Teacher Jennie Fitzkee shares another of her ‘Jennie stories…tales she tells to delight the children in her care… and the child inside the rest of us.
“It happened like this… When I was in first grade, second grade, and third grade, there was a man who lived in my town- Doctor Tyler. Now, Doctor Tyler was old, really old. He was short and fat, and he had snow-white hair and a long white beard. He was a kind man. Do you know anyone who looks like that?
(Long pause, and inevitably a child says, “Santa Clause!”)
Yes! He looked exactly like Santa Clause. But he wasn’t. Doctor Tyler had a peanut farm. All summer long he grew peanuts. They grow in big bushes above the ground.
When the school year began, Doctor Tyler would come to school. Unannounced. The principal didn’t know when he was coming. The teachers didn’t know. He would just show up. We heard his footsteps in the hallway. Then he slammed the door open. He just stood there, with a huge sack of peanuts slung over his back. Now he really looked like Santa Clause.
He pulled his big sack off his shoulder and put it on the floor. He opened the sack and scooped out a big handful of peanuts. The teacher yelled, “It’s the Peanut Man! Duck!”
(At this point I had stomped, thrown a door open, lifted a heavy pretend sack off my shoulder, and scooped an imaginary handful of peanuts.)
We dove under our desks. I was too afraid to look. Then the Peanut Man threw the handful of peanuts. They hit the desks. He scooped another handful and threw them. Hard. They hit the windows and the chalkboard. The Peanut Man kept throwing peanuts all over the classroom. It sounded like rain and hail.
(I scooped and threw, over and over, like the greatest pitcher in baseball.)
Suddenly the sound stopped. All I heard were footsteps and a door slamming closed. The teacher said, “Boys and girls, you can come out from under your desks. The Peanut Man has gone.”
I came out. There were peanuts everywhere. The floor was covered and so were the desks. There were peanuts along the chalkboard and even in the hanging lights.
The teacher told us to pick up and collect all the peanuts. We did, and every student had a huge mound of peanuts on their desk. We spent the rest of the day shelling and eating peanuts. Yum!
Jennie Fitzkee has been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is her passion. She believes 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 she writes about.
She is highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of her reading to children. Her 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.
Follow Jennie on her blog, A Teacher’s Reflections.
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