The Kissing Hand | Days of Chalk and Chocolate

The Kissing Hand

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I spent some time teaching Kindergarten and I absolutely adored it. As a teacher, you can be so creative and do fun things in the name of learning. To teach my children how to get to the various places in the school we went went on a pirate treasure hunt with a map and hats (Just try doing that with 8th graders..nope, not gonna happen!). We did jumping jacks while reciting the vowels to get the ants out of the pants, and we made trees out of paper bags. Glorious fun for me! But there is another side to the whole K equation and that would be those little hearts beating a million miles a minute inside those nervous little sweethearts dressed in their bright white new sneakers and holding their new Hello Kitty backpacks. Those little ones that we think are so grown up because they are entering "big kid school" but in essence are still so very much babies.

It is my tradition to read the book,The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn , to my students on the first day of school. If you aren't familiar with the book, it is a sweet story about Chester, a nervous raccoon starting off on his first day of school. His mother kisses his hand and reminds him to use that kiss when he needs her, misses her, needs reassurance. So he clutches the kiss in his hand and, well, you should go to the library and read it to your wee one. Then kiss his or her hand and fold that hand up and remind him or her that you are never far away.

After we read the book we'd make hand prints and glue pretty red hearts in the middle and send it home as a keepsake for the first day of school. But the real magic happened after.

In preparation for the school year,  I picked up a raccoon Webkinz at a garage sale and named him Chester.  I wanted him to be a part of the class for the year as a reassuring friend to the children. But kids are so sophisticated now and I was nervous on that first day to bring him out.  Would they snicker? Would they understand?  But as we were lining up to leave for the day I pretended I heard something in my bookcase. I felt like a kook looking for this stuffed raccoon and I could see some of the kids were confused but I kept up the charade.  I brought him out and let him whisper in my ear. "Oh Chester!  I'm sorry you missed it all!" I gushed and then explained to the children that raccoons are nocturnal so Chester had slept the whole day we were in school. I  asked the children to tell Chester about all the fun they'd had in K that day, all the things they learned, all the new friends they met. I was met with 15 blank stares. "UH-OH!" I thought, "They think I'm a nut with a Webkinz. They are going to go home and tell their parents that their teacher is off her rocker!" The next thing I knew, though,  I was being mauled by 15 five year olds yelling "CHESTER! WE READ BOOKS! WE ATE GRAHAM CRACKERS! WE MADE SCIENCE JOURNALS!" and on and on. They loved Chester and he became a permanent fixture in our class. They talked to him about the good and the bad, the happy and sad, the excitements and the disappointments.  He became a real friend.

The second half of the year they wanted to bring Chester home on the weekends to meet their families and so I made it part of our Social Studies curriculum and we used his adventures to learn about our community. Those kids who I thought would be too sophisticated to chat with a stuffed animal would tell us all about his adventures at the diner, going down the slide at the park, visiting a museum, or going to the beach. He was thoroughly washed after each worries!

I know I'm long winded on this post but I feel like in this crazy world where children are expected to do more and be more we must remember that sometimes they just need a Chester to talk to and to laugh with, to be children and to feel reassured. And a kiss in their hands from their mommies doesn't hurt either.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone for a happy, safe, and lovely school year!



  1. This post made me cry. I love it. My little guy is on day 4 of kindergarten and I pray every day his teacher is as cool as you! :-)

  2. This post made me cry, too! I wish my daughters (now 14 and 19) had had teachers like you. Found you through your sister on Ravelry. Love your blog. :-)

  3. This made me tear's so sweet! I hope one day my baby has a good teacher like you.
    Angie from Marigold Mom


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