My husband is a huge Beatles fan. Once in awhile he’ll give me nuggets of information about the Beatles that I didn’t know. Last week, it was the fact that octopus’s gardens that feature in Ringo’s famous song of the same name are real. I didn’t know that. Then. But now I do, and the idea fascinated me. I immediately began researching both octopuses (apparently it’s incorrect to call them octopi) and their gardens. It turns out that these amazing creatures are very intelligent and the gardens they truly do create serve a very practical purpose–to protect them from predators by giving them something colorful and so busy that they can hide behind and within them for protection. They use gorgeous coral, shells, and anything else that attracts their attention (even the occasional dropped wedding ring).
I couldn’t deal with such a topic without taking the opportunity to point out that octopuses are not creatures that many people find especially easy to look at, but they are intelligent, potentially affectionate, and creative in their own way. This was too good a message to pass up. I thought it would be beneficial to build my own octopus’s garden on canvas and then let the little ones watching help me add to it with a few shells, etc. So that’s just what we did.
As a very nice side note, I found out a few days ago that my son-in-law sings Ringo’s song to my four-year-old grandson as a lullaby and I had no idea! So little Charlie instantly connected to this episode (and sang Octopus’s Garden to me on FaceTime to prove it!). So here’s the presentation on octopus’s gardens. They’re real, indeed. And so was the fun getting this one ready.
I’m a huge believer in two things: the wisdom and potential of our children and the importance of poetry and imagination in their lives and development. My teaching background is at the high school level, but my methods in the classroom ran high in interaction and whimsy, at least as much whimsy as preparation for state testing allowed. I have four young grandchildren, and I nannied a little boy for over four years from infancy, so I like to think I know children pretty well. And I used poetry to teach and inspire no matter what ages I was called to teach. Poetry takes very big ideas and boils them down to nuggets of wisdom more easily understood. And then there’s the rhyme, such a valuable asset to pre-reading and a great hook to pull the little ones into the poetry itself. The rhythm, cadence, and yes, the rhyme, all have value for kids. Even if the full meaning of the words eludes them a little, there is value in what they do process.
I have written and published two books of essays and poetry for teachers, but my greater joy came in writing poetry for children. I began a book of children’s poetry the day my first grandchild Samantha was born and fourteen years later I continue to add to it. I entitled it A Duck in the Sky, which comes from a discussion we had with Sam when she was just a toddler. We were talking about the meaning of life and Sam assured us that the meaning of life was, in fact, a duck in the sky. Fair enough, and a very good title. I never published my children’s book, although that will happen. But in the meantime came Covid and quarantine. I wanted to contribute something, to help entertain young children stuck at home, even if for only a few minutes at a time. So GG Sprinkles was born, someone who reads poetry and entertains with props, demonstrations, etc. Our videos began on a GG Sprinkles Facebook page, and shortly after that became a GG Sprinkles YouTube channel.
So we now have quite a few videos available and I continue to write poetry. I have learned a great deal about a lot of topics: fairies, zebras, angels, octopuses, birds, superheroes, blanket forts, dragons, space, buried treasure, planets, burping, puppets, trains, unicorns, kites, magic wands, and so much more. It has been a pure joy to do this for the kids. And, of course, I’m learning so much along the way. We intend to keep the videos coming as long as the poetry comes and the kids and parents are interested. We’d be delighted to have you come along with us as we explore new topics poetically and just have some fun. GG Sprinkles welcomes you to any of the videos you’d like to watch and further thoughts here on my blog. Enjoy!
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