I'm happy to share my blog space with another friend and colleague-- and near-relative! Anne Meeker Watson is a music therapist and early childhood expert who has created a program--SingPlayLove.com-- full of music and play to help children learn and practice skills for social-emotional development, language, and literacy. So much of it is poetry-adjacent with its songs, picture books, music videos, and instructional strategies.
I create songs that I make into illustrated picture books. Each book has its own personality, as I utilize the art of six different illustrators. I want children to be able to interact with a variety of styles of art as they sing my songs. Each book targets an early learning skill. (Shhhh. Don’t tell the children we are trying to teach them something. We only want to think they are having fun.)
One of my favorites of my 20 books (and counting – I cannot help myself!) is called SURPRISE KID. The song and book were inspired by a friend of mine who taught music at an elementary school. She had to take early retirement because she was injured by a second grader in her classroom who escalated and hit her with a white board. She sustained a traumatic brain injury. The book is dedicated to her, and to every young child who needs to learn to calm their bodies and calm the way they feel.
I figured having a super hero with the special power of self-calming would be a great idea. My illustrator insisted that we have three super heroes, so that every child could recognize themselves in one of these three precious characters.
When COVID “hit the fan” and early childhood professionals were charged with planning distance learning for their young children, I began to see the re-emergence of worksheets, white boards ("let’s write our numbers and letters while looking at our teacher on a computer”) and flashcards to accomplish this goal. This made me weep into my glass of Cabernet and bag of double stuffed Oreos. (I am dealing with my stress really appropriately over here.) I decided to start giving away anything and everything I had created to help. Phil and I donated 800 SURPRISE KID books in one day. Then I produced a little SING.PLAY.LOVE. “party” with a dance, song and read-aloud of the SURPRISE KID book. I also created a page on my website so parents could go download the songs.
*The “Party” is here.
*The music video is here if you want a quick peek at SURPRISE KID.
*The accompanying resources for my “Party” can be found here.
*My blog with regular features is here.
I would love you to share my “party” and my songs/books/support with anyone who could use it. Music, poetry and cyber hugging help!
Sylvia: Thanks for sharing, Anne, and for all your work helping our youngest learn and grow and cope-- especially now.