Saturday, May 30, 2020

Racism, Sorrow, Atrocities: A Personal Reflection & Children

Sorrow. Horror. Atrocities-in-our-midst. "I can't breathe."
Spring of my freshman year of high school we had race riots and riot squad policeman in our hallways for weeks on end, because of racial boiling points reached and exceeded. I am doing the math and I think that was 48 years ago, or was it yesterday? Literally. Apparently nothing has been learned in the intervening decades. "I can't breathe."
Thank heavens for the technology that can capture our inhumanity to each other. I pray that these captured horrific videos can pave the way forward toward justice, for the families left to grieve in shock. I hope our shock as a country rises up and that bile in my throat resolves into actual change. How? "I can't breathe."

America. We simply must do better. How can 48 years have passed since those retreats where we examined our prejudice and privilege? Start the clock at whatever point in our country's history you want to begin.... there is startling evidence that we aren't doing better for our fellow citizens of color. Now that we have the means to connect these disgusting acts to the larger conscience? It is sickening. "I can't breathe."
There is a pandemic indeed. This one has been in our midst for a v-e-r-y long time, but the curtain is being pulled back and the evidence is chilling. People are capable of the unthinkable. "I can't breathe."

I don't want to pretend that I have answers or platitudes or zippy-skippy bandaids to be applied, as we hemorrhage in the face of the loss of human decency. I do want to go on record that I am appalled to my very core. "I can't breathe."
I am sorry. I am sorry that the divisiveness of our country continues to widen and further marginalize those whose skin is not white. I am sorry that black wives, mothers and grandmothers must live in fear for their children and spouses going about their day-to-day lives, and of course for themselves as well. I am sorry that our country is built on such daily systemic injustice. I am embarrassed and I am sorry. I realize that typing on my screen changes nothing -- but I just wanted anyone that wonders how I might feel about the current affairs of our country to know that I am ashamed. I am appalled. And I am sorry. Shame on us. "I can't breathe."
"Shame, shame, I know your name." Your name is racism. Now what? 48 years, or 148, or 248 years, or 348 years. What have we learned? How can we do things differently? "I can't breathe."

I grew up singing "Jesus loves the little children, ALL the children of the world, red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight." I really believed it. Kumbaya. "And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride." How Heaven must be in constant tears over our action, or inaction as the case may be. These are perilous times indeed. Black lives matter. "I can't breathe."
When I was just in elementary school, we had moved as a family from the cornfields of southern Indiana to the 'west-side' of South Bend. My pastor-dad had our family join every black church potluck available. We were often the only white family in attendance. We 'marched' shoulder to shoulder in those late 60's marches. I was a child at the time. I was taught from a very young age that we were all intended to be equals at our creation. I believed it. "I can't breathe."

It is an atrocity that these murders are mounting. We know better. When will we do better? Look yourself in the mirror and ask the tough questions. Have you silenced a racist joke being told in your midst or circulated in your inbox? Have you stood up and been counted, in the face of such dehumanization? Have you posted to your friends that you are AGAINST the unthinkable? That shouldn't be necessary, but obviously it is. "Our silence is complicity." --Joe Biden. "I can't breathe."

I am against the unthinkable. Black lives matter. "I can't breathe."
Last night as we were taking our evening walk around our circle, a UPS man made three deliveries all within the bits of our walking. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to assure him that not every white person looks at his rich black skin and turns in fear. I want to apologize to every black person, every non-white person for the injustice. For their fear and for their sorrow. I can't begin to imagine how you feel over these continuing developments -- and yes, it seems that they are coming faster and faster of late. Atrocities one and all. I can only imagine the trauma of the accumulation, with the escalating loss of life. "I can't breathe."

The reality is that our country, as a country is racist. Our system of justice is not just. I am sorry. Black lives matter. I am sorry that your experience paints another picture. Our country of rich blessings and amazing abundance is broken. George Floyd, your life mattered. "I can't breathe."
Governor Cuomo just said, "The evidence is damning." Indeed. It is damning on each and every one of us. It is damning on me. I will accept that blame. I vote. one vote. "I can't breathe."
The pandemic of racism is not new. "I can't breathe."

This is the single, biggest reason that I work with children. Where there is still hope. Teach them.

-- Debbie 

P.S. During the 'stay-at-home' era of Covid-19, I have been giving FB LIVE Sing-a-Long broadcasts. It has been put on my heart, in the tradition of Mr. Rogers, to attempt to address all of the above for our children. If you are a praying person, I would ask you to keep my preparation of this next phase of LIVE events in your prayers. 

I took this concluding picture several years ago, at a morning of fun in honor of Earth Day. You can see the entire experience in this long ago article. I think that I'm as pleased with this picture -- and that morning, as anything else I have ever done. The skin tones. The children working enthusiastically on their collaboration. Giggles. Perfect. 

What do we tell the children? How do we explain? When do we have 'real life' conversations with them? What is age appropriate information? 

Are your kids too young to talk about race?

Click on this informational chart to go to the source and find numerous other resources! 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation with Scripture

These are unique times. Historic. Landmark. Unprecedented. 

If you've ever had any issues with anxiety, the realities of daily news announcements and updates regarding the growth of the world pandemic are undoubtedly upsetting. At what point did you become concerned? 

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation with Scripture

Everything became very REAL for me, with the dual notice that Tom Hanks and his wife had contracted the virus -- coupled with seeing the empty toilet paper shelves in each of our stores. The virus suddenly had a 'face' and all expectations that things could remain the same had vaporized. Simultaneously.

We have officially entered the unknown. 

My husband and I are in the higher risk category due to our age bracket and with his heart issues that puts us into the underlying compromised health category as well. We have decided to 'self-seclude' and will be staying very close to home. No dancing. No DoWopWednesday. No yoga. No Harry Connick Jr. concert. No first time ever to go to the Masters Tournament. And for me professionally? No giving the conference keynote in Massachusetts. 

We didn't go to church this morning. Tough decision to make. Necessary. Life is indeed different. Already.

I am dealing with all of these changes to our schedule/routines and the myriad of unknowns by meditating on my favorite scripture verses. I recite them to myself as I go to sleep every night. I started with my one (AND ONLY) memory verse and then added the Lord's prayer. I start each new day by going through those same memory verses. Bookends to my day.

[SPOILER ALERT: In the two months since I started this practice of meditating on scripture passages, I have gone from my original set of two verses, to NOW BEING ABLE TO RECITE 100 VERSES!!!!   I'll have to write more on that process at another point in time, but for now, let me just say YES! ONE HUNDRED VERSES!!]

I've also been spending time in my 'scripture collection' of my photos, where I have added a Bible verse in print to embellish the image. I have spent this weekend going through my favorites and creating some new ones. 

My hope is that by sharing these images with you here, they may offer you support as well. 

When in doubt, start with the classic: 
"Be still and know that I am God." 

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear compiled by Debbie Clement

All of the photos above I have taken over our summers in Door County, Wisconsin.
The two Saguaro cactus photos that follow are from our Cabo trip last fall. 
The water lilies are from right here where we live in Vero Beach, FL. 

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Photographic Scripture Verses for Overcoming Fear by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

I have written a prayer integrating these favorite scripture verse, into the prayer itself. 

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation with Scripture

15 Bible Verses for Overcoming Fear via Meditation complied by Debbie Clement

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Kusama Contemporary Artist Study: POLKA DOT PALOOZA!

Kusama Artist Study in 2nd Grade: Polka Dot Palooza

My very favorite thing about making an author school visit is seeing the children's art that is on display in the hallways. I recently returned to a central Ohio school where I have visited annually with the kindergarten students. SHAZAM!!!! I'm calling this project the perfect  ---Polka Dot Palooza! 

If you know anything about me personally? I LUV LUV LUV polka dots! There are oodles of polka dots in my 3 picture books. My house is filled with polka dots. I personally painted polka dots on to my author suitcase. I have painted polka dots onto my author outfits.   

Airport: My carry on with hand painted polka dots! 

^^^It took me forever to paint the polka dots onto my suitcase, as the paint was absorbed by the cover fabric, but over time as I persisted and painted layer-over-layer, the paint won out! 

This fall I had GREAT fun stenciling all manner of polka dots onto a table in our dining room. One can never have enough polka dots. They look great with stripes and checker boards, too! I used a combination of stencils, polka dot 'daubers' and pencil erasers, too! 

Back to my author visit and seeing the Yayoi Kusama project created in Hilliard by the second graders. Am-A-ZING! 

Kusama Artist Study in 2nd Grade: Polka Dot Palooza

It appears to my trained Art Teacher eye, that each student painted their own unique polka dot 'backdrop' and then painted a matching polka dot apron to wear for their individual photo shoot. How BRILLIANT is this? 

Image result for kusama polka dot quote

"Polka dots can't stay alone. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environments." Yayoi Kusama

"With just one polka dot, nothing can be achieved. In the universe, there is the sun, the moon, the earth, and hundreds of millions of stars. All of us live in the unfathomable mystery and infinitude of the universe. Pursuing 'philosophy of the universe' through art under such circumstances has led me to what I call 'stereotypical repetition.' "Yayoi Kusama

"More and more, I think about the role of the arts, and as an artist, I think that it's important that I share the love and peace." Yayoi Kusama
Image result for kusama polka dot quote
Image result for kusama polka dot quote

Image result for kusama polka dot quote

***(I didn't have enough time to speak to the brilliant Mr. Art Teacher to get the specifics. There are never enough minutes in the day, but this is too inspirational not to share.) 

What an utterly amazing project to do while studying the life and contribution of a contemporary artist. You can see what success was created by these second graders. I think the 'concept' could be replicated by both older and younger students. 

Here's just a little glimpse into the fun I have with the kindergarten students in this school, during my author visit. Making this an annual visit, I am greeted by the 'older' students and it is such fun to hear their memories from visits years earlier. THEY REMEMBER! 

Author Visit with Debbie Clement to Kindergarten Classroom

I have earlier RoundUPs of Art History 101, 102, and 103. 
LOTS of Ideas as seen on dozens of my previous author visits. 
{Just click the images below to go to each of the earlier blog articles.}

Art History 102: Elementary School Response to the Masters via RainbowsWithinReach

Art History 103: Early Elementary Projects in Response to the Masters at RainbowsWithinReach

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! We have just received the news that the Wobble Seats that we distribute have been put on a permanently reduced price. The manufacture has been able to locate a company able to create them at a lesser cost and they are passing the savings on to you! 

***This is the perfect time to remind your administration that you would like to use (or expand) the flexible seating options in your classroom. Over the years we have seen schools use that last little drop of $$ in their budget as the year winds down on discretionary purchases such as Wobble Seats. 

Be the squeakie wheel. Remind your front office of your interest. 

I know that many of you are beginning to plan for your End-of-Year events. Some while ago I wrote this little poem and have since turned it into a song. Many of my teacher friends are using the song for their 'slide show' sound track. It is available at TpT as a digital download in Mp3 format. 

photo of: End of School Year Poem by Debbie Clement NOW A SONG!
Click Picture for Link to TpT Digital Download 

If you need a little reminder about the worthiness of your work -- look no further. Below you'll find a little video of my song-via-poem, stitched together with love and poignant pictures from some of  my besties. Now just imagine it playing with photos from your school year triumphs! 

Two of my picture books-in-song, lend themselves to end of year performances. 
The digital download file for each includes everything that you need to have your students ready to perform for loving parents to conclude your year. 

End of Year Performance Songs for Kindergarten and Preschool
[Click on the image to go directly to my TpT digital store]

Here's the direct link to digital "You're Wonderful" 
Here's the direct link to digital "Red, White and Blue" 

***This article below from several years ago, using grass seed as 'hair' continues to climb in my Top 10 list of articles. This is the perfect time to go take a look at all the inspiration and different ways you might use seeds, and especially grass seeds this spring! 

photo of: Springtime Science with Seeds at Kindergarten Rocks via RainbowsWithinReach
Click the picture to go to the earlier article and get additional inspiration for grass seeds. 

Let me conclude with an uplifting verse from scripture brought to life with 'polka dots!' 

These last couple of years have been filled with an array of on-going challenges. In juggling all of the balls, the one that got dropped was my blogging. My hope is to return once more to this format to inspire, support and encourage you. Ever onward.  

-- Debbie 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Veteran's Day Response: Song & Patriotic Process Art for Young Children

Veteran's Day is just around the corner!

Veteran's Day is an abstract concept for young children. How can you make it more concrete? To begin with: focus on our flag and patriotism. Have them create their own open-ended, process-driven 'fireworks' as a foundation experience. 

Painted Fireworks in Kindergarten

What does America mean to our little ones? 

Where do we live? What is the name of our country? What do we celebrate as a country? How do we celebrate? How do we protect our freedoms? How do we thank those who have served to protect our freedoms?

Red, White and Blue by Debbie Clement

One of my absolute pleasures is to make school visits as an author-illustrator, music-lady. Sometimes my visit is a one-time special event. I'm even more fortunate when my visit to a school includes a return visit. Sometimes I get asked back repeatedly over time. My longest running annual visit belongs to St. Paul School in Westerville, Ohio. 

We have all lost track as to how many years I have visited the kindergarten classes. We think it could be the last 12 or thirteen years now. That's a lot of LUV and support from some of my favorite Kindergarten teachers! Take a peek and get a glimmer of my welcome last spring. 

These fireworks were created by the Kinder-kiddos of Mrs. Holly Rose. They were proudly hanging outside her door, in the school hallway last May in time for my arrival. Imagine my excitement over such an enthusiastic welcome! 

Kindergarten Welcomes Author Illustrator

Her students have created this art in response to my newest picture book. 

My own patriotic response to September 11th, was to create a simple song for children to honor our country. It started as a little patriotic 'zipper' song -- with the very simple lyrics "Red, white and blue.... I love you." 

Over time my simple song grew just enough to be recorded at the studio and was included on my fourth CD. Ultimately we produced my song as a traditional picture book -- where the song's lyrics become the text of my newest picture book. 

Red, White and Blue Picture Book by Debbie Clement
Click on the book cover to go to my website

***Each of my three picture books are notorious for the "end matter" that I have included to support teachers use of my song in their classroom and especially for use as part of a performance. Each of my books includes a CD of the sung version of the song and an instrumental as well. There is a chart for sign language and also a chart for music notation. They can be ordered directly from me at my website:

Patriotic Picture Book

Take a listen on YouTube if you're not familiar with my song. Watch as teachers and librarians learn the sign language in real time -- at one of my conference workshop presentations. 

If you don't have time to order the book, or maybe you just want to get started RIGHT AWAY, then you can purchase the digital download version of the song in a zipped file through Teachers Pay Teachers. In the file you will receive two Mp3s of the song (sung & instrumental versions) as well as both the chart for sign language and that of music notation. I have lowered the price of the file right now! 

Click graphic for link to TpT digital download

Kindergarten Process Art as Fireworks

But let's get back to the creation of the fireworks artwork. 

In a true synchronicity of great minds thinking alike, my daughter, Sarah, had the children-in-her-care create very similar fireworks this past summer. She took photos in real-time and I think they will be a terrific step-by-step tutorial for you to replicate the experience for the children/students in your own life.

1. Gather up cardboard tubes ahead of time. (Internal rolls from paper towels, toilet paper, or those purchased specifically for crafting.)

2. Cut into the edge of the cardboard tubes in a variety of styles. {See the examples below for possibilities.}

Think of this as a very simple print-making experience.  

Art Process Painting with Young Children

  • Let the children experiment! 
  • Let them explore! 
  • Let them design! 
  • Let them plan!
  • Let them giggle! 
  • Let them construct!
  • Let them arrange!
  • Let them focus!  
  • Let them imagine!
  • Let them direct! 
  • Let them choose!
  • Let them concentrate!  
  • Let them initiate! 
  • Let them remember! 
  • Let them experience! 
  • Let them get messy!
  • Let them enjoy!   
  • Let them delight!!!

Painting with Young Children in Process, Open-Ended Style

Open-ended art is wonderful because EVERYONE is RIGHT!

Every creation is unique. Every piece is different. Every effort is valued. Every project is an original! Children can recognize their own art on display, because it is different than everyone else's!!! 

Painting Process with Young Children

The child at work below is only two years old and is experiencing excitement as he creates his own fireworks. This type of project can be as simple or sophisticated as each child's age and experience dictates. 

Process Art with Young Children, Creating Fireworks, Patriotic

***Sometimes with young children, you need to monitor their work so that it doesn't get 'flooded' with paint (in this example.) There are children that can just keep going and going and going and going only to realize that suddenly their beautiful effort is one big brown mound of matted material. Keep a watchful eye and bring closure to the project before the flood. 

Preschool Art Process Painting for Patriotic Fireworks

Here's  a glimpse of an earlier one of my author visits to St. Paul School and the patriotic 'marble painted' fireworks that were created for my visit on that occasion. This is another possibility for an open-ended, kinetic experiment in Art to respond to the concluding fireworks of my picture book!  

The all time LARGEST marble-painted, patriotic quilt award goes to Carie's Kindergarten class in Illinois! This is a mammoth cooperative effort -- all to celebrate America, and all things "Red, White and Blue!" 

Carie is now a Kindergarten teacher, but immediately after 9/11 she served for nine years of active duty in the US Army, including a year stationed in Iraq. She is a Veteran. She is to be celebrated on Veteran's Day. She gets what patriotism means. She wanted to be certain that her kinder kids understand about what America has always stood for around the world. {Click back here to see other specifics about this incredible project.} 

These types of colossal, open-ended art projects are all in response to a very simple lyric. Being the inspiration for such efforts is my most (humble) pride-filled contribution to the lives of children. 

I hope that you can use my song over the weeks ahead, to create a novel experience for the children you love.

Digital Version at TeachersPayTeachers

Meanwhile. We continue to accept Purchase Orders over at where we distribute the ORIGINAL alternative seating that moves! The stools are now available in anti-microbial plastic! (That means no germs linger on their surface.) PLUS they are manufactured here in the USA! Talk about patriotic! 

That's what they look like in use right there in Westerville! These are pictured across the hall from the fireworks display, in Kelly Grote's Kinder-room. After consideration, she has both 14" wobbles and others that are only 12" tall. Having both sizes available accommodates all heights of her students, especially helpful at the beginning of the year -- when there are indeed some 'shorties' in the room. 

Kinder depiction of Miss Debbie during author visit!

If you are interested in your own author visit, I would be thrilled to talk! 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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