Welcome to another post from the archives of Jennie Fitzkee. Jennie has enjoyed a career as a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, and has some inspiring posts that reinforce that the ability to read and books, are two of the best gifts we can give our children.
In today’s post Jennie shares the connections that she was able to make between reading Little House on the Prairie and her own grandfather from a similar era and his experiences of mining. Living history is so important to record and to have a connection with someone born in the 1890s to learn first hand what life was like, especially if you can pass it on to a future generation… spanning the past and present…
One Picture for a Thousand Words by Jennie Fitzkee
Our final chapter reading book this year at school was Little House on the Prairie. The last chapter that we read was ‘Fresh Water to Drink’. Pa and his neighbor, Mr. Scott, were digging a well. Pa was careful to lower a candle each day into the deep hole to make sure the air was safe. Bad gas lives deep under the earth. Mr. Scott thought the candle was ‘foolishness’, and began digging without sending the candle down into the well. The rest of the chapter was an edge-of-your-seat nail biter.
I love this chapter. So did the children. I realized I could connect what happened down in that well to something real; a portrait of my grandfather as a little boy wearing miner’s gear, including a candle on his helmet. My grandfather and his father had mines in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I grew up with their stories and photographs, including this portrait.
I brought it to school the next day to show the children. “This is my grandfather”, I said. “He went deep under the earth, just like Pa and Mr. Scott. What is that on his head?” Children couldn’t sit. They jumped up, pressed against me and each other, all wanting a closer look. “That’s fire!” someone said. “No, it’s a candle” said Owen. “A candle is fire.” said Miles. “What did he do?” Ah, those wonderful, spontaneous questions that spark the best learning. This was ‘a moment’, fifteen children eager to hear more and learn.
I told them about mining, going underground, and about the candle. I then showed them the Garth Williams illustrations in the chapter ‘Fresh Water to Drink’, with Ma and Pa turning the handle of the windlass to get Mr. Scott out of the well, and Pa digging the hole that is as deep as he is tall. We talked about how hard that would be. We imagined what it would be like inside the hole: Dark or light? Hot or cold? Then someone asked, “How old is your grandfather?”
I was connecting generations and connecting learning.
I’m in mid-life, where I have a strong, real link with the past and also the present. My one arm can reach and touch my parents from before 1920 and my grandparents from the 1880’s and 1890’s They were just here ‘some years ago’. My other arm can reach and touch my children and grandchildren, and all the preschoolers I teach.
I find this mind boggling; I’m equally part of the past, a long line of family history, and part of the present, teaching children and learning. I want to connect all the lines. I want people to know that I was there with Nan who was born in The 1880’s, and with Lulu who was born ten years later. I want people to know that I understand life from that point forward.
More importantly, I want my preschoolers to have a firsthand piece of history. It is a ‘real’ way to enhance learning. That happened with my Grandfather’s portrait.
About Jennie Fitzkee
I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about.
I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
Connect to Jennie
My thanks to Jennie for sharing this post from her archives and it would be great if you could share how far your personal connection to your family stretches in each direction.
My parents were born in 1916 and 1917 and I met my grandmother who was born in 1890 the youngest in my own family is 12 years old so that is span of 129 years of living history.
If you would like to share your stories about family, including our fur babies.. then please take a look at the details.
Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about family.
- Personal memories of childhood or teens that are still fresh in your mind.
- Family history, stories of your parents, grandparents and further back if you can.
- Fur family past and present.
- Favourite recipes.
- Memorable holidays.
- Places you have lived.
- Memorable homes you have lived in.
- Grandchildren tales.
- Any family related post – education, health, teen years, elderly care, lifestyle.
- Please remember that there are some younger readers who visit.
I think you get the idea.
The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog from the day you started up to December 2018, and you simply send the link to those blogs to firstname.lastname@example.org
You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.
So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been over 700 posts from 200 + bloggers that have reached a different audience and encouraged more readers for their own blogs and current posts.
Previous participants are more than welcome