We took GG Sprinkles on the road yet again, this time to the St. Louis Zoo. Masks were required as was social distancing, and we were good with that. We knew we’d have too much video to do only one episode, so we broke it into two. The official poem that I include with every episode didn’t happen until the end of the second segment, so we devoted most of the time to seeing the animals and commenting on a lot of them.
The St. Louis Zoo is unique among city zoos in that it’s free. It usually draws crowds who support it by becoming zoo members and spending money in the gift shops and food kiosks. Like everything else in these unprecedented times, the zoo was in a bit of a lull. You have to make reservations (not a requirement normally) and arrive within that time frame. So we saw far fewer people than we might usually see on a nice day, and I missed the little ones running around. We were there on a school day, but I still figured we’d see some children and you can hear some wee voices on the videos. I’m sure zoo management will be pleased and relieved when life returns to normal and there are chaotic and rambunctious crowds enjoying the animals rather than the carefully managed flow of visitors.
As I’ve said before on my blog, I think it’s so important to give kids a slice of normalcy whenever possible, and we were going for that in these two episodes. It was good for us as well to get out and walk around and act ‘normal’ as we tried to see and video as many animals as we could. We apparently hit during nap time for some of them, which is unfortunate, but we did our best. We saw gorillas and the big cats and—well—you’ll see.
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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