We decided to do something we had never tried in our over seventy episodes of GG Sprinkles—we decided to take an episode out of our family room and into the world of sea life at the St. Louis Aquarium. We haven’t gone out much since the pandemic more or less imprisoned many of us in our homes, but we knew restrictions were in place and we felt safe as soon as we arrived. I had made a mask suitable for a visit to the aquarium, and we were ready to spend some quality time with sea life.
We shot bits of video all over the aquarium and communed with river otters and sharks. It was fun to be able to see all of it for ourselves and to figure out what would entertain little ones. I put my hand in the tank of doctor fish and let them swarm my hand and nibble my fingers. That entertained me, so I figured the kids would like it. Petting the stingrays was something I had resisted in previous trips to the aquarium, but I decided to be brave and give it a try. A tad slimy, but a very interesting experience. I knew the sharks would likely be a favorite, so we got some video in front of the tank as well as looking overhead where they swim above aquarium visitors. I’ve been to the aquariums in Monterey, California, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, both bigger than the new one we have here, and the tunnels where the sharks are above you are the best. I’m glad our local aquarium decided to create that same experience.
Once home we had to choose what snippets would be best for the complete video, which was different from our usual one-take episodes. We filmed the last few minutes back at home so that I could read a poem about our aquarium visit and say goodbye. We had fun with this one, but I honestly think that one of the best things about it is how normal it all felt, being out and doing something fun. I was hoping that it would have the same effect on the kids watching. We all need a touch of normalcy in our current situation, especially the children. And they deserve it.
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!
View All Posts