I raised daughters, so I suppose I can’t be faulted for not knowing how important trains are to little boys. In my four plus years with Cooper, we ran so many trains around his family room, built a zillion creative tunnels, went to the zoo mostly to ride the train (yes, the animals were good, but that train!), and just in general talked and lived trains. So I decided that one spring before we parted for summer break, Cooper and I should grab Katie and Malcolm and ride an actual full-sized train. Amtrak has their River Runner that goes from St. Louis to Kansas City, but we didn’t need a long ride. We just wanted a taste of an actual train ride. So we boarded in Kirkwood, Missouri, and rode to Washington, Missouri. It was a short ride, but we loved it. We got to go through tunnels and see the countryside and have lunch in Washington, Missouri, but we couldn’t wait to re-board and ride some more. Everything about the experience was…well…an experience: the inside of the two stations, the conductor punching the boys’ tickets (he punched their initials in each of their tickets), eating snacks on the train, watching the world go by from our train windows. And that’s when I became just as big a fan of trains as the little ones. Just like that, I got it.
So it seemed logical to do an episode of GG Sprinkles on trains and, as an addition, railroad lanterns. We have an electrified railroad lantern that came from Bruce’s brother Bob, so I pulled that out and researched old railroad lanterns. My years of experience watching Thomas the Tank Engine with Cooper didn’t quite provide me with enough information on trains, so I needed to read up on those. And I looked up information on the River Runner (I absolutely love that name!). But my episodes of GG Sprinkles need to stay short, so as is usually the case, I spent a lot of time reading but could only use a tiny bit of what I learned. And that’s okay; I can’t begin to tell you the interesting things I’ve learned in almost fifty episodes. That’s been a definite bonus of putting these episodes together.
So if you’re into trains (or living with a small person who happens to be into trains) here’s the episode on trains. And I think it’s Malcolm’s hat I’m wearing in the episode.
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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