I like to find topics for GG Sprinkles and, thus, my poetry that can extend into a gentle lesson beyond the simpler idea. I had already decided to do an episode on counting and simple math, and that led me to explore the origin of the phrase ‘count on me.’
I have a toy that I bought years ago to work with Cooper on counting and identifying his colors that involves sliding colored beads on what looks like a roller coaster (which, in fact, is what we called it). I ordered a small abacus to demonstrate counting, along with addition and subtraction. I researched online for ideas I could use to teach little ones fun ways to count and then adapted them. I set up an animal ‘pen’ with tiles and pulled out the small bag of plastic animals we’d picked up at the zoo gift shop. I filled a bag with numbers so that I could draw a number out and put a corresponding number of animals in the pen. I drew a picture of a cake and cut out ‘candles’ so we could count the candles and put them on the cake. I had blocks to stack and count.
Then I needed to figure out a way to explain where we get the expression ‘count on’ something or someone. Apparently centuries ago bankers would count their money on a certain kind of table that had slots and so forth to make counting and sorting easier. They knew that when they used this table, their count would be accurate and reliable. Now, when we say we can count on someone, we’re saying they’re reliable and trustworthy. I enlarged on that a bit to include the idea that they’re good friends as well.
I think my topics for the Sprinkles episodes have been mostly fun: toys, puppets, pets, unicorns, cowboys, birds, etc. But I also like to make larger points occasionally, such as the power of a youngster’s voice and the value of colors in all things, including people. My episodes are very short, and I have to present everything I want to say in only a few minutes. It’s made me measure a little more what to say and get my point across in a space of time that suits a young child’s attention span. Any time I can address what makes a better friend, I take the opportunity. Hopefully, with this episode I made that point. And, as is frequently the case, I learned something new as well. A win-win for GG Sprinkles. ❤️
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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