Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Teaching: it’s The Cake and the Frosting by Jennie Fitzkee


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Pre-school teacher of over 30 years, Jennie Fitzkee, has been a welcome guest here many times but this time, Jennie has let me loose in her archives… this will be fun. In this final post, Jennie shares her analogy for teaching…

Teaching: it’s The Cake and the Frosting

Our everyday learning in the classroom reminds me of a big cake. The necessary ingredients are science, math, reading, writing, language, geography and the arts. A cake is mixed by hand, just as our learning is hands-on.

And, the frosting? That’s our unit of study. It’s the fun, the glorious way to encase and show off our cake. Italy is a beautiful frosting. So was the Rainforest, and Hawaii, and India, and Jan Brett. Regardless of the frosting, or our unit of study, there is always a cake and the important learning that happens.

I thought you might like to taste some of the recent ‘cake batter’:

Reading and letter recognition, a daily constant, had an “ah-hah moment” when we read the book Froggy goes to Hawaii. The word ‘Froggy’ is in big letters on many of the pages, followed by an exclamation mark which we had just learned about. That sparked a huge interest in recognizing letters and actually sounding out words. Since then, every time we read a book that has some of the words in large print, such as Toot, Toot, Zoom or My Truck is Stuck (Literacy Tree books); we are obsessed with both recognizing the letters and sounding out the words. We then find rhyming words and sound them out.

Writing has become a popular activity. We use ‘Handwriting Without Tears’ with emphasis on the terminology of ‘lines’ and ‘curves’ and using those shapes to create letters. September introduced Mat Man, and last week our Italy writing activity had children so ready, it looked like the line at the deli counter. Children practice writing their name on paper with three lines, therefore three practices. We used a vertical surface to make the map of Italy and a pizza parlor tablecloth, and our paintings for the Art Show are done at an easel. All of these activities on a vertical surface are developing the muscles needed for writing.

Geography is highlighted so many times with studying different countries. The best part is, every time we pull out our Big Book Atlas, we become sidetracked and learn even more. We have learned about the equator, the poles, and the oceans. Children are always drawn to the map of the United States, and the learning keeps flowing. We have used the atlas to track the travels of Dr. Dolittle, and we’ll be tracking the travels of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Math and Science has been exciting with the hatching of twenty baby chicks in the kindergarten. The circle of life is in full glory. Our favorite science fair activity was using a hair blow dryer to blow ping pong balls into the air and keep them steady.

Of course you know that Art and Music has been a major contributor to our ‘cake batter’ as the children made significant pieces of art, inspired by music, for our annual art show. I bumped into a former student (now going into kindergarten) who told me she was in Washington DC last week and visited the National Gallery of Art. I was there, too! We marveled at the coincidence. Then she said, “I saw the Mary Cassatt”. I did, too! She said, “Jennie, I saw the flower painting we learned about.” Wow!

My classroom makes the best cakes and frostings!

©Jennie Fitzkee

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

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jlfatgcs

My thanks to Jennie for permitting me to share these wonderful posts from her archives, always something to learn.

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives #PotLuck – How to Teach a Child to Become a Superhero by Jennie Fitzkee


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Pre-school teacher of over 30 years, Jennie Fitzkee, has been a welcome guest here many times but this time, Jennie has let me loose in her archives… this will be fun. There are many life skills that a child needs to learn, and one of those is about doing the right thing.

How to Teach a Child to Become a Superhero

Superheroes. Every child wants to be a Superhero. Ask a child, “What does a Superhero do?” and you will hear everything from “save the day” to “help people” to “get the bad guys.” These are good things, and Superheros are icons of goodness.

In a child’s eyes, that means doing the right thing.

The problem is, their whole life–all four years–has stressed “Do the right thing!” A constant reminder of what to do, and what not to do, can often make children feel frustrated. Even worse, feelings of not measuring up creep in.

I assume, right off the bat, that a child is filled with goodness. And much more:

Kindness, check.

Helpfulness, check.

Bravery, check.

The check list goes on and on.

Whether or not these are true, a child lives up to our expectations. Knowing that a teacher thinks they measure up with all the “right stuff” is nothing short of a golden key, a free pass, and a warm blanket.

And that is the start of teaching a child to become a Superhero.

Positive affirmations slowly become part of everyday, like grains of sand collecting to make a sandcastle. Then, the hard work begins– teaching children to overcome obstacles. Resiliency and Persistence. I become the cheerleader along the way. “You can’t…yet. But you can if you keep trying.”

“Yet” is a powerful word.

Remember The Little Engine That Could? I think I can…I know I can…I can.

Now, children feel empowered. Powerful. They naturally want to spread their wings, or capes, and do good things. Once their bucket is filled, they become bucket fillers, or Superheroes.

And what about the child who is angry or mean? That is merely a layer of mud over gold. Children aren’t born that way. They’re golden at birth. I just have to wash off the mud. I know that they’re already filled with goodness. Remember that checklist? That makes it easy to wash away the anger. I’m a champion of good, and so are children at heart.

We wrote picture stories about being Superheroes. In doing so, it validated each child’s accomplishments. Children decorated their stories and wore capes for a photo.

From the oldest:

To the youngest:

We are all Superheroes!

©Jennie Fitzkee

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

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jlfatgcs

My thanks to Jennie for permitting me to share this post from her archives and there will be another one next Thursday..

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – “The Stop Game”, From Dinosaurs to Poetry by Jennie Fitzkee


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Pre-school teacher of over 30 years, Jennie Fitzkee, has been a welcome guest here many times but this time, Jennie has let me loose in her archives… this will be fun. She is always coming up with creative ways to engage the children.. and here is just one.

“The Stop Game”, From Dinosaurs to Poetry

I invented a game for reading-aloud children’s books that are, well…long or potentially boring in the eyes of the child. Poetry! Fact books! In my heart, I know these books are hugely important. I just needed to find a way to engage children and help them see, the way that I see. Or, perhaps the way that I know. I do know, and the “how to do it” just comes to me. The Stop Game is the perfect answer, a solution that children love.

Here is how it works: I hold a book up and partially open it, so I can fan the pages with my thumb. I tell the children, “On the count of three, say STOP.” I begin to fan the pages on the count of one. Breathless anticipation is an understatement. I keep fanning the pages, and when I get to three the children yell STOP. Oh, how they yell, because they’re excited. Then, I show them that page, the one when they said STOP.

We are learning about dinosaurs this month. Besides making great dinosaur art projects, I wanted to teach children facts. After we used a 100-foot measuring tape in the hallway to see the real size of dinosaurs (Brachiosaurus was 85-feet, the entire length of our hallway), I knew children were ready for more learning. I had a great fact book about different dinosaurs, so we played The Stop Game. Oh my, today is day three of children begging for this. And, they remember the facts! The Stop Game repeated a dinosaur page today. When children asked where the dinosaur lived, Kate blurted out, “Australia!” There is a column along the right that lists location, size, enemy, food, and more. I am grilled on these facts every day. Isn’t that wonderful?

Children are excited to learn specifics about dinosaurs. They can’t get enough. They’re four-years-old. Thank you, The Stop Game.

Poetry is a fundamental in reading, words, and rhyming. The simplest of words written in poetry have the most powerful meanings. I read poetry to children. And, we play The Stop Game to make the words come alive. Poetry+The Stop Game=Understanding.

The first poetry book I fell in love with was Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic. It is a classic, and continues to be one of the best poetry books for children. Every page that The Stop Game lands on, is a good poem.

My favorite new children’s poetry book is Outside Your Window. The poetry goes through the seasons and all the animals within each season. There is a wide variety of poetic style, so every poem sparks a different conversation. Children love this book. They love poetry. Playing The Stop Game allows them an opportunity to really listen to the words. It is wonderful.

“The Stop Game” actually started with the dictionary, years ago. A big Scholastic Children’s Dictionary. Every time we read a new word, I used the dictionary to look it up, with the children of course. It was exciting to pull out this big book, show children the fore edge (opposite the spine) with red markings that indicated the letters in the alphabet- and then open the dictionary to see those red alphabet markings. Honestly, this was very exciting. After we looked up the new word, we wanted to look up many more new words, over and over again. So, we played The Stop Game, opened a page, and discovered a world of words. Author Patricia MacLachlan would have said, “Word After Word After Word.”

©Jennie Fitzkee

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

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jlfatgcs

My thanks to Jennie for permitting me to share this post from her archives and there will be another one next Thursday..

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – The Boy Who Cried Tears of the Heart by Jennie Fitzkee


Sadly we come to the final post in this archive series from Jennie Fitzkee who inspires us with her stories of her pre-school classroom and students. Hopefully we can persuade her to share more later.

The Boy Who Cried Tears of the Heart by Jennie Fitzkee

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Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day at school. I know this, and so does Jackson. Books bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past. The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day. Children listen and talk. They ask questions. Jackson is first to remember what we read yesterday and ask questions about what we read today. When I ask children, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?” they answer “In your head.”

When we finish reading a good book and then start a new one, emotions run high and low. The end of a good book is so satisfying and pleasant, yet…it is over. That is the wonderful roller coaster of reading. And, with each chapter book we read, we ride that roller coaster again and again.

In the fall I begin the school year by reading “Charlotte’s Web”, always a favorite. When I chapter read, it is rest time, the lights are out, children are on their nap mats, and they listen. Boy, do they listen. Often I stop and ask questions. We talk about Templeton and his unsavory character. We laugh about the goose that repeats things three times. Of course we talk about Wilbur and Charlotte. Children are learning new words and using their brain to associate all that language with the story. More importantly, children are learning right and wrong, values and morals. They are beginning to develop character and goodness.

Jackson worried when Wilbur went to the fair. He became very fond of Charlotte. The more we read about Templeton, particularly when he refused to get Charlotte’s egg sac, the more Jackson became bitter towards Templeton’s character. Jackson ‘got it’; the language and literacy and learning for him now included the subtleties of morality. But, the best was yet to come.

As the year progressed, I read aloud the chapter books “The Story of Doctor Dolittle”, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”, “My Father’s Dragon”, and finally the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. “Little House in the Big Woods” had three components that were quite important to children and to making a difference. First was learning about the past. I connected generations. When I told the children that my grandmother was born when Laura’s child was born, and they had the same names, that was huge. Yes, my grandmother was Rose, the same age and name as Laura’s daughter. I told stories about living in a log cabin, because my grandmother did, and I also slept in that log cabin in Lowell, WV.

Connecting the past for young children is a great learning experience. Secondly, Pa told stories. Well, I tell stories much the same way as Pa, real ones about my childhood. They always start with “It happened like this…”. My stories (the children call them ‘Jennie stories’) helped bring Pa’s stories to life. Storytelling is equally important to reading chapter books aloud, as children get a huge dose of vocabulary and have to ‘make the pictures in their head’. Finally, this book is non-fiction, the first chapter reading book all year that is real. So, each time we talked about something that happened, it had an entirely different feeling. Our conversations became much more in depth, a bit serious, simply because this was real and true. Children were learning.

Jackson was really learning. He was becoming ‘one’ with the book. Every fact and Pa story seemed to notch another mark in his learning; and by now it was pleasure learning for him.

Our last chapter reading book of the school year is “Little House on the Prairie.” Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and baby Carrie move from the big woods of Wisconsin to the Kansas prairie. Every child was so vested in both chapter reading and “Little House in the Big Woods”. This next book was like frosting on a cake. We used our big map book to find Wisconsin and follow a route to Kansas. I was able to incorporate my family history when Pa and his neighbor Mr. Scott dug a well. Pa was careful to light a candle and lower it into the well. Mr. Scott thought the candle was ‘foolishness’, and therefore did not light the candle one morning. My grandfather worked in the mines, and I brought in his painted portrait, as a boy, with a candle attached to his mining cap. Now, that brought the story and the chapter to life.

One of the characters throughout is Jack, the dog. As the family travels in a covered wagon, Jack happily trots behind the whole way. Then I read the chapter, “Crossing the Creek”. The creek rises quickly; Pa has to jump in to help the horses get the wagon across the water. After they are on the other side, Laura says, “Where is Jack?”

I read this chapter with heart, and the passion of what is happening. I always read like that. When Laura says those words, the children are stunned. Shocked. They know. I finish reading aloud, sometimes standing and pacing, because this is a big deal. I, too, have a lump in my throat.

Jackson pulled his blanket over his head. His body was jerking in sobs, yet he was holding those sobs deep inside. I scooped him up, and we disappeared to a quiet place to read aloud, together, the next chapter. Jackson needed to know that Jack the dog found his way home. I think I was calm when I read the chapter to him. We were wrapped together in his blanket; perhaps we both sobbed a bit. It was my greatest moment in teaching. I had taught the most important values through reading aloud, and Jackson was moved to tears. He cried tears of the heart. So did I.

Reading aloud is the best thing I do with, and for, children. They are preschoolers. Yes, I chapter read to four-year-olds. It is marvelous. After three decades of teaching, I know this is “it”. Jackson is proof.

Jennie

©Jennie Fitzkee 2016.

Thanks Jennie and just as well I had the tissues handy!  I am sure you feel the same if you are reading this.

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

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee

If you are interested in joining Jennie and the other writers who are sharing posts from their archives….. here is the link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/new-series-of-posts–from-your-archivesbeginning-march-1st-2018-your-chance-to-share-past-gems/

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – “Starry Night” II by Jennie Fitzkee


This week Jennie Fitzkee shares with us one of the teaching experiences which resulted in a wonderful suprise. A small child who noticed something in a masterpiece that Jennie has not noticed before….

“Starry Night” II by Jennie Fitzkee

I will never underestimate children and art. This story is why.

I have been introducing a variety of styles of art to children as we prepare our annual Art Show for the community. Currently we are learning about France, and that’s a perfect opportunity to highlight art. We are creating ‘masterpieces’, allowing each child to work on his or her piece multiple times until they feel it is just right.

Each piece in itself holds a story, because the end result is often far more than what the child imagined, or what I expected. Sometimes a story is so remarkable, or so startling, that it needs to be told. This is one such story:

“It happened like this…” I use a record player to play record albums, thus bringing music to life in a tangible way for children. I wrote about this in a March, 2015 post. It is the best thing I do to introduce music, all types. Music inspires art, as music in itself fills the soul and the mind. At Morning Meeting I played Mozart (who inspired Einstein, by the way). Then we were ready to paint.

This day our art style was Early Renaissance. I stained wood panels and supplied plenty of gold acrylic paint, plus other colors, and sequins. This was the ‘real deal’. Liam carefully watched the first two children paint. He was anxious to paint, yet he was looking rather serious. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the plate, much like a ball player who had an important job to do. He asked for black paint. “Liam, I don’t have black paint. Here are the dark colors.” He looked carefully and picked navy blue. Hmm… Then he asked for ‘regular blue’ and a little gold. I asked him if he wanted any sequins. He said “No” in a firm voice, then looked directly at me as he pointed to the loft and said, “I’m painting THAT.”

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“THAT” is Starry Night, our poster above the loft. No wonder he needed dark colors and ‘regular blue’ and some gold. Liam wanted to paint Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, not Early Renaissance art. Liam went to work, and I had the pleasure of watching him create with determination. I never said a word, except to offer more paint. He knew the colors he needed, and he wanted to make the brush strokes; the swirls, circles, and the serpentine strokes. Combining the right colors with the right brush strokes was his mission. Yes, Liam was determined in the best of ways. After his initial round, I knew this was destined to be a masterpiece.

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Those eyes said, “I like what I’m doing, but I’m not finished.” And, he was not finished. Later, I took the poster off the wall and put it directly in front of Liam. As he studied the poster he asked for red paint. Red? Liam said, “There’s a red house at the bottom. I have to paint that.” In my decades of looking at Starry Night I never noticed the tiny red house at the bottom. Liam did. I gave him red paint, and he painted it.

Two children walked by Liam independently as he was finishing his masterpiece. They both remarked in a matter-of-fact way, “Hey, that’s Starry Night”. And, it is! I held the painting at a distance for Liam, as if people were looking at it in a museum. In Liam’s words, “Perfect. It’s finished.”

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This is the pinnacle; listening, learning, wanting, trying, and achieving.

Jennie

©Jennie Fitzkee 2016

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

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee

If you are interested in joining Jennie and the other writers who are sharing posts from their archives….. here is the link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives/

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – How Reading-Aloud Made Me the Teacher and Person I Am Today by Jennie Fitzkee


Delighted to share another wonderful post from pre-school teacher Jennie Fitzkee. This week the joys and benefits of reading aloud for both child and teacher…or parent.

How Reading-Aloud Made Me the Teacher and Person I Am Today by Jennie Fitzkee

My very first day of teaching preschool in Massachusetts, thirty-two years ago, was both career and life altering. Lindy, my co-teacher, asked me to read the picture books to children each day after our Morning Meeting. Sure (gulp)! I was new, scared, and unfamiliar with many children’s books. I had not been read to as a child, except for The Five Chinese Brothers from my grandmother. I still remember the page that opens sideways, with the brother who could stretch his legs. One book, and to this day I remember it vividly.

The book I read to the children on that first day of school was Swimmy, by Leo Lionni. It was magical for me, and for the children. The story line, the art, the engineering, the words… it was a taste of something I knew I had to have. And, I couldn’t get enough.

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The next few decades I consumed children’s books. I realized that the more I read aloud, the more the children wanted to hear stories and be read to. I displayed books in my classroom front-facing, so children were drawn to picking up and ‘reading’ the books. In this way, the children wanted to handle, hold, and turn the pages of books. This was a big deal! It was true hands-on learning, with exploding questions and interest. I was the yeast in the dough, or perhaps the books were the yeast. Oh, our Morning Meetings grew. We had to include a children’s dictionary on the bookshelf so we could look up words that were new. That was fun!

By this time I had become picky about good books. Whenever I read a good book, it sparked so many questions and conversations, that sometimes it took ‘forever’ to get through the book. The first time I read Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky, it took forty minutes to finish reading the book. I started with the inside cover, a picture of the courtyard, and simply asked questions; “Where is this?” “Does this look like Massachusetts?” “What is different?”

Reading picture books triggered big discussions. I often stopped to ask questions. Sometimes I would simply say, “Oh, dear…” in mid-sentence and let the children grab onto that rope. Yes, I was throwing out a lifeline, a learning line, and it worked. It was exciting, always engaging.

Before long, I started reading chapter books before rest time. This was unconventional for preschoolers, yet it felt right because children were on their nap mats and needed to hear stories without seeing pictures. I started with Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and have never looked back. The first thing children learned was ‘you make the pictures in your head’. This is thrilling, because we now have non-stop reading and multiple discussions, without pictures. Thirty minutes of pretty intense reading-aloud. My chapter books include the best of the best.

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My teaching had become language based and child centered. Often there were ‘moments’, things that happened because we were reading all the time. Reading had spilled over into my curriculum. The day we had set up a restaurant in housekeeping, children were ‘reading’ menus and ‘writing’ orders on clipboards. I was spelling out the words to one child and listening to questions about the menu from another child. I doubt these moments would have happened had I not read so often in the classroom.

I wanted to tell families what happened, about moments of learning, and of course about reading-aloud. So, I started to write more information in my newsletters, and include details. I wrote, and I wrote, sharing small moments and relating those moments to the big picture in education.

I attended a teacher seminar, and Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, was the keynote speaker. As he spoke I wanted to jump up and rush over to the hundreds of teachers in the room, screaming, “Are you listening to this man?” “Do you realize how important his message is?” Instead I wrote him a letter and included one of my newsletters to families that spoke about the importance of reading-aloud. That sparked his interest in my chapter reading, and he visited my classroom to watch. I’m included in the latest version of his million copy bestselling book.

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My public library asked me to direct a library reading group for second and third graders. This was another new adventure in reading. I read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, among many wonderful books. Again, these were new books to me, and I loved it. This past summer I embraced YA books, thanks to reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I read every Kate DiCamillo book I could lay my hands on. Every one.

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My reading and reading-aloud continues to grow. Thank you Read-Aloud West Virginia for getting the message of how important reading is to the public. We are making a difference.

Jennie

©Jennie Fitzkee 2014

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

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee

If you are interested in joining Jennie and the other writers who are sharing posts from their archives….. here is the link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives/

Smorgasbord – Posts from Your Archives – “Art, Music and Technology by Jennie Fitzkee


I recently invited you to share some of your posts from your archives. It is a way of giving your earlier or favourite posts a chance to be read by a different audience. Mine.  Details of how you can participate is at the end of the post.

Jennie Fitzkee has been a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, I have reblogged several of her posts because they demonstrate how a dedicated and passionate teacher can ignite imagination and a passion for books and music in the very young.

In this last post in Jennie’s current series, ( I am sure that there will be more from her in the future), she describes the wonder for both children and teachers to be found in the magic of music especially when combined with creating art.

Art, Music and Technology by Jennie Fitzkee

We’re learning about France in the classroom and also studying the art of the old masters, like Monet, Picasso and van Gogh. Describing styles of art to young children with pictures and techniques is always exciting; using real watercolor paints from tubes squeezed onto a palette, painting at an easel, demonstrating brush strokes, and finding geometric shapes in abstract art. As they begin to actually use real tools and techniques, they feel proud. We encourage children to come back to their piece of art, over and over again. After all, a masterpiece is not created in a day. Music is also art, and when the two come together, magic and creativity seem to explode. That’s exactly what happened this week.

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We used the book Can You Hear It? from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which matches a famous work of art with a classical piece of music. Fabulous book! The first pages, before the art and music, show different instruments. The children were so interested that we had to slow down and really go through each instrument. Of course! How simple, and how perfect to begin the process of listening to music. I was so eager to get to the ‘real part’, the pictures of art and the accompanying music, that I nearly overlooked the most important and fundamental part; the musical instruments. if you don’t know the instruments and the sounds they produce, how can you listen to music, especially when it can identify with art? For example, the violins in “Flight of the Bumblebee” matched with the art piece Chrysanthemums can’t be fully understood or appreciated if a child has not heard or seen a violin.

The cello captivated the children. It looked big and interesting in the book. Technology to the rescue. My co-teacher had her iPad at school, and she found a cello solo for the children to watch and listen. It was “Bach Cello Suite No.1 in G”, played by Mischa Maisky.

The sounds that flowed from his cello had thirteen preschool children listening to and loving every single note. Everyone was breathless, including teachers. The only words that were spoken were, “I love this music”, “Olivia isn’t here, she would love this”, and “That was awesome.” The only movements were children trying to copy playing the cello. The next day we continued with the book, and again used the iPad, this time with a classical guitar solo. We played “Cannon in D” by Johann Pachelbel. As you can imagine, children were equally captivated. The only words spoken were by one child, “This sounds like bedtime music”.

We then combined listening to music and creating our own art. So far, the results are astounding. Really! When young children are given the tools and encouragement, they have so much to give. In this case, the tools were books, music and technology. The results are the artwork that is shaping up to be well beyond the developmental skills of preschool children. That’s just wonderful.

©JennieFitzkee 2014

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

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee

My thanks to Jennie for sharing this lovely post with us today and for those she contributed over the last four weeks. In the meantime I hope you will head over to her blog and catch up on her current posts.

If you would like to give some of your posts from the past a little TLC then dust them off and send four links to me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com. If this is your first time on Smorgasbord then please include your links to social media. If you like the experience then we can always look at sharing more.

This is for posts of general interest rather then book promotion, although your work will feature. If you would like to promote your work here then please contact me at the email address above.

Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Sally.

Posts from Your Archives – The Power of Singing. It’s Far More Than Music by Jennie Fitzkee

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I recently invited you to share some of your posts from your archives. It is a way of giving your earlier or favourite posts a chance to be read by a different audience. Mine.  Details of how you can participate is at the end of the post.

Jennie Fitzkee has been a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, I have reblogged several of her posts because they demonstrate how a dedicated and passionate teacher can ignite imagination and a passion for books and music in the very young. Today Jennie tells the story of how singing brought comfort and connection to a child who was distressed and how singing and music can bring all of us, whatever our age, a feeling of belonging to others.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Yesterday a child in my class had a very difficult drop-off. All the words in the world from Mom, and all her hugs and reassurances just didn’t make a dent. I was equally unsuccessful in helping Mom to say goodbye and leave. Eventually she just had to leave. And, there was her child, crying and not wanting to be consoled at all. We headed outside to the playground, and this child simply sat down on the walkway, three steps beyond the door, full of tears. I sat down right beside her, and then I started to sing. The first song was, “Oh Mr. Sun”. I sang that song so many times, yet each time I would change phrases like, “please shine down on me” to substitute the name of that child. Then, I changed phrases to name other children, the ones that she could see close by. At this point she was not crying, but certainly was not ready to play.

So, I sang again. Actually, it was non-stop singing, making up words to any tune that came into my head. I just kept singing about the children, the playground, the birds; anything that popped into my head. When I did this, I made sure the words were rhyming words. If I started a phrase, I often stopped at the rhyming word. Eventually, she chimed in to fill in that word. Then we moved to the big swing. I made the swinging match the beats of the music. This is where things changed. The swing added natural rhythm to the song. That rhythm is the core of music; it’s what brings all feelings to the surface. It is soothing, whether it makes you cry or feel good. It is the heart of passion in music. We sang, swinging in the swing, over and over again.

I kept on singing, and she sang along. She laughed when I grasped for rhyming words, or when I made up a tune that was fast or slow, high or low. Now she was part of this. Together, we sang our hearts out. Singing works! In the simplest of ways, it makes you feel good, and it is pleasurable. In a deeper way, it is very connective, bonding you to a person, a time or a place. Music does this too, but singing brings music full circle. Pretty powerful stuff.

I frequently do my singing in the children’s bathroom at school. I’ll sit on the bench while they do their business and wash their hands, and just make up something; often about our current chapter reading book, or about a math game. It’s easy and fun to sing words, any words at all. We’ll sing adding numbers, sing about the characters in books, sing about each other. A song seems to ‘cement’ words and concepts, make them more powerful. It reinforces what we have learned in a fun way. A song can be a mini lesson, much more than rhyming and syllables.

Most importantly, singing is the heart and soul of connecting with each other. There were no words to help this child when she came to school. Even a hug was rebuffed. Yet, singing brought her comfort, and that comfort allowed her to participate in so many things. I didn’t need my autoharp; the singing alone did the job. It was a wonderful morning.

©JennieFitzkee 2014

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

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee

My thanks to Jennie for sharing this lovely post with us today and look out for more next Sunday. In the meantime I hope you will head over to her blog and catch up on her current posts.

If you would like to give some of your posts from the past a little TLC then dust them off and send four links to me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com. If this is your first time on Smorgasbord then please include your links to social media. If you like the experience then we can always look at sharing more.

This is for posts of general interest rather then book promotion, although your work will feature. If you would like to promote your work here then please contact me at the email address above.

Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Sally.