you.
I’m so proud of you.

Flowers are like children.  They both need our care.  And when we finally let go, it is a beautiful thing.  Hug your child.  Smile when it’s unexpected.  Laugh a lot.  Listen.  Read together.  Let it go.  Look up and look down.

Because your child is a flower.  Just ask Purple Snapdragon.

Jennie

Posted in Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Mother Nature, Nature, self esteem, wonder | Tagged , , , , | 63 Comments

Quotation on the Importance of Play

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Yesterday my post on Kindergarten Means “Garden of Children” inspired many wonderful comments.  In particular, Dan Antion at nofacilities.com said this:

We have our entire lives to learn,
but the period of time we have to really play
keeps getting shorter.

Well said, Dan.  Your words are a quotation for the ages.  Friedrich Froebel couldn’t have said it any better.

With thanks and appreciation for your insightful words of wisdom,

Jennie

Posted in behavior, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, Play, preschool, Quotes, Teaching young children, wonder | Tagged , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Kindergarten Means “Garden of Children”

My garden is a new venture every year.  We bought an older home with an established flower garden in 2002.  When summer arrived I couldn’t wait to see what  would bloom.  It was a joy to discover new flowers.  Since then, we have watched and learned, occasionally adding new flowers to the garden.  Yet, the changes every year are often drastic, thanks to nature.

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These daisies were never there.  And now they are prolific.  Yet, no two are alike.  Big, tall, just budding, small… they’re all different.  

Flowers are much like young children.  They grow at different rates, have their own agenda, fight for the sun, take a backseat to other flowers… some are strong, some are weak.  I have watched our flowers grow and change for many years, like I have watched children grow and change over decades.

What have I learned?  Give them plenty of care, but don’t force changes.  Accept their beauty.  Be ready to help.

What children need and what flowers need to grow hasn’t changed.  I keep that in crystal clear focus.  Times might change, but children and flowers have not.  Kindergarten means “garden of children.”  They are nourished with stories, music, nature, and dramatic play.  The Arts are the roots to grow children.  Providing opportunities for unbounded creativity is the fire to want to learn.  I know this firsthand.  I pay attention to every child, nourishing them like I do my flowers.  Some need hugs, some need academic challenges.

The point is, every child is different.  Friedrich Froebel understood children and what they needed.  He established the first kindergarten in Germany in 1837.  It was radical at the time.

A Brief History of Kindergarten
Published by Redleaf Press, 2010

Friedrich Froebel, a German educator, opened the first kindergarten in Blankenburg, Germany, in 1837. During the 1830s and 1840s he developed his vision for kindergarten based on the ideas of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the later Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. These progressive education reformers introduced the concept that children were naturally good and active learners. At the time, this thinking was quite radical. The common belief until then had been that children were little creatures who needed stern handling to become good adults. Play was seen as a waste of time and proof that children should be tamed so they could be more productive.

Undaunted, Froebel argued that teachers should use music, nature study, stories, and dramatic play to teach children. He encouraged the use of crafts and manipulatives, such as small building blocks or puzzles. He also promoted the idea of circle time for children to learn in a group. Froebel proposed that children acquire cognitive and social skills by us- ing their natural curiosity and desire to learn. He believed women had the best sensitivity and qualities to work with young children in developing their emotional skills. Consequently, Froebel opened a training school just for women.

Froebel’s ideas were so new that the Prussian government closed all kindergartens in 1851, fearing a socialist revolutionary movement. Nevertheless, the concept spread quickly throughout the rest of the world, and by the end of the nineteenth century, many countries had started kindergartens for middle-class children. Then, between 1900 and the start of World War I, England and France began to establish free kindergartens for poor children. Kindergartens also reopened in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century, and they still serve children who are three to six years old.

The word kindergarten means “garden of children,” a beautiful metaphor for what happens there—children growing like flowers and plants, nurtured by a positive environment with good soil, rain, and sun, as well as an attentive gardener.

Today, Froebel’s words and findings are still spot on.  Yet, schools are more concerned with academics; they forget (or don’t understand) that young children need to experience – touch, build, experiment – before real learning can happen.  Frank Lloyd Wright attributes his success in architecture to the blocks he had as a child.  Yes, building with blocks.

I will forever champion children, give them opportunities to explore and ask questions, challenge them to do more when they’re excited, and give them support and love along the way.  They’re my garden of children.

Jennie

Posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Mother Nature, Nature, preschool, self esteem, Teaching young children, The Arts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 94 Comments

Words, Wonderful Words…

Winnie the Pooh stories are among the few classics that should be read as a child and also as an adult. The messages and tender words ‘stick’. The characters are beloved.

I was thrilled to discover the book, “Finding Winnie”, by Lindsay Mattick.

This is the true story of Winnie the Pooh, the bear that became famous in WWI before he went to the London zoo.  It is captivating, with real photos and beautiful illustrations.  The reader is immediately drawn to the soldier Harry Colebourn on the train in Canada to fight in the war, and finding a bear cub.

Joy Lennick’s delightful post opens the door to author A.A. Milne, his son, and Pooh’s many animal companions. The ending is some of the best words in the stories. These quotes have become words to live by.

Joy Lennick

Trinity-College-Library-in-Dublin-1Every now and then I pontificate on the power and magic of words. Those twenty-six little letters have faithfully served us ever since “Adam” said Ugg to “Eve.” And, in what variety! True and Fairy tales… Sci-Fi and Paranormal, Murder and Mystery, Love and Romance, Historical, et al – all cater to different literary tastes.

Milne 3What led to writing today’s post was reading about Alan Alexander Milne and his Pooh stories. The House on Pooh Corner (1928), and Winnie the Pooh in particular. Without Milne, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and the rest of the gang, would have been lost to so many fans. Christopher Robin, Pooh’s human companion, was named after Milne’s own son. Sadly, Christopher was not happy about his inescapable connection to the popular books as he grew older. Winnie the Pooh was based on his teddy bear. Also on his infant bed, were a stuffed piglet, a tiger…

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