Dinosaurs, like trains, were never a big deal with my daughters. But dinosaurs, like trains, are a very big deal to little boys, and, as it turns out, to a lot of little girls as well. When I nannied Cooper, one of our favorite shows was Dinosaur Train on PBS, and it was a valuable show. In addition to learning about dinosaurs and the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, it teaches little ones about being good people. And, if you are so inclined, you can learn the alphabet by learning the song “Dinosaurs A to Z,” which Coop and I both mastered (and we were pretty darned proud of ourselves). So I knew that dinosaurs was a topic I wanted GG Sprinkles to cover.
I had no toy dinosaurs of my own, so I had to once again borrow some from my grandsons, and once again they came through for me as they had done with trains. But I wanted a dinosaur that makes noise in addition to the little ones they gave me and they found one for me. My fondest memory of this one is a Christmas quite a few years ago when Everett was much smaller and we gave him that very dinosaur. When he opened it, it roared at him and he fell backwards into a box. I’m not sure it’s a fond memory for him, but we thought it was pretty darned cute. At any rate, I was now armed with quite a few dinosaurs. I decided that an appropriate poem would highlight some of the dinosaurs that Cooper and I liked best as well as mention the three periods I was familiar with. Even so, I needed to read a bit about the dinosaurs. I had wanted to do something with butterflies, so as I researched dinosaurs, I discovered the existence of lacewings, the first butterflies that evolved into what we have today. I decided butterflies would fit in with dinosaurs just fine. I discovered that lacewings actually predated flowers and thus, the early butterflies actually had no flowers on which to feed; they actually ate from trees. So once again I learned new things and had fun putting this presentation together.
We opened with a roaring dinosaur and then moved to the poem and an introduction to some of the dinosaurs the boys had loaned me. We ended with our prehistoric butterflies. I was reminded once again of how much I learn as I put the GG Sprinkles videos together. As much as I love that (and I really do) I also love that I can do something that engages little ones and entertains them for at least a few minutes. As the pandemic seems destined to rage on for a while yet, I can continue both entertaining and learning. And you’re never too old to do both of those. Thank goodness!
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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