It’s certainly a different world these days for all of us during the virus. But I would imagine that for children, it’s especially upside down and chaotic. Will they be in school, or will school be at home? Why can’t they go play with their friends? And why are we wearing masks?
With many adults questioning the effectiveness of wearing masks, some of them with angry voices, children must have even more questions, especially if they themselves are old enough to wear one. Our county just put a mask mandate in effect beginning the end of last week. Obviously kids are used to wearing masks of all kinds on Halloween and seeing a large variety of them. Some even play with them when they play super heroes. My grandsons, for example, have Captain America costumes with masks and used to dress up a lot. I thought I could use this as a way to normalize as much as possible the wearing of masks to protect us from the virus.
I gathered together different kinds of masks to illustrate the fun side of masks, and then moved to a couple that I wear in the days of COVID-19. I worry that this might all be a tad overwhelming for little ones, and my goal was to show that masks, especially the ones they see today on adults all around them, are not scary. The poem I wrote for this episode gets into that and expresses the hope that by Halloween, they’ll be wearing fun masks as they ring doorbells and trick-or-treat. I truly hope that their world—and everyone else’s—will be back to normal by then.
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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